Jo Swinson chose wokeness over women’s rights The Times 07.12.19

The original article is here.

I might send Jo Swinson a bunch of flowers. My card will read: “Thank you for making reform of the Gender Recognition Act a flagship Liberal Democrat election policy, thus finally giving journalists permission to expose the consequences for women’s rights
and safety.”

I mean it. Normally broadcasters swerve this toxic topic, knowing that even to question is deemed transphobic. But this was a manifesto pledge: the electorate deserved clarification. Thus Nick Robinson could ask Luciana Berger: “Is it the Lib Dem view that if I now declare that I identify as a woman you want the law to treat me as a woman?” To which she replied: “Yes!”

On Newsnight, Sarah Wollaston (a medical doctor) revealed she does not believe a baby’s biological sex is observed at birth but “gender is assigned” by some random sorting hat. Asked if she’s concerned that self-ID will be abused by predatory men she said: “There will be, of course, a very tiny number of individuals who will seek to exploit this to behave as violent criminals towards women and you need a separate route for these people.” Except, Sarah, self-ID means “I am who I say I am”: there is no “separate route”.

Then the Lib Dem leader herself has, on multiple media outlets, embodied gender ideology in all its confusion, obfuscation and magical thinking. Asked by both Andrew Marr and Emma Barnett about the 2010 Equality Act’s single-sex exemptions which allow women’s refuges to exclude biological males, she burbled that shelters admitted lesbians so why not trans women. On LBC she said she requested that her cervical smear was conducted by a female medic, a demand impossible under Lib Dem policy.

Swinson’s view is that women come in all types — trans, “cis” (ie non-trans), straight, gay — and the law should never differentiate between them. The Lib Dems want to allow “non-binary” people (those with the nebulous, unscientific belief they are neither male nor female) to put “X” instead of “M” or “F” on passports. Lib Dems do not believe biological sex exists, let alone that it matters in data collection, crime statistics, the safety of girls, the housing of sex offenders or any other governmental matter.

Voters tuning in for the first time to the gender wars may wonder how such radical policies, which would change the very definition of men and women, have entered a party’s manifesto. They might be more surprised to find that such principles are already deeply embedded in our institutions entirely against public opinion.

How can the NHS publish guidance on single-sex wards that insists any person (regardless of any physical transition) be treated according to gender identity, with no concern for the privacy of, say, elderly women patients? How can schools introduce “gender neutral” lavatories, which both sexes detest but especially menstruating girls? Why was the rapist known as Karen White allowed into a women’s jail to abuse female inmates? How can police record a tweet that simply states that lesbians don’t have penises as a “hate incident”? All these government agencies are in breach of existing equality law.

A useful explanation has emerged in a report by the international law firm Dentons called Only Adults? This was commissioned as a tool for LGBT groups that want children to be able to legally change gender without parental consent. It shared successful trans campaign strategies. Activists should “get ahead of the government agenda and the media story” by targeting youth politicians, encouraging them to put pressure on senior party figures. This keeps lobbying discreet and internal. Once in power, a party would then have an oven-ready trans legislation programme. Ideally, says the report, because gender identity remains “a more difficult issue to win public support for” it should be shrouded by a “veil of protection” afforded by “more popular reforms”: notably in Ireland, where self-ID was bundled in with same-sex marriage.

But the number one campaign tactic was “keep press coverage to a minimum”. In other words, avoid scrutiny, debate and the pesky business of democracy.

Herein lies the story of the Lib Dems’ gender policy. Generated by its youth and LGBT wings, it was quickly endorsed by Swinson, desperate for woke points after the furore around the ex-leader Tim Farron, a Christian who abstained on gay marriage.

In Labour, whose 2017 manifesto supported self-ID, a deeply divided NEC eventually agreed to “ensure that the single-sex-based exemptions contained in the Equality Act 2010 are understood and fully enforced”. But straight away a furious Dawn Butler, shadow equalities minister, tweeted that self-ID would be included after all and that single-sex spaces were illegal. (They are not.) Butler has been notably silent since.

Meanwhile the Conservatives, who were expected to “weaponise” the trans issue, have wisely stayed silent. Their policy of retaining existing law is far more in line with voter opinion than Swinson, whose Twitter feed contains thousands of livid women saying they’ll no longer vote Lib Dem.

Once the election is over, the spotlight shone upon this most far-reaching strand of government policy will sputter out. Journalists will once more falter into silence, when instead this should mark the beginning of a proper inquiry into how our public institutions changed so drastically without our consent.

It is time for ministers to deliver a report into the 3,200 per cent rise since 2010 in children who believe they are trans; time, too, to ask why three quarters are now girls. And for cowardly so-called feminist Labour MPs to speak up for women’s legal right to single-sex spaces. The Lib Dems have exposed the muddle we are already in. It’s time to sort it out.