Restoring sanity takes time

So many people have built their professional lives around gender insanity

This article is taken from the March 2024 issue of The Critic. To get the full magazine why not subscribe? Right now we’re offering five issues for just £10.

It’s nearly five years since I met Maya Forstater — a researcher on international tax policy. She had just filed an employment claim against the Centre for Global Development, the think tank where she had been doing research on the link between tax policy and economic growth, for discriminating against her for expressing “gender-critical” beliefs — that is, that sex is binary, immutable and important.

We had both become concerned by the government’s plans to introduce gender self-identification: she because sex is one of the most meaningful variables in development economics; I because I’d been asked to write about self-ID and the more I looked, the crazier it seemed.

Afterwards, Maya sent me the draft of an article she was writing. Re-reading my reply, I cringe. I was already in a new world where lunatic invention was social justice and material reality was hateful, but I hadn’t yet realised it. I replied that nobody could possibly object to her measured and fact-based arguments. Later that year an employment judge, James Tayler, ruled that they were so heinously bigoted that she deserved to lose her job.

That judgment was overturned 18 months later, and last year Maya was awarded substantial damages. That established a precedent: thinking and saying that male and female are objective, meaningful categories cannot lawfully be the basis for discrimination in the workplace.

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But the discrimination continued — and so did the legal cases. Allison Bailey, a barrister, was treated abysmally by her chambers, Garden Court, because of her association with LGB Alliance, a gay rights group that rejects gender identity ideology. Denise Fahmy was harassed in her workplace, Arts Council England, for calling out its biased decision to withdraw a grant to LGB Alliance.

Rachel Meade, a social worker, was disciplined by Westminster Council and her professional regulator for pointing out that obfuscation about sex is a child safeguarding issue. Jo Phoenix, a criminologist, was bullied and slurred by colleagues at the Open University for saying that allocating prison places by gender identity rather than sex puts women at risk.

Every one of these women won in court, and by now you’d think employers would have got the message. But still the cases are coming. The Open University faces two more claimants; so does the Green Party. A tribunal is under way against Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre, brought by a former employee, Roz Adams. She was subjected to disciplinary proceedings for asking if she could reassure a woman that the “non-binary” counsellor she had been referred to had been “assigned female at birth” — gender-speak for being a woman.

What will it take to bring bigoted employers to heel? Part of the answer is time. During the past decade, the trans lobby has been stunningly successful in selling false analogies to HR departments: that separate toilets for men and women are like racial segregation; and that insisting people can change sex is “gay rights 2.0”.

Lazy, power-hungry HR managers and staff working in “EDI” (equality, diversity and inclusion) pronounce that the arc of the moral universe is bending towards denying sexual dimorphism, and relish imposing their will on others.

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Restoring sanity may take longer than the decade it took workplaces to go mad, because so many people have built their professional lives around insanity. I sometimes imagine how astonished they must feel to be finally experiencing pushback.

Shane Andrews suggested women were “bitches”, “sluts”, “slags” and “cows”

Take Shane Andrews, who works for Network Rail. His tweets suggest that he hates women: we’re “bitches”, “sluts”, “slags” and “cows”; “miserable”, “stuck-up”, “dopey” and “ugly”. I know this because Andrews was recently at the eye of a social media storm after being photographed posing at London Bridge by a display of flags representing sexual and gender identities.

Among them was the Progress Pride flag, which signals allegiance to trans ideology, as well as more niche ones representing demisexuality, gender fluidity and polyamory. When Andrews responded with his typical charm by calling women who complained “terfs” and “not worth my energy replying/arguing/debating”, they rifled through his Twitter back catalogue and retweeted the lowlights.

I think that for Andrews, slagging off uppity women was a form of virtue signalling. He had been made boss of Network Rail’s LGBT+ employees’ group, selected to help judge its annual “Women in Rail” awards (no bitches, sluts or slags in the running, presumably) and given an MBE for “boosting inclusivity within the rail industry”. Woman-hating reality denialism worked for him — until suddenly, it didn’t. He’s now stepped down from the LGBT+ group and judging women (at least officially).

Or take Mridul Wadhwa, a man who identifies as a woman who is chief executive of Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre. He didn’t give evidence in the recent tribunal, but judging by what his staff said, the centre was more focused on validating his identity than helping traumatised women. Revealing the sex of a rape crisis counsellor would be an infringement of human rights, one said, since a person’s sex is private information (funny how we can all see it, then).

Another was invited to recognise that telling a woman with gender-critical views that the centre was women-only would be tantamount to lying to her, since as far as she would be concerned, Wadhwa is a man. The witness replied robotically: “We don’t employ any men.”

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The mindset of the narcissistic identitarians joining in workplace witch-hunts is that of the Crusaders

For Wadhwa, like Andrews, finally facing scrutiny must have come as a shock. For years now he’s been fêted by the Scottish establishment’s faux feminists, up to and including the former First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. That despite misogyny as blatant as Andrews’s: in 2021, on the Guilty Feminist podcast, Wadhwa said rape survivors who wanted support from an actual woman, not a man claiming to be one, held “unacceptable beliefs that are discriminatory in nature”.

The centre wouldn’t turn such women away, he claimed (in fact, the tribunal heard of one occasion when it did exactly that), because, after all, “sexual violence happens to bigoted people as well”. But the counselling they received would be less about them and more about, well, him: they would be taught to “reframe [their] trauma” and “challenged on [their] prejudices”.

People like Andrews and Wadhwa hold positions of power in many workplaces. Reining them in will be harder than it should be because of widespread misinformation.

Imagine you’re an HR professional belatedly wondering if you’ve got the wrong end of the stick on the whole sex-gender thing. You might turn to A Practical Guide to Transgender Law by two barristers, Nicola Newbegin and transwoman Robin Moira White.

But that might not save you from serious missteps. The first edition, published before the binding Forstater judgment, enthusiastically endorsed the faulty lower court ruling. The second grudgingly acknowledged that yes, gender-critical beliefs were protected, but claimed that “manifesting” them — letting others know you held them — wasn’t.

Even before the recent string of judgments to the contrary, that was obvious nonsense. The law about freedom of belief expressly includes “manifestation”. And anyway, it takes but a moment’s thought to realise that the law can’t possibly concern beliefs that are never manifested, since it can’t reach inside the privacy of our heads.

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The most basic form of manifestation is simply revealing what you believe, like a Christian wearing a cross or a Jewish man wearing a kippah. What Adams and Phoenix did barely went further. Adams made a polite suggestion to resolve a problem that would have been evident to anyone with gender-critical beliefs; Phoenix set up a network to do research on topics that would naturally interest such a person. And yet both women were called “transphobic” and accused of making their colleagues “unsafe”.

This is crybullying — using false claims of victimisation to harass others. It’s a technique of narcissists, who want to force everyone else to endorse their self-image. Since their identities depend on external validation, they treat refusal to supply such validation as a mortal threat, and may respond with what psychologists call narcissistic rage. Thus the absurdly disproportionate characterisation of disagreement as hate.

At bottom, the mindset of the narcissistic identitarians joining in workplace witch-hunts is that of the Crusaders, who made converts at the point of a sword. They do not respect other people’s sovereign consciences, nor accept that their belief system is just one among many. And like the Crusaders, they need to be consigned to history.

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