Woman’s Place UK and Transphobia

Is Woman’s Place UK a feminist organisation, or an anti-trans campaign group? They want the law changed, so that trans rights are reduced, and trans lives made significantly more difficult, especially those of trans women. They misrepresent trans rights and try to make people afraid of trans people, particularly trans women.

The law allows trans women in women’s spaces, but WPUK want us driven out. This is the Equality Act, schedule 3. Paragraphs 26 and 27 allow single sex spaces, for various reasons. Then paragraph 28 allows trans women to be excluded from women’s spaces if that is necessary- “a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”. There would be no need for a different provision if trans women were not generally allowed in women’s spaces.

This has been the case for decades. A judge in 1970 noted that the state treated trans women like other women, apart from in marriage. I got my passport and driving licence indicating I am female in 2002.

Around 25,000 women protected by the Act, that is trans women who have decided to change their gender from male to female, use women’s toilets and changing rooms now, mostly harmlessly. You may think you have seen one. If we cannot use these facilities, our lives would be greatly restricted. I only want to pee, or to try on clothes before buying them. In both places there are cubicles with doors and partitions too high to see over, and often no gap at all.

WPUK demands “single-sex” spaces for women, which they define to mean without trans women. “The law must be strengthened”, they say, so they admit the law is against them. A cis (that is, not trans) woman must be able to use these services without “extraordinary measures”, so any trans women must have been expelled by employees or security before she goes in.

The law must be strengthened to ensure that all women who want or need single sex spaces (including toilets, health provision accommodation, prisons, sports, sexual and domestic violence services) are able to access them without resorting to extraordinary measures. Service providers should be supported in offering such services through legal and financial means and clear guidance must be issued on the exercising of such rights.

You may think you have seen a trans woman in a women’s loo, and this campaigning is resulting in cis women using women’s facilities being harassed, and policed for how “feminine” they are. In her Turner Prize winning video, Charlotte Prodger described being misgendered in loos.

WPUK started a letter-writing campaign harassing Marks and Spencer to exclude all trans women. The Daily Mail reported on it on 23 May 2020. Baroness Emma Nicholson claimed M&S had given in. Fortunately M&S have resisted, and on 8 December gave this statement:

“in line with most other retailers we will generally allow people to use the fitting room which they prefer, with our colleagues exercising discretion and common sense.”

Because of WPUK’s campaigns, harassment of trans women is increasing, and cis women are harassed if they are seen as not “feminine” enough. If the law was changed as WPUK demand, trans women’s lives would be significantly more difficult, and the harassment would increase.

See also: What’s wrong with Woman’s Place?
What is Transphobia?
How WPUK wind up an audience to oppose trans rights.
Woman’s Place manifesto.
Kiri Tunks’ speech in Norwich.

Header photo from Wikimedia Commons.

For more details, here is a debate in the House of Lords, where Baroness Elizabeth Barker responded to WPUK. WPUK had sent a document they called “Sex and the Census” to members of that House, and Baroness Barker eviscerated this “dodgy dossier”. The persecution of trans people now, she says, is exactly like the persecution of lesbians last century, and some of the same people are involved. “Today, trans people are under sustained, unwarranted attack”.

Johann Lamont and Forensic Medical Services

Is there any place where a cis woman should be able to insist there is no trans woman, or is that transphobic? What about a medical examination of a victim of sexual assault or rape?

The medical examiner might have to take a semen sample from inside a woman’s vagina, or examine her internally for injury. The woman has been violated, and so is in a vulnerable state, possibly disconnected from her body, or flinching from touch. Should she be able to insist that the examiner is a cis woman?

In Scots law generally there is no distinction made between gender and sex. Both the Equality Act and the Gender Recognition Act use the words interchangeably, and after my GRC the GRA confirms that both my gender and my sex are female. The Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014 allowed a woman to choose that the forensic medical examiner should be a woman, by saying the victim could choose the “gender” of the examiner.

Transphobes campaigning against trans rights have sought to create a distinction, saying that transgender people change our gender, that is, our presentation and our conformity to stereotypes, but not our sex, which is based on genes, gonads and genitals. I still have a Y chromosome, so they say my sex is male. Then they say I should be expelled from women’s spaces. This would change my life. I have been in women’s spaces for decades.

