Cheap mysticism posing as care
Gender identity ideology has had a profound impact on western society. The concept of an innate and immutable gendered essence — like a gendered soul, perhaps? — has displaced the reality of biological sex in law and policy, even compromising the meaning of words as basic as man and woman.
It is now two years since an exasperated JK Rowling announced, “‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?” Maybe in 2022, some sense is being restored? After a three year battle, Maya Forstater established the right to tell the truth, “A man’s internal feeling that he is a woman has no basis in material reality”, and not get sacked the next day. Meanwhile sporting governing bodies are finding the gumption to reserve women’s sport for human females.
But the effect on children should worry us even more. Let’s be clear. Whatever might have been postulated by American psychiatrists in the 1960s and codified at Yogykarta in 2006, gender identity can neither be proved nor falsified. Moreover, I don’t need a gender identity to explain my own transsexualism, and I don’t see why anyone else needs one either. In fact, the fixation on gender identity may be hampering research into what is really going on in my head and the heads of other transgender people.
But this is not what some children are hearing. News this week that the Tavistock Gender Identity Development Service is to close is very welcome. GIDS, as it is known, was found not to be a “safe or viable long-term option”. Crucially, the NHS plans to develop a more “holistic” approach with “strong links to mental health services”. However, the problems are wider than this one clinic. The affirmative approach — essentially, you are trans if you say you are trans — has spread throughout society.
Children consulting Childline are told, “Your gender identity isn’t always the same as the gender you were given at birth”. So what is it then? The charity adds, “lots of things make up your gender identity, including … your gender expression, for example how you dress or act”.
But if that appeal to sexist stereotypes is insufficient, the NSPCC — Childline’s parent body — leaves it to the youngsters themselves to sort out: “Gender identity is a personal feeling, and a child or young person will be the best person to know what matches how they feel”.
There seems to be no lower bound to this abdication of responsibility. According to Stonewall, “Research suggests that children as young as 2 recognise their trans identity”. Which research? But in an environment where assertions are detached from reasoned arguments, Stonewall failed to cite any sources.
This is truly an area where an idea has taken root without reason, and schools have been nurturing it. Even schools that have considered the issues.
Last year, for example, the Girls Day School Trust courted controversy for its new policy that reaffirmed its commitment to single-sex education for girls. The trust — which runs 25 schools in England and Wales — determined that, “Admissions to GDST schools are based on the prospective student’s legal sex as recorded on their birth certificate.”
Quite right! Sex is meaningful and observable. But elsewhere the policy tumbles down a rabbit hole of confusion. The transgender net is cast widely and incorporates, “People who do not wish to undergo a process to reassign their sex, but whose gender identity is different from their biological sex, including those who identify as third gender, non-binary or gender fluid. It also covers those who are intersex.”
Why people with differences in their sexual development were press-ganged into falling under the transgender umbrella is not explained, of course. But why should any pupil need to be labelled as transgender to be protected from harassment and bullying? To be truly inclusive, surely these policies should cover everyone, without having to declare a special identity of any kind. If a girl wishes to cut her hair short, change her name to one more usually given to boys, and decry the feminine, let her. Do not tell her that she needs to identify as a boy, or as non-binary, in order to do so.
Instead schools have taken on board the concept of trans children — a priestly class, perhaps? — labelled them and set them apart. The consequences to those young people are potentially monumental, and not just those who might be referred for medical treatment. Never before have we humoured the fantasies of children in such a way. What impact will it have on their long-term psychological development if they are raised under an illusion that they are the other sex, or perhaps neither sex? Nobody knows.
Other schools have developed gender identity policies that trample over the rights of other children. Ralph Thoresby School, a state comprehensive in Leeds, declared, “Trans young people have the legal right to use the toilets of their acquired (authentic) gender.”
Do they? The School Premises (England) Regulations 2012 suggests otherwise, “Separate toilet facilities for boys and girls aged 8 years or over must be provided” with the only exception being self-contained single-use cubicles accessible to both sexes. Assuming that “boys and girls” means what it has always meant — juvenile human males and females — then this school is misrepresenting the law. Which is interesting because the chair of governors works for the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
While the school he governs has a laissez-faire attitude to changing rooms, “Separate changing facilities can be provided if they [i.e., the transgender-identifying pupil] do not feel comfortable in either the male or female changing rooms”, his employer — the EHRC — offers rather different advice. The Technical Guidance for Schools in England considered the needs of all the children:
“A school fails to provide appropriate changing facilities for a transsexual pupil and insists that the pupil uses the boys’ changing room even though she is now living as a girl. This could be indirect gender reassignment discrimination unless it can be objectively justified. A suitable alternative might be to allow the pupil to use private changing facilities, such as the staff changing room or another suitable space.”EHRC Technical Guidance for Schools in England
In the common-sense approach of the EHRC, the boys and girls maintain their single-sex spaces while alternative provision is recommended for children who feel uncomfortable changing with their own sex. So why is an employee of the EHRC not insisting that a school he governs defers to the EHRC when developing policy? His school could be a bastion of good practice; instead, it is one of many that appears to be in thrall to gender identity ideology, pushed by an activist lobby that puts politics before people.
The creation of the trans child has liberated nobody, certainly not the other children who are being required to give up their single sex spaces. But nor has it helped the children at the centre of this storm: gender non-conforming children who do not need to have a gender identity imposed on them. Women’s rights are there to be reclaimed, but children only grow up once. If gender identity is not necessary to explain transsexualism, it is certainly not needed in child development. I do not see how children aged as young as two — according to Stonewall — have a trans identity, unless adults tell them they have one. It’s time to stop imposing our preconceptions and prejudices on them, and leave them to grow up in peace, as boys and girls.