Gender has nothing to with biology, don’t you know — and should you beg to differ, if you cling to the view of there being only two sexes, brace for the sanctions various legislatures around the world are keen to impose on those who persist in thinking unacceptable thoughts
Revolutionary transgenderism is on the march in Britain, with the blessing of a Conservative Prime Minister. The delayed consultations on proposed changes to the government’s new Gender Recognition Act that Theresa May promises are to go ahead. It is likely that, though opposed by traditional feminists as well as social conservatives, the Gender Recognition Act, backed by Labour, will pass through the Commons and into law.
Last October, in a speech to Pink News, an LGBT website, Mrs May reiterated her previous commitment to improving “trans” rights and to changing the current gender recognition law to make “self-identification” easier, something that had never featured in a Conservative election manifesto. (By contrast Labour’s manifesto had included specific commitments to tackling bullying of LGBT young people and to ensuring that the new guidance for relationships and sex education is LGBT inclusive. It also promised to bring the law on LGBT hate crimes into line with hate crimes based on race and faith, and most importantly to reform the Gender Recognition Act and the Equality Act 2010 to ensure they protect transgender people by changing the protected characteristic of “gender assignment” to “gender identity” and remove other supposedly outdated language such as “transsexual”.)
This essay appeared in a recent edition of Quadrant.
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Mrs May explained to her hosts: “We’ve set out plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act, streamlining and de-medicalising the process for changing gender, because being trans is not an illness and it shouldn’t be treated as such.” Sex change would, she promised, become a matter of choice, rather than of diagnosis.
Earlier in the summer, Justine Greening (the Minister for Women and Equalities and Secretary of State for Education) had announced that gender could be legally changed without any medical diagnosis, and promised publication of a consultation on a new Gender Recognition Act. Medics have described her zeal in applying this thinking to policy as unscientific, dangerous and part of a wider social strategy. The implications of establishing such a “right” of self-identification in the law are profound. Yet there has been next to no debate on them in the Party.
In a stroke “gender” and “sex” would be treated as being the same, though in reality “sex” is what we are biologically born with as dictated by either XX or XY chromosomes, yet gender as a social construct simply reflects the roles we take on as a result of the sex we are born into (which themselves are increasingly subject to debate).
Self-identifying as another gender legally will automatically give that person the right to undertake roles (and even functions like bearing a child—as has happened in the USA) that before were the preserve of one sex. It will give them the right to be in places, whether prisons or bathrooms, which are currently reserved for members of one sex, often for the protection of women.
No longer will employers be able to decide—which they still can in certain circumstances under the Equality Act—whether they want or need a man or a woman for a certain job. No longer will individuals have the right not to refer to a person by their preferred pronouns, be this zie, zim or zir or any other of the baffling range of possibilities. Should they refuse, as Professor Jordan Peterson has done in Canada—where such usage is already mandatory—they’ll risk falling foul of the law. The freedom to articulate an opinion about sex differences will be ever more circumscribed, as Google employee James Damore found to his cost. Most significantly of all, the protections society offers to children will be dramatically reduced.
As if in a self-fulfilling prophecy, dramatically rising numbers of children are already coming out as transgender. Far from being concerned about this trend, Greening plans to push these ideas on even younger children. Her Children and Social Work Bill would make sex education, along with “personal, social and health education”, compulsory in all primary schools in Britain. It might sound innocuous, but the Women and Equalities Committee which advises Greening says, in paragraph 361 of its report, that this means teaching “trans issues”.
Failure to conform to this ideological, anti-science constructed narrative will be met by sanctions against children and their parents. Transgender lobbyists insist that legal gender changes cannot effectively come about without such concurrent education.
The right to stipulate that a body search be conducted by someone of the same sex and other such privacy rights will become a thing of the past. As for anything exclusive to women, it can be forgotten. That includes all women shortlists, as Labour’s feminists have, rather late in the day, realised to their cost.
The Labour Party, with whom Theresa May shares this agenda, has not waited for the law to catch up. Transgender activists in the party are already implementing this revolutionary new agenda. In an adept rewriting of history, the Party insists that all women shortlists have always been for “all” women, which “of course” includes transgender women. All women’s reserved places are also open to “self-defining women”.
This is what, finally, has provoked resistance. It is here, in the Labour Party, that war has broken out, not in the Conservative Party—once the party of tradition and the family. In response Labour’s National Executive Council has sided with the Party’s transgender activists to stifle debate, provoking the fury of its feminist members, and the battle has gone public.
Up to five hundred members, including Dr Pamela Osborn, a former parliamentary candidate and leading opponent of the ruling, were reported to have quit the party in protest at “gender as a self-identified characteristic” meaning that “any man can simply claim to be a woman” and make the shortlist.
“Sex is not a self-defined characteristic,” one group wrote in a letter to the Times, and it is “disingenuous for Labour to pretend that it is”.
Some are outraged that the Party’s transgender policy has casually overridden protections for women in the Equality Act, and that the long-term battle to win more places in Parliament for women has been treated with such contempt.
Others simply want the freedom and opportunity to ask questions about changes, which are likely to have serious consequences for women, for children, and for society as a whole.
Yet they’ve found that should they even raise the question for discussion it is treated as an act of blasphemy. Feminists like Julie Bindel and Germaine Greer have been blocked from entering venues by aggressive trans activists or “no platformed” in an attempt to silence them, and Greer has been cross-examined by the BBC over her supposed insensitivity to trans people.
