Monday, May 27, 2024
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One small victory in the gender war


LAST week, in response to an article in the Sun about schoolgirls identifying as ‘trans’ and seeking gender reassignment, I argued in TCW that nobody should be surprised any more by this tragic trend. The Conservative Government has been complicit in creating and pushing materials into our schools which promote ‘gender identity’. As we outlined, the Government Equalities Office has paid for the production of materials for use in schools which teach our children that sex is a spectrum; that gender is ‘assigned at birth’; that we all have ‘inner gender identities’ which may or may not align with our biological sex; which normalise gender-reassignment surgery; which claim that school children must be allowed to use toilets and facilities aligned with their ‘gender identity’. And that anyone who complains is transphobic – never mind privacy, dignity, safety, or even the simple right to disagree. The routefor this material into our schools is via the Government’s Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) reforms which went live last month.

We’re not the only ones who have been deeply concerned by gender ideology and its impact on our children; as well as on science, language, women’s safety, and even on our democracy and our right to free speech, respectful debate, and transparent policy making. Over recent years, more and more groups have formed or refocused to challenge the gender identity narrative. These include Transgender Trend, Safe Schools Alliance, WeAreFairCop, The Values Foundation, the LGB Alliance, FairPlayforWoman, and Women’sPlaceUK. Countless women have taken to Mumsnet and Twitter, firstly to express their disbelief at what has been going on, but then to reach out to each other across political divides to campaign – forming a sort of loose but mutually-supportive ‘gender critical army’.

At last their work is beginning to pay off. Firstly, we had the announcement from Minister for Women and Equalities, Liz Truss, that ‘gender self-ID’ is off the table. Then, without fanfare, last week, the Department of Education updated its accompanying guidance to the Relationships and Sex Education requirements. The new guidance specifically addresses gender ideology. It is worth quoting the relevant passage in full:

‘We are aware that topics involving gender and biological sex can be complex and sensitive matters to navigate. You should not reinforce harmful stereotypes, for instance by suggesting that children might be a different gender based on their personality and interests or the clothes they prefer to wear. Resources used in teaching about this topic must always be age-appropriate and evidence-based. Materials which suggest that non-conformity to gender stereotypes should be seen as synonymous with having a different gender identity should not be used and you should not work with external agencies or organisations that produce such material. While teachers should not suggest to a child that their non-compliance with gender stereotypes means that either their personality or their body is wrong and in need of changing, teachers should always seek to treat individual students with sympathy and support.’

Nobody who follows this debate closely will have any doubt about the importance of this paragraph. Gender ideology relies on fixed and simplistic gender stereotypes which match almost no one. So by suggesting to young children that if they don’t match the stereotype they might be in the wrong body, or they might have a ‘gender identity’ opposite to their biological sex, the damage begins. And we know, tragically, where it can end – confusion, pronoun-policing, hormones, a lifetime of medication, surgery, potential sterilisation . . . and a brave few suing our public sector. 

Mermaids, the charity which has done as much as anyone to promote gender identity, has done some quick thinking, and, it appears, has agreed with this new thinking all along. Mermaids has proclaimed that no child is born in the wrong body and that no one should impose gender conformity on children. I have learned that this is called a ‘reverse ferret’. 

To see why this appears to many to be a bit rich, read this one small aspect of Mermaids’ approach. 

Stonewall has stoically, thus far, not reverse-ferreted and is ‘disappointed’. In case anyone doubts its contribution to the gender ideology push into our schools, it has helpfully retweeted links to many of its teaching packs.  

Earlier this year, we wrote about one of these, which teaches four- and five-year-olds about sex change, making it all sound so easy. 

With all the reverse ferreting going on, the ‘gender critical army’ has been doing some collecting and archiving, lest we all forget. Please have a look through this thread. Seeing so much of this in one place is surely shocking. What exactly are some people aiming to normalise, on what scale, and why? 

Never mind. At last the Conservative Government has begun to return to its senses. No one is born in the wrong body. Sex is not a spectrum. We are not all assigned sex at birth. We do not all have inner gender identities. Hormones which delay puberty are not harmless and reversible. Gender reassignment surgery is not risk- and pain-free. There are only two sexes: we are born male or female. Our sex is written into our genes and into every cell of our bodies. We cannot change it. Science matters. Since very long ago, the word ‘woman’ has meant adult human female. Transwomen are not women. Transwomen are men who would like to express, present, live as women – that is the work done by ‘trans’. Language matters. Truth matters. On average, men are stronger than women and can be more violent. Women need to know if and when men are present, however they want to dress or present. This is one of the reasons women seek single-sex spaces: for safety. But there are others. It is alarming to be ‘duped’. The fact is that both sexes want and need space, privacy, dignity – respect from each other. Single-sex spaces actually matter for men and women, boys and girls. Free speech to say these things matters. Freedom of debate to say that I am wrong matters as well. Open and fair policy-making processes are crucial.

However, what matters most of all, surely, is how we care for and educate our children. Children deserve to be spoken to and taught honestly. Children deserve privacy and safety. They should be able to learn about and discuss sensitive matters openly, freely and without fear. They deserve not to have adult agendas thrust upon them and not to be bullied into ideological beliefs. They deserve to inherit humanity’s collective wisdom as it has accumulated across the ages in as non-ideological way as is humanly possible. Of course this will never be perfect. What children do not need is to be steeped in gender ideology via our schools. 

I am relieved the new Relationships and Sex Education guidance has now made this clear. But the truth is that there is still much damage to be undone. There are teaching materials that must be withdrawn. Head teachers and teachers must no longer be inhibited for speaking out and they certainly must not be sacked for challenging the ‘doctrine’

Gender ideology continues to have wide influence across our public sector: at the BBC, in the NHS, in prisons, in the legal system, in the collection and management of statistical data. The Tories allowed this to happen, as we identified here. It falls to the Tories to continue undoing the damage. 

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Caroline ffiske
Caroline ffiske
Caroline ffiske is a former adviser to the New Zealand Government, served two terms as a Conservative councillor in Hammersmith & Fulham and is currently a full-time mother. She tweets as @carolinefff

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