Trans ruling over Maya Forstater was Orwellian, tribunal told The Times 28.04.21

The original article is here.

A tax consultant who lost her job for saying that men cannot transition to become women has insisted that her views stemmed from “material reality”.

Maya Forstater, a successful researcher on tax avoidance, was dismissed from the London office of the Centre for Global Development two years ago after she was said to have invoked “offensive and exclusionary” language on social media. Forstater, 47, was accused of “fear-mongering” for tweeting her concerns about government proposals to allow people to legally self-identify as the opposite sex.

JK Rowling was branded transphobic for supporting Forstater when an employment tribunal rejected her claim for discrimination on the grounds of her views.

Ministers have since withdrawn the proposals.

Yesterday Forstater took her case to an appeal tribunal, where she said that concerns about children being “encouraged” to change sex at early ages drove her to make her original Twitter comments. At the opening of the hearing, Forstater’s barrister reiterated her view that biological sex was “real, important, immutable, and not to be conflated with gender identity”.

In written submissions to the appeal tribunal her legal team said: “The label Orwellian is sometimes applied too glibly, but here it is warranted.” They described the original tribunal’s approach as “reminiscent of the Ministry of Truth’s newspeak: words themselves are to have their ‘undesirable meanings purged out of them’ along with the associated ideas.”

Forstater told the appeal tribunal that the implications of the ruling against her were “profound”. She said: “Where the result is that important and widely held beliefs about a matter of ongoing cultural and political debate are deemed to be unsayable, something has plainly gone very wrong.” Her lawyers added that if the ruling was upheld those expressing similar views would not be protected by equality law “even though they are undoubtedly serious, cogent beliefs about an important aspect of human life and behaviour”.

Forstater is challenging the lower tribunal’s ruling on the basis that it incorrectly ruled that her views were not protected by section ten of the Equality Act 2010, the provision that protects philosophical beliefs. Judge Tayler said that she was not entitled to ignore the legal rights of a transgender person and the “enormous pain that can be caused by misgendering a person”.

Ben Cooper QC, representing Forstater at the virtual employment appeal tribunal, said that her views were “based on fundamental scientific facts”. He said that “ignoring them or pretending they are not true is detrimental to an honest, just and fair society, particularly upholding the rights of women. These beliefs do not involve any moral judgment and do not deny the rights or status of trans people or their protection from discrimination.”

The employment appeal tribunal, expected to last two days, continues.

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