In October, a government source told the Mail On Sunday that UK Minister for Equalities Liz Truss decided to postpone reforms to the Gender Recognition Act 2004, which would allow individuals to change sex through declaration alone. News that this decision will be postponed indefinitely has incurred criticism from those keen to champion these reforms, and who claim they are necessary due to “rocketing violence” against trans people.
While proposed gender identity legislation may have been kicked into the long grass, UK organizations are still capitulating to extreme demands by trans activists. As a result, a raft of policies that are arguably illegal under the Equality Act 2010 have been implemented, with little thought as to the negative impact on women and girls, such as the decision to allow patients to choose which single-sex hospital ward they be housed on, or the move many schools have taken to adopt unisex toilets.
From the Home Office, hospitals, the police, Prison Service, schools, and the military, it appears no institution is immune to the power the trans lobby wields. The Equality Act 2010, which states that sex is a protected characteristic, and that single-sex exemptions may be invoked to “achieve a proportion means to a legitimate end” is still the rule of law, yet policies in flagrant breach of the Act are being rolled out by stealth throughout the UK.
Organizations championing the reforms, like LGBT charity, Stonewall, and Mermaids, an organization promoting the transitioning of children, have the ear of influential decision makers and are advising institutions on best practice despite advocating policy that contradicts the single-sex exemptions outlined in the Equality Act 2010. These exemptions allow organizations to provide single-sex services where there is good reason, such as when only one sex needs the service or if it is a more effective way of providing the service, for example offering women-only swimming sessions for women whose faith requires them use single-sex spaces in certain contexts. Single-sex exemptions can also be applied if the service is provided at a hospital or other care setting or where a person of one sex might reasonably object to the presence of a person of the opposite sex (e.g. changing rooms, any service involving intimate personal health or hygiene, or a women’s refuge), and where a high degree of physical contact is involved (e.g. a self-defence class or massage service). They also protect the existence of separate sport competitions for men and women where physical strength, stamina, or physique are major factors determining success or failure, and where one sex is generally at a disadvantage in comparison to the other. They protect all-women shortlists, single-sex communal accommodations (dorms, for example), associations or clubs specifically for one group of people (women, trans-identified people, etc.), schools for boys or girls, and so on and so forth. Allowing individuals to “identify” as the opposite sex effectively negates these protections.
The National Health Service (NHS) has been forced to comply with Department of Health guidance that allows male transgender hospital patients to be housed on single-sex wards, regardless of objections made by female patients and women’s organizations. This is being practiced in hospitals across the UK, despite the Conservatives’ 2015 pledge to end mixed sex wards due to concerns raised by patient groups who say this leaves women “open to attack” and “deprives people of dignity.”
The Met police have been quietly recording male criminals who claim transgender identity as female since 2009, skewing crime stats, disguising male violence against women, and compromising public safety. Finding out who is responsible for these policy changes is often tricky. Journalist Joani Walsh spent two months digging before publishing an expose in the September 2018 print edition of the Daily Telegraph. She revealed that this particular guidance came from the National Council of Police Chiefs (NPCC), after consultation with transgender activist groups. Six police forces are now allowing trans-identified male rapists to be recorded as female, a move that would force victims to address perpetrators as “she” and “her” in court.
The Prison Service has also adopted sex self-identification under pressure from trans activists, endangering female prisoners and angering staff in the process. In 2018, convicted rapist Karen White (formerly Stephen Wood) was moved to the women’s prison at New Hall in Wakefield, where he went on to sexually assault female prisoners. Meanwhile, female prison staff are forced to give men who claim transgender status intimate body searches, and predatory sexual offenders are housed in the female estate.
Acting on advice from the NPCC, British Transport Police released a statement following a brutal assault on a man by four men dressed in women’s clothing, naming the perpetrators as female. Subsequently, major news media sites carried the story, reporting that a “gang of women beat [a] man to the ground.” Nowadays, the media regularly reports crimes committed by men as having been perpetrated by “women,” a move that manipulates public perception, and prevents dangerous offenders from being correctly identified.
Schools are following suit, as many have begun forcing girls to use mixed-sex gender neutral toilets, ignoring the fact that girls at this age already feel insecure about their female bodies and are subjected to shaming, bullying, and sexual harassment, never mind having to share washrooms with boys. As a result, girls are reportedly skipping school, risking bladder infections by holding in their urine, or purposely dehydrating themselves in order to avoid using the gender neutral washrooms, while a raft of concerned parents are demanding the schools reconsider this policy change.
