Teenagers vs trans orthodoxy

Why has it fallen to a 13-year-old girl to stand up for women’s spaces?

Paddy Hannam


In my home county of Oxfordshire, a case brought on behalf of a 13-year-old girl has just been referred to the High Court. Her charge is that the council’s Trans Inclusion Toolkit – which allows trans children to use whichever changing rooms, toilets and dormitories they feel most comfortable with – is unacceptable.

It is striking, but perhaps revealing, that a young girl is at the centre of this case. Have adults so vacated the field on this important question that the argument for female-only spaces has to be made by a child?

The case presents us with a crossroads. It is perfectly legitimate to accept self-identification, and to refer to people using the pronouns that they feel suit them best. Indeed, it is crass and unkind to insist on calling people ‘he’ or ‘she’ when it upsets them for us to do so. To this degree, we can avoid ‘taking sides’.

But when it comes to private spaces, we are confronted with the substantive demands that a political doctrine of self-identification can make on others. This approach refuses to make any distinction between those born as women and those who identify as women. At this point, it is no longer possible to abstain – a choice has to be made.

The young girl said in a statement that, at present, she has ‘no right to privacy from the opposite sex in changing rooms, loos or on residential trips’, and this makes her feel ‘sad, powerless and confused’. One member of the team bringing the case said, ‘Both children and staff will be forced to deny reality… which is especially confusing and upsetting for children’.

Indeed, this case makes one realise just how bewildering it must be for young people to have a novel dogma thrust into their lives, and be expected to swallow it whole. At the same time as being encouraged by other movements to ‘believe women’ or to ‘unite behind The Science’, we are all – our kids included – being told to suspend scientific reality and reject the gender categorisations that make sense to us, all in the name of avoiding offence.

Into such an atmosphere are thrown proclamations like that of Labour MP Dawn Butler, who said that children are born without biological sex. And Conservatives, too, have often kowtowed to the new norm. As an article in Conservative Woman has highlighted, teaching resources endorsed by the Government Equalities Office agree that babies are ‘given a gender when they are born’. Is this really a message we are happy to have delivered to our kids?

Examples like this young girl’s case lay bare the irresponsibility and lack of leadership characterising our governing class. The refusal to have a proper, mature debate about gender identity has meant that what started as something perfectly legitimate – a polite request to be referred to by particular terms – has now become a demand upon all of our rights. The fear of the accusation of transphobia has led to people’s concerns being ignored, and the door has swung open for guidance that is unfit for purpose.

Trans rights are indeed human rights, as activists are wont to say. But when the issue develops into something bigger than self-identification, and starts to define other people too, we have an irreconcilable conflict. The insistence that a trans person must have access to whatever private space they feel comfortable in implicitly redefines that space, without the consent of the other people who use it. It weighs the value of their rights as lesser than those of the trans person, and rejects as old hat or even bigoted their desire for privacy, and indeed their desire to understand themselves as distinct.

‘I don’t understand how allowing boys and girls to share private spaces is okay’, says the 13-year-old girl. Our education system and our political leaders have provided no sufficient answer to this question, because there isn’t one. The incoherent policy on offer is no good. And it shouldn’t have fallen to a teenager to point this out.

Paddy Hannam is a writer. Follow him on Twitter: @paddyhannam

Picture by: Getty.

spiked needs your support

Defending liberty isn’t easy – especially in times of crisis, when freedom is so often traded away in search of security. But amid the coronavirus pandemic we at spiked have continued to speak up for our principles, calling for more scrutiny of the authoritarian measures being wielded over us and more debate on the best way forward. To continue to do that, we need your help. spiked is free and it always will be, because we want as many people to read us as possible. But to keep spiked free we rely on the generosity of our readers, particularly those who can give regularly. Even £5 per month can make a huge difference to us. We know it’s hard out there for many of you, now more than ever. But if you support what we do here and you can afford to contribute, to make sure we can continue to produce our free and fearless journalism for anyone who wants to read it, please do consider making a donation today.

Thank you! And stay safe.

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.


Kimberly KJ

24th May 2020 at 5:54 am

Just bоught seху underwеar.
Wаnnа see? Visit thе site -> http://kisstok.com

Matt Walker

6th May 2020 at 9:03 pm

‘It is perfectly legitimate to accept self-identification, and to refer to people using the pronouns that they feel suit them best. Indeed, it is crass and unkind to insist on calling people ‘he’ or ‘she’ when it upsets them for us to do so.’

NO, NO, a thousand times NO. It is neither crass nor unkind. It is language reflecting reality.

Gender dysphoria is a mental illness. Indulging its sufferers – indeed, mandating that their delusions be respected and the language mangled to suit their madness – is utterly unacceptable.

Men must be referred to as he, him, himself and so on, women as she, her, etc. Biological reality must win every time, no matter who gets upset.

Leave a comment

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