Why I changed my mind about trans self-identification by Anne Jenkin in The Telegraph 23.07.21
The original article is here.
‘Hero of the equal-marriage debate” was the accolade accorded to my father-in-law, Lord (Patrick) Jenkin, by PinkNews when he died in 2016. As a family, we were nominated for the Stonewall Politician of the Year Award in 2013. We have always been supportive of gay rights and equality. My husband, Bernard, was one of the small handful of Conservative MPs to support the reduction of the age of consent for gay men back in 1994, as well as voting in favour of civil partnerships and gay marriage.
Recently, however, I find myself increasingly at odds with the doctrines from organisations such as Stonewall, with which that I previously had such common cause with. As I have read and looked more closely, I have realised that changes were slipping through without proper scrutiny, because people like me had been unquestioning about progress on equalities.
When the Conservative Party proposed changing the law on gender recognition in 2015, I didn’t see any great problem. I support those people with gender dysphoria who feel they must identify as the opposite sex. Like most people, I understood that this was to cater for relatively few in society who had chosen to commit to sex-reassignment surgery.
But the proposed legislation would actually mean that anyone who merely states that they feel they are the opposite sex must be accorded the rights of the sex they choose: no surgery, no hormones, no gender dysphoria diagnosis required. Stonewall claims around 600,000 people in the UK identify as trans or non-binary. So now we have a conflict of rights, between those of transwomen and those of women and girls.
Most of my working life has revolved around championing women. As co-founder of Women2Win, promoting women in Parliament and public life, is at the heart of what I stand for. I also care deeply about the wider issues of women’s rights and equalities. Concerned voices are growing louder: the sudden dramatic increase in teenage girls presenting with rapid-onset gender dysphoria; children taking puberty blockers and setting in motion a cascade of interventions that will leave them sterile and in life-long need of medical treatment; fundamental women’s rights being abandoned.
Overwhelmingly, there is deep concern over the #NoDebate stance and the cries of “‘bigot”,’, “‘TERF” ’ and “‘transphobe”’ that accompany any attempt to discuss the issues. Countless women have been “‘cancelled” ’ for expressing mainstream views on biological realism. In fact, just this week, JK Rowling, refusing to be intimidated, has faced bomb threats on social media.
There is huge fear in many quarters over speaking out, but debate and dialogue is not just necessary but essential. This is not a “‘culture wars”’ issue. The cancellation of the terms “‘woman”’ and “‘girl”’ in public policy will have disastrous consequences. Where rights collide, there must be open discussion, inquiry enquiry and compromise. Gay marriage, abortion rights and medical ethics were not smuggled onto the statute book by stealth.
No doubt I will now be vilified for declaring myself to be “‘gender critical”, but I am not just standing up for the rights of tens of millions of women and girls but speaking for the vast majority who are either still unaware of what has been happening to our equality laws or are too scared themselves to say anything.