Conservative party

Why the Tories are on the wrong side of the transgender debate

BY Keith Johnston   /  7 August 2017

Justine Greening’s plans to forsake science when assessing transgender applicants is a mistake. Under her proposals, adults will be able to change their birth certificates at will without a doctor’s diagnosis, and gender non-binary individuals will be able to record their gender as “X”.

These plans would dignify and enable far-left radicals in their quest to ‘overthrow of the patriarchy’ by assaulting the very concept of gender itself.

There is growing evidence that radicals are corrupting the transgender debate to further their own agenda. These radicals believe that the existence of gender is ‘inherently oppressive.’

Their method of attack is to declare they are “gender non-binary” because by doing so they invalidate the idea that there are two sexes. Furthermore, they believe that men and women are not only equal but they are also the same. Finally, they posit that the individual is the ultimate arbiter of gender, and that feelings trump scientific fact. They are wrong on all counts.

This is an ideological battle that neither conservatives nor liberals can afford to lose. Once individuals can change their gender at will by altering their birth certificate, it will become, in many practical aspects, legally codified. It is only then a short step to categorising the criticism of such fashionable decisions as a ‘hate crime’.

By taking this step we will unwittingly be accepting one of the most radical precepts of the postmodernist neo-Marxist agenda: that gender is entirely a social construct and that the individual, without any form of negotiation with those around them or reference to science, is the sole judge of their own gender.

Lessons can be learned from how these policies are playing out in practice, largely on campuses in North America. At the University of Michigan students can designate a personal pronoun and have the pronoun reflected on class rosters. The process had been developed by the “Pronoun Committee”.

Logically, the question of how to enforce pronoun use quickly comes to the fore. A ‘pronoun guide’ at Milwaukie University warned: “If you…fail to respect someone else’s gender identity, it is not only disrespectful and hurtful, but also oppressive.”

These policies create an atmosphere where ignoring the fashion conscious social justice warrior is labelled “hate speech’. This comes with significant legal and reputation risks.

The University of West Virginia posited that referring to someone by the “wrong” gender pronoun was a violation of federal anti-discrimination laws. And when Dr Jordan Peterson, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto, refused to adhere to the University policies on compelled pronoun usage – including referring to students as ve, ver or vis – he was threatened with legal action.

Yet liberals seem blind to the dangers. Perhaps it is because this self-gender identification approach is superficially attractive to classical liberals on both the left and the right. After all, it conforms to their beliefs in individualism (it’s my body), limited government (why should the state interfere?), utility (where is the harm?) and even a free market in gender (I am free to decide how to present my services; as male, female or neither of the above).

But the reason this should be rejected is that is it gives far Left radicals the platform to attack crucial pillars of society; gender differences, science and freedom of speech.

What’s more, under Greening’s regime, the public would find it difficult to distinguish between those who genuinely suffer with gender dysphoria and the radicals who are claiming to be transgender to make a point about the patriarchy. Ultimately, the genuine transgender community will be caught in this backlash, with the public suspicious as to who is genuinely transgender or non-binary and who is claiming that status for ideological reasons.

None of this must undermine the fact that the suffering of people with gender dysphoria is real. But the Conservatives would be better solving the problem by investing in medical resources, not turning their backs on science. The current practice of scientific intervention in diagnosing gender dysphoria is causing undue suffering. Waiting for a diagnosis takes far too long, and we must seek to reduce the time such diagnosis take. What we cannot do, however, is jettison the process of scientific evaluation entirely.

No doubt Greening’s proposal is genuinely being suggested to reduce this unnecessary suffering and help make the Conservative brand appear more socially progressive.

In reality, the Conservatives will be giving in to a radical agenda that seeks nothing more than the overthrow of ‘the patriarchy’ by assaulting the very concept of gender itself. For those seeking to understand, at least in part, the populist rejection of metropolitan elites that led to Trump and Brexit, look no further than this radical postmodernist agenda.