Being an anti-trans campaigner

What is it like to be an anti-trans campaigner?

Naomi Cunningham, a barrister, used to run a pro bono charity, matching young barristers with employment tribunal claimants with interesting cases. Now, she is chair of Sex Matters, and devotes a great deal of her time to expanding the rights of anti-trans campaigners to express their anti-trans beliefs, and restricting the rights of trans women to use women’s services, that is, to live our normal lives. It is not fair to suggest that she considers trans inclusion a graver threat to women than poverty, it is simply that her skills qualify her to do far more on restricting trans rights than on any other women’s rights issue.

Lizzie and Marilyn go on Twitter several times a day to hate on trans women- to deny we are women, and claim we are a threat, and read and share tweets to that effect.

Naomi Cunningham had to sit in the same room as Robin Moira White. How awful for her. But, I went to the loo several times last month, in small loos in restaurants and large loos in Friends House, stations and art galleries. I never saw another trans woman in a loo. I only noticed another trans woman in public once, and I am sensitive to trans women. Unless they work with trans women, Lizzie and Marilyn may have similar experiences- seeing one of us is fairly rare.

But despite this, we loom large in their consciousness. They immerse themselves in social media where trans is a great threat to women and children, repeatedly making themselves enraged and afraid. ACA says, “We became addicted to excitement”- these strong emotions, which bear no relation to their actual experience, give them a high. They might not see an actual trans woman for weeks. Still, there are real world effects- Lizzie, who would have voted and perhaps campaigned for Labour, no longer will. The National Conservatives are delighted.

And they hold two things in their mind at once: they are entitled to express their gender critical views, which are entirely reasonable, and most trans women do not have a legal right to be in women’s services. On the other hand, there is an immediate threat to children, and of an invasion, a swarm of violent men coming in to women’s services and the end of women’s rights.

I do not consider “gender critical” views in general are “worthy of respect in a democratic society”. The problem with the Forstater case was that there was very little evidence of what Forstater believed. To believe sex is real is trivial. Anti-trans campaigners believe that trans women could be violent men, pretending, and therefore it is reasonable to fear and exclude trans women. This incitement of fear, and automatic distrust and aversion to a specific group of other human beings seen as a group, is the part which is not worthy of respect, and is easily evidenced, now, by their twitter feeds. They also believe falsehoods which tend to reduce respect and trust for us, such as, most trans do not seek medical treatment, but 26,234 trans people waiting for a GIC appointment shows that is wrong.

Anti-trans campaigners are suffering and so fearful and angry that it makes them act against their own interests. So, I call for sympathy for the anti-trans campaigners, for Naomi Cunningham, Marilyn and Lizzie, for all of them. I would even talk with them and attempt to find common ground, if they would accept my understanding of my own needs. Right now, the hate and obsession spreads. I am frightened. Yet, as I moved through the world last month, nobody challenged me or insulted me to my face. I only notice the ATCs if I go on the internet. It gets our attention by showing us “what is most threatening about the world”, and we- Marilyn, Lizzie and I- cannot look away. We are the same, caught in the same trap. We need to find a way to be allies.

The anti-trans campaigners think trans women don’t need women’s services, and could present as male if we tried. So excluding us causes no real loss, and including us is the end of women’s privacy and rights. Yet in our real world experience, they may not notice one of us for weeks on end, and I don’t get challenged.

How could we work together? We could share our actual experience. Right now, whatever the media noise, or the plans of Westminster or Holyrood, trans women are not a problem for them, and anti-trans campaigners are not a problem for me. From there, we could address our common interests: how do we reduce the culture of impunity for male violence against women? How do we reduce the power of gender stereotypes? I want them to see that I am not a serious threat to them, however the thought of me in a women’s loo makes them feel. I want them to see me as a human being. I offer them the same.

Anti-trans campaigners, prominent and obscure

Naomi Cunnningham, barrister, gave evidence to the Women and Equalities Committee about the GRR Bill on 31 January. Though Robin Moira White, barrister and trans woman, was there, she expressed strong distaste for trans women, whom she sees as men.

