I am coming to the end of my legal battle on belief discrimination with my former employer, after losing my job for saying that men cannot be women. Through the course of the four-year case I won protection for everyone in the UK to be able to say that sex is real, binary and immutable, without losing their job. My legal precedent has played a large role in breaking the stranglehold of “no debate” on sex and gender – a good thing to celebrate on International Women’s Day.
But I don’t want to stop there. I think it is time we sort out the clash between sex and gender identity in law.
At the end of last year I started a petition asking the government to clarify that sex means sex in the Equality Act. It has already collected 85,000 signatures, and needs just 15,000 more to trigger a parliamentary debate. If you care about free speech, evidence-based policy-making and sex-based rights, go to www.sex-mattters.org/petition for more information and to sign.
The Equality Act is important because it sets the rules which allow single-sex services (including both specialist and everyday services), schools, associations, charities and sports.
My ex-employer is just one of thousands of organisations that have got themselves hopelessly tied up in fear and magical thinking on sex and gender identity. As the boss told me on the phone in our final call: “Our policy on this is we recognise the right of people to self-identify their sex and gender, and we recognise those people for whatever sex/gender they identify themselves.”
But sex is not “gender” (or else if it is, then gender is just a polite word for sex). And these kinds of word games quickly break down when truth and wishful thinking come into conflict. Nicola Sturgeon recently floundered over whether the convicted rapist Isla Bryson is a woman, saying “she regards herself as a woman, I regard the individual as a rapist… and in the context of the prison service what matters is that the individual was convicted of rape and that is what we are talking about here.”
What matters in the context of many everyday interactions (particularly when they involve single-sex spaces such as showers, changing rooms and sports) is a person’s sex, not their self-professed gender identity.
What gets so many organisations tangled in double-think is not just their willingness to talk nonsense to signal their virtue (or to avoid the wrath of enraged activists), but the fact that the law recognises some men as women, for some purposes, and it is not clear which purposes these are.
The Gender Recognition Act enables the issuing of a certificate that is said to change a person’s sex “for all purposes”. This is why I lost the first round of my case. The judge thought those purposes could include changing my thoughts and compelling my speech. He was wrong, and the appeal judge clarified that “for all purposes” only relates to applicable legal purposes, such as marriage and pensions. A judge in Scotland declared at the end of last year these applicable purposes include changing the definition of sex in the Equality Act.
But can that possibly be right?
This would mean that a woman who gets a certificate saying she is a man, and who is trying for a baby (because the certificate has not changed the facts as to who can get pregnant), would not be protected against any sex discrimination she faces as a woman of child-bearing age. It would also mean that it is unlawful for lesbians (or anyone, for that matter) to establish a female-only association unless those who are “female” by virtue of a government certificate are allowed in. The idea of “lesbians trapped in a man’s body” used to be the punchline of a bad joke; now it is the start of a costly discrimination case.
When the Gender Recognition Act was brought in in 2004, for the first time allowing people in the UK to change their legal sex, parliamentarians suspected (although they tried not to think too hard about it) that ignoring the fabric of reality like this might cause legal problems. So they put in a safety clause to allow amendments to clarify which other laws are allowed to continue to consider material reality, and which must defer to paperwork.
The petition is asking the government to use this clause to fix the problem with the Equality Act by enacting a simple amendment making clear that the words “male”, “female”, “man” and “woman” mean biological sex for the purposes of that act.
A large part of the reason why gender madness has been allowed to proliferate through organisations is that those setting the rules and laws have been able to talk in vague language. This obscures the fact that what they are doing is allowing rapists into women’s prisons, boys into girls’ changing rooms, men to compete in women’s boxing, and cross-dressing enthusiasts to play out their fantasy as Girlguiding leaders.
Front-line workers such as nurses, doctors, teachers are forced to tell lies, or to work around idiotic edicts such as that they must ask all “male” patients if they could be pregnant.
Having a debate in Parliament would bring the gender wars back to where the trouble started. If MPs want to defend a law that makes it difficult for service-providers to say “no” to men who want to share showers, dormitories or hospital wards with women and girls, and makes it impossible for lesbians to say no to the idea that men can be lesbians too, then they should do this in Parliament.
It should not be left to individuals to crowd-fund and to take cases that require them to put their life on hold to defend the right to state the bleeding obvious.
Please sign the petition and help make the debate happen.