Kemi Badenoch is considering a change to the Equality Act 2010 that would restore the meaning of sex to what everybody once understood. I am a science teacher, so I know this. There are two sexes: male and female. Females produces large gametes called eggs while males produce small motile gametes called sperm. Science doesn’t care whether it happens in frogs, monkeys or people – sexual reproduction is a robust process that has been around for millions of years.
Maybe – even as recently as 2010 – this was so obvious that it did not need to be stated when legislation was drafted. The Equality Act defines the protected characteristic of sex, quite simply as, ‘a reference to a person who has a particular protected characteristic is a reference to a man or to a woman’. But when Keir Starmer of all people now seems to think that one in a thousand women have a penis – and presumably the capability of producing sperm – clarity is desperately needed.
In February, Badenoch asked the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to advise her on ‘the benefits or otherwise of an amendment to the 2010 Act on the current definition of “sex”’. The EHRC has just responded* with a refreshing missive of common sense. In brief, the commission is of the view that ‘if “sex” is defined as biological sex for the purposes of [the Equality Act], this would bring greater legal clarity in eight areas’.
These examples included the right of both sexes to form single-sex groups and associations. At present it is hard to see how any group can defend its boundaries when – in the minds of too many people, it seems – a woman is anyone who identifies as a woman, penis or no penis.
The EHRC has not gone that far; in April 2022, the commission suggested that ‘Under the Equality Act people are protected from sex discrimination on the basis of their legal sex’. Legal sex can be changed when a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) is issued according the processes set out in the Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA). The UK might have so far avoided the calamity of self-ID where GRCs can be issued to anyone who wants one, and for whatever reason, but even so, neither hormone therapy nor gender reassignment surgery is a pre-requisite. In terms of legal sex, Starmer is almost right. Some (legal) women may well have penises, just far fewer than one in a thousand.
But either way, the law is a mess. The confusion has created uncertainty, which has damaged confidence, and that in turn has seeded fear and anger among two groups of people who worry that their rights are at the mercy of someone else’s feelings.
Many women, quite rightly, worry that if they are required to open their spaces to the other (biological) sex, single-sex exceptions are rendered meaningless. Meanwhile some trans people fear that they may be excluded from spaces they thought they had inherited. One social media influencer described the situation as ‘bleak’, calling it a ‘backdoor bathroom bill’ that would ‘basically nullify the GRA’.
Such heated rhetoric suggests a lack of confidence in the law. The boot is on the other foot when it is perceived that someone else’s feelings are in the ascendency. For everyone’s sake we need re-ground the law in reality, and that means defining sex in terms of biology. Everything else is open to interpretation.
What perhaps was not clear from some newspaper headlines was the commitment of the EHRC to trans rights. Indeed a focus on biological sex would restore the right of trans men with a GRC to seek pregnancy and maternity protections. The commission was also mindful of the potential impact on the right of trans women with a GRC to bring claims of sex discrimination as a woman.
All the time, this is a discussion over the protected characteristic of sex. Nobody in government or the EHRC is proposing to remove the protected characteristic of gender reassignment. That is where trans rights are protected, now and in the future.
Even so, the GRA is not nullified. That particular law was created to allow trans people to change their birth certificates so that they could marry in their acquired gender; that would continue to be the case. We also don’t have American-style bathroom bills in the UK. On this side of the Atlantic, no laws are broken, for example, when a woman uses a cubicle in the men’s to avoid a long queue for the women’s.
That said, it is an offence under the Public Order Act 1986 to cause another person harassment, alarm or distress. Tightening up the law could well make it more difficult for abusive males to play the trans card – and hence abuse trans rights – in order to abuse women’s spaces. That is something both women and trans people should welcome.
Badenoch should be praised for her initiative – biological sex is real, and reality matters – but as in many cases, it’s easier to draft laws than is it to apply them. The law can say that a space is restricted to biological females only but, under the GRA, a male person can change all their identity documents to indicate that they are female. Service providers may gain the right to exclude all trans women from a single-sex space, but it’s pointless if they cannot distinguish trans women from their paperwork. And if they pass reasonably well, service providers may not even think to ask.
