October 11, 2022 - 4:09pm

I am a teacher but I am not, and I have never been, a member of the National Education Union. That’s just as well considering the extent to which transgender ideology has gripped the union. At their conference last year, delegates waved through a motion that instructed the Union’s National Executive to work with the Trans and Non-Binary Network (TNBN) to develop a Union definition of transphobia that goes “above and beyond legal compliance”.

It seems that their wish has been granted. Proposals apparently written by the TNBN — and seen by UnHerd — suggest that “transphobia comes from a rejection of trans identity and a refusal to acknowledge that those identities are real or valid.” But what does that mean in practice?

I’m trans, and I have no idea what a “trans identity” might be. As far as I am concerned, I am a human being whose mental health suffered as a result of a chronic psychological disorder. Gender reassignment offered some palliative relief. I’m thankful that I live in a society that accepts and includes trans people, and where it is illegal to treat us less favourably. What more do I need?

But the TNBN is on a mission not only to go beyond the law but also, it seems, to become the arbiters of what is allowed to be said.

The proposal continued with a series of examples of transphobic behaviour that “can come in many different forms”. Top of the list was the “incorrect use of pronouns”, swiftly followed by a garbled mishmash of ideas:

Propagating ideas, concepts and misinformation harmful to trans people and which erase and ignore trans history, such as trans as an ideology or contagion.
- Trans and Non-Binary Network

This has the hallmarks of a power-grab by an activist lobby that thinks it can determine the correct use of pronouns. If it gets its way, where does that leave members of the Union who think differently? Perhaps, teachers who hold the view that pronouns indicate someone’s sex? In extremis, where would it leave a member who was unwilling to refer to a male rapist as “she”? In a kangaroo court it would seem.

Those of us who can recognise a quasi-religious ideology when it stares us in the face — and demands our compliance — or who have weighed the evidence and concluded that there is indeed a contagion among children who identify as transgender, are presumably transphobic.

Further down the list, physical spaces are cited. Deliberate exclusion of trans people? Transphobia! Pity the women in the Union who might want to maintain single-sex spaces.

This astonishing, and badly written, document not only goes beyond the law — it makes demands incompatible with the law. That is especially the case following Maya Forstater’s Employment Appeals Tribunal victory. The National Executive Committee must consign this document to the bin. No doubt they will face further accusations of transphobia but, frankly, the word has become overused to the point where it is now meaningless.

Debbie Hayton is a teacher and a transgender campaigner.