LIKE many, many women, I am proud to be a mother. I love all three of my children – the two sons who I gave birth to and the daughter we adopted – and I dote on my grandchildren although they are related to me through love, not blood. How they came to be part of our family doesn’t matter. They are mine, and they will all have a place in my heart for ever.
However, the LGBTQ+ lobby group Stonewall don’t understand this. They seem to think that mother is just a word – one so closely tied to being a woman that it must be avoided. They want to replace it with parent who has given birth or birthing parent or similar phrases – all of which suggest motherhood is nothing more than a biological process and ignore the ongoing loving and caring that being a mother entails. They also leave no room for the complexities of adoption or the love that ties together families not created by birth.
An adoptive mother is the legal mother of her child. Yet Stonewall’s recommendations could result in organisations requesting that people supply the name of their birth mother instead. This could be traumatic for those adopted people who don’t have that information and for birth mothers who don’t want their identities revealed. It is also of dubious legality and may breach the confidentiality surrounding adoption records.
It’s hard to see why Stonewall have taken this step. The word mother has been part of our language for hundreds of years for good reason, and removing it from normal usage is wokery gone mad. The only reason for doing so appears to be to protect the feelings of a tiny number of trans men who decide not to have gender reassignment surgery, who go on to give birth and who object to being referred to officially as their child’s mother. One such person is Guardian journalist Freddy McConnell, who went to court to try to win the right to be recorded as the father of the baby to whom he gave birth. He failed, but Stonewall are trying to change the terminology anyway to make sure that any other people in his situation don’t have to be called mother. In the process, they are riding roughshod over the feelings of enormous numbers of women who use the name with pride, regardless of whether they gave birth to their children or adopted them.
To be fair to Stonewall, I asked their press office to clarify the situation and to tell me if they had considered the following:
1. The impact on women who are proud to be mothers.
2. The impact on adoptive parents who have not given birth to their children and who therefore don’t fit into your categorisation.
3. The impact on adopted people faced with forms requesting them to reveal the name of the person who gave birth to them – something they may not know or may not wish to reveal.
4. The impact on birth mothers who have given children up for adoption in the expectation of their identity being protected.
5. The legal situation for organisations requesting information on birth mothers from adopted people, bearing in mind that this information is normally protected and that the adoptive mother is the legal parent.
I was sent the following response:
‘All employers need to ensure that their staff, including LGBTQ+ staff, are free from discrimination and prejudice at work, and our Diversity Champions programme is one way for organisations to be supported to meet this requirement. More than a third of LGBTQ+ staff (35 per cent) hide who they are at work, while one in five (18 per cent) have been the target of negative comments because they’re LGBTQ+. Since we set up the Diversity Champions programme in 2001, many large employers have developed major internal programmes to promote diversity and inclusion across their staff, including reviewing the LGBTQ+ inclusiveness of their HR policies and setting up LGBTQ+ staff networks, which make the workplace better for LGBTQ+ people. We are confident in our advice on the Equality Act which is based the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s Equality Act Code of Practice, which was recently reaffirmed in the High Court. As with every membership programme, organisations come and go depending on what works best for them at the time, and it’s great that organisations can continue this important work on their own. We are pleased to say that our Diversity Champions programme is continuing to grow and take on new members, and we are very proud of the work we’re doing with more than 850 organisations to help create inclusive working environments for their lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer staff.’
As you can see, this boilerplate waffle makes no attempt to address the particular issue I raised or to answer my questions. This makes me suspect Stonewall either don’t care or are unwilling to admit they have made a mistake. But that’s just my opinion. I leave you to draw your own conclusions.
Stopping people from using the word mother is wrong. It echoes Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, it demeans women and it attempts to change the basic structure of our society without the consent of the population.
What needs to be stopped is Stonewall.