The purpose of the Forensic Medical Services (Victims of Sexual Offences) (Scotland) Act 2021, which came into force on 20 January, is to allow victims to seek a forensic medical examination from the NHS without needing to report the crime to the police. I would have hoped such a change could be made administratively, by changes to police, NHS and court procedures, but it was a Bill, taking months to get through Parliament.

Johann Lamont MSP introduced an amendment into the draft Bill, to change the word “gender” in the Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014 to “sex”. She imagines that now, victims can specify that they want a cis woman, not just a woman.

I am not sure what practical effect that has. I want a woman to be able to get an examination where she is, in Ullapool or Lerwick as well as Edinburgh, ideally without an examiner being flown out from the city. But then, the examiner has to be able to stand as an expert witness in the High Court of Justiciary. I have no idea how many people are qualified to perform such an examination, and whether any of them are trans women.

Johann Lamont, that is, used a Bill designed to benefit victims of sexual abuse to enshrine discrimination against trans women in Scots law, and form a basis for an argument that there is a legal distinction between “gender” and “sex”, so that there could be further discrimination in future.

She does it from a clearly transphobic position. She signed the Labour Transphobes’ Declaration and said at the time

I have fought all my life along with my sisters in the Labour and trade union movement to ensure that women’s voices are heard, that our needs and rights are addressed, to end the inequality women face and to change women’s lives. The progress made by women has come from women organising together and refusing to be silenced. That is as necessary now as it ever was.

To characterise demands to exclude trans women as “addressing women’s needs” is deeply transphobic.

When the amendment went before Parliament, there was a disgustingly transphobic article in The Scotsman. The delusional transphobe hack who wrote it claimed that “women are fighting for the very right to exist”. That’s paranoid. She wrote, “Women and girls the world over are mutilated and murdered because of their sex, not because of gender stereotypes such as lipstick and high-heels”. Trans women are assaulted and murdered because we are trans women. She diminishes our very nature to the fetishist whim of wearing high heels. She sets cis women against trans women. It is one of the most transphobic rants I have seen. She quotes Lamont saying,

Women should be able to choose the sex of the person who conducts the investigation. This is a key test for the Parliament, which is committed to rooting action in the understanding of experience. Women courageously and powerfully spoke up so that others might fare better than them. The amendment is tiny but would be a huge step in listening to survivors. The committee was convinced. The Parliament should be too.

“Listening to survivors” means excluding trans women. Speaking up courageously means demanding that trans women be excluded. It is a horrifying paean in praise of hate.

I am not sure whether a trans woman should heed the desire of such a victim to have a cis woman examiner. It may just be my internalised transphobia suggesting that could possibly be reasonable, that the trans woman should stand aside. But, unquestionably, the motive for the amendment is transphobic hate. Transphobic hate now has an entrée into Scots law.

Can tweeting be a crime?

As a trans woman, you may be a public figure without realising it.

Kate Scottow was found guilty of a criminal offence for defaming Stephanie Hayden on Twitter, but won her appeal. The prosecutor and Scottow agreed that Hayden was a “public figure”, simply because she tweets her opinions. The judge said “such a person has ‘inevitably and knowingly laid themselves open to close scrutiny of their every word and deed’, and others can expect them to be more robust and tolerant accordingly” of comment or abuse. The comments of a public figure about court action are matters of public interest, and people may weigh in to a public conversation about it.

So I am probably a public figure because of this blog. You may be, if you have a twitter account, or have ever posted a tiktok video.

There are various possible offences if you tweet nastily.

Sending indecent, threatening or false tweets with the intention of causing distress or anxiety to the recipient is an offence.

Harassment is an offence, but just causing alarm or distress is not enough: it must be “oppressive and unacceptable”. This does not depend on the victim’s feelings, but the judge’s supposed objectivity.

Persistently tweeting for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another is an offence. The judge said, surely Parliament did not mean mere annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety. This is so bizarre that I have to quote the exact words used.

The Communications Act 2003 s 127(2)(c) says “A person is guilty of an offence if, for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another, he—… (c) persistently makes use of a public electronic communications network.”

But the judge said, “It is clear, in my judgment, that these provisions were not intended by Parliament to criminalise forms of expression, the content of which is no worse than annoying or inconvenient in nature, or such as to cause anxiety for which there is no need.” He says they have to be persistent, and for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety, para 29, and later in para 32 he says they must have no other purpose.

