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The transgender lobby wants to rewrite the law Gender identity activists would undermine justice to advance their ideology

There is an alarming gap between Stonewall’s advice and the Statutory Code of Practice for employers (Photo by WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

There is an alarming gap between Stonewall’s advice and the Statutory Code of Practice for employers (Photo by WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)


July 8, 2021   6 mins

I have spent the past two years trapped in a Kafkaesque nightmare. It all started at the beginning of 2019, when I lost my job at an international development think tank for saying that sex matters: that being male and identifying as a woman is not the same thing as being female.

When I sought legal representation to bring a claim against my ex-employer, two major law firms refused to take my case, with one dropping it just days before I was due to launch a crowdfunding appeal because of concern about “transphobia”. When I complained to the Solicitors Regulation Authority, it said that it was not a breach of professional standards to vet and reject clients.

In the meantime, I looked around for another job in the international development sector, but was told I was too controversial to employ. Then a person I had never met complained to The Scout Association that I had referred to them as “he” rather than non-binary “they” in a short exchange on Twitter,  reporting me as a “bigot” and “transphobe”. The Scouts launched a full investigation, concluding that I might not be fit to continue as a volunteer Scout Leader because I responded to the complaint by saying that, although my pronoun slip-up was an accident and I would generally try refer to people as they felt comfortable, if I came across someone male in the ladies’ showers at Scout Camp I would not worry about respecting their pronouns. The judge in my employment case also took this as a sign that my views should be condemned.

I asked the Fawcett Society, an organisation that dates back to the Suffragettes, if it would speak up about my case. It declined. Its former CEO, Sam Smethers, singled me out on the day she left the organisation as someone she wouldn’t miss. Stonewall and a host of LGBT organisations wrote saying it was a “kick in the teeth” when the Equality and Human Rights Commission intervened to argue in support of my right to freedom of belief. Amnesty International and the TUC have only commented on my case to emphasise the rights of transgender people.

My experience, however, is far from unique. I have heard from hundreds of people who faced similar harassment, victimisation and discrimination because they have refused to fall into line with the new dogma of gender fluidity. Indeed, it’s easy to forget that our common, everyday view — despite being painted as controversial and dangerous — aligns with the law of the land.

That there are two sexes, and that people cannot literally change sex, are plain statements of fact that also align with British law. Sex is recognised as a matter of biology. Since 2004 the Gender Recognition Act has enabled people to change their legally deemed sex for certain purposes, but it also recognises that this doesn’t change their actual sex (for example in relation to motherhood or fatherhood, sport, religion and inheritance).

A powerful lobby group led by the charity Stonewall, which used to campaign for gay rights, has told organisations to go “above and beyond” the law. As a result, we now live in a society where articulating the law is deemed an offence for which powerful people and organisations will try to ruin your life, while others look away.

And so I sued my ex-employer for discrimination and victimisation. Victimisation has a specific legal meaning: being treated badly because you have taken action to protect your rights under the Equality Act. My “protected act” was to highlight what the law says about the sexes — that men are male and women are female.

 

My legal team argued that as well as this being the law, I was also protected against belief discrimination. People who hold the opposite belief — that only gender identity matters, that “trans women are women, trans men are men and non-binary people are valid” — are also protected. This is as it should be in an open, pluralist society.

But the Center for Global Development, my ex-employer, argued that only one belief system — one that rejects the UK legal definition of sex — should be tolerated, and that those who share my belief (and agree with the current law) are bigots who should have no protection against being harassed by colleagues for their views and having their livelihood destroyed.

Shockingly, the employment tribunal agreed with this, judging my belief “unworthy of respect in a democratic society” and thus excluded from the protection that is given to other beliefs (or lack of beliefs) such as in the doctrine of the Trinity, transubstantiation, ethical veganism, stoicism and Scottish nationalism.

