Liz Truss at the Conservative Party Conference 2021 (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Artillery Row

The gender identity trap

The Conservatives will reap the rewards with a no-nonsense stance on gender ideology

There ought to be nothing newsworthy about a charity having a stall at the Conservative Party conference. And yet, the mere announcement that the LGB Alliance (LGBA) would be present led to Elena Bunbury, chair of the LGBT Conservative group, receiving death threats. Ironically, Bunbury wasn’t pleased with the decision to allow the LGBA to have a pitch either, pleading with trans activists on Twitter:

Sending me death threats isn’t going to change the fact that they’re there. We’re already hurting from the announcement [that the LGBA had a stall at conference] and trying to understand what has happened. Your death threats will do nothing to help protect our trans members we’re already working hard to safeguard.

The LGBA exists to “advance the interests of lesbians, gay men and bisexuals” but, because they have chosen not to include those who identify as trans in their campaigning, they have been branded a hate group. 

Co-founder Kate Harris tells me:

LGB Alliance is a grassroots organisation supported by large numbers of people who believe in biological sex, respectful freedom of speech and rights for LGB people to be attracted to people of the same sex.

Incredible though it seems, these are controversial ideas to some. For the Labour Party these ideas proved too hot to handle and our application for a stand was refused. We are delighted that the Conservative Party let us have a stand like any other normal charity. We are having a wonderful conference; lots of discussion with a wide range of attendees. Next year we hope to be able to exhibit at both Labour and Conservative Conferences. LGB issues are not party-political.

Spurned by the Labour Party, it seems senior Tories have embraced the LGBA. Lesbian and Gay News reported on Monday that the LGBA have a meeting scheduled with cabinet ministers.

Last week’s Labour Party festivities were haunted by the ghost of Rosie Duffield MP. Duffield has been monstered for daring to point out that “only women have cervixes”. Consequently, clips of Labour politicians failing to explain what was wrong with her fairly anodyne observation went viral; debates about gender self-identification and the extremist demands of the woke overshadowed any policy announcements.

Clearly someone at Tory HQ has been paying attention. When pressed on the cervix question by GB News’s Darren McCaffrey, Boris Johnson bumbled on vaguely, explaining that “biology was important”, but that so was “respect.” 

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss took a stronger line, telling the Telegraph that she agreed with Rosie Duffield’s comments, adding: “It wouldn’t be right to have self-identification with no checks and balances.”

While Johnson is apparently reluctant to enter the fray, concerns about freedom of expression and the biology-denying lunacy of trans activism have galvanised others. In his opening address to conference, Oliver Dowden — the new Conservative party co-chair — hit out at cancel culture, decrying the “bullying and haranguing of individuals” for their views.

But despite the stalwart views of senior ministers, the spectre of Stonewall still looms at the fringes of the conference. Carrie Johnson, the Prime Minister’s wife, gave a speech yesterday to the LGBT+ Conservative group at an event held in partnership with Stonewall. Stonewall chief executive Nancy Kelley made an appearance alongside Crispin Blunt MP and London Assembly Member Emma Best. 

In a carefully crafted speech, Carrie Johnson glossed over regretful episodes — such as her husband’s reference to “bum boys” — in favour of his stetson-wearing antics at Pride in 2008 during his tenure as Mayor of London.

Thankfully, WESC’s more egregious recommendations were shelved by Liz Truss

It should be remembered that the Tories started the woke wars. The proposal to reform the Gender Recognition Act was the doughy brainchild of Conservative Maria Miller MP in her former role as chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee (WESC). Genuinely perplexed that some women were angered by the prospect of the end to single-sex services, Miller commented at the time: “The only negative reaction that I’ve seen has been by individuals purporting to be feminists.” Thankfully, WESC’s more egregious recommendations were shelved by Liz Truss last year.

Despite empty shelves, a fuel shortage, and the unforgettable sight of our esteemed Prime Minister jogging in his shirt and shorts, the Conservatives have still managed to appear a better electoral option than the Labour Party. 

More Tory MPs are stepping up to support Liz Truss and Kemi Badenoch, two front benchers who have long supported sex-based rights. Last week, Health Secretary Sajid Javid poked fun at Keir Starmer’s claims that some men have cervixes; in a single tweet he demonstrated himself more in touch with ordinary people than the traditional party of working folk.

But at a grassroots level the Tories are still divided on sex-based rights — and members who have deviated from the Stonewall party line have found their freedom of expression curtailed. 

One such member is Gary Powell, a gay Conservative party member and a Research Fellow at the Bow Group for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. He was “thrown out and blocked from the LGBT Conservative Party Facebook group.” His crime? Gary Powell is friends with feminist journalist Julie Bindel — an unforgivable offence.

Today, groups like the LGBA are fighting changes set in motion under a Conservative administration. Embedded into the culture of the civil service, NHS, schools and police force, trans-inclusive policies are steamrolling women’s rights. Ministers might be willing to make cheap jibes at the expense of the woke, but they have yet to take real action.

Transgenderism is an idea that should fit well within the ethos of the Conservative Party; it is about the triumph of individual will over society, an embodiment of the self-made man (or woman). But after setting the gender identity trap, the Conservative Party is now standing back and watching smugly as hapless opposition politicians take the poisoned bait.

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