Anum Qaisar, SNP MP, put to her that Scottish Women’s Aid and others supported the GRR Bill. Other threats to women’s rights in Scotland include poverty, cuts to services, rape conviction rates, and the experiences of immigrant and refugee women. Yet media attention is devoted to GRR rather than these real issues.

Cunningham called that “whataboutery”. She thought GRR threatened women’s ordinary privacy and dignity. All women are entitled to their own boundaries, and some find it particularly threatening to use a toilet in the presence of men.

She thinks thousands of trans women might get GR. Lord Falconer thought it might be hundreds. She does not know and does not care. She talked of what others call “real transsexuals”, though she did not use the term, a few thousand people envisaged in 2004. She talked of the “man who identifies as a woman who passes,” who has had surgery and hormones, dysphoria for years, assimilated as a woman, where “people would think he was a woman”. But now people might apply who “cross dress for erotic purposes” or to avoid being sent to a men’s prison after they “committed horrible crimes and think they will have a nicer time in a women’s prison,” or just want to exercise power by transgressing women’s boundaries. Not all will be predatory, but there is nothing to stop predatory men.

She says any trans woman without a GRC can be excluded from a women’s service because she is a “man”, contrary to the EHRC statutory code of practice. Unfortunately, Lord Falconer agreed with her. This is becoming the common understanding, without any case law in England to back it up.

She produced an argument I had not heard before. A women’s service which includes trans women to her includes men. “The permission to provide a service for one sex only becomes meaningless”. There is no service which is needed by women and “men with GRCs” because “that is not an actual category at all”. So the entitlement to women’s services ends.

To her, trans inclusion destroys all women’s rights. To me, trans inclusion is a recognition that human categories are fuzzy, and making an exception for a tiny group- less than 1% of the population- who need it. She will never agree with that.

Naomi Cunningham, whom I like and respect because of her Employment Tribunal Claims textbook and blog, which as an ET rep I found useful, finds me repulsive. If 1% of “women” are trans women, that is far too many. She fears us, because we could be dangerous. That ET blog is defunct. Now she blogs on Legal Feminist, where on 10 February she raged about the “law going bonkers” for putting trans women in women’s prisons, just before the guidance in England was changed. Her latest blog is of interest only to trial lawyers and litigants in person, but all her previous ten blogs, long and detailed, were anti-trans. One was against a conversion therapy ban.

She does not tweet in her own name, but is co-founder and chair of Sex Matters, another tiny hate group. So I looked at one of their tweets, and found Marilyn had retweeted it, so took Marilyn as my representative sample of an ATC. Well, this is a blog, not a detailed study.

Marilyn, who shares a name with a New Romantic singer, is a “real actual WOMAN with two beautiful golden retrievers (bitches)”. She tweets about her dogs, and hating trans women. Her pinned tweet is on her dogs, but thirty tweets in three days are anti-trans. Her most recent tweets, as I type, were 3, 13 and 21 hours ago. That is, she goes on twitter several times a day to hate on trans people. This particular hater has not done replies- none of her tweets in those three days are her own words.

I poked about, and found no replies to various anti-trans tweets, but found Lizzie replying to the first trans woman’s tweet I checked. Her latest tweet, a reply, is “I’ll never vote Labour again, due to their shocking disrespect towards women and girls, their utter insanity and their slavish devotion to Transworld. Same with LibDems/Greens, and I will not vote Tory, so am politically homeless. – Lizzie, a woman and Adult Human Female.” In 30 minutes it has had thirteen views, and no likes. One reply is to an ATC- even though the ATC has attacked a trans man, Lizzie corrects him for using a male pronoun.

After scrolling for what seemed like ages, I found a reply from two days ago. It had 53 views, and three likes. It was her reason for not using the term “trans woman”- instead she will only use transsexual, transgender or transvestite. Her latest tweets are, as I type, 3 and 35 minutes, 12 and 16 hours, all anti-trans.

Reem Alsalem

Reem Alsalem, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, has issued a press release and statement (pdf) condemning Western governments and societies for actions against anti-trans campaigners. Anti-trans campaigners are delighted.