All these are subject to the right to freedom of expression, which includes freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas. States can restrict that right if it is necessary to do so for particular purposes including protecting the rights of others.

So it is always a balance.

The Magistrate’s court found Scottow guilty of persistently tweeting for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety, but they faced an additional hurdle, a six months’ time limit. There were tweets less than six months before, and tweets more than six months before which could only be considered if they were a single course of action.

The police and the district judge thought the tweets were bad enough to be criminal. The appellant judge disagreed.

The judgment quotes the offensive tweets. There is misgendering: “he is a very sick individual I’ve evidence of that”. I don’t like Scottow calling Ms Hayden “sick”, but that was more than six months before, so not relevant. Also more than six months before, “I have many leads on the claimant”, which is threatening. Hayden got an injunction against Scottow, and Scottow used a new Twitter account to abuse the injunction.

The judge says the older tweets are defamatory or insulting.

It may be possible for abusive tweets to be criminal. Violent threats may be. Prosecutors may not think them serious enough to take action.

If you tweet, and someone tweets nastily at you, block them. After the appeal judgment, the courts may just not get involved. This is the judgment.

Hate crime against trans people in England

Hate crime against trans people is rampant and rocketing in England and Wales.

In 2011/12, the police recorded 313 hate crimes against trans people, but in 2018/19, they recorded 2,333. From 2012-2014, the Leicester Hate Crime Project researched hate, and interviewed 24 people targeted because they were trans. 21 of them reported verbal abuse, nine regularly, nineteen reported bullying, and fifteen reported violent crime. 36% of the hate crimes had occurred in public. Only 27% of trans victims reported the incident to the police, less than any other group.

The Law Commission has a consultation on hate crime, closing 24 December. I hope trans-excluders will respond, because their delusional rage will reinforce the need for law protecting trans people.

On race and religion, hate crime law is different from on trans. Assault, criminal damage, public order and harassment offences are recorded as separate, aggravated offences. For trans people, the offence is not different, but the penalty is. This is called “enhanced sentencing”, and has applied to trans people since 2012.

Because a hate crime against a trans person is the same offence as the same crime not motivated by hate, the same maximum sentences apply. The hate is merely one aggravating factor, leading to a longer sentence. This means to me that hate crime against trans people is treated less seriously than hate motivated by religion or race. The maximum sentences for hate against Black people are greater than the maximum sentences for hate against trans people.

If the charge is murder motivated by hate based on race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity, the starting point for determining the minimum term is 30 years. This can double the minimum term.

Hate crime can have a greater emotional effect on victims, because we are singled out for something we cannot control. It is more likely to cause a loss of confidence, or anxiety, than non-hate crime. It may make people change our behaviour. It affects others in the community, who feel they could have been victimised too. It damages social cohesion and divides communities.

That the crime is more serious justifies a harsher punishment, whether it is for deterrence, to show victims we are valued by society, or a punishment viewed as fitting the crime.

In Northern Ireland, the definition of hate crime is broadly similar to England’s, but hate of trans people is not included. In Scotland, the definition of trans people is different, and there is a new Bill to change it again.

The police define hate crime, for the purpose of recording how hate motivates crime, differently to the law. It also has a specifically different definition for transgender. It was agreed in 2007, before hate crime against trans people was recognised by enhanced sentencing.

The police say hate crime is “Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on” the characteristic or perceived characteristic. But for trans, it is any crime “motivated by hostility or prejudice”. For race, etc, the police look at the perception of victim or witnesses, but for trans people the actual hostility of the offender. When this definition was produced, hate crime law had not been extended to trans people, but the definition was not changed when hate against trans people was made illegal.

The police also record “hate incidents”, where the offender’s actions do not amount to a crime, but the actions appear to demonstrate hatred of a characteristic.

On race, religion and sexual orientation, but not trans or disability, there is an offence of “stirring up hatred”. The police have a power of immediate arrest, in private or public places, and it is sufficient if either the offender wishes to stir up hatred or hatred is likely to be stirred up. If that offence were extended to trans people, WPUK meetings might be criminal.

What is transgender? The Criminal Justice Act says that “references to being transgender include references to being transsexual, or undergoing, proposing to undergo or having undergone a process or part of a process of gender reassignment”. That means, being TS or intending to transition definitely counts, but because of the word “includes” other ways of being trans- thinking about transition but not yet committed to it, and, arguably, nonbinary or cross-dressing would count, as those are included in the ordinary meaning of the word “transgender”.

