Women’s rights shouldn’t be up for debate

MPs need to stop questioning the rights of biological women

Artillery Row

Yesterday, Conservative Elliot Colburn MP led his fellow politicians in what might be best described as a story time session in Westminster. Members of parliament, overwhelmingly from the “C-list”, met to discuss the government’s decision to exclude “gender identity” from the proposed ban on conversion therapy. Tales told followed a familiar pattern with trans people cast as brave heroes, heroines and “themorines” battling a mean minority of baddies who insist facts matter more than feelings. Labour MP Luke Pollard and Tory MP Alicia Kearns deserve special mentions for orating with the dewy-eyed fervour of coke-fuelled celebs doing a television charity fundraiser. 

The debate was prompted by a petition entitled “Ensure Trans people are fully protected under any conversion therapy ban” which gained 145,000 signatures. Colburn solemnly reminded his colleagues that the debate was not about “access to single-sex spaces, trans women in sport, trans women in prisons”. 

A choreographed spectacle about an entirely confected issue

And yet, few of those who spoke missed the opportunity to smear those concerned about the loss of sex-based spaces and services as backward and bigoted. Proudly declaring herself as “on the right side of history” Labour MP Kate Osborne reminded those assembled “transphobes are in the minority, but unfortunately, that minority is hardening.” “Pansexual” Liberal Democrat Layla Moran MP bubbled up to assert she believed the exclusion of those who identify as trans from the bill would “demonise an already demonised group”. 

Colburn attempted to allay concerns that there are no agreed definitions of “trans”, or indeed of “conversion therapy” with the promise that a “tightly worded Bill with clear language” would magically solve what are fundamental logical inconsistencies. He described the purpose of the ban as seeking to end “pseudo-psychological and spiritual so-called talking and behavioural therapies — exorcisms, deliverance prayers”.

Apparently regurgitating their various briefings from lobby groups, conclusively debunked statistics, such as that the lie that forty percent of trans-identified people attempt suicide, were repeated ad nauseum. No mention was made of research which shows a higher rate of suicidal ideation post-surgery, nor of just how rare so-called conversion therapy actually is. When the government commissioned a study by Coventry University they were unable to find any evidence of the practice currently taking place within the UK.

Labour’s Luke Pollard MP made the unremarkable claim “trans people themselves are not up for debate — they exist”. The existence of people who identify as trans is of course quite obvious, what is less straightforward is whether laws should be made to accommodate their self perception. But Pollard was clear that “we need to educate and inform people” presumably in line with his beliefs.

The Conservative Alicia Kearns admitted to feeling “fury” that the proposed legislation would not cover gender identity. She railed against those “who claim that LGBTQ+ people do not deserve to love, be loved or live their life as they truly are.” 

Kearns opined: “The only people who should fear the ban are those quacks and charlatans who profit from bigotry and torture, and who believe that their views are so superior to others’.”

On this point it is hard to disagree with Kearns. An industry has developed around social and medical transition of youth who suffer from gender dysphoria, a disproportionate number of whom will be autistic and/or same-sex attracted. Clearly acting from the conceit that their views are superior, clinicians are today putting people on a medical path that leads to sterilisation and mutilating surgeries. To critics, this is a brutal, homophobic yet state-sanctioned form of conversion therapy approved of by politicians like Kearns.

Alyn Smith helpfully chimed in by claiming research showed “9 per cent of trans men have been offered this therapy, which is odious”. But what is defined as “being offered conversion therapy” is open to interpretation. 

An example splashed across the pages of inews last month demonstrates how vulnerable therapists already are to unsubstantiated allegations. Well established psychiatrist Dr Az Hakeem was reported to have attempted to “practise transgender conversion therapy”. This has since been revealed to be wholly untrue. The story was prompted when a teenage girl who identifies as a transman complained that Dr Hakeem had raised doubts about her cross-sex identity and invited reflection on the long-term consequences of medical transition. 

Reflecting on yesterday’s debate Dr Hakeem said he believes most people understand that when people declare themselves to be the opposite sex they should be able to “benefit from a trained psychologist, therapist and other mental health professional trying to explore with them how and why they have arrived at such a conclusion prior to embarking on the irreversible route of hormonal and surgical alterations to their body.”

Dr Hakeem fears that the potential criminalisation of therapists trying to explore why patients experience gender dysphoria could lead to an “exodus” from the profession, leaving vulnerable people unsupported. But to the intolerant mob and the useful idiot politicians who bumble along behind them, even balanced questioning is framed as harmful and torturous.

Ultimately, yesterday’s debate will not change the government’s mind and notably, few senior figures were in attendance. What the discussion offered was a space for non-entity politicians to parade their ignorance by gushing woke nothings. A choreographed spectacle about an entirely confected issue — it will at least be something for MPs to add to their newsletters to show constituents “they care”. But to those who have been paying attention to what is a rapidly unravelling medical scandal, yesterday’s debate made it very clear just how out-of-touch many of our elected representatives are.

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