I see those women as anti-trans campaigners, condemned for campaigning against trans rights or trans inclusion. Alsalem characterises them differently, as “Women coming together to demand the respect for their needs based on their sex and/or sexual orientation” or “expressing their opinions and beliefs regarding their needs and rights based on their sex and/or sexual orientation”.

In the first phrase, “needs” appear to be seen as objective, but in the second it is “opinions and beliefs” about “needs and rights”. Neither addresses the question, do women need services, social groups, lesbian dating apps, sports competitions, prisons where they are guaranteed trans women are legally excluded and staff and service-users wish to enforce that exclusion? I argue they don’t. If they believed they could convince other women that they did, they would say so, rather than claim they needed “single-sex services”. There’s no dispute women need single-sex services, just whether there’s any value in rigorous exclusion of trans women.

By not addressing that question, Alsalem is treating all expressions of trans-exclusion, however extreme, as entitled to protection. She is concerned that women who hold “lawful and protected beliefs” are “smeared” as Nazis. Well, Kellie-Jay Keen is a Nazi. Where beliefs go beyond what is “worthy of respect in a democratic society”, they should not be protected.

So I would not protect expression inciting fear of harmless trans women by attempting to associate us with criminal trans women. Isla Bryson is a convicted rapist. That does not mean all trans women are potential rapists, or that a cis woman’s fear of a trans woman she does not know is reasonable, or that a trans woman should be sent away because a cis woman might fear her. It is theoretically possible a violent man could pretend to be a trans woman in order to prey on cis women, but the violent men appear to prefer other ways of finding victims. So banning trans women because of the risk that a violent predator is pretending to be one of us is unjustified. Speech expressing that risk incites fear of trans women, and that makes more likely violence against us. Alsalem herself confirms speech that “incites violence and hatred” should not be protected.

She says anti-trans campaigners should not be smeared as “genocidaires”, but the anti-trans position is close to the UN definition of genocide. She says the term “extremist” is used to shame women into silence, but extremism, including the position that all women’s services need an absolute ban on trans women, is shameful.

Alsalem is concerned by “intimidation and threats” against the anti-trans campaigners, and “reprisals such as censorship, legal harassment, loss of jobs, loss of income, removal from social media platforms, speaking engagements and the refusal to publish research conclusions and articles”. Banning such “reprisals” infringes on the right to freedom of association. If an anti-trans campaigner claims that trans women should be excluded from women’s services, on stage, then trans workers and our allies in the venue are being harassed and intimidated, and are entitled to protection from such harassment. The venue could “threaten” to withhold a platform from an anti-trans campaigner and it would be entirely reasonable. Similarly, a political party could “threaten” expulsion of a member, even an MP or MSP, for speaking out against the principles of that party. The Labour party has expelled members for antisemitism, and withdrawn the whip from MPs, and should similarly expel MPs for anti-trans campaigning.

Alsalem says law enforcement should not permit counter-demonstrators to drown out anti-trans campaigners. An assembly in a public place creates no right to be heard.

Alsalem does not mention which governments or societies in particular are silencing anti-trans campaigners, but in Britain such views attract huge sums of money for hopeless legal action and are repeated by politicians and others all over legacy media and social media freely.

Alsalem gives no examples, but her allegation that hate speech laws “are being taken to mean that any interrogation of the scope of rights based on gender identity amount to hate speech against non-binary persons and perhaps even incitement of hatred and genocide” is ridiculous. What? Any interrogation of the scope of rights at all? The suggestion in the Equality Act 2010, for example, that trans women might be excluded from women’s services if it was a ”proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”? Alsalem should give examples of where something that is not hate speech results in a conviction for hate speech, or withdraw that allegation.

I agree that “the rights to free expression and peaceful assembly are crucial to ensuring that societies can develop their priorities and policies democratically and balance the rights of diverse groups in a pluralistic society”. But this statement gives no evidence that women’s rights are illegitimately constrained in Britain. Anti-trans campaigners should suffer consequences if their expression of their views harms trans people.