However the Law Commission in their paper misinterpret this wide, inclusive definition. At page 11 they say “gender reassignment surgery” rather than “a process of gender reassignment”, which means any change to gender presentation. If they make that mistake, they won’t be the only ones.

The Law Commission consulted in 2014, and people criticised the definition. Now, the Law Commission consider the definition should emphasise the identity and personhood of the individual- do you think you are trans? Do you think your gender is other than that assigned at birth?- but also, if the offender presumes the person to be trans.

The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill includes: female to male transgender people, male to female transgender people, nonbinary people and people who cross-dress. It has a separate characteristic for intersex people.

The Law Commission wants the language to be inclusive. They think the reason to make a crime more serious, or punishment harsher, is to condemn hostility and prejudice towards nonconformity with gender stereotypes.

So, I would make the category trans or gender nonconforming, to include people who do not fit gender stereotypes and indicate that by dress and behaviour.

The consultation paper, and information on responding, is here.
You can respond here. There are 62 questions, but you don’t have to answer them all, and could have a go at question 8, which is the most relevant to trans people:

Consultation Question 8.
11.89 We provisionally propose that the current definition of “transgender” in hate crime laws be revised to include:
• People who are or are presumed to be transgender
• People who are or are presumed to be non-binary
• People who cross dress (or are presumed to cross dress); and
• People who are or are presumed to be intersex
11.90 We further propose that this category should be given a broader title than simply “transgender”, and suggest “transgender, non-binary or intersex” as a possible alternative.
11.91 Do consultees agree?
11.92 We welcome further input from consultees on the form such a revised definition should take.

(c) Walker Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Keira Bell v Tavistock Gender Identity Development Service

After the case of Quincy (or Keira) Bell, it will be exceptionally difficult for a trans child under 18 in the UK to get puberty blockers. The High Court has decided that the evidence the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) had to justify prescribing puberty blockers was insufficient, and children were not capable of consenting to the treatment.

The court did not consider all the benefit that the trans child will get from puberty blockers. It may be possible for individual trans children and their families to take court action to get that relief. It may be that a better understanding of the benefits from puberty blockers, or simply a better way of explaining those benefits, will enable trans children to get the treatment they need. However they will have to go through legal proceedings to demonstrate sufficient consent, as well as to convince psychiatrists that the treatment is appropriate, and the ethical and practical concerns for each will be different.

The court’s judgment discussed at length the GIDS practice, which bent over backwards to protect any cis child and avoid transition. Families may simply go abroad and go private, and have far less protection, as one family referred to in the case did.

This is how the court made its decision. Continue reading

Mark Latham and Gender Fluidity

Mark Latham wants schools to teach that trans people do not exist. He wants any teacher who breaks this rule to be sacked, and prevented from teaching ever again. Could he do that?

If you ban something, you have to define it. If Latham’s bill were passed, the Education Standards Authority would have to revoke accreditation for any teacher who “teaches gender fluidity”. Here’s Latham’s definition:

gender fluidity means a belief there is a difference between biological sex (including people who are, by their chromosomes, male or female but are born with disorders of sexual differentiation) and human gender and that human gender is socially constructed rather being equivalent to a person’s biological sex.

It’s not well defined. A girl with androgen insensitivity syndrome is, by her chromosomes, male XY. Someone with Klinefelter’s syndrome, XXY, is not clearly “by their chromosomes male or female”.

But, leaving diversity of sexual development out of it for the moment, there is a Truth, to be defined in law, that teachers must teach. There are two views posited, though in reality there are many shades of opinion.

For Latham, the Truth is that human gender is equivalent to biological sex. That might mean that changing the word from “transsexual” to “transgender” makes no difference. I could go back to being “transsexual”, and “have a sex change”. I’m female. Or, changing my gender means that therefore I have changed my sex.

Or, it could mean that “gender” is a redundant concept, that there is only sex. But then, what are we to call particular behaviours? Is playing football “masculine”, and doing ballet training “feminine”? Is a long curly wig and brightly coloured velvet clothes “masculine” or “feminine”? Here are some portraits of Charles II.

