The gender-neutral attack on motherhood

The gender-neutral attack on motherhood

There is a biological basis to bearing children that no amount of trans activism can erase.

Frank Furedi


I was genuinely shocked by the news that Freddy McConnell, a transgender man who retained his female reproductive organs and gave birth to a child, lost his High Court case to be registered as the child’s ‘father’ or ‘parent’.

I wasn’t shocked because I disagree with the court’s judgement that the status of ‘mother’ is correctly afforded to a person who carries and gives birth to a baby. And I wasn’t shocked because I support the growing trend towards detaching female biology from pregnancy and motherhood. No, I was shocked precisely because the High Court did not grant McConnell’s wish. And because it did so at a time when Western societies have become so confused over gender and sex that they have usually been more than willing to call into question the biological distinction between men and women.

Even trans activists have been surprised at the ease with which conventional distinctions between men and women have been eroded. Noting the acceptance of gender-neutral pronouns, the emergence of ‘all-gender’ restrooms, and the growing number of US states recognising a third-gender category, one American professor of law, sympathetic to trans activism, noted the ‘stunning speed [with which] non-binary gender identities have gone from obscurity to prominence in American public life’ (1).

The UK and parts of northern Europe have also been hospitable to a dramatic revision of gender identities. It is now sufficient for a biological male to self-identify as a female in order to gain access to women’s toilets, refuges or prisons. Even hitherto girls-only institutions, such as the Guides, are now open to boys who self-identify as females.

Until now, most of the debate around the rise of transgender culture has focused on the rights and wrongs of allowing people to self-identify as male or female in line with their personal inclinations. However, as the McConnell case indicates, the trend towards gender-neutrality promises something more radical still: the abolition of the distinction between the biological category of man and woman. While, in this instance, the law adhered to the distinction, formulated during the case by Ben Jaffey QC, between a ‘person who gives birth and a person who does not’, it is only a matter of time, if present trends continue, before this distinction is eroded.

Not simply about gender

Since its conception in 1955, the term ‘gender’ has been used to distinguish the variable social and cultural roles of men and women, from the biological attributes, from genitalia to chromosomes, of the two sexes. Until recently, even the most radical opponents of conventional gender norms did not question the biological distinction between man and woman.

In recent decades, however, the biological distinction between the sexes has been called into question. Some claim that the variations in hormone levels and chromosomes show that biological differences are far less distinct and far more fluid than previously thought (2). Trans activists even cite the existence of a tiny minority of intersex people, whose reproductive and sexual anatomy diverges from that of the typical male or female, as proof that there are more than two sexes, rather than just deviations from the norm. This argument relies on expanding the meaning of gender and downsizing the significance of sexual differences.

In some cases, it involves giving gender a physiological basis. According to one account, ‘brain anatomy may play a role in one’s gender identity’, which means that ‘identification with a gender contrary to one’s biological sex has physiological roots’. These new forms of gender identity therefore ‘destroy’ the binary conception of sex differences based on the ‘archaic understandings of biology’ (3). Little wonder many activists are now calling for an end to the distinction between sex and gender. As sociologist Rogers Brubaker writes: ‘In recent decades, the distinction has been challenged by those who argue that sex is just as socially and culturally constructed as gender, and that it is therefore misleading to treat sex as biological and gender as cultural.’ (4)

Paradoxically, this means that gender theorists, having once emphasised the cultural dimension of sexual behaviour, are now trying to naturalise gender identities. Their objective is to detach men and women from their biological sex. Hence, for trans activists, gender identity trumps biology. This is why, as the McConnell case illustrates, there is so much focus on what is to be written on a birth certificate. The aim is to erase or marginalise biological sex.

Indeed, so determined is that effort that there are now numerous calls to stop attributing a sex to newborns on birth certificates. So ‘male’ or ‘female’ would be replaced with a simple common gender identity instead. As one gender theorist writes:

‘Put simply, newborns have not yet formed gender identities, but from the very first moment of their existence in this world, they are placed into a binding, binary sex category that may or may not be true to them. A better approach is to create a universal and unifying gender identity until individuals are able to exercise their right to choose it themselves.’ (5)

Gender-neutral parenting certainly sounds liberal and liberating. But in practice, freeing children from ‘binding, binary sex categories’, and burdening them with an unnecessary, life-changing decision, means that adult society evades responsibility for socialising young people.

