Lesbian and gay rights are still not secure in the UK. This week the LGB Alliance – a group used to being smeared and misrepresented – came under further attack. With astonishing impudence, the LGBT+ Consortium, Gendered Intelligence, the LGBT Foundation, TransActual, and the Good Law Project ganged up with Mermaids UK in a staggering appeal to strip the LGB Alliance of its charitable status.
The legal action is being brought in the name of Mermaids UK, a controversial charity that works with transgender-identified children. If it wasn’t such a serious attack on a legitimate charity, the appeal would be laughable. It’s clear from their submission that Mermaids doesn’t much like the LGB Alliance, but hubris eclipses accuracy in their grounds of appeal.
In their submission to the court, Mermaids suggests that ‘around 70 people’ at the launch of the LGB Alliance in October 2019 resolved to set up an organisation to ‘advocate for trans-exclusionary or gender critical beliefs’.
As one of the 70 people present that night, I can assure Mermaids that it was fully trans-inclusive. It even heard from a transsexual who is also same-sex attracted (to be clear, a transsexual who was born male and is attracted to other male people). The meeting wasn’t public, though, as Mermaids alleged, it was strictly by invitation only, and we were urged to be discreet.
As I reported at the time, the caution turned out to be wise: the fall-out following the meeting was unforgiving. One Guardian columnist described the creation of the group as ‘frightening and nasty’ before announcing that ‘There is no LGB without the T.’ Exactly why there can be no LGB without the T is never explained, as there are plenty of trans-specific organisations that focus on the T without the LGB.
But legal action costs money. The fundraising for Mermaids’ appeal is being handled by the Good Law Project, led by the barrister Jolyon Maugham (who is most likely known to readers for clubbing a fox to death).
The crowdfunder is also vicious. It quotes from a speech made by Bev Jackson – co-founder of the Alliance – at a public meeting close to Grenfell Tower. The transcript records Jackson’s pledge for the LGB Alliance to build an organisation ‘to challenge the dominance of those who promote the damaging theory of gender identity.’ In a fit of apoplexy, the crowdfunder suggests this means the LGB Alliance’s purpose is the ‘denigration of trans people and the destruction of organisations that support them, in particular through political lobbying and campaigning for law change.’
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Jackson is completely right. This theory – that we all have an innate gender identity that alone determines whether we are men, women, or something else – has compromised LGB rights. Stonewall has swallowed this theory whole and has abandoned the concept of same-sex attraction. It now spreads the ludicrous idea that lesbians can have penises and gay men can have vaginas. Against such nonsense, the LGB Alliance was formed.
The theory does not help transsexuals either. I do not need some female gender identity to be trans; I am trans because I changed my body to become more comfortable with it. It might now resemble a woman’s body in some respects, but I will never be a woman. Understanding and accepting that truth brings me peace and security. Those who base their lives on gender identity can never prove their assertions, and are therefore vulnerable to rejection from anyone who does not share their faith. That is no way to live.
The hate brigade was out in force the night of Jackson’s speech. While those in the room engaged in rational discussions, protesters outside made a racket and silly youngsters let off smoke bombs – an idiotic idea and outrageous so close to Grenfell Tower.
There may be no smoke in the text of the fundraiser but there is a lot of hot air. Whoever conflated Jackson’s opposition to gender identity theory with the denigration of trans people needs to take a lesson in critical thinking. Their text is an attempt to denigrate rather than educate. With a sprinkling of weasel words and fictitious attacks, this propagandist hoped to stoke their followers into a frenzy and part them with their cash. In the end this worked: over £40,000 was raised within the first two days.
Considering how ridiculous the appeal is, we can only hope that it will be laughed out of court as it should.
Debbie Hayton is a teacher and journalist.