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, and rules for women’s sports – and this cannot be done by talking in generalities. It 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”: people have been removed from social media platforms, had websites and social media forums shut down, been bullied and harassed at work, lost jobs, and been arrested, questioned and prosecuted for communications offences.
Many organisations have adopted policies and guidance which prevent people using ordinary language about the sexes. There have been proposals for new laws on hate crimes that would criminalise ordinary talk about the sexes.
Should a civil-service union promote harassment and discrimination?
At its annual conference starting on Tuesday 23rd May, PCS – Public and Commercial Services Union, the largest civil-service union – is planning to debate motions that denigrate gender-critical civil servants and the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The motions seek to commit the union to a political stance...
19th May 2023
We call on GANHRI to protect civic space
On 3rd May 2023 Stonewall and a group of organisations wrote to the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) accusing Britain’s equalities watchdog, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, of being a “failed institution” which is “actively harming trans people”. This is the third time Stonewall has...
16th May 2023
Response to Victor Madrigal-Borloz’s report on the UK
The UN Independent Expert Victor Madrigal-Borloz has issued an extraordinary report at the end of his ten-day mission to the UK. The thrust of it is the familiar claim that speaking clearly about the material reality of the two sexes amounts to “hate”, alongside the equally familiar dismissal of...
12th May 2023
Thank you, Kishwer Falkner
We have written to Baroness Kishwer Falkner, Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission: Dear Kishwer Falkner Thank you for publishing your letter to the Minister for Women and Equalities setting out, with careful reasoning, why you support revisiting and clarifying the meaning of “sex” as a protected...
11th April 2023
Let Women Speak in New Zealand
“The only way to describe the trans activist mob at Auckland today is feral. Kellie-Jay Keen had to get escorted out of the rally after only being there a brief time due to fears for her safety, and the rally was abandoned.” Katrina Biggs, Auckland We were shocked by...
26th March 2023
IPSO’s updated guidance – our response
IPSO, the Independent Press Standards Organisation, has published draft Guidance on reporting of sex and gender identity to replace its 2016 publication, Guidance on researching and reporting stories involving transgender individuals. Sex Matters has written a response to the consultation and hopes that the final guidance will be improved...
2nd March 2023
Is your local council passing unlawful policies?
Guest post by Bad Policy Watch
10th February 2023
Freedom of belief matters
Sex Matters has submitted input to Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the United Nations’ Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. He is compiling a report for the UN Human Rights Council on the right to freedom of religion or belief in relation to...
18th January 2023
Statement on the UK government’s decision to block the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill
We are very pleased that the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Scotland have decided to use their constitutional powers to stop the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill from going to royal assent. As we wrote in our briefing on the Bill and its implications for the...
16th January 2023
Beware the Gender Borg: a cautionary tale
Guest post by Paul Chase
11th January 2023
Clarify the Equality Act: sign the petition
The Equality Act 2010 protects everyone’s rights and covers everything from schools to hospitals, pubs to sports, and everybody’s workplace. It includes protection against sex-discrimination, and allows single-sex services. But on 13th December a judge in Scotland pronounced that Equality Act does not recognise biological sex as a protected...
16th December 2022
Hadley Freeman interviewed on Woman’s Hour
On 5th December 2022, Hadley Freeman was interviewed by Emma Burnett on BBC Woman’s Hour. She talked about why she was leaving the Guardian, after 22 years of working for the paper. The audio with subtitles available on Youtube. We have added links to relevant media articles, and to...
7th December 2022
Mass harassment in HM Prisons and Probation Service
As reported in The Telegraph today, HM Prisons and Probation Service’s Pride in Prison and Probation (PiPP) staff network has circulated documents for Trans Awareness Week telling MoJ staff to recognise a series of words and phrases as “transphobic dogwhistles”. The PiPP is an official staff network, with a...
20th November 2022
Helen Joyce speaks at Caius College
On 25th October 2022, Sex Matters’ Director of Advocacy Helen Joyce spoke at an event at Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge, entitled “Criticising gender-identity ideology: what happens when speech is silenced”. This page documents the events surrounding the talk. Criticising gender-identity ideology: what happens when speech is silenced...
15th November 2022
Lib Dems revise “transphobia” definition
The Liberal Democrats have revised their definition of transphobia in the light of recent legal cases. The previous policy which drew on the work of “organisations such as Stonewall and TransActual UK”. But following advice from two KCs (one, from Karon Monaghan KC, has been published), it has now...
14th November 2022
Trans rights are human rights!
