Now GRA reform is dead, let this toxic debate end Janice Turner in The Times 15.06.20
The original article is here.
Publicly-funded trans lobby groups like Stonewall expected that changing the 2004 Gender Recognition Act to a system of gender “self-identity” would sail through.
They persuaded Tory MP Maria Miller, then chairwoman of the Commons women and equalities committee, that allowing biological males to change birth certificates to female on their word alone, abolishing medical oversight, was mere “admin” for trans people and no one else’s business. Miller’s 2016 public consultation on the GRA discounted submissions from women’s groups that expressed concern that self-ID had grave implications for rape crisis centres, women’s prisons and refuges.
The political playbook for introducing self-ID into law is set out in a document called “Only adults?” published by the law firm Dentons. It advises that “gender identity remained a more difficult issue to win public support for” so trans activists should “avoid excessive press coverage and exposure”. Countries where self-ID was passed into law, such as Ireland and Malta, did so with scant public debate.
GRA-reformers stomped hard on dissent. Even asking how trans rights and women’s protections could be reconciled was dubbed bigotry. At first few spoke up. (Most MPs still only air concerns in private.) Anyone who dared to do so found themselves on the receiving end of the misogynist vitriol chucked at JK Rowling last week.
So grassroots feminist groups formed to defend sex-based rights, such as the largely left-wing Woman’s Place UK whose meetings were frequently picketed. Such feminists were not just concerned about self-ID but about policy capture in public bodies, from the NHS to schools. Stonewall and other groups were advising flouting of the 2010 Equality Act which allows single-sex exemptions – in places like refuges, sports centres or women’s hostels – if it is a “proportionate means to achieve a legitimate aim”.
Instead, new guidance to schools stated that natal males who identify as girls must be allowed to shower with female pupils, while girls who felt embarrassed must stand outside. (councils have now been told to withdraw this.) The notion that “gender identity” is all-important while biological sex does not even exist, inluenced prison policy leading to cases like trans rapist Karen White being housed in a women’s jail and sexually assaulting inmates.
According to reports yesterday, Liz Truss, the equalities minister, has decided to reaffirm the Equality Act’s sex-based protections. This will stop the practice of sticking “gender-neutral” on existing loos so that women must either queue longer or file past urinals. In schools this policy is hated by both sexes, especially girls just starting to menstruate. Feminists have long argued that gender neutral spaces should be in addition to single-sex facilities where possible.
Most importantly, it is not a “rowing back” of trans rights but a rebalancing to take in women’s rights. “Biology,” as JK Rowling wrote, “is real.” The vast majority of trans people, who’d never insist women are called “menstruators”, have always known this. Now that GRA reform is dead, let this pointless, toxic debate end so they can get on with their lives.