Stonewall pioneer criticises its transgender ‘extremism’ The Times 25.02.19

The original article is here.

One of the founders of Stonewall has condemned its “extreme” position on transgender rights after its chief executive announced she was stepping down.

Simon Fanshawe, 62, one of the original 14 trustees in 1989 alongside Sir Ian McKellen, called on the organisation to listen to concerns about its campaign to amend the Gender Recognition Act.

Stonewall was established 30 years ago to lobby for the repeal of Section 28, which banned discussion of same-sex relationships in schools. It is campaigning for transgender people to be able to self-identify legally as the gender they feel they are without having to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate. This requires providing evidence that they have lived as the opposite gender for two years and having gender dysphoria diagnosed. The charity claims this is a dehumanising process.

Mr Fanshawe said: “It’s allowing this extreme notion of self-identification.”

Stonewall withdraws representatives from panels that include people who disagree with its stance on self-identification. “To say these issues aren’t debatable or that raising them is somehow transphobic appears to be the Stonewall position, rather than to build on the great tradition . . . of concentrating on the big principles of discrimination,” Mr Fanshawe said.

“When we said we wanted to live as gay people free and equal under the law, we didn’t want to tell heterosexuals that they were not allowed to do what they did or change their view of what being heterosexual was. We didn’t go round telling people they were homophobic.”

Ruth Hunt, 38, has announced she is handing over leadership of Stonewall after five years. During her tenure, trans rights have shifted to the top of its agenda. Sceptics claim this is an expedient, if unpopular, move to maintain funding after same-sex marriage was granted in 2013. “Hunt saw that the numbers of people identifying as transgender were rising and spotted an opportunity,” Jo Bartosch, of the women’s group Critical Sisters, said.

Maureen Chadwick, the TV writer of Bad Girls and Footballers’ Wives, said that she and her partner quit Stonewall because it embraced “the trans cause”. Chadwick had donated at least £38,000 to Stonewall over six years.

Jan Gooding, the chairwoman of Stonewall’s board of trustees, said Ms Hunt’s commitment to trans rights would continue to be integral to its campaigning.