Sex Matters is a human-rights organisation. We believe that universal human rights form a powerful framework for thinking about how a diversity of freedoms can be respected, while protecting against harm and maintaining an open and prosperous society. It is sometimes argued that those who call for clarity on...
9th November 2022
Open letter to Minouche Shafik of the LSE
Members of the Open University Gender Critical Research Network have written to Baroness Minouche Shafik, Director of the London School of Economics, to ask for an independent review into the LSE’s Department of Gender Studies. Sex Matters joins them in calling on the LSE to launch an independent investigation...
6th November 2022
After just three days we were over a quarter of the way to the 100,000 signatures needed to prompt a parliamentary debate. We’ve now got more than 40,000 signatures. Thank you to everyone who has already signed the Make the Equality Act Clear Petition. Every signature helps! If everyone...
5th November 2022
Campaign update: Day 1
Yesterday we launched the Make the Equality Act Clear petition, calling on the government to clarify, with a legislative amendment, that sex means sex in the Equality Act 2010. It got an amazing response. In less than 24 hours, 15,000 people signed the petition, and the number is continuing...
3rd November 2022
Is Sex Matters a feminist organisation?
The Sex Matters team is just back from a fantastic time at FiLiA, Europe’s largest feminist conference. But Sex Matters is not a feminist organisation. We simply subscribe to the radical notion that women are human beings, with full human rights. We also attended the LGB Alliance. But Sex...
27th October 2022
Sex Matters writes to MSPs
Tomorrow 27th October is the Stage 1 debate on the Gender Recognition Reform Bill by the Scottish Parliament. Sex Matters has written to MSPs and sent them a copy of our “Sex and the Law” booklet. Equality law remains an area which is reserved for UK wide legislation, yet...
26th October 2022
Sex Matters launches survey
Sex Matters is launching a survey about being gender-critical at work in the UK. Please take the survey and share your experiences
17th October 2022
New media handbook on sex and gender
Sex Matters is publishing a handbook today, which aims to give journalists the confidence to write accurately, clearly and professionally about sex and gender. The past decade has seen a determined effort by transactivists and gender-identity lobby groups to make it impossible to talk about biological sex in a...
14th October 2022
What does the Forstater judgment mean for employers?
On 6th July 2022 an employment tribunal found that Maya Forstater had been directly discriminated against by the Center for Global Development because of her beliefs. This follows on from the precedent-setting judgment of the Employment Appeal Tribunal in June 2021, which found that the “gender critical” belief “that...
8th July 2022
A win for free speech and sex-based rights
Sex Matters’ Executive Director, Maya Forstater, has won her employment tribunal case against her former employer. Here is her press statement: Maya Forstater, who took a claim for belief discrimination against her former employer, the Center for Global Development, has been vindicated by a ruling that she was unlawfully...
6th July 2022
Sex realists gaining ground at Westminster
Debates on new laws in Parliament are one of the key battlefields between sex realists and sex denialists, with one side seeking clarity on sex, and the other seeking to conflate and confuse sex and gender identity. A long-term strategy of the sex-denial lobbyists has been to propose legislation seemingly...
31st May 2022
Reading University VC speaks up for academic freedom
On 25 April 2022 Dr Holly Lawford-Smith, of the University of Melbourne, gave a seminar at Reading University’s school of law. She analysed Australia’s recent legislation banning conversion therapy, and questioned the rationale for including gender identity alongside sexual orientation. “We champion freedom of expression but…” When local LGBTQ+ organisations learnt...
23rd May 2022
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
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
Law Commission recommends protection for gender critical views from “chilling effect”
The Law Commission today released its report and recommendations on hate-crime legislation. It recommends extending hate-crime laws but calls for specific protection from prosecution for gender-critical views. The Commission explicitly disagreed with Stonewall and GIRES (the Gender Identity Research and Education Society), which had said that there should not be...
7th 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
Teacher who ‘misgendered’ pupil banned from profession
Louisa Clarence-Smith for The Telegraph
Joshua Sutcliffe, a Christian who also spoke out against gay marriage, says he is 'devastated' by ruling finding him guilty of misconduct.
EDI contra science – the misuse of “ethics” in academic research
John Armstrong writes for The Crtitic about how he was asked to survey elite athletes on their views on trans participation in athletics, but the ethics committee at King’s College, London rejected his research proposal on the grounds that the terms “male” and “female” were unacceptable.
1st April 2023
Maths teacher accused of misgendering pupil on religious grounds
Jessica Murray, Midlands correspondent for The Guardian
Maya Forstater gave evidence in support of Joshua Sutcliffe, the teacher, and is quoted here.