Last month the Employment Appeal Tribunal reversed the employment tribunal’s decision. The presiding judge, Mr Justice Choudhury, remarked that “where a belief or a major tenet of it appears to be in accordance with the law of the land, then it is all the more jarring that it should be declared as one not worthy of respect in a democratic society”.

The idea that the law is out of date and can be ignored is widely embedded in organisations’ diversity policies that confuse and conflate sex and “gender identity”. A key reason is that many are signed up to Stonewall’s Diversity Champions Scheme, which, according to Stonewall itself, covers a quarter of the UK workforce. Members include Whitehall departments, universities, NHS trusts and police forces, as well as large swathes of the corporate and voluntary sectors.

Gender-identity lobby groups even train the media and the judiciary. Views similar to Stonewall’s, for instance, are echoed repeatedly in the “Equal Treatment Bench Book” — the guidance written by judges, for judges, on how to treat people fairly in the justice system. The Bench Book says that the language used in the Equality Act 2010 is “now widely considered to be out-of-date and stigmatising”. It tells judges that “man” and “woman” are genders, not sexes, that there are “people who identify with no particular gender or who are gender-fluid”. The gender landscape, it says, “is rapidly changing, as is the terminology in the field”.

That government departments, public bodies, professional regulators and the judiciary are disregarding the law in favour of rapidly changing terminology controlled by a lobby group should be alarming to all. It undermines democracy, justice, freedom of speech and the integrity of organisations. Most importantly, by confusing adults and children about sex, it undermines safeguarding.

Only last month, for example, the employment tribunal heard another case of a woman punished for speaking up; Sonia Appleby, the safeguarding lead at the NHS Tavistock Clinic. In 2019 she raised concerns about the treatment of young people suffering from a feeling of disassociation from their sexed body, saying that safeguarding failures were a “Jimmy Savile waiting to happen”. The Tribunal heard that instead of responding to her concerns, management put a letter in her personnel file and told clinical staff not to talk to her.

It’s cases like these — and many other that we have heard — that led me, together with a team of lawyers and academics, to establish a new human-rights organisation, Sex Matters, earlier this year. It campaigns for clarity about sex in law and policy, seeking to help other organisations wake up from this nightmare.

One way is do this is by using freedom of information requests to shine light on the influence of gender-identity lobby groups. We are also calling on employers to leave the Stonewall scheme. The Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Justice, Ofsted and the Equality and Human Rights Commission are among the 40 organisations we know have left. But 800 or so are hanging on. The Government Legal Department (which advises other departments on what the law says) remains an enthusiastic member, as do the Home Office and the Scottish Government.

Interestingly, Stonewall has responded to criticism by changing its public story. After years of telling employers that the law is outdated, it now claims its advice is in line with the law it has derided, as set out in the Statutory Codes of Practice for employers and service providers.

Yet as analysis published by Sex Matters today reveals, in our report “Understanding the Risk of Following Stonewall Advice” there is an alarming gap between Stonewall’s advice and the Statutory Code of Practice for employers. Stonewall’s approach ignores the rights of other employees, focusing only on advancing gender ideology. In particular, Stonewall’s advice, replaces the Equality Act’s protected characteristics characteristics of sex (being male or female) and “gender reassignment” with a single characteristic, “gender identity” — so that women and trans women are said to have the same “gender identity”. It also states that employers must allow people to choose which toilets and other facilities to use based on their gender identity — and that challenging or denying them access amounts to harassment.

So what can be done? Well, we will plan to send our report to every Stonewall Champion and to every minister, MP, peer and member of a devolved legislative assembly. Concerned readers can also write to their MPs and representatives, and to organisations they have links with, asking them to leave the Stonewall scheme and return to following the law that protects all their employees.

We are also today sending an open letter with over ten thousand signatures to the Committee on Standards in Public Life. We are calling for a public inquiry into how so many public bodies could have abandoned the Nolan principles of acting in the public interest with integrity, objectivity and accountability, and instead adopted policies that make people afraid of complying with the law, or even of saying what it is.