Alsalem is an unpaid volunteer. She is supposed to “Transmit urgent appeals and communications to States regarding alleged cases of violence against women and girls” but this letter does not mention any actual cases.

I consider it is better to be measured and objective, as far as possible. I am happy to call Kellie-Jay Keen a Nazi. I don’t think it right to call, say, Joanna Cherry a Nazi. But sometimes the hatred and gaslighting of the anti-trans campaigners is so horrible I just want to scream.

Social-liberal Conservatives?

In July 2013, David Cameron said, “I don’t support gay marriage in spite of being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative.” It is one of his most famous quotes. He was expanding the circle of Us, the good people. No longer would gays be Them, the scary people. Conservatism exists to protect Us against Them, as well as to let the rich do what they like, reduce taxes, cut public services, and roll back any regulation protecting workers, consumers or the environment. Then the far right won the Leave referendum, and Cameron resigned.

In 2017 Theresa May proposed reforming gender recognition, to make trans people Us and get rid of the Tories’ “Nasty Party” image, even if asylum seekers would still have been Them. Had he stayed, Cameron would have done the same. But the far right need a large group of Them to make their voters frightened and complicit, and pick on trans. Rishi Sunak is enthusiastically in, and Michael Gove wants to sound civil rather than actually be civil. He wants trans exclusion, just not for Tory MPs to look deranged about it. If Braverman or Badenoch saw me enter a women’s loo, they would confront me themselves; Gove would send a security guard.

Is there any vestige left in the Tory party of a reasonable rather than ravening approach to social issues? No. The closest is Matt Hancock, who has not regained the Tory whip since going on “I’m a publicity-seeker” on ITV. He had to publish his speech on his own Linked-In page. Hancock wants to cut tax and regulations protecting workers, consumers and the environment, but he does not want “a divisive culture war”. Instead he wants “the socially liberal positive values that people under 50 overwhelmingly support”. He did not mention trans, but perhaps Matt Hancock, repeatedly humiliated, sacked and disgraced, is the socially liberal face no longer in the Tory party. And he did not mention benefit claimants, so we don’t know who remains among his Scary Them.

He started his speech by saying “It’s great to be here and to see the room so packed,” but from the picture in The Guardian he was speaking in a room above a pub. The Times gave a sharp rebuke, calling him a “self-serving, busted-flush narcissist” and then objecting to “trans visibility week”.

With a few exceptions such as backbencher Alicia Kearns, the Tory party are gunning for international human rights of trans people.


The UK government is working to reduce or remove protection for human rights. Ministers claimed their Bill of Rights Bill would allow UK courts to ignore European Court of Human Rights precedents, though it may have been withdrawn, yet again. Victor Borloz, the United Nations Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, visited the UK from 24 April to 5 May, and has given a damning preliminary statement (pdf), before a comprehensive report due before Summer 2024. Continue reading


Friends, now hear my supplication
Seeking reconciliation
Let us make our true oblation
Let us salute the coronation
Charles deserves our salutation
If not our thoughtless veneration
He is the head of State and nation
Which sorely needs invigoration

If we raise an altercation
or make enraged expectoration
it won’t procure the Crown’s cessation
or end the plutocrats’ predation
Which will survive our indignation,
condemnation, castigation, execration.
Let us show imagination
Seek peace is the implication.
And so, my heartfelt peroration:
I salute the coronation.

Politics, life and drama

I write on trans, including summaries of law reports and parliamentary debates. I downloaded the EHRC letter, and read it, and have been unable to write about it.

A trans woman can use women’s services from the moment she decides to transition, by law, when she is expressing female, unless excluding us is “a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim” (PMOALA). The EHRC says, falsely, that only trans women with a GRC have an entitlement to use women’s services, and that entitlement should be taken away- single-sex and separate sex services should be segregated by biological sex not legal sex. In 2016 the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee recommended partly repealing the PMOALA exception, so any trans woman with a GRC could not be excluded. The government refused.

It will be an election issue. The Prime Minister announces that “no woman has a penis”, effectively saying that trans is meaningless, and we are simply deluded. Now, society accommodates my settled and intractable weirdness, by treating me as a woman. The Prime Minister, the Conservative Party, The Times, Mail, Express, Telegraph and often the Guardian, parts of the Labour Party and even the Greens, say this should stop.