Cool minds and clear heads are needed to solve that conundrum. Let’s hope they prevail.
Debbie Hayton is a teacher and journalist.
* This article was first published by The Spectator on 5 April 2023: Kemi Badenoch is right to review the definition of sex.
7 replies on “Kemi Badenoch is right to review the definition of sex”
I’m not sure how to respond to this article. I thought that you believed that women have a right to their single-sex spaces, yet you give your stamp of approval to trans women who can pass, not just in appearance, but in terms of their identity documentation. There are women in the world who have been so completely abused by biological men that they want to avoid them completely. Such women should not have to worry that the women’s shelter they are staying in has biological men in it, even if those men can pass as women convincingly.
Now, as for trans women, how many of them DO pass so well that no one can tell that they are biological men? My impression is that trans women want is to be accepted as women even if they DON’T pass well. If only the men who pass well as women are able to get into women’s spaces, they may not be satisfied with that. And this is the problem, isn’t it? That they don’t belong there.
When you say “service providers”, whom are you thinking of?
This attempt by Badenoch feels a bit like trying to get the toothpaste back in the tube….
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“… Many women, quite rightly, worry that if they are required to open their spaces to the other (biological) sex, single-sex exceptions are rendered meaningless. Meanwhile some trans people fear that they may be excluded from spaces they thought they had inherited. One social media influencer described the situation as ‘bleak’, calling it a ‘backdoor bathroom bill’ that would ‘basically nullify the GRA’… ”
What spaces, according to the 2004 Gender Recognition Act, did a Gender Recognition Certificate afford access to, DH? They were intended, as the Act says, to facilitate same-sex marriage, and only same-sex marriage at a time when that was not legally possible, and, since new laws now allow that for all, without exception, the 2004 GRA is defunct and should be repealed.
It has been used by the ‘trans’ lobby as a springboard to more and more demands that will, inevitably, destroy all women’s rights and spaces, etc. Allowing one male into female spaces, and vice versa, negates the single-sex quality of those spaces for both males and females. This, of course, is the deliberate intention of the ‘trans’ lobby, with self-ID backing that to the hilt and the extension of a GRC into a free-for-all ticket, for which it was never intended.
For Women Scotland, a female campaigning group, is appealing against Lady Haldane’s broad interpretation of ‘sex’ in the Gender Representation on Public Boards Act, which, as with so much of ‘trans’ incursion into female human rights, could, potentially, and I would hazard, given the propensity of some males to push females out of any and all public spaces, will, result in the 50% allocation on these board for women in an all-male takeover under the guise of ‘trans’ and a GRC. It is preposterous and the Act has been misinterpreted deliberately, as has the 2010 Equality Act protected characteristics. Membership of these public boards is crucial to females because of the decisions taken there that impact on our lives.
The GRC should also be extremely limited and restricted in its application, and, under no circumstances should it be a stepping-stone to having one’s birth sex and other records extinguished. It could, for instance, be used in passports, with an indication – all passports contain holograms that contain information – that there is, in fact, a GRC for this person to be presumed to be a woman for travel purposes. Why not? The ‘trans’ person could be fleeing justice or breaking the law in other ways like any other person who is not ‘trans’.
This is why it is imperative that biological sex is clarified for all laws and that innate sex should never be extinguished. The truth is, harsh as it may be, that very few males pass as women and girls, and very few females pass as men and boys. The crucial factor is that ‘trans men’ pose no risk to males apart from being a genuine nuisance in gay clubs, while ‘trans women’ will always be a threat to all women and girls, whether they have been convicted of sex crimes or not.
Most, if not all of these men are fetishists, and women and girls do not want fetishists in their spaces either. In that sense, they are all ‘larping’. Men need to get their heads around the fact that females have an instinct that helps them to pick out men who are a threat, but it is not foolproof. In some ways, men who dress as females are an even greater perceived threat because they confuse and deliberately try to make females question their own innate sense of survival instincts, which all females pass on to their daughters and the younger generations, in general.
