THANKFULLY a few roadblocks have recently been placed on the pathway of the seemingly inevitable progress of woke culture. Two in particular last week have brought cheer to those who stubbornly cling to common sense.
Transitioning: The decision on Tuesday in the High Court in London will have an immediate impact on the lives of confused young people. It was ruled that children under the age of 16 were unlikely to be mature enough to give informed consent to being prescribed puberty-blocking medication. The judges also ruled that even in cases involving teenagers under 18, doctors may need to consult the courts for authorisation. As a result of the judgement the Tavistock clinic in London immediately suspended new referrals for such drugs for under-16s.
We should be thankful for the extraordinarily brave Keira Bell, 23, who led this case. She began taking puberty blockers when she was 16 before moving on to cross-hormone drugs and eventually surgery (a double mastectomy), before she detransitioned. This quiet, reserved young woman took on the NHS and publicly funded activist groups such as Stonewall and Mermaids, which had successfully lobbied for medical interventions in ever younger children. She won, and through her we all won. After the case she said that she hoped the judgement marked the end of gender clinics ‘playing God with our bodies [by] experimenting on the young and vulnerable with untested, harmful drugs’.
Free speech: Cambridge University’s ultra-woke vice-chancellor Stephen Toope attempted to introduce a ruling demanding that individuals employed by, studying at, and visiting the university should be ‘respectful’ of all views. In response dons challenged what they rightly termed a ‘vague and authoritarian’ policy which they feared would stifle debate and threaten staff with disciplinary action or sacking for being ‘disrespectful’.
Dr Arif Ahmed, a senior philosophy lecturer, put forward an amendment to change its wording, no longer requiring students and staff to be ‘respectful’ of opposing views but rather to ‘tolerate’ them. Dr Ahmed asked, ‘If I teach a class on religion, could I show Charlie Hebdo cartoons in my class? That would be disrespectful to someone.’ When this came before the academics entitled to vote more than 1,200, at least 77 per cent of those voting, supported Dr Ahmed’s amendment. Also passed were amendments making ‘no-platforming’ invited speakers almost impossible.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson responded to the Cambridge vote by stressing the importance of students being exposed to provocative or uncomfortable ideas at university. Williamson said other universities should pay heed as young people need to make up their own minds and must learn to think independently.
So far, so good, and we should all rejoice at these two outcomes. These have been victories for traditional values, in the first case that of the protection of children, and in the other the importance of free speech. However, we have not won the war; we have not even won a battle. Important as they are for the individuals involved, these are minor skirmishes in the struggle for the soul of the West which will continue for decades.
These victories show two of the qualities needed if we are to hold back the woke juggernaut. Keira Bell showed great personal courage to face down the forces of the state and ‘progressive’ opinion. Dr Arif Ahmed’s opposition to curtailing free speech in universities demonstrated the importance of a well-argued case in building a coalition of support.
The next case demonstrates another necessary quality – persistence. Single victories do not mean that the woke brigade are going to raise the white flag; they will persist on their course. As long as progressives try to turn the world upside down we must persist in our resistance.
Transgender issues are the latest cause célèbre of the intolerant progressive mob and there is a long way to go before the anti-science transgender bandwagon is halted. Sandyford sexual health clinic, run by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, is the only gender service for children and young people in Scotland. In 2018 it treated 33 children aged four to ten and 264 aged 11 to 16. Following the High Court judgement in London, calls were made for the Sandyford clinic to review its services. The clinic declined to alter its treatment provisions.
When questioned, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it would be inappropriate for the Scottish government to intervene, and that Sandyford worked within current guidelines. In an attempt to defend her transgender credentials Sturgeon tried to avoid the issue and pass the buck by saying, ‘I have no clinical or medical background, and I think it important that such matters are reserved to clinicians.’ Although not a medical clinician she is a lawyer, and the judgement in the High Court was in respect of the capacity of youngsters to consent to such treatment. Any competent lawyer should have an informed view on that. Meanwhile although pressure groups such as the Scottish Trans Alliance have no ‘clinical or medical background’ they are openly trying to influence clinicians, schools and councils, and continue to be funded largely by the Scottish government.
As we look ahead to further battles we will need to develop personal courage and clear thinking allied with the persistence to keep on despite the seeming strength of the powers ranged against us. A wee bit of prayer wouldn’t go amiss either.