Gender-neutral parenting also ignores the elementary facts of biology. Children don’t get to decide whether they will become boys or girls. They are not born biologically neutral. When they leave the womb they are already boys and girls in the making. It is not nasty mothers and fathers who impose these biological facts of life on their gullible children. Children may get to decide how they express their girlishness or boyishness and what kind of identity they adopt in later life, but they don’t get to decide the chromosomes they are born with.

Unsexing pregnancy

The project of eliminating binary sex categories also focuses on eliminating the connection between biological women and giving birth. In a world where someone who has given birth can claim to be a father, it is not surprising to discover that the term ‘pregnant woman’ is increasingly criticised as too exclusive. The British Medical Association’s (BMA’s) guidance on ‘inclusive language’ advises its readers to use ‘pregnant people’ instead of the stereotype term ‘pregnant woman’. Why? Because although ‘a large majority of people who have been pregnant or have given birth identify as women’, there are ‘intersex men and transmen who may get pregnant’. But given that virtually every pregnancy involves someone in possession of their female reproductive organs, the attempt to eliminate the term ‘pregnant woman’ is driven by more than the existence of a tiny minority of intersex men. It is driven by a determination to separate women from motherhood.

Unsexing pregnancy constitutes the next stage of the campaign to eliminate the distinction between men and women. Take ‘Unsexing Pregnancy’, a recent essay by David Fontana and Naomi Schoenbaum in the Columbia Law Review, which questions ‘sexed pregnancy’. Its main focus is on unsexing carework, but by questioning pregnancy as a ‘sexed experience unique to women’, Fontana and Schoenbaum implicitly recast pregnancy in sex-neutral terms.

Others have gone further. Jessica Clarke, a US-based law professor, suggests that ‘the law could see pregnancy not as something that only happens to women’s bodies, but also as a bodily condition experienced by people who do not identify as women’ (6). She would also like to see changes in terminology from ‘women affected by pregnancy’ or ‘gestational mothers’, to ‘persons affected by pregnancy’ or ‘gestational parents’ (7).

Clarke justifies changing the language of everyday life on the basis that ‘all pregnant people deserve inclusion’. Unfortunately, this talk of inclusion renders motherhood meaningless. It turns pregnancy into a technical accomplishment performed by de-sexed, binary-neutral individuals.

The subordination of biological sex differences to the imperative of gender-neutrality turns the bringing of children into this world into a socially engineered melodrama. But, as always, it will be the children who will pay the price for the confusion of their elders.

Frank Furedi’s How Fear Works: the Culture of Fear in the 21st Century is published by Bloomsbury Press.

(1) They, Them, and Theirs, by Jessica A. Clarke, 132 Harvard Law Review 894, 2019 ,p896

(2) See for example ‘Bye, Bye, Binary: Updating Birth Certificates to Transcend the Binary of Sex’, by EM Lamm, Tulane Journal of Law & Sexuality 28, 2019 p6

(3) ‘Bye, Bye, Binary: Updating Birth Certificates to Transcend the Binary of Sex’, by EM Lamm, Tulane Journal of Law & Sexuality 28, 2019, pp8-9

(4) Gender and race in an age of unsettled identities, by R Brubaker, Princeton University Press, 2018, pxi

(5) ‘Bye, Bye, Binary: Updating Birth Certificates to Transcend the Binary of Sex’, by EM Lamm, Tulane Journal of Law & Sexuality 28, 2019, p22

(6) ‘Pregnant People?’, by JA Clarke, Colombia Law Review Online, 2019

(7) ‘Pregnant People?’, by JA Clarke, Colombia Law Review Online, 2019

Let’s cancel cancel culture

Free speech is under attack from all sides – from illiberal laws, from a stifling climate of conformity, and from a powerful, prevailing fear of being outed as a heretic online, in the workplace, or even among friends, for uttering a dissenting thought. This is why we at spiked are stepping up our fight for speech, expanding our output and remaking the case for this most foundational liberty. But to do that we need your help. spiked – unlike so many things these days – is free. We rely on our loyal readers to fund our journalism. So if you want to support us, please do consider becoming a regular donor. Even £5 per month can be a huge help. You can find out more and sign up here. Thank you! And keep speaking freely.

