WELL, well, well. Last Friday, TCW revealed that the gender transition research which the Conservative government promised a year ago has not even begun. By Sunday, the Government Equalities Office (GEO) had put out a press release saying that a tender for the research will be ‘released in the coming weeks’.
We like to think that TCW has been influential.
But we have a situation where it might be fruitful if two branches of the state put their heads together.
On the one hand, we have an unprecedented and troubling number of young people seeking support with respect to their ‘gender identity’. So the GEO commissions research into why it is happening. It wonders: ‘What is not clear is what might be driving these increases. Despite a wide variety of theories, there is little hard evidence to support these at present.’
Before they finalise their research brief, there is something GEO staff should do. They should take a look at material being put out by another arm of the state – the BBC – which could well be influencing how young people think. Indoctrination is another way of putting it.
Over the weekend, the Times drew attention to material the BBC has created for use in the classroom to explain to schoolchildren how many different genders there are. The Times described the material as being aimed at nine to 12-year-olds. But the BBC describes it as being for KS2: this covers the school years three to six where children are aged seven to 12. You can watch the BBC’s full item here.
In the clip, which uses a question-and-answer format between adults and children, a child asks: ‘What is the difference between sex and gender?’ The adult responds: ‘Sex would be the body parts that you are born with . . . Gender would be who you are on the inside.’
Now it would be easy to pass over this ten seconds of broadcasting – but we need to pause. The concept of ‘gender’ is something that feminist thinkers came up with in the 1970s to describe the way in which societies ‘construct’ modes of being and behaviour for the two sexes that may or may not have much origin in their biological sex. It was and remains part of the nature versus nurture debate where we explore what drives the behaviour of individuals, groups, and societies. The idea was to point to the non-inevitability of many of our behaviours. Gender was something non-inevitable and certainly not innate. But somewhere along the way, I know not when, trans activists co-opted the term and turned it on its head to describe the idea that all of us have an innate sense of our own ‘gender’ unanchored to our biological sex. It’s a theory completely adrift from science or from any kind of widespread support. Yet the BBC promotes it to our kids.
I remember as a child just knowing I was a girl. Same as knowing I had two arms and two legs. As a child I did not associate it with any kind of feelings or set of expectations. Now imagine being a British school kid and being told by a teacher that you may have a different gender to your sex. What kind of chain of wondering might that set off?
In the BBC clip, a boy asks: ‘What are the different gender identities?’ The adult says: ‘D’you know, that’s a really really exciting question to ask!’ Hey, kids – it’s cool to navel-gaze about what gender you might be!
If you are wondering how a kid might decide, trans theory relies on a vacuous set of gender stereotypes to help them. And if you are wondering why more girls than boys might be attracted by gender theory, look at this slide used by the trans activist group Mermaids to help describe the gender spectrum. How do you think most kids these days spend their time? Tearing about a bit like ‘GI Joe’ or heading off to a ball as Barbie in pink satin? One day we’ll all be men.
Another adult says: ‘You know, there are so many gender identities . . . you know, we’ve got male and female . . . but there are over 100, if not more, gender identities!’ Also: ‘We know that some people might feel like they are two different genders.’
I’m now trying to work it out: there are more than 100 gender identities, but you might also be a combo of any of the two. Is that 100 to the power of 100 different gender combos? That is way more than the number of people on the planet. An easier way to do all this would be to say that there are two biological sexes, male and female. Then there are 7.7billion people on the planet with their own unique identities. Isn’t that more liberating? [Reader correction: ‘No, it’s the binomial coefficient “100 choose 2”, which equals (100×99)÷2, ie 4950.’]
Anyway, can you imagine being a British kid sitting in a classroom and being told by your teacher that there are over 100 gender identities and that you might be a combo and that it is all about what you feel on the inside. Also that it is all very exciting to think about.
Do you think that this might set off a chain of wondering? Especially if you are an anxious, insecure or unhappy child. Do you think that it might result in some confusion and fear? And perhaps for a small but growing minority, ultimately to make a trip to the gender identity clinic? Bent on the idea that they are trapped in the wrong body and they will be happier when it has been changed by hormones and by surgery. And then it will all be all right again. And the BBC will have played its part.
Perhaps if the GEO and the BBC met over a cup of tea we could cut through some of this. And if the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Department reminded the BBC to stick to its remit – to educate, inform and entertain, but not to cause an incalculable amount of anxiety for the kids and families who are most impacted by this most self-inflicted of tragedies.