Sall Grover’s fight for womankind

Tickle v Giggle is the world’s first test case for the definition of ‘woman’.

Nick Cater

Topics Identity Politics World

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Sall Grover moved from Australia’s Gold Coast to Hollywood in her twenties to pursue a career as a screenwriter.

It was an immersion course in predatory male behaviour in the days before the words #MeToo found a hashtag.

The experience inspired Grover to establish Giggle for Girls (often shortened to Giggle), an online refuge for women, a chat site where girls could be girls and find support in communities tailored to their needs.

Giggle was launched in 2020, after Grover moved back to Australia, as a social-media app. Those who wished to join were required to upload a selfie to validate their biological identity. The initial screening is conducted by AI, which examines facial bone structure to determine if users are male or female. Differences between male and female skulls and other bones, like the pelvis, are used by archaeologists to determine the sex of a skeleton.

The artificial gatekeeper failed an early intelligence test by certifying that an applicant named Roxanne Tickle was a bona fide female. Tickle is a 54-year-old biological male from Lismore, New South Wales, who underwent gender-affirming surgery in 2019 and self-identifies as trans. He considers himself a trailblazer for transgender rights as a proud skirt-wearing member of the East Lismore Women’s Hockey team.

When moderators realised that Tickle had slipped through the system, they withdrew his access. Tickle considered this to be a breach of his rights and took his case to the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC). He claimed he had been discriminated against ‘by being provided with extremely limited functionality of a smartphone app by the app provider compared to that of other users because I am a transgender woman’.

Grover has been obliged to front up to the AHRC’s kangaroo court to defend her actions as CEO of Giggle for Girls Pty Ltd.

Gender identity became a protected identity in Australia under amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act, pushed through federal parliament in 2013 in the dying days of Julia Gillard’s Labor government.

The AHRC’s conciliation process determined that the matter could be settled if Grover agreed to attend sex and gender re-education and allow all males who identify as women on her app. This being unacceptable to Grover, the case moved to the Federal Court as Tickle v Giggle.

Hearings began this week. Lawyers for Giggle are seeking to have the case struck out on the grounds that the 2013 amendments were invalid. Should they fail, they intend to appeal to the High Court, seeking a ruling that parliament acted unconstitutionally when it effectively changed the definition of a woman from one based on biology to identity.

The outcome will have a profound influence in Australia, where advocates and the bureaucracy seized on the 2013 amendments to justify legal claims that blokehood or sheiladom were purely a matter of personal preference.

It will be the first test case anywhere in the world for the definition of a woman in the UN’s Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The federal government’s constitutional right to pass laws against discrimination that cut across state jurisdictions rests on the claim that it is enforcing the terms of an international convention to which Australia is a signature.

When CEDAW was ratified in 1979, the definition of a woman was not disputed. The convention defines ‘discrimination against women’ as ‘any distinction, exclusion or restriction made based on sex’. The defendants will argue that the transgender biological males cannot claim protection under a treaty that protects women.

What’s more, the intrusion of transgender men in women’s spaces, whether they are sports teams, changing rooms or chat rooms, infringes on the rights of women as defined in CEDAW. CEDAW defines discrimination as any action with the ‘effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women… of human rights and fundamental freedoms’.

A victory for Giggle in the High Court would not strip transgender individuals of human rights as activists try to claim. Tickle is free to assert his right to equal treatment as a man, which CEDAW also recognises. He would also be entitled to protection under the growing number of provisions that apply to transgender identity and other niche groups that cluster beneath the LGBTQ umbrella.

Blurring the lines between biology and identity creates further mischief, however. Giggle’s legal team will argue that the right of women and girls to occupy spaces free from the intrusion of men is an egregious denial of rights fought for centuries.

Tickle’s action condemned Grover to the social-media punishment routinely meted out by women who make a stand against transgender ideologues. Ironically, much of it is laden with the same vulgar, misogynistic language used by the groping, manipulating grub that drove her out of Hollywood.

Behind it, there is evidence of a concerted, choreographed assault by the offence-seeking industry, who see every attempt to protect biological women as a target.

Grover reports that about half of the 10,000 app downloads have been men trying to break in. She said one tried 48 times to get past the verification system. ‘No means no’, said Grover in an interview for the Feminist blog 4w. ‘This is what we have been talking about, very loudly in a post #MeToo world’, she said.

A common-sense reading of common law would undoubtedly back Giggle. Yet it is clearly too late for that in a case that should have been thrown out at the first application. Tickle can call upon the resources and law-fare expertise of a powerful, well-connected activist group skilled in using processes to exhaust the resolve and resources of their enemies.

Giggle, on the other hand, survives on crowdfunding, pro-bono legal support and the determination of Grover and her friends to keep the identity hackers at bay.

Here’s hoping reason prevails.

Nick Cater is a senior fellow at the Menzies Research Centre in Sydney and publishes Reality Bites on Substack.

Picture by: Sall Grover.

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Topics Identity Politics World


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