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Where are the young gender critical feminists?

Young people need to stand up for women’s rights before it is too late

Artillery Row

2023 has been a huge year for women’s rights. The Scottish Gender Recognition Reform Bill, which would have allowed any man to identify his way to a woman’s service, prison or sports medal, has been defeated. The gender questioning guidance, desperately needed to stop schools blindly indulging in a child’s belief they are the opposite sex, is clear on the importance of safeguarding first. In Government, the Women and Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch spoke such common sense in the chamber it is hard to remember that just several years ago women were sacked for saying the same thing.

This year has been a very long but victorious game of Whack-A-Mole for gender critical women, who have been firefighting gender ideology wherever it springs up across public life. “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit,” said American President Harry Truman. This is certainly the case within the grassroots women’s rights and child safeguarding groups working on this cause.

However, whilst the general public are mainly supportive of sex-based rights, one demographic remains too stubbornly in favour of gender ideology. Young people, particularly young women, are still not onside in the way we need to be if we are to hold the fort in future. It doesn’t seem to matter how many times I mention the numerous angles of injustice against women in the cases of Isla Bryson, Eddie Izzard or Lia Thomas — my friends always side against their own sex.

There is barely even room for discussion. Either trans women are women, or you’re a bigot. Despite being a part of the original Harry Potter generation, I have been at under 30s parties where even vague murmurs of support for JK Rowling are batted down with righteous pleas for us all to renounce our childhood sins and boycott her books.

Universities contribute to the problem. Queer theory modules have embedded themselves across curriculums, discouraging critical thinking on these issues. Biological sex is presented as some kind of construct — fiction taught as fact. Students are encouraged to view themselves as either oppressor or victim, reduced to their protected characteristics.

We have left jobs or been kicked out of student societies, lost friends and been ghosted

In wider student life, the only acceptable form of feminism is one in which any women not trans is “cis”. “Trans women belong everywhere,” the primarily middle-class student feminist society of Bristol would say — even though statistically we were the least likely female demographic to ever have to find ourselves confronted with a penis in a domestic abuse shelter. In April, Bristol University’s Women Talk Back group, a sex-based rights movement founded as an alternative to the mainstream feminist societies, hosted a law event featuring human-rights barrister Akua Reindorf KC. The event provoked widespread protest and outrage from the other feminist groups and trans-rights movements. With such opposition, it is not difficult to see why young women who do believe that sex matters keep quiet on campus.

It is certainly true that older women have had to fight harder for equality within the home and workplace. Perhaps it’s that millennials and Gen Z are a few generations far removed from the public memory of what it was like, before our grandmothers and great grandmothers fought for the rights we now have. Regardless, there is no doubt that middle-aged and older women are leading the charge in resisting gender ideology.

As with many cultural issues, amongst young women in particular, the “be kind” klaxon rings especially loud. We are encouraged from the youngest age to be accommodating, sympathetic and caring. One only has to visit the children’s clothing department of any supermarket to see that the sexist social expectations start young: little boys are wild and strong; little girls are kind and pretty.

Young gender critical women do exist. There just aren’t very many of us (or many of us “out” at least). This year a small gaggle of us have sought each other out. In hushed tones over glasses of wine, we have exchanged stories of where we have left jobs or been kicked out of student societies, lost friends and been ghosted by dates — all because we want to be able to say amongst our own peers what everyone else is thinking.

This year has been a triumph for the importance of truth over ideology. After years of being manipulated by Stonewall and the rainbow brigade, public policy is once again recognising that facts must trump feelings when it comes to biological sex. Now, however, we must convince younger women that their older counterparts are not just a bunch of transphobic “Karens” with an axe to grind, but a group of women who have literally made history on a shoestring — all to make sure the next generation doesn’t end up with fewer rights than they have.

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