Such behaviour is not worthy of respect in our democratic institutions. I have already experienced first-hand what can happen when we allow the law to be misinterpreted. And if we don’t wake up to the way it’s being distorted, I certainly won’t be the last.


Maya Forstater is an international development researcher and Director of Sex Matters.

MForstater

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Lesley van Reenen
LV
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

Maya is an incredibly brave and resolute person – bringing this fight into the light and being so proactive about defending the rights of all people. Her story is shocking and will hopefully encourage others to join in the push back and to use the law to address this wherever possible.
And meanwhile in America, hundreds of male criminals, simply by claiming to be female, are being processed into women’s jails.

Galeti Tavas
VS
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

TheGolgafrincham Ark Fleet Ship B

The lower decks occupants, fill the page above – my post above Awaiting for Approval as I listed all the organizations mentioned, and it made a frightening list… Society is doomed.

Anthony Lewis
Anthony Lewis
2 years ago

Total respect for you Maya for standing up for individual freedom and fighting these anti liberal intolerant and totally misguided forces. I am a founding member of the Free Speech Union and the LGB Alliance. What you highlight also is the increasing trend towards activist lawyers changing the law outside the democratic process with little debate resulting in developments which have little support in the general populace – this is perhaps for me the most worrying aspect of what is going at the moment. Yoiu are an important and powerful voice of reason – please continue your important advocacy on all our behalfs.

Galeti Tavas
VS
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Anthony Lewis

swamp creature is attacked and harried by large pack of predatory swamp creatures….

Andrew Roman
AR
Andrew Roman
2 years ago

If the trans activists keep on fighting for their agenda without a more powerful resistance the law will eventually be rewritten to their wishes.

Judy Englander
JE
Judy Englander
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Roman

Yes, that’s my fear. Labour are committed to the mindless mantra, ‘trans women are women, trans men are men’* and they will change the law to fit Stonewall ‘law’.
*Whenever I read that I have a mental image from SciFi films where people taken over by aliens become chanting zombies.

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Labour are nowhere near power. Not that it matters – most of this ideology has permeated universities and businesses. under the conservatives.

Miriam Cotton
MC
Miriam Cotton
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

And Labour are losing thousands of votes every day because of their mindless adherence to the transgender cult.

Lesley van Reenen
LV
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Trans activists have hijacked Stonewall and alienated gay and lesbian people.

Tom Krehbiel
TK
Tom Krehbiel
2 years ago

I hope you’re right, Lesley. It hasn’t alienated LGBT activists, to be sure. But ordinary lesbians, gays, and bisexuals may be a different story. It does occur to me that lesbians may be the least enthusiastic about people with male parts in the women’s locker/shower/dressing room. After all, their hetero and bi sisters may get some voyeuristic pleasure from the spectacle(s) – but why would they?

Judy Englander
JE
Judy Englander
2 years ago

I’ve donated to S*x Matters (link in article) and strongly recommend that other readers do so. This group has received only a fraction of the publicity that another worthy organisation – the Free Speech Union – garners. Why this should be I’ll leave to readers’ speculation. But I’d guess this leads to a big difference in funding.
So please – help out and give them some dosh for your sisters’, daughters’, granddaughters’, girlfriends’ and wives’ sakes. Also for the sake of a return to a sane and decent society. Whatever you think of the original Suffragettes’ methods, this is a suffragette movement for the 21st century – a fight against the disenfranchisement of women.

Last edited 2 years ago by Judy Englander
Christina Dalcher
Christina Dalcher
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Hi Judy, I definitely get your point about publicity differences, but maybe this can be chalked up to the FSU being around a bit longer? Also, they’re a bit more generalized in terms of free speech issues, whereas SexMatters has a limited focus. Anyway, might oaks from little acorns and all that!