If gender is the same as sex, then anything a boy does becomes masculine. A little boy uncomfortable with another playing with dolls should not mock or bully him, because (gender being the same as sex) playing with dolls is gendered masculine. If gender is not socially constructed, then gender does not exist. Or it can be individually constructed. The boy is not constrained by gender norms. He can do what he likes, wear what he likes. The only thing he can’t do is claim to be a girl- unless he is “transsexual”.

If you can’t teach that gender is socially constructed, the bully mocking the boy playing with a doll stops being part of normal society, constructing gender as normal society has evolved to do, and becomes merely a bully. The teacher turning a blind eye to the bullying, because the boy with the doll has to learn how society works, is then abetting the bullying.

Then Latham’s other requirement, that parents define the values taught in schools, comes into play.

matters of parental primacy means, in relation to the education of children, moral and ethical standards, political and social values, and matters of personal wellbeing and identity including gender and sexuality.

That’s the responsibility of the parents, the bill says. The school can’t teach it. Imagine a boy is gay. The teacher does not know that boy’s parents’ view. It’s not a matter of “values”, but of fact. The boy is same sex attracted, whether or not the parents accept that, or consider it a good or bad thing. The teacher is forbidden to teach that this is in any way objectionable, because such things are for parents to decide.

Latham’s Bill requires schools to consult parents on teaching such values. What if parents disagree? In a conservative area most parents want to teach that being gay is an abomination unto the Lord, but one parent has a gay brother and wants to teach that gay is OK. That parent’s right must not be curtailed by the school. So any suggestion that gay is not OK must be refuted by the school, as trampling on at least some parents’ right to teach that gay is OK.

That the bill is ridiculous and unworkable does not mean that it is not evil. Law should not dictate reality. Science should decide whether “gender is socially constructed”, or whether the concept of gender has any value at all. But it is a good sign: Latham cannot rely on society to construct itself in the way he desires, so he tries to make the law force it to. Society is moving, despite Latham’s efforts.

Mark Latham’s ridiculous attempt is in New South Wales. I heard of it here. Here is the draft Bill. In that Guardian article, I also learned the word “endosex”. It’s a way of accepting intersex people, and the first sites when I googled it were Australian. Endosex means not intersex, just as cis means not trans, straight means not gay or bi. Intersex people are people, not “abnormal”.

Stephanie Hayden

Stephanie Hayden won a significant legal victory for trans people in February. When Kate Scottow abused and doxxed her on twitter, she was prosecuted, and found guilty of “persistently making use of a public communications network to cause annoyance, inconvenience and anxiety” to Hayden. That this happened is testament to the courage and persistence of Hayden. Scottow had used the alias “Busted Wench” to abuse Hayden, but Hayden discovered who she was. Scottow established more than one twitter account, each of which was used to abuse trans people and our allies. Scottow had to pay £1000 costs and had a “conditional discharge”- that means, she must keep good behaviour in future. Hayden said, “I wish Mrs Scottow all the best for the future and hope that she will learn from this experience”.

Hayden continues to campaign and tweet. Maria MacLachlan sent her a Friend request on facebook, apparently by mistake while searching for a photo of her, and if you google Hayden McLachlan’s account is on the first page. McLachlan is abusive and mocking, of course. Hayden sued Helena Wojtczak, and Wojtczak raised £10,255 on a crowdfunder to defend the action. Wojtczak omitted to mention that Hayden claimed Wojtczak had doxxed her and other trans rights advocates, and this was a breach of data protection. Merely being sued was enough to get Wojtczak the money.

Also searching for Hayden, I found out about her conviction in 1999. She was in a confrontation in the street, it escalated, and she was sentenced to 150 hours community service, but varied to a one year conditional discharge. As she said, the conviction is long spent, but haters still write about it. Because of a human rights case, it is likely the offence would not be revealed by a DBS check.

Hayden has another action, against a freelance journalist who has been published in The Times, Mail, Telegraph and Express. She claims to “focus on news/investigations on transgender issues”, but this is from a perspective hostile to trans rights. It’s a profitable career move, as lots of propagandists want copy against trans people. I won’t name the journalist, for reasons that will become clear.

Hayden tweeted two photos of some prose which looks like a newspaper article, with headline then lede in larger print, and the final sentence “[the journalist] was unable to be contacted for comment”. However this prose has not appeared elsewhere, as was clear from the headline “Gender critical activist journalist threatened suicide in desperate bid to ‘take down’ Stephanie Hayden”. Also, though the lede referred to the suicide threat, the story should still recount it before commenting on it.

