Beware the Gender Borg: a cautionary tale

Guest post by Paul Chase

"My column was published at 11am... just before 5.30pm the publisher apologised publicly for the anger and upset it had caused and stated that he was parting company with me as a columnist."

So, by way of introduction, I’m Paul Chase and my background is in operating clubs and bars and also a large hospitality-based training company that I retired from three years ago. I am an author and industry commentator on alcohol and associated issues. For 10 years I have written a fortnightly column for the hospitality blog Propel Opinion, and during this time they have published 259 of my articles. Then on Friday 6th January 2023 I wrote article number 260, and all hell broke loose.

Read my article


So, this is an article about the transgender issue and trans ideology. A lot of my friends advised me not to touch this issue with a bargepole, because it has become so toxic that rational discussion between people of different viewpoints has become extremely difficult. 

The issue of how to treat transgender customers in hospitality venues is not a new one, but has come to prominence again recently with the Scottish Parliament voting in favour of the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill. This Bill enables anyone aged 18 or older to change their legal sex by self-declaration provided they have lived in their preferred gender for three months or more (six months or more if you are 16 or 17), and without a diagnosis of gender dysphoria. This Bill has yet to receive Royal Assent. The UK Conservative government has said it might block this legislation, although the Labour opposition supports this reform and would introduce it, if elected to government. 

It is startling how much public discourse is being driven by trans activism and trans issues and those managing licensed premises may well feel they are treading on eggshells when dealing with emotive issues such as the access of ‘trans women’ to female toilets. I’m not qualified to give detailed legal advice on such access, but I set out here my general viewpoint on the whole trans issue:

So, to help you navigate the sexual politics of this, here are 10 trans myths:

Myth #1: Sex is a spectrum – we’re all a mix of male and female.

Fact: Sex is not a spectrum. Like all mammals, reproduction is predicated on a binary model where males impregnate females. Humans cannot change sex. There are:

  • 2 sexes
  • 3 sexualities, and
  • 7.9 billion personalities

You get one from each row. Anyone who suggests otherwise has been sold a lie or is selling you one.

Myth #2: Intersex people are a third sex.

Fact: Sex is binary. There are two sexes. There are atypical anomalies to this model and ‘intersex’ is an umbrella term for over 150 disorders of sexual development all of which are atypical anomalies of male or female.

Myth #3: Some people are born in the wrong body and need surgical correction.

Fact: Everyone is born in a body that developed in the womb of a female after fertilisation by a male. You may not fit a societal stereotype as you grow up, but you were not born in the wrong body – no one is. To suggest otherwise to children or young people is a toxic lie that has led to a form of gay conversion therapy that ‘transes away the gay’ by convincing gay youth they need corrective surgery. The rendering of gay youth in gender abattoirs, particularly in the United States, is a monstrous medical scandal that future generations will view with utter disbelief.

Myth #4: Gender is assigned at birth.

Fact: No one is assigned gender or sex at birth. Sex is identified and recorded by medical professionals and this process starts with the 20-week scan and ends with the arrival of a male or female child.

Myth #5: Gender dysphoria is not a mental health disorder – we should refer to it as gender diversity.

Fact: Gender dysphoria is a mental health disorder as listed in DSM-V. As such, any expressions of gender dysphoria should be assessed by a mental health practitioner, and not just nodded through. This is to ensure the patient receives the right treatment.

Myth #6: It is okay to give puberty blockers to ‘trans children’ because their effects are reversible.

Fact: Puberty blockers are a controversial, experimental treatment. They interrupt a biological process that occurs for everyone. The preponderance of evidence is that they cause irreversible changes and are a risk to health. And there is no such thing as a ‘trans-toddler’ and claims to the contrary are a giant red flag and should be a matter for the safeguarding authorities.

Myth #7: “Non-binary” is a gender.

Fact: Non-binary is not a gender it is a rejection of gender. The genders match the sexes male/man, female/woman.

Myth #8: The biological advantages of males over females have been exaggerated and can be countered by taking drugs that reduce testosterone.

Fact: Women are more vulnerable than men not only because they experience greater reproductive risks, particularly in childbirth, but because men are, on average, taller and larger than women, with bigger hearts and lungs, and heavier bones. The average male has 41% more non-fat body mass than the average woman, his legs are 65% stronger and his upper body 90% stronger. And rape is a male pattern behaviour. This is why women need separate toilets, shower and changing room facilities in public places like pubs and bars – and why we have male and female sports categories. 

Myth #9: Sex change hormones and surgery can change a man into a woman.

Fact: The proposition that a man can change into a woman via a process of chemistry, surgery and cosmetics is a delusion. Denying the binary nature of sex categories is science denial.

Myth #10: If you deny that Trans Women are Women you are ‘transphobic’.