Sarah Atkin
Sarah Atkin
2 years ago

I have respect and admiration for you and anger at what you’ve been through. We’re seeing an Orwellian nightmare unfolding before our eyes here, gripping our society. As with most nightmares, it’s crept up on us. Now, on a daily basis something happens that seeks to undermine and erode women’s sex based rights and the idea that women even exist! Then there’s this huge growth in teenage girls wanting to transition – no longer wanting to be girls. I work in education and this is a recent phenomena. It’s terrifying. Not questioned. The wider public are not yet fully aware this is happening but surely, it’s now only a matter of time before the penny ‘drops’? Plainly, we cannot rely on our politicians to be brave. I despair that the Labour Party isn’t standing up for women here.

tricia colibaba
tricia colibaba
1 year ago
Reply to  Sarah Atkin

I can’t upvote you! I tried, and the # does not change .

Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
2 years ago

There is a sickness, a disease running through western civilization, and it has nothing to do with Covid.

Hersch Schneider
HS
Hersch Schneider
2 years ago

It won’t end well for the West

Ray Zacek
Ray Zacek
2 years ago

Transwomen are to women as wax fruit is to fruit.

Peter LR
PL
Peter LR
2 years ago

Thanks, Maya, with you all the way. That was a great dig in the final paragraph. I was very impressed by the YouTube clip of you speaking after being appalling thrown out of your job. Men, women, transmen, transwomen are perfectly understandable and encompassing terms. We also can’t allow this stuff to wreck women’s sport.

Ron Bo
Ron Bo
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter LR

I hope to see more transgender males competing in athletics.

Tom Krehbiel
Tom Krehbiel
2 years ago
Reply to  Ron Bo

By “transgender males”, you mean folks with female parts claiming to be male? If so, I’m for that as well. When they fail to win a whole lot of berths on teams – other than those from leagues which are non-competitive – it should put an end to the claim that biological males have no advantage over biological females in sports.

Christopher Barclay
CB
Christopher Barclay
2 years ago

What a surprise! Judges deciding that they can change the law without the bother of getting the changes passed in Parliament. The views that are ‘acceptable in a democratic society’ being determined by unelected officials and organisations. Civil servants worrying about sex and gender while the country struggles with a pandemic for which they had completely failed to plan even though an outbreak had been expected for 20 years.

Ron Bo
RB
Ron Bo
2 years ago

Lawyer made law is the way to go.
Can’t have Parliament having a say.

Gary Baxter
GB
Gary Baxter
2 years ago

This transgender and other identity politics nonsense can only have a market in rich white countries. People in most parts of the world — poor, developing countries, China, Russia and much of East Europe would look at such drama with utter befuddlement and downright contempt! They wonder: are they mad?
Are we mad?Yes, many of us are. Especially those bleeding-hearts do-gooders, mostly from comfortable middle-class background. They dream of, and believe in a Utopia, where all borders are blurred and disappear, all men and women (sorry, there wouldn’t be men and women any more, only persons, which may very well include chimpanzees) embrace and kiss each other day and night. What we would have is a Dystopia.

Last edited 2 years ago by Gary Baxter
Galeti Tavas
VS
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

“2019, when I lost my job at an international development think tank

“When I sought legal representation to bring a claim against my ex-employer, two major law firms refused to take my case,”

“I looked around for another job in the international development sector,”

“I asked the Fawcett Society, an organisation that dates back to the Suffragettes, if it would speak up about my case. It declined.”

“Stonewall and a host of LGBT organisations wrote”

“when the Equality and Human Rights Commission intervened to argue in support of my right to freedom of belief.”
Amnesty International and the TUC have only commented”

“Since 2004 the Gender Recognition Act

“A powerful lobby group led by the charity Stonewall, which used to campaign for gay rights”

“And so I sued my ex-employer for discrimination and victimisation.”