Standing For Women
Grassroots membership campaign that started in 2018 with the production of posters and T-shirts bearing the message “Woman: Adult Human Female”. Focuses on public and direct actions, such as meetings at Speakers Corner, and rallies to raise awareness of the ongoing threats to women’s rights. Spokesperson is Kellie-Jay Keen...
Alumni for free speech
Non-partisan, non-party political campaign for UK graduates, set up in 2022 to be co-ordinators and spokespeople for alumni; organise alumni to act to secure free speech and tackle specific incidents; and encourage, support and coordinate campaigns established by alumni of particular institutions.
Helen Joyce in conversation with Sir Partha Dasgupta
Caius College Cambridge, 25th October 2022
Organised by Professor Arif Ahmed for Free Speech
1:26:50 on YouTube
‘I lost my job for saying males aren’t women. So I sued my employer’
Maya Forstater for Newsweek
On July 6, I won a claim I had first brought to a U.K. employment tribunal three years ago; that I was unfairly discriminated against by my employer, and subsequently denied employment, because of my personal views about sex and gender.
Courage calls to courage: in conversation with Maya Forstater
At the Filia 2021 conference, Maya Forstater in an informal discussion with some of the women who have stood up for women's rights and against gender ideology: Stephanie Davies Arai with parents and schools, Joanna Cherry in parliament, Jenni Murray in the media, Laoise Uí Aodha de Brún in...
Reindorf Review on “no platforming”
Akua Reindorf’s review for the University of Essex of why events with external speakers were cancelled.
Woman who lost job over transgender views wins appeal
Maya Forstater and Becky Cotterrill talk forSky News
A woman who lost her job after expressing views that sex cannot be changed and transgender women are "not women" has won an appeal against an employment tribunal.
2:58 on YouTube.
Woman sacked over gender-critical views wins court appeal
Becky Cotterill for Sky News
Maya Forstater who lost her job after expressing views that sex cannot be changed and transgender women are "not women" has won an appeal against an employment tribunal.
2:00 on YouTube.
Trans policies in UK universities: some highlights
Kathleen Stock puts extracts from current official policies against the needs of the Education Reform Act 1988.
Stonewall’s LGBT guidance is limiting the free speech of gender-critical academics
Kathleen Stock writes for Quillette about trans policies in universities and their impact on freedom of expression.
Gender critical beliefs, Maya Forstater’s case and trans rights
Daniel Barnett, barrister, for LBC
5:47 on YouTube.
Letter to the College of Policing
Our detailed comments in response to to the consultation on the Authorised Professional Practice Recording and retention of non-crime hate incidents (APP) – the consultation draft is concerning.
Response to IPSO consultation on guidance on reporting of sex and gender identity
In 2016 IPSO published Guidance on researching and reporting stories involving transgender individuals, with input only from trans lobby groups. In February 2023 it released a draft replacement for public consultation: Guidance on reporting of sex and gender identity. This is our response.
Why sex matters for human rights – our organisational framework
Sex Matters’ mission is to promote clarity on sex in law and policy in order to protect everybody’s human rights. This document sets out the key human rights that are relevant, and why and how our work is guided by the promotion of human rights. (Also see our short guide...
Sex and the law
A short guide to your human rights in everyday life.
Speaking about the two sexes, male and female, should not be difficult. This guide uses ordinary language, and is based on science, universal human rights and UK law
Sex and gender identity: keep your pupils safe and comply with the law – guidance for schools in England
This revision of our May 2021 guidance, produced together with Transgender Trend, draws on the interim report of the Cass Review, recent legal cases on freedom of belief, the EHRC’s new guidance on single-sex services and a YouGov survey of teachers, as well as government guidance and legislation. Republished with...
Professor Kathleen Stock – the disinformation exposed
The protestors have been circulating falsehoods and vexatious arguments – here‘s our response.
Leadership starts with the law – briefing for universities on the Reindorf Report
For universities, student unions and service providers reviewing their policies and considering issues of academic freedom.
Submission to the Law Commission on communications offences
Our response argues for clarity in the terms relating to sex and gender reassignment as separate protected characteristics, and rejects the proposal to criminalise online communications on the basis of “likely emotional harm” – which would have a chilling effect on freedom of expression.
Response to consultation on proposal on hate crime
Why this reform extends legislation unnecessarily, is based on weak concepts, and ignores harm caused by the law itself.
Gender Recognition Act reform – evidence submission
We answer the Women and Equalities Select Committee‘s questions and make six recommendations.
Freedom of expression online – response to call for evidence
Looking at the chilling effect censorship has on learning and debate, and counting the cost to democratic society.