The Era of “No Debate” is over
In the last 12 months, the UK government has dropped plans to change the law in England and Wales to enable people to change their legal sex status through self-declaration. The Department for Education has told schools to stop saying children can be ‘born in the wrong body’. The Crown Prosecution Service has withdrawn guidance for schools equating dissent to “hate.” In Scotland the Forensic Medical Services Bill was amended to clarify that rape victims should be allowed to request the sex not the “gender” of the medical professional examining them. And the High Court has ordered doctors to take a much more cautious approach to treating children with gender dysphoria.
A bill introduced in Parliament which sought to provide maternity leave for Ministers without using the word “woman” or “mother” sparked a debate in Parliament, where Lords and MPs spoke up, some for the first time, about the need for clear language about sex in law and policy.
This happened not because established human rights organisations, think-tanks and universities took leadership, but because of the emergence of small, courageous organisations and networks, standing up for reality.
The problem now
It is the end of the beginning. Despite the rejection of legal self-identification, and the sparking of public debate, many organisations have already replaced the legal characteristic of sex with self-identified “gender identity” in their rules, policies and record keeping. Regulators, government departments, corporations and major charities are acting as if self-ID was the law.
As a result, without legislative change – or the public debate that should have preceded it – gender is replacing sex in practice. There are males in women’s prisons. Women are unable to be assured of having a female doctor when they ask for one. Women’s organisations find it hard to provide female-only refuges for domestic abuse survivors. Gyms permit males to self-identify into communal changing rooms and showers with women and girls. Despite World Rugby having done the right thing, the UK body has said self-ID still rules. The Office for National Statistics is is trying to run the census with guidance that tells people they can disregard what it says on their birth certificate when it comes to answering the sex question.
Scotland’s chief statistician has declared that in most cases “data should be collected on the basis of gender identity rather than sex”. Crimes are no longer recorded by sex, and rapists are called “she” by the courts. A witness in court was told she must not refer to her male assailant as male. Nightclub security guards are told they cannot judge whether anyone is male or female. Law firms are encouraged to allow part-time cross-dressing males to feel free to use the women’s toilets whenever that feels “more comfortable” for them.
Official guidance from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the Government Equalities Office (GEO) confuses sex and and self-identified gender. This has been adopted into other guidance, for example, by the National Health Service, ACAS, to employers and employees, the Security Industry Authority, and the Judicial College.
This undermines women’s rights and child safeguarding. It also corrodes the culture of our institutions, to debate openly, collect data, act on evidence, value diversity and protect freedom and pluralism.
Why a new organisation?
A sustained campaign is needed to undo the damage done to institutions across society, and secure everybody’s human rights.
Sex Matters is a new organisation co-founded by Rebecca Bull, Naomi Cunningham, Maya Forstater and Emma Hilton, with support and engagement from many others.
We will engage with politicians, officials, employers and professional organisations. We will work with and amplify others in the emerging movement of small organisations working for a reality-based discussion about sex. We aim to build the campaign into new constituencies, professions and sectors, and to help people speak up and act with confidence.
Our singular aim is to reestablish that sex matters in rules, laws, policies, language and culture.
Sex matters, in life and in law. It shouldn’t take courage to say so.
- Establish clarity regarding single sex services and spaces – The Equality Act 2010 protects single and separate sex services in both everyday situations and specialist services. It also allows employment to be restricted to a particular sex. The Equality Act does not say that gender identity can or must be substituted for sex in these situations. We will develop resources and communications to help organisations understand the Equality Act and provide clarity and security in single sex spaces, and advocate for official organisations to provide clear guidance.
- Enable more people to speak up – It should not take courage to speak the truth – that sex is real, binary, immutable and important – but right now it does. We need to help more people find the courage to articulate this, not just on social media or with friends, but also in their professions and organisations.
- Enable debate to happen within organisations – The move to undermine sex in law, policy and language has done great damage to our institutions. Adopting the untruth that human beings can literally change sex has damaged integrity, reasoning, common sense, fairness, accountability and protections for the vulnerable. We will work to empower organisations to adopt sound, fair and transparent policies that reflect material reality and protect everybody’s human rights.
How you can help
Support us to build a professional organisation with the capacity to engage with politicians and officials, public institutions and businesses.
- Join our campaign, sign up for emails, take actions.
- Donate if you can
- Sign our letter to calling for a public inquiry into Stonewall Law
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