Tyranny in drag

It is high time we dismantled the phoney progressive rhetoric of the woke agenda.

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O'Neill
chief political writer

Topics Free Speech Identity Politics UK

Would you vote for a party that promised to let men parade around bollock-naked in women’s changing rooms? Or a party that was alarmingly blasé about gay kids being ‘corrected’ with drugs and surgery? Or a party that threatened to clamp down on thoughtcriminals who refer to people with penises and testicles – you know, men – as men? If not, then don’t vote Labour in the upcoming General Election. Because it’s possible it will pursue all of these petty tyrannical policies.

Of course, it isn’t using these actual words. It isn’t saying, ‘We will fight for the right of men to show their knobs to women at the gym’. Even Labour knows that would be a vote-loser. Instead, its authoritarianism will arrive wrapped in euphemism. Its regressive agenda will be smuggled in under progressive-sounding slogans. Rather than saying, ‘Men should be allowed to piss in any bathroom they bloody well choose’, Labour says: ‘We will modernise gender-recognition processes.’ It amounts to the same thing, though: if we get into government we will make it easier for men to masquerade as women.

It really is time we dismantled the scaffolding of deceptive rhetoric that surrounds the tyranny of woke. Angela Eagle, a Labour MP who served in the governments of both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, recently gave voice to the illiberal aspirations of the government-in-waiting. Her choice of words was impeccably politically correct. Labour, she said last week, will ‘legislate for a trans-inclusive conversion therapy ban, make anti-LGBT+ hate crime an aggravated offence [and] modernise gender-recognition processes’. What a lovely collection of buzzwords. Who could object? Well, me.

Let’s take her platitudinous promises one at a time. What does it mean to ‘legislate for a trans-inclusive conversion therapy ban’? To some, this will sound nice. Conversion therapy, if we take it to mean some religious hothead exorcising the demon of homosexuality from a 15-year-old gay lad, is a bad thing, so surely banning it is right? Not so fast.

In the trans context, ‘conversion therapy’ doesn’t only refer to the caricature vision of a Bible-thumping redneck making his kid ‘pray away the gay’. It refers to pretty much any attempt to dissuade a young person from undergoing dramatic and oftentimes irreversible procedures to ‘change their sex’. A mum telling her son that he absolutely may not wear a dress or change his name to Britney might be charged with ‘conversion therapy’. Or a doc who refuses to ‘affirm’ a gender-confused kid. Or the dad who begs and possibly pressures his 18-year-old daughter not to head out to have her breasts cut off. What many of us would consider caring acts could be rebranded ‘conversion therapy’ and potentially criminalised under Labour.

Think about what this means. Parental love, in certain contexts, could become a crime. This is not hyperbole. In the eyes of the woke, parents who forbid their teen from identifying as the opposite sex are being obstructively ‘transphobic’. So call the cops, right? The doublespeak at play here is mindblowing. The adults who try to prevent a vulnerable youth from converting to an identity that often involves lifelong reliance on drugs and all kinds of side-effects are themselves charged with ‘converting’. Preservation is conversion under our new Orwellian masters.

Stripped of its jargonistic blather, its illusory liberalism, a ‘trans-inclusive conversion therapy ban’ starts to take on a very different meaning. It becomes clear that it’s less about defending the young than reprimanding adults. Such a ban would expand the jurisdiction of the state over your children. It would institute in law the vile idea that officialdom knows better than parents how their kids should be raised. It would empower the state to spirit your children into the arms of what many of us consider to be a dangerous cult – a cult that encourages bodily self-loathing, causes infertility and induces much unhappiness. In plain English, a ‘trans-inclusive conversion therapy ban’ really means the right of the state to seize, emotionally at least, the children of dissidents.