Hayden obtained 1204 pages of a transcript of WhatsApp messages, including apparent threats of suicide, which she quotes.

I love Stephanie Hayden’s courage and persistence. And revealing a conversation about suicide crosses a line, however brutal the treatment she has faced. On Twitter Hayden calls herself a “lawyer”, though I understand she is not a solicitor or barrister.

Meanwhile a man abused trans women at Leicester Square tube station, shouting rudely about their genitals, and they assaulted him. It’s one assault, like hundreds of thousands of others not worthy of reporting, but because it is trans women accused it got into the Times and Mail. The judge, perhaps seeing the journalist, commented about as sympathetically as he could:

I accept that had it not been for the alleged victim in this case there probably wouldn’t have been an incident. The four of you then were subjected to extremely offensive transphobic and racial abuse. Had it not been for that there would have been no violent disorder. However that does not excuse what you did, you went far too far in your reactions, but of course transphobic issues are particularly sensitive. It is a sign that the so-called victim realised how wrong he was by refusing to cooperate and not make any statement. I do not in any way condone your behaviour but I accept that what happened to you at the beginning of the incident was entirely wrong and people like you should not be subject to that abuse in the public domain or anywhere.

They “walked free from court”, clichéd the Mail. Of course. If all such assaults resulted in prison terms, the prison population would be ten times higher, or more: Scottow, a “mother” (a term to evoke sympathy) got the headline “Mum spared jail”. The main shocking thing about that assault is that it happened in Summer 2018, and is only being tried now. This is a result of Tory cuts to spending on justice, which afflict the guilty, innocent and victims alike.

Kristie Higgs

Kristie Higgs was sacked not for her religious lack of belief that anyone can change their biological sex/gender, but for the way she expressed them, on facebook. The language of the posts was standard facebook: as the tribunal put it, “inflammatory and quite extreme… florid and provocative”. Posts which express outrage, moral condemnation, or strong emotion are more likely to be shared on social media.

Higgs wrote, “Please read this! They are brainwashing our children!” Then she repeated a post, saying (transphobic- select text to view) “The LGBT crowd with the assistance of the progressive School systems are destroying the minds of normal children by promoting mental illness” and “the far-left have hijacked the learning environment and they insist on cramming their perverted vision of gender fluidity down the throats of unsuspecting school children who are a government mandated captive audience”.

The school considered anyone who read that might conclude the writer and sharer “not only felt strongly that gender fluidity should not be taught in schools but was also was hostile towards the LBGT [sic] community, and trans people in particular.”

Mr Conlan, the school governor who chaired the disciplinary hearing, said that had her belief been stated in a less inflammatory way, as she stated them in her claim, the school would not have taken action against her. In her claim she wrote her beliefs included “lack of belief in ‘gender fluidity'” and “lack of belief that someone could change their biological sex/gender”. The tribunal decided that these beliefs were protected by law, in that she should not suffer discriminatory treatment at work because of them, because “there was no reason to believe she would behave towards any person in a way such as to deliberately and gratuitously upset or offend them,” unlike in an earlier case.

As the tribunal says, if rights “only extended to expressions of belief that could upset no-one they would be worthless”. To decide whether the belief was protected, the tribunal had to “carry out a balancing act between those who hold the beliefs in question and those who oppose them”.

So she cannot be dismissed for believing that gender fluidity does not exist, or for saying that, but she could be dismissed because the way it was expressed reasonably led someone to conclude she was homophobic and was hostile towards LGBT folk, and trans people in particular. No-one could read this case and conclude they would be safe to express disbelief in gender fluidity in a particular way, but any emotive language might be risky.

Kristie Higgs supervised students excluded from class for being disruptive, and managed work experience. Had she been a teacher, I would have been more concerned about her “belief in the literal truth of the Bible”- the idea that the Earth was created thousands of years ago rather than accreted billions of years ago involves contradicting plain facts, and means seeing much of academia as suffering demonic delusion. As an adult supervising children, she might be approached by a child uncertain of their sexuality, and even if she had no facebook account she might be a risk to that child. She also might be more tolerant of bullying of that child than more rational people were.

