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.
This piece was originally published in English by The Economist on 3rd July 2018: Gender identity needs to be based on objective evidence rather than feelings
Written by Debbie Hayton; Japanese translation by @hatenademian
Gender identity needs to be based on objective evidence rather than feelings
The U.K. government has a rare opportunity to help trans people restore societal fairness and trust.
Like an out-of-control juggernaut, transgender ideology has steamrolled through legislatures and institutions, leaving irrational and unscientific policy in its wake. But there’s been some promising pushback in London this summer where the British government might be about to say no to the transgender lobby.
Gender recognition is the ultimate political hot potato. Three years after Justine Greening — the then Equalities Minister — announced a public consultation on changes to the 2004 Gender Recognition Act, and two years after the public were finally asked for their views, we are still far from resolution. As the months passed, many assumed that the Government had kicked it into the long grass, if not the primeval forest.
The consultation itself came and went a year later in 2018 amid fervent campaigns by transgender activists eager to allow legal gender changes on demand, and women’s groups concerned that their boundaries would be rendered meaningless as a result. If men can identify as women — for whatever reason they might choose — how can they be kept out? It is naïve to rely on the argument that “men wouldn’t do that, would they?” Spaces such as changing rooms are most often cited, but also at risk are prisons, hospital wards, reserved places on committees and boards, scholarships and, indeed, every sex-based protection.
For the past two years, the hot potato never went cold — on the contrary, it ignited a social media inferno. The furore surrounding JK Rowling — condemned as a transphobe for reclaiming the word woman to describe her sex — is remarkable only because she is a public figure.
Coronavirus has closed schools, grounded planes and even delayed the start of the cricket county championship, but it has not shut down the transgender debate. This often toxic and divisive issue has proved to be one of the hardiest items in the news agenda in recent years. And even a pandemic has done little to limit the exposure.
Birth certificates are the latest topic to provoke fury. But now there is a difference. While the discussion up to now has broadly surrounded the documents of transgender people, the Court of Appeal has just upheld a ruling about the documents of their children.
The event had been called to support Woman’s Place UK and the LGB Alliance. Both organisations had been denounced as transphobic and trans-exclusionist by the self-styled Labour Campaign for Trans Rights (LCTR). Shockingly the LCTR had been supported by Labour Members of Parliament, including contenders for the leadership of the party.
As Covid-19 spread across every continent, the world changed in ways that we could not have anticipated as recently as Christmas. “Self-isolation” and “social distancing” have entered the lexicon and taken root in my mind to such an extent that video clips of people breaking the two-metre rule seem to belong to another age, like old silent movies. These are – to use an overworked expression – unprecedented times.
But trans people have been living in unprecedented times that go back further than Christmas. While previously we were largely ignored by politicians and the media – apart from occasional salacious and often unwelcome feature articles – trans issues have been high in the news agenda for the past three years. That has not always been a blessing.
As the United Kingdom plunges into an unprecedented crisis, the time has surely come to halt the reforms to self-identification of gender. Schools are closing; London could be locked down; even The Archers has an uncertain future – this really is a crisis. At such times, we can no longer afford the luxury of devoting time and resources to the foolish idea that biology matters less than feelings, when we divide humanity into male and female.
The transgender crisis that has engulfed the Labour Party has now lurched into a new and previously unimaginable phase. When the hitherto unknown group, the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights (LCTR) launched its egregious manifesto last week, peak-lunacy seemed to have been reached.
Following demands for compliance — including “pledge 4: Accept that trans women are women, trans men are men, and non-binary people are non-binary” — they condemned what they considered to be transphobic organisations, naming Woman’s Place UK and the LGB Alliance and calling for transphobes to be expelled from the party.
It has been a trying week for the Labour Party. The leadership contenders are falling over each other in an astonishing bid to make themselves equally unelectable by a membership who are becoming exasperated with what many now view as transgender nonsense. I say that as a trans woman who is a member of the Labour Party.
Have they not learned from Jo Swinson? In December, the former Lib Dem leader’s election campaign went up in smoke on the altar of transgender ideology. Her inability to define the word “woman” is a masterclass in how not to do live radio.