Donate now

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.


A Game

8th October 2019 at 4:23 am

Really good read, but boy, oh, boy, it touches on a mere few squares of the patchwork quilt that is this hideous coup being enacted on society.
We all know its a power grab. Look at what they are upending with this ideology. Not a single thing is left untouched. Language. Science. Tradition. Institutions etc etc etc etc etc.
It began with post modernism in universities in the 90s. Hideous cranks like Judith Butler have made a nice earner of unreadable hogwash, and is now niche superstar. They leaned heavily on peds like Foucault. That would create Queer Theory.
So, yes, academics are to blame as the source.
What we now have is the Trans Ideology happily taking advantage of the post modernist idea to its fullest. The groundwork has been laid already with language control, gender bending, the emergence of gender replacing “biological sex” in our lives – it happened, did anyone notice on forms you get asked gender? People use “gender” instead of “sex” when talking about men and women. These small erosions, these little dupes, even people arguing against Queer Theory often erroneously say gender when they mean sex. That confusion is very handy.
I believe Douglas Murray’s latest – “The Madness of Crowds” goes into where this started, and I saw an interview where he said he finally got around to reading Foucault. Lightbulb. (I’ve ordered it… I await.)
Organisations like Stonewall saw power and money in the Trans and Queer side, so once marriage equality was achieved, they happily threw their lot in behind the T and the Q. Taking down the LGB in the process. (On ongoing issue that looks like they are slowly having to move on and break away. Queer Theory goes after homosexuality, too.)
Did any of this have to ever make sense? No. Not the point of power hungry academia. Does it have to be constructive and helpful? Nope. Not the point of the exercise.
Everyone wonders, where on earth has this come from? What’s been going on?
Radical Feminists have been the only open opponents of this, but being Rad Fems, its been easy to no-platform them, sideline them, marginalise them. The mainstream media has happily played ball in not talking about it. Seriously, don’t read the word feminist and freak out. They have copped it for going against the grain, and they have refused to budge… they have lost jobs, they have been fighting in courts, they are abused, threatened by trans and queer nasties. They refuse to dismantle the reality of biological sex.
Diversity training in all of our institutions has included this stuff, but not as advertised. They have quietly been changing the language of literature, replacing sex with gender, being indoctrinated, ready, we all just thought it was about women/ethnicity/religion. Nope. Midwifery has really copped a bashing in UK. Australian Midwifery Board sent out a question about 3 years ago, asking if everyone was cool about “pregnant parent” and “chest feeder”. They got a resounding “no”. But its creeping in the backdoor, instead. Very sinister. All executives of all organisations and professions are terrified of being labelled “bigot”, not being woke and cool and forward thinking. So, they are signing up to this stuff for all the wrong reasons. They are adding to the success of the brainwashing, the normalising of this nonsensical tripe. Sporting Bodies have shown this in their ineptitude with men competing in women’s sports. Only weightlifting sports bodies have had the guts to put their foot down and say, nah… this is the end of our female category. They are copping it. How dare they not go with the groupthink.
Politicians tend, before legislating, only listen to Trans Activists like Mermaids. So they get smothered in propaganda, and all their tacky bits of “science”. It all sounds so fair and straight forward, right? These poor people, born in the wrong bodies… yes, yes, birth certificates are fair game… whatever these poor people want. They have happily appropriated homosexual civil rights and racial civil rights. (Oh, boy, have they exploited racial civil rights.) Intersex people have been exploited terribly as “proof” of their claims. You either have an intersex condition, which is steeped in biological reality, or you do not. There is no middle ground on that.
In the mean time, the identity politics has been doing their bit by carving society up into identities. “Woman” and “man” are now identities. The introduction of “cis” (they can go f**k emselves on that one) is the effort to take people who just accept that they are their biological sex, because that was the lottery of life, and have no problem with it, either way, and turn it into a choice. Of course, you ask the vast majority of men and women on the planet, what do you identify as… huh? Nothing. No, no, what gender are you? (And remember, gender does not mean biological sex) and they will answer, Man or woman. They don’t know they are now playing the game. The sub-binary of “cis” is the ugly face of this cause. Of course, its a pressure that has been applied mercilessly on women… rarely do you hear about men being forced to conform. Alison Moir the singer, copped it last year or the year before because she said, “I’m a woman, not a cis woman.” How dare she refuse a label someone else has created for her!
Its been bogged down in “toilet use” campaigns… again, those poor people. But that is, again, just another little piece that has been allowed to be seen publicly, working in tandem with everything else, working with what is happening behind the scenes – politicians, bureaucrats, institutions.
Canada, oh, Canada has of course been the trailblazer’s with compelled language and thought control. Legally enforced. Remember that’s how Jordan Peterson got his start.
