On Friday 1st April 2022, we welcomed nearly three hundred people to Bush Hall for an evening of conversation – hosted by Sex Matters and moderated by Helen Joyce, author of the best-selling book Trans – with the claimants who are bringing the debate on sex and gender to the courts.
Watch the video
The claimants’ cases
Helen Joyce: she wrote the book on it
Helen Joyce’s bestseller Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality has changed the debate on gender identity, and in 2020 Sex Matters and its supporters made sure that every MP, MSP and Welsh Senned member got a copy.
We announced at the event that Helen Joyce was joining Sex Matters as Director of Advocacy. To take on this role she has taken a leave of absence from The Economist, where she has been a journalist since 2005, most recently editing the Britain section. She has a PhD in mathematics from University College London, is a mother of two sons, and trained as a ballet dancer.
Katie Alcock: Girl Guide leader who stood up for safeguarding
Katie Alcock is in a legal battle with Girl Guides after they kicked her out as a guide leader for stating gender-critical views in a small, closed Facebook group. They also barred her from even attending as a mother, meaning that her daughter, who has additional support needs, could not go to Rainbows. Her “crime” was saying that she would put safeguarding ahead of Girlguiding policy which says that leaders must treat men and boys who identify as women and girls as if they were actually female. Katie is a lecturer and researcher in developmental psychology and a mother of two primary-aged children.
She is represented by Adam Ohringer, instructed by Peter Daly at Doyle Clayton.
Marion Calder: won back the definition of “woman” in Scotland
Marion is co-director of For Women Scotland, a campaign group founded to oppose the Scottish Government’s plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act to allow for self-declaration of sex.
In 2020 FWS started a case against the Scottish Government for including males who identify as women in the definition of women in the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018. FWS lost in the first instance, and won on appeal, with the judgment stating that the protected characteristic of sex refers to either a male or a female, and that provisions in favour of women must, by definition, exclude those who are biologically male. It confirms that sex is significant in law and that women’s concerns about the undermining of the protected characteristic are valid.
FWS was represented by Aiden O’Neill QC, instructed by Balfour & Manson LLP.
James Esses: trainee therapist taking on the regulator
James Esses was halfway through his training to be a therapist when he was thrown off the course, after he launched a public petition to safeguard therapy and counselling for vulnerable children with gender dysphoria. There was a social media backlash against him and his course provider sent him an email expelling him from the course, then publicised this on social media. He is bringing a discrimination case both against the college and the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy who put the college under pressure. This is the first claim for gender-critical belief discrimination brought against a professional registration body. James is co-founder of Thoughtful Therapists and currently works in the civil service.
He is represented by Akua Reindorf, instructed by Peter Daly at Doyle Clayton.
Maya Forstater: worthy of respect in a democratic society
Maya Forstater brought the first case for gender-critical belief discrimination after she she lost her job at an international development think tank in 2019 after tweeting and writing about sex and gender. She lost in the first instance, prompting JK Rowling to tweet #IStandWithMaya. In 2021 she won an appeal on the preliminary issue of whether gender critical beliefs are covered by the Equality Act 2010, and in March 2022 was able to go back to the Employment Tribunal to make the case against her former employer. Judgment is expected in May. She is a researcher, writer and campaigner, mother of two grown-up sons and co-founder of Sex Matters.
She is represented by Ben Cooper QC and Anya Palmer, instructed by Peter Daly at Doyle Clayton.
Harry Miller: 1984 is a dystopian novel, not a police training manual
After tweeting some satirical verse about sex and gender, Harry Miller received a visited from a police officer to his workplace, was warned to stop tweeting about the issue, and recorded as having committed a “hate incident”. Mr Justice Julian Knowles ruled that Humberside Police had acted unlawfully. There was “not a shred of evidence” that Mr Miller had committed any offence, and they had no business warning him about possible “escalations” – “In this country we have never had a Cheka, a Gestapo or a Stasi”. Harry won a second victory against the College of Policing in 2022. He is a ex-police officer, self-described “hairy-arsed docker” and co-founder of Fair Cop.
He was represented by Iain Wise QC, instructed by Paul Conrathe of Sinclairs Law.
Raquel Rosario Sánchez: student who thought the complaints process would protect her
Raquel Rosario Sánchez came to the UK from the Dominican Republic to study for a PhD at Bristol University. After she agreed to chair a meeting for Woman’s Place UK, a vicious campaign of harassment was started against her; the university failed to protect her or discipline students and staff who threatened her. In February 2022, she took Bristol University to court for failing to protect her from bullying and harassment. The judgment is due in the next few months.
Raquel is a writer, campaigner and researcher, published in the UK and in the Dominican Republic. Her academic specialism is in ending violence against girls and women.
She is represented by Alice de Coverley, instructed by Peter Daly and Amara Ahmad at Doyle Clayton.
Nicola Williams: defeated the ONS on self-ID in the census
Dr Nicola Williams is the campaign director and public spokeswoman for Fair Play For Women. In 2020 FPFW challenged the Office for National Statistics in the High Court over its plans to encourage people to chose their own sex in the census. FPFW won this David and Goliath battle – the ONS retreated to collecting data on sex “as recorded on a birth certificate or Gender Recognition Certificate”. In Scotland FPFW lost the same challenge, on appeal to the Court of Sessions. However, the court was clear that a definition based on biological sex “must” be adopted wherever it “concerns status or important rights”.
Nicola was a research scientist specialising in human biology before she became a campaigner in 2017.
Fair Play For Women was represented by Jason Coppel QC, Tom Cross and Naomi Cunningham, instructed by Paul Conrathe of Sinclairs Law in England, and by Roddy Dunlop QC instructed by Balfour and Manson LLP in Scotland.
Not able to join us, but still fighting….
Jo Phoenix: Professor challenges the rainbow bullies at work
Jo Phoenix is a Professor of Criminology. After she began researching, writing and speaking about the harm to women in prison from the policy of housing trans-identifying males with them, she faced harassment and deplatforming, both as a speaker at Essex University (in an incident investigated by Akua Reindorf), and at the Open University where she worked. In February 2022 she resigned; she is bringing a claim for constructive dismissal. She is a lesbian, a child-rape survivor and a member of Sex Matters’ advisory group.
She is represented by Ben Cooper QC and Naomi Cunningham, instructed by Liz George and Annie Powell at Leigh Day.
Kate Scottow: misgendering is not a crime
In 2020 Kate Scottow received a criminal conviction for referring to trans-identifying lawyer Stephanie Hayden using male pronouns and the description ‘pig in a wig’ on Twitter. She was arrested, held in a cell for seven hours, had her computer and mobile phone taken away for months, and was tried under the Communications Act for persistently causing annoyance, inconvenience and anxiety. The judge at St Albans Magistrate’s Court said that she had engaged in stupid throwaway comments and lectured her: “We teach our children to be kind to each other and not to call each other names in the playground.” Her conviction was overturned on appeal in 2021 with the Mr Justice Warby calling the original judgment “unstructured and without appropriate rigour”. Kate has a master’s degree in forensic psychology, and is a mother of two.
She was represented by Diana Wilson, instructed by McLartys Solicitors.