There is writing about “women’s rights” barely mentioning trans. Pithy statements such as “humans are sexually dimorphic” are all that need be said for some people, trans women are men and should be treated as men. Sometimes they say that we should be allowed to wear what we like and they don’t want us to suffer violence.

The enormity of this overwhelms me. I can’t write about it systematically. A friend has paused her transition because of it, and fears for her job. We talked and shared our fear and misery. Trans social media, where I find some social contact and support, is full of the proposed change, though my preferred group mostly shares action against it and writing condemning or mocking it. I’m thinking more of Etty Hillesum.

What could I say? Trans is no threat to women, children or anyone else. A trans ban would disadvantage cis women. Permitting harmless eccentricity benefits society. I could try to argue these points, or critique texts, but there is no joy in it, and my thoughts turn to anguish or ranting. And, life goes on.

On Sunday 17th I went to the Quaker meeting, then the Tate. At Friends House there was a Narcotics Anonymous conference, and people crowded the garden, happy to be with their tribe. I chatted with one about my own Steps, about the Higher Power and the Inner Light. He loves Friends House, the peace in the heart of London. He had tried Quaker meetings. He found silence for an hour a bit much, but sometimes the meeting “Opened up”. Then in the George Fox room there was lively ministry, and eight stayed talking until 1.30.

In the Tate Members’ toilet, a woman said, “Is it me, or is it very dark in those cubicles?” She might not have read me before asking. Well, the bulbs are dim, and the ceilings, floors and laminate doors and walls (floor to ceiling, for privacy) of the cubicles are dark. I agreed they are dark. I presume people read me when they hear my voice, but she did not faint or start screaming or report me to the staff, and I hope she will not be writing an article for the Daily Mail.

At the Tate, I saw H (Not to be confused with other H’s on this blog) for the first time since last Summer. We have hardly messaged since 2019. We talked of all sorts of things. We ended talking of the trans ban. She said it’s important to remember that women are frightened of male violence. How could I forget? I was triggered. Yes women are frightened of male violence, and so society should deal with male violence- maybe, prosecute some rapes, or refer potential coercive control cases to well-funded social services. A trans ban makes things worse. She insisted, I insisted and bored and frustrated myself.

On the train home, I read a circular email, including a note that my trans friend was working with gender critical Quakers and well-meaning uninvolved Friends to find common ground. That started me ranting in my head- my lips were moving, I was not speaking aloud-

THE ONLY WAY FORWARD IS TO GET EVERYONE TO AGREE THAT TRANS IS A GOOD THING AND SPREADING SUSPICION OF TRANS IS WICKED HATEMONGERING. And all the arguments. And expression of hate and fear of the haters and excluders. And lots of swearing and words like f’wit, traitor, quisling which I would not want to get between me and my sweet, gentle Friend.

How can I cope with my rage and terror when all this comes up for me?

Cis people: the trans ban will not affect your day-to-day life in any way. If you see a trans woman, that is good luck for you, bringing you face to face with the strangeness and beauty of humanity. But trans and asylum seekers could be a major issue at the election. The Tory record on the economy, preventing crime and prosecuting criminals, the NHS and public services, are all a complete disaster, but hate and fear might grub them a few votes. Do we want to live in a liberal/”woke” society, or an authoritarian one?

One lesson from this is that while there is all this Threat- the trans ban- all the actual experiences were lovely. If I live the day I have now, it’s fine, and the Dreadful Things that might happen might not happen. And the quintessential Dreadful Thing- Death- will certainly happen, but maybe not yet.

Monday I was still prone to ranting. I was in a conversation with a man who did not perceive what was obvious to me, and I had a rant to myself about that; then I read an NYT article about Harlan Crow, Clarence Thomas’s billionaire benefactor, and had a rant about that. The heart of all my ranting is,


I do not feel heard, and so I do not feel safe. Thomas will make administrative regulation impossible, the mass extinction will ensue, and the rats and cockroaches will take over. But I cannot have any effect at all on SCOTUS, no matter how hard I shout or pray. I was shouting and crying then shaking like a terrified animal.