The scientist, Gad Saad, was almost reduced to begging the committee in charge of crafting the C-16 bill, to understand that tampering with biological reality goes after the very heart of the biological sciences. That his personal field will be wiped out – Evolutionary Psychology, it relies on the whole sex binary of men and women – if you tamper with reality… but no. The feminists, even a Transgender activist who was against the changes, couldn’t crush their wokeness. Its on youtube, if anyone is interested.
Then you have the individual useful idiots, doing their bit because their whole disorder hinges on being validated by society. Like this case. Instead of accepting that society allowed for some tinkering with traditional roles… no, not good enough, it must be total. (I agree with FF – its f**king surreal that finally a wall of sense has been put up.)
BON has done a few articles in “The Australian” newspaper about trans issues, the fight to erase sex from birth certificates. He uses the erasure of historical fact as one of the big reasons its so wrong. And as you can see, Fred’s campaign… paperwork forever will be a muddle, completely useless as an historical, evidentiary trail of society. Shows like “Who do you think you are”… you wouldn’t be able to do anything like that. Genealogy would be gone. 200 years… what’s real, what is a “fact” and what isn’t?
Medically they all hit the wall and have to come clean. There are reported cases where they try not to… but men and women when they have diseases etc… biology still matters. So the arguments FF includes from these crackpots, you can see how self serving they are, but when the rubber meets the road… suddenly its all just play. But language now gets controlled. “Her” prostate cancer. “His” pregnancy, “his” ovarian cancer.
IN the UK, its illegal to not have single sex toilets. That’s been steamrolled, without changing the legislation. Why? For an easier life? For who? (And creating a wealth of problems. Girls not drinking, trying not to need the toilet during the day.)
Its important not to include the homosexual cause in this. Whether you agree or disagree with same sex parenting, you notice that they aren’t destroying biological sex? They are only changing traditional, sex passed parenting roles, but two men as parents… they aren’t lying to their child and saying they aren’t men. They freely acknowledge they are two men. (Or women.) There is no dupe about biological sex. Important not to let that issue interfere with this issue. Which is part of the fun the Trans/Queer ideology has had.
This has to be fought… its grass root campaigning. Letters to MPs, street protests, point of contact protest – at the hospital and being called a pregnant person… correct it, enforce your own label. We are the majority. The woke set are fighting tooth and nail to blackmail and gaslight people into being “good” and therefore, unquestioning of this revolution being enacted.
Posie Parker wrote an in memoriam of Magdalen Berns, recently. This is the issue they found each other in. Completely different women, living quite different lives… but they saw an enemy when it approached.
Graham Linehan has devoted his Twitter account to this cause. (Remainer dick, but he’s got this one right. He wrote Father Ted…if that means anything to anyone.) People should look it up, because the links to everything you need to know are on his page. He has acted as a very good lynchpin in bringing people who have been no-platformed, together. Feminists, lesbians and gays who disagree, Milo Yiannoppoulous (?) has recognised trans/queer is homophobic. This is a cross issue support.
Julia Beck and WoLF are working with The Heritage Foundation in America. There are, of course, those, who are enraged about that. How dare you work with the other side?
UK Labour have a particularly nasty POS called Liam Madigan as a Women’s Officer (apparently successful after a malignant campaign against women) for a constituency or ward. 19 year old, heterosexual male who identifies as a woman. Right. I’m sure we all are dying to be represented by what he thinks about what women’s needs are. Time to abolish women’s offers, methinks.
This is probably a ramble. But as an issue, its bigger than Ben Hur. Its tentacles spread across so many fields, and can only cause the breakdown of any sense of a functioning, cohesive society.
We all have to stand up and attack it, never accept it.
Most people, the vast majority, have no problem with people expressing their personalities (yeah, sticking point with a lot of this crowd… what to do when you don’t have one?) in whatever way they want. That they should be able to move freely without abuse or nastiness, certainly without discrimination is a given. (Which is already legislated for. No appeasing this lot… all or nothing.) But that doesn’t come with the price tag of us all ending up in this black hole of f**kwittery, that serves so very few.
Tasmania in Australia, apparently extremely slow with supporting same sex marriage, so the theory goes, have without batting an eye, legislated blank birth certificates and self ID, to compensate.
Someone brought up the children agenda. I read recently, Susan Nunes describing Queer Theory as anti-woman, anti LGB, and is basically a cult for perverts and degenerates. Boy, the case is to be made that she is completely, utterly right. Someone touches on the children issue and bestiality… yep. The gatekeeping of children has been undermined by wokeness… Mum’s handing their kids over to Drag story time, a classic example. We all know, you discover subculture as you grow up, mostly in your teens. There is zero need for children to be exposed to this. What’s left to discover when they are 16? You can see the jaded degeneracy this ideology wants to create.
Then capitalism has their role. Someone showed a link to an article about the Industrial Medical Complex. Its a great start to how deep the astroturfing goes. People who support the Republican Party with donations, are also funding fake Trans Lobbies and buying up some doctors to spout their rubbish. Why? Isn’t that a clash?
Fight for language. Fight for reason.