“protect your rights under the Equality Act. My “protected act””

But the Center for Global Development, my ex-employer,”

“Last month the Employment Appeal Tribunal reversed the Employment Tribunal”

“A key reason is that many are signed up to Stonewall’s Diversity Champions Scheme,”

“that led me, together with a team of lawyers and academics, to establish a new human-rights organisation, Sex Matters

“The Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Justice, Ofsted and the Equality and Human Rights Commission are among the 40 organisations”

“The Government Legal Department” (which advises other departments on what the law says)”

“with over ten thousand signatures to the Commission on Standards in Public Life.”

WTF?? What sort of world do you people live in?

“Kafkaesque nightmare” the writer calls this, and it is, also a VAST money hole where reason is drained of its blood for Woke insanity to make huge amounts of money to lawyers and give high pay to what are basically teams of parasites working in Douglas Adams kinds of ‘Ministries’ and NOGs and ‘Charities’ who do no good, but immense harm.

The Kafka part this all brings to mind if Metamorphosis’ where the petty, useless and obstructionist, bureaucrat is so miserable he turns into a giant cockroach, which is exactly, Karmically, what all these ones above should do.

Little Dorrit and “The Circumlocution Office was (as everybody knows without being told) the most important Department under Government. No public business of any kind could possibly be done at any time without the acquiescence of the Circumlocution Office. Its finger was in the largest public pie, and in the smallest public tart. It was equally impossible to do the plainest right and to undo the plainest wrong without the express authority of the Circumlocution Office”. (Dickens)

Miriam Cotton
Miriam Cotton
2 years ago

Excellent. We have an international pandemic of a virus known as extreme transgenderism. We urgently need both treatment and inoculation from it.

Alan Thorpe
AT
Alan Thorpe
2 years ago

The monsters from the id have infected the minds of humanity.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
2 years ago

The interesting thing is that international development organisations deal only with countries who agree with Maya. I wonder what feedback they got from developing countries over this affair.

David McDowell
David McDowell
2 years ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

No feedback. They took the money and kept their mouths shut.

tricia colibaba
tricia colibaba
1 year ago

What you describe, and everything going on now reminds me of Alice in Wonderland. What you went through, and the arguments used against you are absurd, to the level of farce. I think though that you, and other people who share your beliefs need to unite and be like a loud, nuanced choir, rather than voices in the wilderness of hysterical, not based in science screeds. The same people who can’t tell us what a woman is, and try to browbeat us into believing that men can give birth, also tell us to vaccinate for C19, because we must, because it’s science. Keep up the good work, and unite.

Last edited 1 year ago by tricia colibaba
David McDowell
David McDowell
2 years ago

The existing legal framework that Maya hides behind is a creation of feminist activists and others who regarded earlier laws as outdated and campaigned to have changed, sometimes using aggressive and underhand tactics. What Maya is essentially demanding is that legal evolution should cease because she likes the law as it stands. She has advanced biological and scientific arguements in support of her position. The reactionaries in earlier generations did the same thing.

Ron Bo
RB
Ron Bo
2 years ago
Reply to  David McDowell

Laws should made by elected representatives not lawyers and judges.No sane person thinks the law is static.Ducking stools anyone or perhaps a bit of hanging drawing and quartering?

Gillian Johnson
Gillian Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Ron Bo

Well that is a good soundbite, until you remember that England and Wales is a “common law” jurisdiction and law has been made by the courts for time immemorial. So laws here should be made by lawyers and judges because that is our tradition and it works!

Simon Martin
Simon Martin
2 years ago

That’s not actually true. Laws become laws when the sovereign gives a parliamentary bill royal assent. The courts then interpret it’s application to particular cases, building up a body of case law over time.

As to the view “That there are two sexes, and that people cannot literally change sex, are plain statements of fact that also align with British law.” this also aligns with medical fact. Any person, of any gender can only be at risk of getting either cervical or prostate cancer. This is determined by your sex.