The parenting forum Mumsnet has come under fire for allowing open debate about the matter on their site. And in a final twist one of Theresa May’s own ministers, Liz Truss, now also faces the wrath of transgender activists for having the temerity to praise Mumsnet’s free-speech stance. As the journalist Fraser Myers has eloquently put it: “Any questioning of whether self-declared women should be legally recognised and treated as women is characterised as denying the ‘existence’ of transgender people, and therefore as trans phobic.”
This sort of aggressive intolerance is already the order of the day in the Labour Party. Lily Madigan, Labour’s first transgender women’s officer (a nineteen-year-old, previously known as Liam, who recently declared himself to be a woman), has openly gloated over the loss of members: “Today 300 trans-misogynist women left the Labour Party. Today is a good day. Anyone holding such views does not belong in the party,” he tweeted, in case they did not already know.
Yet it is the Conservative government as much as their own party that Labour’s departing members have to thank for this state of affairs. It is the Tories, not Labour, who are the first government to propose self-identification in the law and it is the Tories in government who have been smuggling it through Parliament with minimal debate. Whether Mrs May with this radical agenda wants to steal a modern march on her political opponents, whether she sees this as part of her “burning injustices” agenda, or simply as a necessary step in the detoxification of her party, is hard to tell.
Her commitment to legislative change has done nothing to counter the fact that trans-identity is already treated as a fact in law. The 2010 Equality Act which Mrs May signed in one of her first acts on becoming Home Secretary outlawed discrimination against trans people and added “gender reassignment” as a protected characteristic. Then in 2015 Maria Miller, the Conservative chair of the Parliamentary Women and Equalities Committee, launched an inquiry into transgender equality, but for whose bold recommendations, which the government has followed, the trans movement might not have become so audacious.
There is no doubt that where culture goes politics and policy tend to follow. And the zeitgeist is certainly with transgenderism. The metrosexual elite’s worship of “call me Caitlyn or else” Jenner, and “the hectoring of anyone who refuses to scrape before her icon”, has also graphically exposed the intolerant and indeed Orwellian edge to trans thinking.
Celebrity exploitation of the cult has helped rather than hindered transgenderism’s transition from marginal to mainstream acceptance. The romanticisation of much less happy truths, as by the film The Danish Girl, has also catalysed mainstreaming of the trans fashion.
The idea of liberalising the laws (as it is seen) on trans identity has in a remarkably short period won the broad support of the political class, the judiciary, the corporate world, and even the established church. The numbers of people applying for sex change referrals—particularly children—has risen accordingly. Yet it is worth remembering that when the Gender Recognition Act was implemented in 2004, the assumption was that most transgender people would have undergone surgery, or be about to undergo surgery. This is very much not the case now.
Only about 25 per cent of self-declared transgender “women” undergo any surgery at all, meaning that three quarters of them are still in possession of fully functioning male genitalia. It explains why someone who was born a man, and raped two under-age girls as a man, is currently serving a life sentence in a women’s prison. It is why the victim of the assault during the fracas at Speakers’ Corner was reprimanded by a judge for failing to use her attacker’s preferred pronouns.
These are the “rights” that the remarkably powerful LGBT lobby (supported by Stonewall and Pink News) has secured since 2004 and which Maria Miller, Justine Greening and Theresa May have determined to make the law of the land. This is the agenda that the government is still pushing through despite the emergence of criticism from within its own parliamentary ranks. The Conservative MP David Davies, joined by a cross-party group of MPs, including feminists and transgenders, has put his concerns to them.
These focus on:
- The failure of the Women’s and Equalities Committee Report (which the proposed legislation is based on) to explain how a balance is to be reached between the rights of people to re-define their gender with the rights of those who were born male or female to maintain privacy;
- Its calls for sex-change drugs to be made much more widely available to minors, though already this is not just happening, but has become a cause of serious concern;
- The encouragement the legislation will give to people to think an immature child should take powerful drugs to transition to the opposite sex if they don’t conform to the gender stereotypes for their own sex;
- That puberty blockers described as being fully reversible are not, that there is no evidence to support this claim, let alone any understanding of the long-term effects on children’s health and their developing brains, and that some effects of cross-sex hormones are known to be irreversible;
- That given there are clear biological differences between the two sexes, at the very least we should be able to discuss our concerns without the risk of verbal and physical abuse and without being silenced with accusations of committing hate crimes.
Mr Davies has been abused by the Conservative Party’s own LGBT group, who’ve described him as trans-phobic and worse.
If anything has betrayed the truth, which is that this transgender war has little to do with the rights and freedoms of trans people, which have largely been won and have the broad acceptance of liberally minded and tolerant people, it was this attack. The consistent and aggressive attempts to shut down debate and silence opposition reveal an intolerance that knows no bounds. They also breathe the arrogance and entitlement, if not narcissism, at the heart of identity politics, which Mrs May is misguidedly encouraging and which have to come to dominate public life.
Mrs May would be mistaken to see trans activism just as a matter of victimhood, and not a part of the revolutionary Marxist program that underlies it. As one socialist discourse on the subject ended, “The revolution will not happen at all without winning a new generation of trans and feminist activists to a class-based understanding of society, and we won’t do that if we end up siding with those bigots who wish to push us all back into little pink and blue boxes.”
No one, least of all the Conservative Party, should be under any illusion as to the angry and totalitarian agenda Mrs May’s gender-recognition reforms support.
Kathy Gyngell is co-editor of the Conservative Woman website (www.conservativewoman.co.uk ).