“Feelings and buried memories will return. By gradually releasing the burden of unexpressed grief, we slowly move out of the past.” I hope that’s it…

The effect of the trans ban

What if the law was changed, so that sex was defined as biological sex, and gender recognition stopped having any effect at all?

Would my passport now say “M”? There is no statute on passports. They are issued under the Royal Prerogative, by the Home Secretary. It declares my “sex/sexe”- in English and French. The International Civil Aviation Organisation has standard guidelines on machine-readable passports. The sex recorded might be discretionary, but “to avoid confusion” if the government said sex is biological they might equally decide to record my sex there as M. I do not want to travel on a passport marked M.

What of my driving licence? Now, in the driver number, the second digit is a 5, indicating I am female. I got that before the Gender Recognition Act. If I were male, it would be 0. If I were born in October, November or December it would be 6. “Miss Clare” indicates I am female, but my driver number might call me male. Would the regulations go so far as to demand it called me “Mr Clare”?

Before transition, once, when presenting male, I was utterly desperate, could not find the men’s, and went in the ladies. I was horribly embarrassed, and desperate not to be seen. Such embarrassment, a purely social sanction, is what keeps men out of the women’s loos. A woman, seeing me, would object, and I would know her objection was rightful. But, being a woman, that does not apply to me. Even after the ban, I might go in the women’s. Well, I am one of those Bad Trans, the out-group from whom the Tories will protect the Decent People.

So I go into the loo, I use it, wash my hands, check my lippy, leave like any other woman. Even after sex were redefined, that is not a crime. The problem comes if anyone confronts me.

Now, I have a right to use the loo. If directed to the men’s, I would assert my right to use the women’s. If told there was a restriction, I would want to know what the purported “proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim” was, and where I could complain, or where I should send my letter before court action. I would be polite, and hope to make enough problem that they let me past. I have not yet been blocked. Based on the EHRC Code of Practice, laid before parliament in 2011, I hope I would win any court action. It’s a code, so legally more persuasive to a judge than any guidance the EHRC issues.

And after the ban? I would challenge any person blocking my path or objecting to my entry. I would say they have no right to suppose they are certain of my biological sex, or my legal sex, come to that, and no right to ask me because of my right to privacy. But anyone challenging me might say they had a right to ask my legal and biological sex because of the right to privacy of the cis women using the loo.

Now, if someone blocks my path and I push past them, I would say that was asserting my legal rights, so entirely permissible. If they sought to block me, that might be a criminal assault.

After a ban, if I push past them it is I who commit the assault. I could be arrested and charged. If I raise my voice, that could be a “breach of the peace”. In England, that entitles a police officer to arrest me and take me somewhere else. In Scotland, breach of the peace is a crime in its own right.

I might not be confronted, I might just get in, and use the place as normal. That’s the fiendish part of the proposals: single-sex and separate-sex services are governed by the Equality Act. If someone objects, but the staff turn a blind eye or refuse to stop my use of the toilet, the objector may be able to claim damages for indirect discrimination. So the EHRC letter suggests.

Several organisations might want to provide toilets by gender, including me as a woman, rather than by sex. They might be forced to bar me from the women’s, by a threat of legal action by one objector.

Possibly a changing room in a shop might be different. Men’s and women’s clothes are in different areas of the shop. Often, the changing rooms have solid doors, with a lock. If refused entry, I could argue that the rules for allowing a service to be restricted to one sex only are not met. People are entitled to privacy, but they get it, because I cannot see them unclothed. It might work.

Touching another human being in an effort to get where they do not want you to go, or to prevent them going where they want to go, could be a criminal assault. There need be no bodily harm. Partly it depends on what the legal right to go, or prevent access is, or the person’s reasonable belief. It’s a risk. I don’t want a physical confrontation, even if a court might subsequently decide I was in the right.

After twenty years expressing female, I hope I could cope with any embarrassment or hostility. It would be horrible transitioning in such a climate.