Ms Eagle’s policy would harm gay kids especially. The most doublethink thing about the demands for a ban on ‘trans conversion therapy’ is that it would actually green-light the conversion of gays. For what is the medical ‘correction’ of a 15-year-old lesbian, to make her a ‘boy’, if not the erasure of a gay girl? What is the blocking of a gay lad’s puberty, to make him ‘feminine’, if not the elimination of a male homosexual? Screw Ms Eagle’s pious liberal rhetoric – her punishment of opposition to medical interference with kids who will likely grow up to be gay would make Britain not unlike Iran, where thousands are similarly ‘corrected’ by the pro-trans, anti-gay regime.

Then there’s her promise to ‘modernise gender-recognition processes’. Here, too, the right-on rhetoric obscures a backward agenda. Speeding up the ‘gender recognition’ process will make it easier for people to change sex in the eyes of the law. So they wouldn’t need surgery or hormonal treatment – just the go-ahead of one doctor – to be validated by the state as whatever sex they say they are. Strip away the thin progress-speak and what this policy means is that a big lad with balls and possibly a beard could legally become a lady with ease. Apologies for speaking plainly.

It’s another supposedly progressive policy that would actually pave the way for something regressive – the right of blokes to pretend to be women and to go where women go. On this question – which spaces ‘transwomen’ may access – Labour seems to want to have its cake and eat it. Anneliese Dodds, shadow secretary for women and equalities, agrees the gender-recognition process should be streamlined, but she says there will still be ‘places where it is reasonable for biological women only to have access’. But who will decide when it’s ‘reasonable’ for a space to be women-only? Labour? A party infamously led by a man who once said 99.9 per cent of women ‘haven’t got a penis’, which means one in 1,000 do?

Labour’s rather begrudged acceptance that it’s sometimes ‘reasonable’ for women to tell men to piss off does not feel reassuring. A Labour government might decree that it’s reasonable for a rape shelter to be for ‘biological women’ only, for example. But what about a ladies’ swimming pond? Or a lesbian speed-dating night? Would freedom of association rule there too, or might those pursuits be considered too ‘frivolous’ for women to have the authority to say ‘no transwomen’? We don’t want haughty government rulings on when freedom of association is ‘reasonable’ and when it isn’t – we want women to be free to decide for themselves what a man is and when they are not welcome.

The more fundamental problem with Labourites saying ‘modernise gender recognition’ in one breath and ‘preserve certain women’s spaces’ in the next is that it is fatally muddled. Are transwomen women or not? My view is that they are not. Their view is that they are. For how long does Labour think it will be able to keep these legal, literal women – as the crazies see them – out of women’s spaces? Dodds pronounces on reasonableness and yet Labour would pursue a policy that runs entirely counter to reason – namely, allowing individuals in full possession of a cock and balls to be logged as women by the state. You can’t lay waste to reason and then claim to defend it.

Then there’s Eagle’s promise to make ‘anti-LGBT+ hate crime’ an ‘aggravated offence’. Don’t applaud this, either. All good people detest bigotry and violence against gay people. But we’re talking about Labour here, a party that has flirted with the idea of making it a crime to deliberately ‘misgender’ someone. Under the Tories, scores of women were interrogated and arrested by cops for such ‘crimes’ as putting up gender-critical stickers and referring to blokes as blokes. Anyone who thinks this won’t continue under Labour, and worsen, is kidding themselves. So yet more clampdowns on ‘anti-LGBT hate’? No thanks. Dissenting feminists are as likely to get caught in that web as gay-bashing bigots.

There is a fundamental dishonesty in the language of politics in the 21st century. Liberal buzzwords disguise authoritarian crusades. The old language of equality is marshalled to the cause of devastating women’s rights. Gay-friendly slogans are used to justify the grotesque policy of putting young gays on a metaphorical rack in order that their supposedly faulty sex might be corrected. Tyranny is snuck in under a banner of ‘freedom’. Enough is enough. Liberty and equality must be defended from their fake champions.

Brendan O’Neill is spiked’s chief political writer and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. His new book – A Heretic’s Manifesto: Essays on the Unsayable – is available to order on Amazon UK and Amazon US now. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Free Speech Identity Politics UK


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