At her employment tribunal, two years ago, Maya Forstater was told that her views ‘were not worthy of respect in a democratic society.’ That was after Forstater had been cancelled by the Centre for Global Development think tank, an institute that had employed her, when she was caught preaching the gospel of science and reason on the internet. Some of her colleagues grumbled about her gender critical beliefs, and Forstater’s contract was not renewed.
Today [10th June 2021], after an appeal, last year’s judgment was cancelled. The significance of this case cannot be overstated. In the current ideological battle between fact and fantasy, only one side comes to the table with cogent beliefs. We believe that male and female are the two biological sexes; we argue that human beings cannot change sex because our genetic code runs through every cell in our bodies; we assert that men have penises and women have vaginas.
These are not value judgments on anyone. They are facts, and facts that we can hold while respecting the rights of some people – now labelled as transgender – to break the sexist restrictions on the way we present, even change our bodies, if that helps us be more comfortable in ourselves and in our relationships with the world.
But the facts remain. Transwomen, like me, are male and we will always be male. Arguably we are men – men are adult human males – but what is wrong with being a man? That is what Forstater believes, and I agree with her.
On the other side we are met with wafer-thin assertions. We are told that vulnerable transgender people feel threatened by our belief in science. That they will be invalidated if we do not share their fantasy that they are the sex they would like to be, and not the one that biology determined at the moment they were conceived.
They complain that we are hateful of others – we are not – and that we are horrible people – also not true – and we are accused of bigotry. That is a bit rich considering that those spewing out bile against us appear to be entirely intolerant of views different to their own. Those people have no arguments; I can only presume that is the reason they refuse to debate. Because behind the pink and blue flag is an intolerant ideology that demands compliance, or else.
Thankfully – in England and Wales at least – the tide appears to be turning. Forstater was vindicated at appeal. Since employment appeal tribunals set legal precedent (while employment tribunals do not) in the long run it might be a good thing that Forstater lost first time round, though that must be small comfort to the woman herself who – we must remember – lost her livelihood.
But precedent is precedent, and sense has prevailed. The judgment is clear and the conclusion decisive:
‘It is our judgment that the [original] Tribunal erred in law. In relation to the preliminary issue of whether the Claimant’s belief falls within s.10, EqA, we substitute a finding that it does.’Forstater v CGD Europe et al (2021)
Forstater’s case will now be remitted back to an employment tribunal, but with the proviso that it is acceptable to believe in science.
We now need to look forwards. Organisations and public sector bodies would do well to leave the Stonewall Diversity Champions scheme, which appears to encourage policies which are not in line with the actual law on equalities.
This judgment will now have greater implications. The action being taken by Mermaids to crush the LGB Alliance charity will surely be affected. Their appeal against the Charity Commission, which registered the LGB Alliance, seems to rely on the fact that the gender critical views shared by both Forstater and the LGB Alliance are unacceptable. Today that nonsense has been overturned in this judgment.
Even in Scotland – where Nicola Sturgeon’s government seems to have been entranced by gender ideology – there is encouragement. Yesterday, we learned that Lisa Keogh had been cleared by Abertay university after her classmates complained that she had made ‘offensive’ and ‘discriminatory’ remarks at a lecture.
She had argued the difference in strength between the sexes meant it was not fair that women should have to compete against trans women in sport. Quite right! But why did such a ridiculous charge need the intervention of Joanna Cherry – an MP and a QC?
Three hundred years after the scientific enlightenment, we had perhaps taken for granted the age of reason that we were born into. It has served human society well when we prioritise facts over fantasy and material reality over groundless superstition. In the last ten years there has been a concerted effort to reverse that enlightenment. Forstater’s defence – that she was defending a belief – may seem strange, but if we cannot believe in science what else can we believe in?
Debbie Hayton is a teacher and journalist.
* This article was first published by The Spectator on 10 June 2021: Maya Forstater’s win is a victory for rational thinking.