Of course all men do not rape or harass, but those who do, although a minority, are a risk to ALL females and that risk triggers our survival mechanisms. Why can’t they all understand, once and for all, that females do not want them in their spaces, rights, opportunities, sports, prizes, etc. whether they have a certificate to wave or not? It really is that simple. Third spaces. Leave us alone. If that is too much to ask from these men, tough. We will fight.
They are like no other group in society ever: black people did not claim to be white in a black skin; women never claimed to be men in a female shell; and gay people never claimed to be straight with a gay exterior. If people cannot see the difference, then they need to go to Specsavers. The reality is that this needs to be stopped before more youngsters’ lives are destroyed by a fantasy that can never be real. We owe it to our future generations to be brutally honest or many will succumb to what is, essentially, a men’s sexual rights movement. Forgive me, DH, if that hurts you, because I do not like hurting anyone, but it is the truth, and the truth will out eventually. No one is ever better for having his or her delusions validated by others, as we know from other body dysmorphic people, such as anorexics.
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Lorncal, I’d like to make a point that I personally find interesting. Trans women claim that they have the “gender identity” of women. They may think that at first, but that’s not how it ends up for them. As they begin the transitioning process, they quickly discover that “transitioning” is just a cosmetic thing, and they eventually realize that their maleness is too much a part of their bodies to eliminate. And so they end up with the identity, not of women, but as trans women. The bottom line is that a person cannot identify with something that he or she is not. Trans women may feel sympathy or empathy for women, but that’s as far as it goes. Most trans women, though, don’t even feel that. Once they discover that surgeries will not make their male bodies female, they end up feeling envious and jealous of women for being what they can’t be — women. Even a trans woman who passes very well must worry about being found out, and that worry feeds their hostility towards the real women who might unmask them. The best thing for them to do is to be satisfied that their status as trans people is known to everyone, as Debbie is.
Another point I’d like to make is that most of humanity does not have a built-in reverence for life. If most people (especially men because of their testosterone) don’t end up committing murder, it is more likely because they didn’t have the nerve or didn’t think they could get away with it. A man who has taken estrogen may be marginally less aggressive than he used to be, but that’s no guarantee that his innate nature may not overflow in violence. I watch a lot of true-crime shows, and it is astonishing how many seemingly normal and upstanding people end up committing murder when the opportunity presents itself.
I think the only way women can make their feelings known is to refuse to compete when trans women are present. To refuse to buy underwear and cosmetics when they are advertised by men and to refuse to use facilities which allow mixed changing rooms. Is this likely to happen ? Probably not because many young women feel it is kind to include trans women into their spaces. Industry, the voluntary sector, schools and the NHS are all on board with trans inclusivity because their funding depends on it. This genie is already out and proud and unlikely to return to the bottle unless there is a serious financial reason.
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That would be counterproductive, wallisp17. Women would lose even more sponsorships and backing, and ‘trans women’ would simply take over. When they say they want our spaces, they mean that literally because, in their deluded minds, some of them actually believe they are women, better women than women. If the source – the government – cuts out funding to organisations that trample on the 2010 Equality Act protection of ‘sex’ (biological sex as opposed to ‘legal sex’) for everything and that GRCs can be used only in very restricted and limited ways in which female spaces, rights, services, etc. are left intact (and this is where clarification of the law comes) in this nonsense will fade away and all those who supported the nonsense will end up with egg on their faces.
The 2004 and 2010 Acts never ever envisaged TWAW or self-ID, because they did not exist, and ‘sex’ meant biological sex. What does strike me as very evident is that some straight and gay, non-‘trans’ men are happy to see women having their rights demolished, revel in it, and that is very telling as to their attitude to other men’s usurpation of the rights of another group and the fact that the group affected is female. It tells us a great deal about the male desperation for control of the female and the attitude of the ‘trans’ lobby and of a good number of ordinary men is not a mile away from the Taliban’s, with the qualification that men larping as women would be executed in Taliban circles. The men and women who support this nonsense just do not understand what totalitarianism, the very thing they espouse in their gross stupidity, actually means for everyone, including themselves. They are having their moment in the sun, but the clouds will appear eventually.