Fact: A woman is an adult human female. A ‘trans woman’ is not a real woman, he’s a man engaged in live action role play – regardless of whether this happens as a result of a mental health disorder, such as gender dysphoria, or a fetish such as transvestism or autogynephilia. Imputing hateful motives to those who disagree with you, or pathologising dissent, is the hallmark of an extremist. If you’re happy pretending to be a woman, I’m happy for you. You don’t need to resort to science-denial to justify your self-presentation. 

As the trans issue builds up political steam operators should beware of the possibility that activists will want to test their diversity policies by demanding use of the ‘right pronouns’ and access to women-only spaces like toilets and changing rooms. 

As if you don’t have enough to contend with. Enough is enough.

What prompted me to write on this subject was the Scottish Parliament passing a law that enabled anyone to change their legal sex by self-declaration after living for three months in their preferred gender, and without a diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

This has obvious relevance for operators of hospitality and leisure venues dealing with trans customers, particularly trans women, demanding access to women’s spaces such as female toilets, changing rooms and shower facilities.

I’m not qualified to give detailed legal advice on these issues, so my article concentrated on the sexual politics of the transgender issue and iterated 10 trans myths and the antidotes to them. Pointing out that sex is binary, not a spectrum; that human beings cannot change their sex by any combination of chemistry or surgery; that “intersex” is not a third sex; and that a woman is an adult human female – all seemed to me to be simple facts that no one with a rational mind questioned until about five minutes ago.

But transgender ideology is not a rational creed and the responses to my article were swift, outraged, and hysterical.

Prior to its publication I discussed the article with Propel’s publisher, Paul Charity, who is a veteran journalist and former editor of a licensed trade paper, the Morning Advertiser. We both anticipated that the article would generate more than the usual volume of comments, and Paul joked that he would need to do an audit of his stock of tin hats.

The column was published online on Propel Opinion at 11am on 6th January and 18 minutes later Paul received his first email response. It was from a director of a pub-operating company and was favourable, describing it as a “brilliant piece”. The responses then came thick and fast – some favourable, congratulating Paul and me on having the courage to tackle such a difficult and toxic issue. But then the Gender Borg kicked in and the shrieks of hysteria began.

I won’t identify any of the complainers, but here is a flavour of some of the responses: the first was from a woman who works for a temperance organisation and who complained: “Why do you allow someone with such right-wing views to have a column every week and never offer any diversity or alternative view?”

Then we had a variety of responses via email and twitter that took aim at me personally – describing me as right-wing, transphobic, hate-filled, bigoted, ignorant, misinformed, small-minded and unqualified to comment. A repeated theme was my age – I’m 73 – and one reader suggested I had deliberately set out to offend and upset people, called me a “horrid old man” and advised me to take a long, hard look at myself and spend “a long stint in the corner staring at the wall.” So, off to the Naughty Step then.

The best ageist comment of all was from a woman who accused me of being a “misinformed, geriatric white man”. If someone who was young and black had written this article, can you imagine her describing him as a “misinformed, paediatric black man”? No, of course not. It seems ageism is the only prejudice to retain respectability and all you have to do is shout “Boomer!” at someone and you can dismiss their point of view without the inconvenience of intellectually engaging with it.

Indeed, all of the critics limited their remarks to personal attacks on me and not one of them engaged with the substance of the article. Another recurring theme of the responses was their interpretation of my criticism of transgender ideology as an expression of hatred for transgender people. If you criticise gender ideology ergo you hate trans people and want to deny their right to existence in the world. This is a device that enables the Gender Borg to avoid the need for debate at the level of ideas by dismissing them as hateful attacks on a marginalised group. Since I came out as a gay man 52 years ago I have known many trans people and have nothing but empathy for the position they are in. My objection is to a belief system that takes gender dysphoria out of the clinical context and into the social-justice context. This involves making the rest of society conform to compelled speech – pronouns – and requires us to collude with the delusional architecture of gender-dysphoric people and push them down a lifelong and irreversible surgical and medical path.

At first, when the responses came pouring in, Paul Charity defended my article, stating that Propel Opinion is a free-speech platform and that if anyone disagreed with my opinion, they could write a rebuttal piece.

But then some of Paul’s big corporate sponsors threatened to withdraw support and a number of speakers withdrew from an upcoming conference he is organising. Paul felt under siege and that his business faced an existential threat.

He was advised he needed a sacrificial lamb and so just before 5.30pm – six and a half hours after he published my article – Paul caved in, bent the knee to the Gender Borg and threw me under the bus. He published an open letter to all his subscribers apologising for the anger and upset the article had caused and stating that he was parting company with me as a columnist. Last Friday’s Propel Opinion has now been taken down in its entirety. I’ve been cancelled! The only way those opposed to the publication of my views could get at me was through Paul Charity, and the vulnerability of his business to corporate censorship. That is how cancel culture works.

For those who wonder why I wrote this article, I should explain that I came out as a gay man 52 years ago when public attitudes to same-sex relationships were very different to what they are today. I am appalled at the way in which gay history is being erased by a pernicious, anti-gay, misogynistic gender ideology that brooks no dissent; that won’t engage in debate but seeks only to censor and cancel.

I won’t be silenced.