Parliament debates nonbinary people

140,781 people signed the petition to make nonbinary a legally recognised gender identity in the UK. So, there was a debate in Westminster Hall. However, only six MPs bothered to speak, and only one was an unequivocal ally. Anneliese Dodds, the shadow secretary for women and equalities, was particularly disappointing. Content: transphobia.

Kirsten Oswald, SNP, has read up on trans issues and spoken before. She intervened to challenge the transphobes, and said MPs should reflect on nonbinary people’s feeling their existence is not recognised. For her, diversity is one issue: “we should be on a journey to a situation in which it is an absolutely normal and unremarkable thing to accept people for who they are”.

What kind of threats did the haters envisage? Transphobe Tory Tim Loughton said you can search for MPs by gender, including nonbinary as an option. I easily found how to search by name or constituency. It took a little work to find how to search by nonbinary gender.

But Loughton is black affronted. “Words matter,” he pontificated. It would produce all the bad effects transphobe Tory Miriam Cates named. Transphobe Tory Nick Fletcher said the drop-down menu will change the way young people grow up, and “erase women”.

Oswald treated that with the contempt it deserved. “I am a woman and I am not going to be erased, and other people having the opportunity to have their identity respected is absolutely no threat to me or to my identity.”

Loughton was not aware of any MP or Lord who is nonbinary, but then, for two years few were aware Jamie Wallace MP was trans. Oswald pointed out how hurtful it would be to any nonbinary MP. She said the search term “costs us absolutely nothing, and it makes people feel more comfortable”.

Every single thing that supports trans and nonbinary people, however trivial, is a threat to Loughton, which he wants banned.

Oswald said the failure to recognise nonbinary people creates barriers. When we join a new workplace we need an identity document, which will give sex as M or F. Young people now are far more accepting. When she was at school (she is 49) they were unaware of any gay pupils. Other countries- she named India, Nepal, New Zealand, Iceland and Taiwan, but could have gone on- had a more advanced way of recording gender. In 2016 the Women and Equalities Committee suggested official records should consider whether there was a need to record gender at all.

The other speeches were relentlessly depressing. Nick Fletcher indulged in evidence-free scaremongering, with that oily pretence at sympathy for trans and nonbinary folk. “I want the community of people who feel that they are non-binary” -as if they are all deluded- “to know that, of course, I accept that they exist. I see them; I hear them; I feel for them; and I want to help them.” Then he claimed that nonbinary recognition would not reduce gender dysphoria or “so-called hate crimes”. Then he proceeded to incite hate crimes by claiming adults were influencing children to claim falsely that they are nonbinary or trans.

Fletcher is a true Conservative. “All the time, one of the few consistencies that a person can have in this mixed-up world is taken away,” he whined. He wants the world to be easily comprehensible, stable and predictable. He should grow up.

“Who is telling them, ‘You can be the opposite of what you are’?” Nobody. It is a myth. He makes it up. But he tells parents and teachers they should oppose this, and children should not have access to puberty blockers.

“Why should a lady have to share a changing room with a man? Why should a woman have to follow a pre-op trans woman into a toilet cubicle?… I do not believe it is safe; I do not believe it is decent; and I do not believe it is right.” Then he claimed women’s sports were unfair if trans women were included.

“We are all biological men and women,” he said falsely. Anneliese Dodds was left to point out variations of sex characteristics exist.

“The English, the English, the English are best, I wouldn’t give tuppence for all of the rest,” sang Flanders and Swann, and transphobe Fletcher said he believes England “is by far the best” country.

He ended completely divorced from reality. “I cannot back a movement that may rob a child of their life”. Well, few people would, but trans people are not that movement.

Transphobe Tory Miriam Cates got worse. She has to lie and simplify: “We are male or female; that is immutable and scientifically indisputable.” Again, she ignores VSC. She says no-one fits stereotyped gender, and therefore trans does not exist. “No one knows what it feels like to be anyone other than themselves”, so I cannot feel female, she claims. But I do. I am Clare. I exist. I am a woman.

She says adults inveigle children into imagining they are trans. In fact, children tell the adults they are trans, and the adults usually have great difficulty accepting that, if they ever do at all.

