Another month, another illiberal ruling from a scientifically illiterate judge declaring that belief in biology is “not worthy of respect in a democratic society”.
The case of Maya Forstater, sacked for questioning on social media the government’s proposals for gender self-identification, follows the case in October of Dr David Mackereth, who lost his government consulting job because he declined to say he would use pronouns at odds with a person’s biological sex.
In both cases, the defence was made on the basis of protections for beliefs under the Equality Act, and in both cases the tribunal judge ruled that a belief in biology (and, in Mackereth’s case, the Bible) was not protected and, being apparently offensive, was not compatible with human dignity – one of the grounds under the European Convention on Human Rights that speech may be curtailed.
Will these surreal and disturbing rulings be overturned on appeal? We have to hope so. How can speaking of basic human biology be regarded by any self-respecting society as incompatible with human dignity? Some commentators have wondered if this latest insanity represents ‘peak trans’, from which the only movement can be a return to reason, but I’m not sure if we don’t yet have some way still to go down the woke rabbit hole.
Consider that even transgender people who stand up for biology are currently facing defamation and bans, while the Scottish government has once again begun to consult on plans to press ahead with gender self-declaration.
Where is the Church of England on all this? Nowhere at all, or rather on the wrong side entirely. Not a peep of support for those being persecuted for standing up for biology and biblical beliefs, yet no limit apparently when it comes to encouragement for the innovations of transgender activists.
The Church has, for instance, issued guidance for all its schools encouraging them to treat any child who identifies with the opposite sex as that sex, no questions asked, including by allowing them to cross-dress and use the toilet and changing facilities of the opposite sex. It does this without any consideration for the welfare and privacy of girls, stating categorically that ‘schools can make adjustments to meet the needs of a trans pupil without being accused of discriminating against non-trans pupils’.
It has endorsed gender transition by publishing official guidance on how to use the ‘affirmation of baptism’ service to mark such an event.
It has invited controversial transgender activist group Mermaids to deliver training in its schools, leading one vicar, John Parker, to resign in May as school governor and vicar when his diocese backed the school in pursuing a course of action wholly informed by transgender ideology. The bishop of the diocese, Stephen Cottrell, has been accused of telling Mr Parker and other clergy concerned about the direction of the Church of England that ‘if we disagree with the approach the Diocese is taking on matters of human sexuality we should follow our consciences and leave.’
Far from distancing itself from Mr Cottrell, the Church has promoted him, announcing last week that he is to be the next Archbishop of York, a move that has been criticised as making ‘official’ the capitulation of the CofE to the LGBT zeitgeist and as completing the ‘long march’ of the progressives through the institutions.
It is hard to disagree with that assessment. No wonder former Queen’s Chaplain Gavin Ashenden has said that he left the Church of England because of its failure to stand up to political correctness.
If we are going to return to reason it will be no thanks to the nation’s established Church. But is it really so simple to return from here to a place of rational thinking? I’m not so sure.
Science and reality are on our side, yes. But what many critics of the latest transgender nonsense are failing to realise, or refusing to accept, is that the flight from biology began not with transgenderism but with marriage. Many of these critics are fully on-board with so-called ‘equal marriage’ but regard transgender ideology as anti-scientific. They’re happy for society to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples, but not at all impressed with the idea that ‘woman’ should be redefined to include men who identify as women.
But one follows from the other, which is why transgender ideology has gone mainstream just as same-sex marriage is enshrined and normalised. Our elites think they can redefine ‘woman’ without reference to biology precisely because they have already redefined marriage to remove its connection to biology. For just as ‘woman’ is based on the biological (and genetic) reality of the human female, marriage is based on the biological reality of the procreative pair.
Marriage of course is much more than merely for reproduction, and some couples find they cannot have children, but there can be no doubt that the concept of marriage in human society arises from the fact that it is the male-female pair that produces children. To redefine marriage so that it no longer reflects that biological reality, for the sake of ‘equality’, is to open the door to all kinds of equality-based renunciations of the significance of biology in human language and affairs. It is a door that the transgender lobby has walked right through, demanding equality between women and men who believe they are ‘really’ women by redefining what ‘woman’ means without reference to biology.
Can we return to reason without a return to the traditional, biologically-grounded definition of marriage? Many critics of transgender ideology say yes, arguing that these are completely different issues.
But I think they’re wrong, because they are in denial about the underlying logic of the anti-biological stance of transgender ideology. Transgender ideology feeds on the flight from biology already accomplished in the same-sex marriage revolution. Unless and until our society recognises that it made a mistake in allowing ‘equality’ to override biology in its treatment of marriage, it will never be able to do the same with transgenderism. To assert the significance of biology in one is to imply it in the other, because it is about the importance of words and ideas staying connected to the realities that underlie them.
Marriage is the institution that supremely reflects the distinction between the sexes, as each partner plays (all being well) their respective role in the creation of children, who are then brought up by their biological parents.
If biology is no longer of relevance here, where the significance of one’s sex is supremely expressed, why should it be anywhere else? If equality beats biology in our understanding of marriage, why should it not in our understanding of what it is to be a woman or man?
That is the question that our society needs to face-up to and answer if it is to disarm the damaging anti-science of transgender ideology. Nothing less will do.