Alternatively, they will go down the tubes with this nonsense. If industry is hampered by this ideology and ceases to make large profits, bye, bye ‘trans’, and that will prove to be the case very soon, I think; it will be jettisoned eventually. Likewise, with the NHS and voluntary organisations, when the reality of what it actually means to be ‘inclusive’ of sexually fetishistic men dawns, the edifice will crumble. You can silence some of the people some of the time, but you can never silence all of the people all of the time.
Caleb: I have listened to hours and hours of psychologists explaining the phenomenon of ‘trans’, to sex offenders’ statements, etc. I genuinely wanted to understand and not simply condemn out of hand. As I told lettersquash in another thread, I supported ‘trans’ rights. It was more curiosity that made me start to delve into legislation, Stonewall, ‘trans’ rights groups, etc. because, by 2015, I had begun to have doubts about this movement’s motivations – just little things that did not ring true.
What I did discover made my blood run cold, to be honest, and I started to realise that these men – they were 99% men at that time – did not love or like women at all. The claim to want to be women was based on far, far darker sexual origins that stemmed less from liking for the female of the species as wanting to exploit the subjugation and submissiveness and control of women. These men, most of them, saw females as sub human beings created solely for the pleasure of males, on the one hand, alongside the fact that women create life itself and are close to the natural world, much closer than men can ever hope to be in that sense.
So, yes, envy and jealousy that stems from a God-like arrogance confined to males only, but also a deep-rooted sexual paraphilia that derives its pleasure from playing the role of the subservient and subjugated female being. To put it crudely, most of these men want to service themselves, be both male and female in one body. People have studied ‘trans’ porn and it almost all alludes to this dual paraphilia.
DH has never claimed to BE a woman and has admitted to being a autogynephile, but most of this latest wave of ‘trans women’ are dangerous, precisely because they will never admit that these are their motivations, but claim that they ARE women and that we should all validate them. Of course we never will, so I fully expected violence from some of them when thwarted and their motivations seen through by females. What we should never do is see them as anything other than human beings with rights – but no more than the rest of us.
There is no ‘true trans’ or ‘genuine trans’ – all are fakes. Some, a tiny minority of this group are actually body dysmorphic (rather than gender dysphoric, albeit that is how it comes across) which explains why very young children allegedly experience being ‘trans’ when they are not sexually mature; it is actually that they have a disconnect between their brain and their body; extensive studies done by child psychologists into the phenomenon realised that recognising the sex of another person is one of the very first abilities that babies have, and even when the dolls used were given male or female clothing to try and confuse the child, he/she insisted on the original sex.
If the majority of ‘trans’ are neither body dysmorphic nor gender dysphoric, then they are exactly what the psychologists, after years of study, say they are: paraphiliacs/autogynephiles/fetishists, so it becomes very understandable why they (the men) would adopt a female profile and role (of which they have no knowledge at all, their role-playing based on observation of the female and on stereotypes; the females may well be, in a few cases, female autogynephiles, although there is scant evidence of this, but they are far more likely to be overwhelmed by fashion or by social contagion and aping males. Child psychologists are also very sure that most young children, left to mature without intervention, will be either straight or gay or bisexual beyond puberty, and the data they have accumulated thus far strongly suggests just that.
I think that, given the right trigger and circumstances, we are all capable of murder: some would murder out of sheer pleasure, others out of anger and loss of control, others out of revenge, others out of fear, yet others for money, others for control of another human being who does not want to be controlled, some out of hatred, some out of love, others in order to protect themselves (self-defence), some because they were drunk and had reduced control, and so on. Some people kill after a head injury, others, I am quite sure we will discover very soon, through drug and hormone misuse. The ‘trans’ man who killed those schoolchildren and their teachers in America was probably elevated to male levels of aggression through cross-hormone use, but that has yet to be proved.