The so-called experts advising UK government bodies, institutions, and organizations often don’t have direct experience in the sectors they are advising (education, healthcare, women’s sports, or child safety, for example), including members of Stonewall’s own trans advisory panel, whose only “qualifications” are often trans-identification, rather than knowledge of best practice, a teaching or other sector-relevant degree, or health and safety certification. Worryingly, some are currently facing serious allegations, convictions, or investigations. This is the case with convicted child rapist and former Green Party Election Agent David Challenor, who acted as election agent for his trans-identified son, Aimee, during the 2017 general election and 2018 local council elections, even as he was being investigated for sexual assault. In a major safeguarding oversight, Aimee also advised Girl Guides on their new policy as part of his role on the trans advisory panel for Stonewall, advocating for male Guide leaders to share intimate space with girls. Challenor’s crimes only came to light after the organization had taken Aimee’s advice on their trans inclusion policy, as Aimee failed to disclose his father’s pending conviction for child rape. Guide leaders who raised objection to the new policy were expelled.
The army implemented unisex toilets in its headquarters in London in 2018, sparking complaints both from female and male employees. Military bosses were threatened with removal of promotion prospects if they did not comply, and several top brass military figures voiced their objection, to no avail. A similar situation occurred at the British Home Office, where staff complaints about new gender neutral toilets were summarily ignored in favour of “inclusivity.”
Shops like Primark and Topshop, alongside a number of universities, pubs, and bars, have all now adopted gender identity policies, getting rid of women’s toilets and changing rooms, replacing them with gender neutral spaces, often while keeping male facilities intact.
Even theatres are rolling over. The Old Vic’s decision to remove all single-sex toilets for women (while keeping men’s facilities) sparked outrage from feminist campaigners. The Stage newspaper published a piece by Sarah Ditum outlining women’s concerns, but pulled it following pressure from trans activists.
The capture of the state by trans activism sets a precedent unmatched by any other social justice movement. No other group has achieved so much in so little time, in spite of the many objections raised by women, parents, members of the public, and even some trans-identified people. Many respected and prominent figures have voiced their opposition to trans activist demands, from leading gay rights activists like Simon Fanshawe, co-founder of Stonewall; to doctors; clinicians; and therapists; yet the policies remain intact.
Institution after institution continues to bow to pressure from trans lobby groups, changing their policies to reflect the reforms advocated by activists, despite the fact these demands are in direct conflict with current UK equality law. These institutions have never consulted women’s groups, nor any other group impacted by self-identification policies, whether they be parents of schoolchildren, military personnel, or medical patients.
The case of James Younger — the child at the centre of a custody battle due to his mother’s wish to transition the child, and his father’s opposition to the notion his son is actually a girl named “Luna” — has caused controversy in the UK and worldwide. On October 22, the jury awarded the child’s mother, Anne Georgulas, full conservatorship of her son, only for Judge Kim Cooks to reject the decision and grant the parents joint custody, two days later. There is concern that new practices being adopted across Britain could mean parents who question their children’s trans diagnosis lose custody. This should be of particular concern given that several leading clinicians have resigned from the only NHS gender clinic for children — The Tavistock Gender Identity Development Clinic — saying the clinic is conducting a “live experiment” on children by sending hundreds down a medicalized pathway to transition.
There are serious, still-unanswered questions regarding our approach to transgender ideology, as well as the impact of allowing individuals to identify as the opposite sex. Alongside these questions, we must also consider the obvious harms and dangers of abolishing single-sex spaces, many of which have already come to fruition.
Since Truss announced the government’s intention to shelve new gender identity legislation indefinitely, our policy makers now have a duty to abide by guidance set out in the Equality Act 2010, mandating that single-sex exemptions can and must be made where appropriate. To do otherwise is to fail in their duty of care to women, girls, gender dysphoric youth, and the general public as a whole.
Thain Parnell is a radical feminist activist and writer currently living in the UK. Her book The Gender Caste System: How Gender works to oppress women will be released January 2020 by Sacred Goddess Press. Find more of her writing on Medium.