Where sex matters | Freedom of speech

Freedom of speech

Being offensive is not an offence

The words mum, dad, boy, girl, he, she, man and woman are among the first we learn.

There are many everyday reasons why people might want to refer to someone’s sex or previous name, or to talk about the material reality of the two sexes. People should be able to speak about sex and use sexed language in debates on sex and gender identity, without fear of losing their job or being investigated by the police.

We need to be able to talk about issues such as how crimes should be recorded, how prisons and other single sex services should accommodate transgender people, how the census should record sex, rules for women’s sports cannot only be done generalities. They will necessitate discussion of individual cases and illustrations, and the sex of the people involved.

People asserting their rights to single sex services should be able to do so in plain English and without the barrier of having to perform the mental gymnastics required to avoid “misgendering” or “deadnaming”.

What’s the problem?

In recent years people have been called “hateful” simply for making ordinary, everyday statements about what it means to be male or female.

Public bodies and private entities are silencing and punishing lawful speech about sex and gender as “transphobic”, with people already being removed from social media platforms, having websites and social media forums shut down, being bullied and harassed at work, losing jobs, and being arrested, questioned and prosecuted for communications offences.

Many organisations have adopted policies and guidance which prevent people using ordinary language about the sexes. There are proposals for new laws on hate crimes that would criminalise ordinary talk about the sexes.

Updates

  • Union proposes boundaries on gender-critical speech

    Union to vote on putting “boundaries” on gender-critical thought in the civil service

    The FDA is the trade union for managers and professionals in public service. It includes the most senior civil servants and specialists such as lawyers and statisticians. Delegates at tomorrow’s annual conference will be considering a motion that would put “boundaries” on gender-critical speech and adopt the position that...

    11th May 2022

  • Send our new guidance to a school you know

    Schools are calling out for clear guidance on sex and gender to answer questions such as what should they do when they face demands to socially transition children or to keep the secrets of a child who identifies as trans.

    25th April 2022

  • "If I win, HR departments will have to pay attention, and recognise that adopting ‘gender self-ID’ and enforcing its mantras creates a risk of legal liability."

    Interview with Maya Forstater

    Sex Matters’ Executive Director Maya Forstater won an important judgment in 2021 in her employment discrimination case. Now she is going back to court. Before her hearing begins next week on 7th March, Sex Matters interviewed Maya about her journey.

    2nd March 2022

  • College of Policing ordered to dial down the “chilling” effect on public debate

    Sex Matters welcomes today’s landmark judgment from the Court of Appeal on the recording of non-crime hate incidents.  It comes three years after Harry Miller received a visit from Humberside Police and had a non-crime hate incident recorded against his name after his tweets were reported as transphobic by...

    20th December 2021

  • Exposing disinformation about Kathleen Stock

    The intensification of targeting of Professor Kathleen Stock attracted public attention to the long-term campaign against her, and to the larger issue of academic freedom. Claims have been circulating which seek to discredit her and those who support her. We assess each one.

    25th October 2021

  • The Royal Academy and Belief Discrimination

    Sex Matters has written to the Royal Academy about Jess de Wahls. You can download our letter. Jess de Wahls is a textile artist. Her work tackles feminism, misogyny and fetishism. She has expressed her gender-critical views, most notably in an essay she posted in 2019, and since then...

    17th June 2021

  • Truth and reconciliation

    How should the public sector leave the Stonewall Champions Scheme?

    6th June 2021

  • Oxford’s submission to Stonewall

    We are pleased to announce that Michael Biggs, Associate Professor of Sociology at St Cross College, Oxford University, is joining the Sex Matters Board of Directors. Professor Biggs has written this post, as well as a letter to Professor Louise Richardson, Vice Chancellor of the University of Oxford, calling...

    6th June 2021

  • Time to #LeaveStonewall

    This is the letter we have sent to the CEOs of the 850 organisations that are members of the Stonewall Diversity Champions Scheme. Re: Leaving the Stonewall Diversity Champions Scheme We are writing to call on you to withdraw from the scheme, both for the sake of your own...

    29th May 2021

  • The Gender Wars, Academic Freedom and Education

    Guest blog post by Professors Alice Sullivan and Judith Suissa

    25th March 2021

  • Stonewalling the Domestic Violence Bill: Why make “misogyny” gender neutral?

    A short month ago there was an attempt to rush a bill through parliament that would set a precedent of “gender neutralising” motherhood in law; replacing the words mother or woman with  “pregnant person” in the Ministerial and other Maternity Allowances (MOMA) Bill.   As Baroness Noakes highlighted, this is...

    13th March 2021

  • Huddersfield University apologises for “transphobic tweets” investigation

    Huddersfield university has been forced to apologise and pay compensation to a PhD student after they subjected him to a lengthy disciplinary investigation over “transphobic” tweets. The University investigated Jonny Best for six months after a fellow student made an anonymous complaint about things he had written online. Best,...

    7th March 2021

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