Left: Harry Miller after the High Court ruled a Police probe into his 'transphobic' tweets was unlawful
Right: A High Court judge ruled Maya Forstater's "gender-critical" tweets should not have led to her dismissal
Artillery Row

Activism works

If this stuttery, scatterbrained autist can become an activist, there really is no excuse for anybody else

“What’s with all this trans business?” sniffed my father. It was 2018 and he’d been following me on Twitter for a few years; he had seen my timeline turn from deathly dull tweets about business technology to a monomaniacal fixation on gender.

So I began to talk about men in women’s sports, rapists in female prisons, the medicalisation and sterilisation of young gender nonconforming people, and the criminalisation of those who dared raise a voice against any of it. None of it seemed to have much effect. “The thing you’ve got to remember,” he said, “is that this will all blow over. If what you say is true, there’s no way such bad ideas can possibly be sustained for long.”

To me, this is the counsel of despair. It’s also to ignore quite how far gender ideology has permeated our culture, public discourse, politics, businesses, charities and other institutions. If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that dangerous, anti-scientific ideas can take root and become accepted even in the face of insistent, consistent and persistent challenges.

We live in a society where politicians can claim on television that babies are “born without a sex” and where the world’s largest law firm advises activists on how to pass trans legislation “under the veil of more popular reforms”; where a once-admired gay rights charity provides legal advice based on what it would like the law to be rather than what it is, and where tweeting the word “Huh?” is judged a hate crime. 

Gender ideology, the erosion of women’s sex-based rights and children’s safeguarding, the capture of the police and other institutions by Stonewall: this will not just blow over. Not when the leaders of every major political party (bar one) mouth the magic words “trans women are women”. 

I called the initial public meeting, drafted the website, and shepherded the group towards a structure

The idea of watchfully waiting for gender ideology owes much to Tolstoy’s theory of history, which holds that Great Men have no influence over, and are instead swept along by, the great tide of events. In fact, change can come when ordinary people do extraordinary things and are prepared to fight for their rights in the face of bullying, abuse, threats and opprobrium from those on the “right side of history”.

When the history of these strange times comes to be written, it will record that gender ideology did not fade away but was defeated by the hard work of people like Nicola Williams, Kellie-Jay Keen, Marion Millar, Harry Miller, and others who took the fight to the media and the courts, often at great personal cost. 

It will also note that these Great Men of History are almost all of them women — hardly surprising, given it’s their rights that transgenderism seeks to reduce. But not exclusively. There are some battles where men can do more than just voice their support for women, because the issue affects everyone. My own contribution was to co-found Fair Cop, the group that campaigns for the depoliticisation of the police and against the criminalisation of discussing trans issues.

Fair Cop shows what a disparate bunch of amateurs can achieve with nothing more than a just cause and a few volunteers with the integrity to place principles above popularity. Our co-founder Harry Miller won a judicial review against Humberside Police for recording his tweets as hate crimes; we helped expose the epidemic of non-crime hate incidents (NCHIs); and we’re waiting for the Court of Appeal to rule on our challenge to the College of Policing’s Hate Crimes Operational Guidance (HCOG). Whatever the decision, the College is now under pressure from current and former home secretaries to review HCOG. 

There are also signs that the culture within the police is finally starting to shift, with the new Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police just recently acknowledging that the public is sick of politicised, virtue-signalling coppers.

My role in all this has been small enough, and mostly confined to Fair Cop’s early days. I called the initial public meeting, found case studies, drafted the website, and shepherded the group towards some semblance of a formal organisational structure. Oh, and I took charge of media relations…in truth, though, this stuff sells itself. But it’s enough, I hope, to be able to look women in the face.

It’s increasingly clear that change will only come if we make it happen ourselves

I mention this because I was, and in many respects remain, completely clueless about activism. My original idea was that a group of us would march on the ACPO conference, banners waving and whistles blowing, to demand that Something Must Be Done. Happily, we had much wiser and more experienced volunteers who understood how to build a campaign with the power to effect meaningful change.

And that’s the beauty of activism: if you find a popular and necessary cause, you very quickly find people with expertise in law, campaigning, fundraising, graphic design, copywriting and all the other skills you need to be successful. 

We live in an age of clicktivism, with citizens in the grip of a great moral lethargy. If you follow the gender debate, you quickly discover a widespread belief that to be virtuous, to be on the right side of history, simply requires people merely to say or believe the right things. But could we not be on the cusp of a new, golden era of activism? As people become ever more disenfranchised from the political class, especially when it mindlessly repeats slogans we know to be false, it’s increasingly clear that change will only come if we make it happen ourselves. 

If not you, who? If not now, when? If this stuttery, scatterbrained autist can become an activist, there really is no excuse for anybody else. 

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