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A maths teacher was referred to a disciplinary panel for professional misconduct because he said boys and girls should be able to wear whatever they want without anyone jumping to the conclusion that they are transgender.
He was accused of “transplaining” and subjected to a disciplinary hearing by his union, the National Union of Teachers (NUT). In a three-paragraph statement on a Facebook page used by 7,000 NUT members, Roy Wilkes, 59, also said prescribing puberty-blocking drugs to children was “a form of child abuse”.
Wilkes added it could lead to a lifetime dependence on hormonal drugs, and many children changed their minds after puberty about changing gender.
He was accused of making “grossly discriminatory (transphobic) statements . . . that were damaging to the mental health of members” and which brought the union into disrepute, of harassing transgender members and of harassing Annette Pryce, LGBT executive member of the NUT, who made the complaint.
This weekend, Wilkes spoke out after the national disciplinary committee of the National Education Union, of which the NUT is part, dismissed all three charges against him. Wilkes said: “It is an important blow for freedom of speech and for the right of people to question and disagree with the prevailing narrative on self-identification and gender.”
He said he was particularly shocked to be summoned to the hearing on January 13 because he was a longstanding member of the Labour party and of the union.
“I have fought all my life for equality and against discrimination,” said Wilkes, who teaches at a secondary school in northern Manchester. He got embroiled in the Facebook debate after defending Kiri Tunks, vice-president of the NUT, who wrote a newspaper article on transgender issues which warned that relaxing the legal definition of what it means to be a man or a woman could render sex discrimination law meaningless.
One critic accused Wilkes of “transplaining and quite possibly mansplaining”. The person said it was “disgraceful” to suggest that they were “stifling debate” by refusing to “engage or ‘debate’ my identity and very core of who I am with those who actively refuse to accept that”.
Another wrote that “transphobic posts on the union’s Facebook page have been really impacting my levels of dysphoria”. They said that when Wilkes wrote that he did not agree that trans women were women “that comment made me feel physically sick and the palpitations that I’ve been suffering from started again”.
Wilkes said that, if he had lost the case, he could have been expelled from the union, with implications for his job.
Labour has suspended Jennifer James, a party activist who is funding a legal challenge to the party’s decision to allow self-defining women on to all-women shortlists. She posted a Twitter message saying that she had been suspended “for saying women don’t have dicks”.