A Game

8th October 2019 at 5:09 am

Yeah, bit rambly. Autocorrect guesses wrong too many times and that mean little box they give us… We want a bigger box!
Brexit has a powerful role to play in this. Countries need their sovereignty to deal with this. If the ECJ makes a ruling for the individual’s right over the good of the collective (which we know they already do, Human Rights is one massive campaign for that very thing and it overrules legislature and government policy in doing so), a country is powerless to disagree. But if MPs are answerable to their electorate, who then want the numbers to win government, you can see how democracy caters to what the majority want for their society. Another sly handing over of responsibility for governing by these amateur politicians. Don’t make me choose, don’t make me think, don’t make me commit to anything… but just vote for me. I’m really nice. Let’s stay in the EU!!
Getting out of the EU will be one of the most powerful tools for overturning this madness.
I’m thinking Freddy, who I saw an interview of, has been pleaded with not to appeal this decision (and guess whose thunderdome that will be…), not yet, with Brexit on the line and the Sup Court now under fire and many wanting to see it banished. They would side with Freddy. Precedent has shown that. But this ruling is most certainly not the end of the line for this case. If the UK Remain, the trans lobby will be waiting to fund the appeal.
The “fears” about HRT supplies running out in the case of a Clean Break Brexit, I’m deeply suspicious of. Part of the push to medicalise men who want to be women is to pick up the crashed market of synthetic hormones. HRT was shown to give women cancer. Its now out of fashion. What do with those drugs? Ahhh. Give them to teenage males and men. New market. New profits… essentially unlimited. So who is really sweating on the thought of synthetic estrogen being held up at the port? And who really wants centralised power that caters to individual rights over society’s? Everything ties in.
The NHS is not designed to cater to this. There are some awful things the NHS is currently paying for – sex lessons for trans, that sort of thing – that, frankly, is immoral. This issue gets bigger… its a nice way to undermine the success of countries with public health systems. Who will provide the private healthcare to replace it? Those who are building the hospitals for the expected glut of sex change surgeries. (Which are very hit and miss. They spend a lifetime getting “corrections”. Incontinence for both sides seems to be their fate. Atrophied “vaginas” and vaginas. Cha ching!

Marvin Jones

6th October 2019 at 6:09 pm

How the world has changed in the last 50/70 years. The laws that people make and interpreted by the judiciary surely point to the average intelligent human brain has not progressed but somehow succumbed to insanity and retarded rights of sub humans who are appeased to far beyond what should be regarded as evolution. This is not evolution, it is genetic mutation of the human race.

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to comment. Log in or Register now.