Did you know that February is LGBT+ history month? If you have a ‘progressive’ employer you probably do. Banks, universities, local councils, NHS services and train operators are all getting on board. Rainbow flags are flying high above buildings across Britain. But do lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people really need their own month to reflect on the past? Or is this more an occasion to virtue signal in the present?
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.
Today marks Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR). Every year on 20 November, clusters of people gather to remember the hundreds of transgender people whose lives were cut short by violence in the preceding year. In 2020, like everything else, the candles, the readings and the list of names will be Zoomed across the aether. But who are these people? It’s true that they were trans but overwhelmingly they were disadvantaged and living on the edge – often in prostitution – and mainly in the global south. It’s a far cry from the experiences of many trans people living in the relative safety of Britain.
Stonewall UK was established in 1989 in response to the now infamous Section 28, which prohibited councils from intentionally promoting homosexuality or teaching about the acceptability of homosexuality in schools. In the years since its founding, Section 28 has been repealed, the age of consent has been levelled, and equal marriage was secured in 2013. In other words, the key political goals of lesbians, gay and bisexual people have been secured in the UK.
Friday’s announcement that biological males should not play women’s rugby may be sound like common sense, but it has already provoked a furore. The new guidelines published by World Rugby, organisers of the Rugby World Cup, apply to the elite and international levels of the game. In their statement they explained,
‘As with many other sports, the physiological differences between males and females necessitate dedicated men’s and women’s contact rugby categories for safety and performance reasons. Given the best available evidence for the effects of testosterone reduction on these physical attributes for transgender women, it was concluded that safety and fairness cannot presently be assured for women competing against trans women in contact rugby.’