Trans activists aren’t interested in equality

Naomi Firsht

Topics Politics

The Stonewall Trans Advisory Group (STAG) has announced its five-year plan to further equality for transgender people in Britain. On the surface, it all sounds inoffensive. Of course transgender adults should enjoy the same rights as any other adult in Britain. There should be no obstacle to essential rights, like the right to vote, the right to work, and the right to speak freely.

Except that’s not what this plan is about. Of course, transgender people hold all of those rights already. Instead, this report concerns itself with limiting the rights of everyone else, especially the rights to free speech and free association. STAG wants workplaces to introduce trans-inclusive policies, it demands that faith communities welcome transgender people and that sports teams use gender-neutral language.

Herein lies the crux of the issue with trans activists’ agenda. Their focus is not so much on equality, on equal rights for all, but on the demand for acceptance and validation of transgenderism. Unfortunately, society doesn’t work like that. Acceptance of ideas cannot be forced, and nor should it be – certainly not at the cost of allowing people to speak their minds and associate with whoever they like.

One of STAG’s recommendations for faith institutions reads: ‘Faith institutions should also think about how to make worship resources and liturgy inclusive. For example, liturgy which talks about “brothers and sisters”, to expressly include women, unfortunately excludes non-binary people. Using non-gendered language, for example “children” or “siblings”, would go one step further.’

Another suggestion, this time for sports institutions, says: ‘Clubs should ensure that senior players and club stakeholders are active in challenging transphobia, so that it is clear that transphobic behaviour and language is not acceptable.’

It goes without saying that verbal abuse of transgender people is abhorrent. But it is still striking how often the notion of language-policing arises in transgender campaigns. Not only are we told to be careful to use ‘preferred pronouns’ and ‘gender-neutral’ language, but anyone who refuses or disagrees with the premise of transgenderism is shouted down. This happened most recently when the BBC’s Jenni Murray expressed her view that trans women were not ‘real women’. Complaints were made, and there were calls for her to be sacked.

The legal changes that STAG is lobbying for include having the option to put an ‘x’ on a passport in place of a gender. It also wants the Gender Recognition Act to be changed so that applicants need not provide medical evidence to legally change their gender. These are significant changes, which raise huge legal and philosophical questions. They warrant serious debate. But trans activists’ history of shutting down debate does not bode well for anyone who might dare to question these recommendations.

In the past, equality campaigns, such as those for women or gay people, promoted positive messages. They aimed to ensure that oppressed groups of people could live fully autonomous lives, with the same freedoms as everyone else. What STAG is demanding is not equality, but inequality. The charity wants transgender people to achieve a kind of special status which protects them from words they don’t like and views they disagree with. This is an insult to all autonomous adults, trans or otherwise.

Naomi Firsht is staff writer at spiked and co-author of The Parisians’ Guide to Cafés, Bars and Restaurants. Follow her on Twitter: @Naomi_theFirsht

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Topics Politics


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