“Gender theory is not the next frontier in the culture war or a new battle for civil rights; it is an unevidenced ideology that is causing harm to women, children, and people who are gay and lesbian.” She claims to be supporting our victims, and that that entitles her to exclude us.

Then Loughton claimed people only claim to be nonbinary because of “overwhelming” pressure from their contemporaries. This is merely silly.

Loughton fearmongered about sexual assaults in prisons. Mike Freer the Minister explained: the rules changed in 2019 and there have been no incidents of sexual violence by trans women in women’s prisons since. “It is simply not true to say that a prisoner can self-identify and place themselves in a prison of their choice.” He explained this before. Will it get through to the hate campaigners this time? I doubt it.

Anneliese Dodds was disappointing. Fletcher challenged, “Would the hon. Member be happy with a trans woman entering a changing room and sharing facilities with her?” Seriously, that should be a simple question. “Of course not,” she should say. He did not even say “biological man”. Instead she did not answer. “If the hon. Member is interested in that matter, he could look at the EHRC’s guidelines.” But those guidelines are designed to make exclusion easy.

“Sex is not the same thing as gender and both are important in different contexts. That difference is reflected in legislation. For example, as a woman I am an adult female—that is my biological sex.” In attempting to sound neutral, Dodds encourages the hate campaigners to imagine they will have her support in excluding us from women’s spaces. This assertion that gender (trans people) is utterly different from sex is meant to exclude us.

She also made Labour’s support for a conversion practices ban worthless. “Such a ban must not cover psychological support and treatment, non-directive counselling or the pastoral relationship between teachers and pupils or religious leaders and worshippers, or—and this should go without saying— discussions within families.” So a teacher could tell a child they were not trans, and suffer no consequences.

This is American, passionate, fiery and beautiful: State senator Mallory McMorrow says, “We will not let hate win”. That is what Dodds should be saying.

After hate was expressed at huge length by some of the most privileged people, with the most prominent platform, the Minister Mike Freer claimed haters were at risk of being cancelled. Some hope. Then he said clinicians should explore every possible cause of gender distress, as if they did not do so already. Despite trans people’s success in the Keira Bell case, Freer claimed children under 18 could not consent to puberty blockers, but he would check with officials.

Freer would make no change at all, but produced blah that “The UK is and will always be committed to being a global leader in LGBT+ rights”. In fact ILGA ranks it tenth in Europe. He said the government would await consensus on nonbinary recognition, but needed more research. Though they will do nothing to get such research done.

Transphobe Loughton voted repeatedly against equal marriage. He voted to kick out the Bill. That gives the lie to his claim that he was never opposed to same sex marriage, only to deficiencies in the particular Bill. The “second reading” vote is on the principle of the Bill. It admits the Bill to the process where any deficiencies might be corrected. Cates and Fletcher were only elected in 2019.

4 thoughts on “Parliament debates nonbinary people

  1. Shocking, but also predictable!! Well done Ms. Oswald however for getting some truth onto Hansard! Dodds clearly doesn’t understand what conversion ‘therapy’ is or even what therapy is; non directive – allowing the client to find their own pathway.. except for CBT which is not really a therapy, but a Psychological technique and even that allows the client to choose the behaviour they wish to change. No true therapy seeks to deny what the person feels is true for them!


  2. I love your posts, so measured, thoughtful and well expressed. If I could write half as well as you…

    Especially in such politicised matters, calm has never mattered more. Silly people will always be silly – and Parliamentarians are very behind the times, imvho, even though some may make strenuous efforts to be hip and trendy – so a speaker who is behind the times, and who has already shown they are foolish, will be irrelevant before much longer.

    Facts are chiels that winna ding. And the chiels I know are sure of their own minds, and will do as they wish to, or need to, regardless of silly, conflated and downright ridiculous arguments from members of the orthodoxy who condemn themselves from their own mouths.

    I have long wondered whether gender has any particular relevance. I mean, it’s fine for me to identify as a woman, but why does the state need to know that? And why can I not identify as a menwim, if I want to?


    • Thank you.

      Concepts have no relevance at all. What matters is people. I don’t mind anyone saying gender is merely ridiculous and oppressive, as long as they do not use that as a reason to oppress me.


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