New Zealand was the first country in the world to give women the right to vote in parliamentary elections. But now, 120 years on from that landmark moment for female equality, Kiwi women are fighting a rear-guard campaign to defend the meaning of the word ‘woman’.
Last year, the equalities minister Liz Truss set aside laws which would have allowed people to self-identity as the legal gender of their choice. For those worried about the effect self-ID could have on women-only spaces, Truss’ move was a welcome relief.
But campaigners for women’s rights should not be too complacent. As recent developments across the world in New Zealand show, it only takes a general election to trigger a massive move in policy in a matter of months.
Debbie Hayton reports on the endless moves in Parliament to amend the Gender Recognition Act and asks whether MPs are focussed on the wrong target.
Five years ago, in June 2016, Norway allowed anyone to change their legal gender. Legislative Decree 71 was everything that the gender identity brigade would like to introduce in the UK: no diagnosis, no medical reports, pure self-identification. The age limit was set at six years old, providing the child has at least one parent’s consent.
Lidia Falcón O’Neill is a legendary figure in Spanish politics. Half a century ago, she stood up to Franco as head of a cell in the communist Unified Socialist Party of Catalonia. In 1974, this opposition led to her being brutally tortured:
‘When she fainted they untied her and laid her on the ground. They woke her up with a bucket of water. … She stayed on the ground, wet, for hours, until they took her down to the cell. … On the sixth day, the torturers could not continue with the same sessions. They could no longer hang her on the wall because she was rapidly losing consciousness because of it. So, when she woke up, she kept getting punched and kicked while lying on the ground.’Alejandro Torrús writing in Público (translated into English)
2020 will, of course, be remembered as the year in which Covid-19 was unleashed on the world. But it is one in which another menace – gender identity ideology – was put firmly in its place, in the UK at least.
The House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee launched yet another inquiry into Gender Recognition Act reform last week. Either they are gluttons for punishment, or this really matters to someone. This is the third time since 2015 that Westminster has asked the public what they think about gender recognition. When you add this to the two separate Scottish consultations, it becomes apparent that transgender inquiries are now an annual event.
The government’s decision to reject ‘self-ID’ is a victory for this transgender woman. When I transitioned eight years ago, I had two ambitions: to keep my job and to stay out of the press. I achieved the first, but failed the second. However, this week’s announcement vindicates my decision to speak out.