Courage Calls

Criticism of sex self-identification is growing globally

Maya Forstater, who was let go from her position at think tank Center for Global Development (CGD) in March of 2019 for tweets asserting the reality of biological sex, and who had originally lost a court case challenging her employer’s decision, has on June 10th won an appeal filed with the employment tribunal.

According to the introduction in the ruling,

“The Claimant holds the belief that biological sex is real, important, immutable and not to be conflated with gender identity. She considers that statements such as ‘woman means adult human female’ or ‘trans women are male’ are statements of neutral fact and are not expressions of antipathy towards trans people or ‘transphobic’.”

Trans activists on social media responded immediately to news of the judgement and the hashtags “Trans Rights Are Human Rights” and “TERFs” began trending on Twitter.

Maya’s case drew the attention of J.K. Rowling in 2019. Rowling tweeted her support for Maya in December that year, saying, “Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for saying sex is real?” Ms. Rowling has also retweeted Maya’s declaration of victory in a show of solidarity.

The backlash against Ms. Rowling has been immense. Countless death threats have been tweeted at her since that time, and some of the actors whose careers she launched spoke out against her. In September 2020, the hashtag #RIPJKRowling was trending on Twitter following the publication of her most recent book in the Strike series.

However, Ms. Rowling has expressed her views with compassion and concern. In June of 2020, Rowling published an an essay on her website clarifying her views about the importance of biological sex, saying:

“We’re living through the most misogynistic period I’ve experienced. Back in the 80s, I imagined that my future daughters, should I have any, would have it far better than I ever did, but between the backlash against feminism and a porn-saturated online culture, I believe things have got significantly worse for girls. Never have I seen women denigrated and dehumanised to the extent they are now. From the leader of the free world’s long history of sexual assault accusations and his proud boast of ‘grabbing them by the pussy’, to the incel (‘involuntarily celibate’) movement that rages against women who won’t give them sex, to the trans activists who declare that TERFs need punching and re-educating, men across the political spectrum seem to agree: women are asking for trouble. Everywhere, women are being told to shut up and sit down, or else.”

Fortunately, women are not shutting up or sitting down, and thanks to the courage of women like J.K. Rowling and Maya Forstater, among many others, a sea-change is brewing.

On June 4, Scottish feminist activist Marion Millar was charged under the Communications Act for tweeting a photo of a suffragette ribbon tied to a fence. The charge was brought forward by actor David Paisley, who claimed the ribbon resembled a noose. Within the span of a day, Millar’s crowdfunding campaign to cover the costs of her legal fees was pulled from GoFundMe, and when she set up a PayPal crowdfunder, a trans activist account impersonated her on Twitter and linked to their own account.

A petition has been set up by Graham Linehan in support of Marion Millar, and so far over 6,000 signatures have been gathered.

On June 9, an elementary school teacher in Virginia who was previously suspended for speaking out against a new policy requiring educators to use preferred pronouns has been reinstated. Byron Cross, who said, “I love all of my students but I will never lie to them regardless of the consequences,” was placed on administrative leave following his remarks. He also referenced a recent 60 Minutes episode which focused in part on the experiences of detransitioners. Cross was found to have been exercising his right to freedom of speech and a judge ordered that he be reinstated to his position.

Also on June 9, Lisa Keogh, a student at Scotland’s Abertay University, was cleared of charges against her after being investigated for the allegedly “offensive” and “discriminatory” view that women have vaginas and that men should not be allowed to identify into women’s sports.

Yesterday, June 11, it was reported that a brave 14 year-old girl in Virginia spoke out against her school board for a policy that would allows boys to self-declare their sex and enter girls’ restrooms and locker rooms, saying:

“Everyone knows what a boy is, even you. Your proposed policies are dangerous and rooted in sexism. When woke kids asked me if I was a lesbian or a trans boy because I cut my hair short, it should tell you these modern identities are superficial. Now boys are reading erotica in the classrooms next to girls, and you want to give them access to girls’ locker rooms, and you want to force girls to call those boys ‘she’. You do this in the name of inclusivity while ignoring the girls who will pay the price. Your policy places boys’ wants over girls’ needs.”

Women around the world are losing the right to define themselves on their own terms, and they are losing the protections from male violence afforded to them by single sex spaces. Whether it’s violent males being housed in women’s prisons, or girls being forced to compete against males in sports, the feelings and entitlement of a few boys and men are being prioritized over the safety and dignity of women and girls. There is a war going on against the female sex, and its aim is the removal of women’s boundaries and rights — which is why the judgement in Maya Forstater’s case is a crucial turning point for the public dialogue around women’s rights going forward.

Maya Forstater has released statement calling for others to join her and her new organization, Sex Matters, saying that we all need to be braver, and explaining that the singular mission of her organization is “to re-establish clarity about sex in law, policy, and language. This is about single-sex services. It's about women's refuges, women's prisons, women's sports. It's also about doctors, parents, teachers, and young people themselves being able to question the narrative about being born in the wrong body.”

Those who set up a monthly donation to Sex Matters during the month of June will have their contribution matched and doubled by a “generous donor”.