Gender Critical Derangement Syndrome

If you lose all sense of proportion and start acting strangely in the presence of trans people, you may be suffering from Gender Critical Derangement Syndrome.

Enoch Burke, an Evangelical Christian, was a teacher at the Church of Ireland Wilson’s Hospital School in Co Westmeath, Leinster, when a pupil transitioned. The principal, Niamh McShane, emailed teachers asking them to use the pupil’s they pronouns and new name. On 21 June 2022, Burke stood up interrupting a school religious service as a bishop was about to deliver the concluding prayer and spoke for about 2½ minutes, while the transitioning student was present. Catherine Brabazon, a witness involved with the school, said Burke “hijacked the service” with a diatribe, a “very personal attack” on Ms McShane which she could not “make head nor tail of”.

Ms Brabazon approached Mr Burke who told her he was a teacher and started another diatribe. Later, a student’s mother had to physically prevent Burke from accosting Ms McShane. Ms McShane felt agitated and hunted when Burke harangued her- he stood so close she could feel his spittle.

The school began a “stage four” disciplinary procedure: dismissal was a possibility, and in August 2022 Burke was suspended on full pay. He continued to attend the school, which obtained a court order barring him. When he still went to the school, he was jailed for eleven days for contempt of court. He refused to purge his contempt, but was eventually released after 107 days in Mountjoy Prison in Dublin. Fintan O’Toole had a good laugh at Burke’s evangelical fervour, condemning Daniel O’Donnell and even CS Lewis. The New York Post thought the story worth reporting.

Burke appealed the injunctions restraining him from approaching the school to the Court of Appeal, and lost. He then challenged the suspension and disciplinary process in the High Court. At a preliminary hearing on Tuesday 28 March he was so disruptive, continually interrupting and making submissions contrary to the order of the judge, that he was again ruled in contempt. He has been barred from attending court in person. On video-link, the judge will be able to mute him.

There is a steady trickle of fools who lose their jobs, or are jailed, because they refuse to treat trans people with respect, get irate when challenged, and don’t know when to back down. But large parts of civil society suffer from a milder form of Gender Critical Derangement Syndrome (GCDS). Consider The Times, interviewing Keir Starmer on the third anniversary of his election as Labour leader. The 2745 word article mentions the local elections in May, and how to fund public services after the total mess the Tories have made of them, and of the economy. But the first third of the article is devoted to trans rights, even though Starmer says very little about them, and the headline is “Keir Starmer: Trans rights can’t override women’s rights”. Actually he calls for cross-party agreement because “it’s not helpful to have this as a toxic divide”. Fat chance of that. The comments section was full of anti-trans “men can’t be women” comments.

Or, Humza Yousaf has been elected First Minister of Scotland. I did a search for him in The Times. Of the first ten results, three are comment articles- “Mishandling of Kate Forbes’s appointment spells trouble for Humza Yousaf”; “Joan McAlpine: Independence may be a forlorn hope for Humza Yousaf” and “Scots head for disaster with Humza Useless”. Each mentions gender recognition:

“The heavily criticised Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill (GRR), which has hitherto achieved little except to tear the party (and the country) apart, and is destined to be blocked by the UK government.”

“controversial policies such as the Gender Recognition Reform Bill. It is hard to see how Yousaf’s determination to fight for an issue that has lost the SNP so many members, and dismayed so many voters, will help bring independence any closer.”

“The SNP also introduced ill-conceived gender recognition reforms that have had to be blocked, sensibly, by the UK government. At great expense Yousaf will fight this in court, he says.”

If Holyrood did not fight the Westminster block in court, the Greens would leave the coalition. The legal support for the block is flimsy– interpreting the Scotland Act s35 so widely would mean Westminster could block any Scottish bill it liked.

The Times still calls itself a “paper of record”, but if you got your information on this one issue solely from The Times, you would be less informed than if you read nothing. It suffers from Gender Critical Derangement Syndrome.

You might think I have no business going about, classifying new diseases, and you would be right. But GCDS is far better documented than, say, “Rapid onset” gender dysphoria.