In Forstater’s case, she was offensive to a nonbinary person, and said she might be to others. In Higgs’ case, someone who saw her post reasonably believed she might be offensive. Anyone who works with children or the public should be very careful about expressing such views, and that’s a relief. However that is not because of the law, but because other people object, and employers often take their side. Our protection depends on public opinion.

The Tribunal said she was not sacked for being Christian, so this was not religious discrimination. Christians have a wide variety of beliefs. I consider God is fine with gender nonconformity, the Bible contains poetry, fiction and argument and very little literal truth, same sex marriage is absolutely fine, and children should have age-appropriate education about it.

I take my religion very seriously. My identity as a Quaker is more important to me than, say, my identity as British.

Trans women and crime in toilets

Do laws specifically permitting trans women in women’s toilets affect the rates of crime in those toilets? Of course not. The predatory men who might want to attack women have far easier methods than pretending to be trans. However research in Massachusetts in 2018 shows that localities with law protecting trans women have less crime in toilets than localities without, and while there was an increase after the laws were passed, the increase in the comparable localities without law protecting trans women was greater. Massachusetts enacted a state-wide law protecting trans folk from discrimination in 2018, and malicious persons started a ballot measure to get that law vetoed. However the ballot supported the law, 1,806,742 to 857,401. I wish those 857,401 hostiles would learn the error of their ways.

There was an increase. However, as the researchers say, crime rates fluctuate over time, possibly from random variability, and the increase was no greater in localities with anti-discrimination law than without.

Of course, trans women as victims of assault do not bother the likes of State senator Buck Newton, who said the Massachusetts law was a threat to the public safety “of our daughters, of our wives”- of women as they relate to men, rather than to women generally. A 2008 survey of 93 transgender people in Washington, DC found that 9% reported experiencing physical assault in a public restroom.

The researchers found that crime in toilets is extremely rare. There were 4.5 violations of privacy or safety per 100,000 population in the localities studied. In Massachusetts, there were 32.6 rapes reported per 100,000 population. It is estimated that only a third of rapes and sexual assaults are reported to the police. However the study showed that a Gender Identity Inclusive Public Accommodation Non-Discrimination Ordinance, GIPANDO in their language, trans-accepting law in mine, in “public accommodations”- “public bathroom, public restroom, public locker room, or public changing room” did not alter the number of offences when compared to places without that law. The researchers concluded,

While criminal incidents do, in fact, rarely occur in such spaces, these findings suggest that concerns over the safety in those spaces should be more generally related to community safety and policing, and not related to nondiscrimination laws…

The results show that the passage of such nondiscrimination laws is not related to the number or frequency of criminal incidents in such public spaces. Additionally, the results show that reports of privacy and safety violations in public restrooms, locker rooms, and changing rooms were exceedingly rare and much lower than statewide rates of reporting violent crimes more generally. This study provides evidence that fears of increased safety and privacy violations as a result of nondiscrimination laws are not empirically grounded.

I can’t explain the methodology completely, because I don’t know what a “one-tailed alpha” is. Someone with better statistical skills than I should have a look at the paper. However, the researchers found localities which had enacted non-discrimination laws for trans people, and comparable localities which had not. To find comparable localities, they considered “population size, the percent of the population over the age of 65, the percent of population that is non-Hispanic white, the percent of population earning more than $200,000, median income, the percent of the population living below the poverty line, the percent of the population that identifies as Born Again, percentage of the vote for Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election, and a composite crime score based on numerous indices.” They concluded that “the distinguishing factor between these localities is the existence or absence of a public accommodations-specific nondiscrimination law that applied to gender identity.”

They then made public records requests of the localities with anti-discrimination law, and the comparable localities without, for the period of two years before and after the law was enacted. They concluded that anti-discrimination law for trans people did not have an effect on victimization, mainly because there are so few of us: other research shows “The cumulative addition of legal inclusion of marginalized groups may, however, reduce victimization rates.” The more people are protected by law, the less victimisation there is.

They found that in the localities with anti-discrimination law, there was an increase of violations of privacy or safety from 0 to 0.62 per 100,000. However, in the comparable localities without anti-discrimination law, in the same period there was an increase from 2.54 to 4.50 per 100,000.

The hard right whips up hatred to conceal that it does nothing of value for its voters. Buck Newton and Dominic Cummings are concerned to persecute harmless trans women rather than to protect cis women, and that their handmaidens who are anti-trans campaigners assist them to distract from actual threat or harm to women.