Is it transphobic to say biological sex is binary and immutable? Can you support transgender people while criticizing modern transgender activism? Would you imagine losing your job or being suspended from social media for merely stating factual human biology?
The answers might shock you and affirm growing fears on both the left and the right regarding the freedom to discuss gender, sex, and sexuality honestly in the public square. Alarming developments in the U.K. and Canada show where the United States is headed if it passes the Equality Act and continues bowing to the increasingly powerful transgender bullies.
On Dec. 18, 2019, a U.K. employment judge ruled that a visiting fellow at the Centre for Global Development, Maya Forstater, was rightfully terminated from her position after some of her tweets were found to be “not worthy of respect in a democratic society.” The judge argued, “I conclude from … the totality of the evidence, that [Forstater] is absolutist in her view of sex and it is a core component of her belief that she will refer to a person by the sex she considered appropriate even if it violates their dignity and/or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.”
What inspired such a passionate denunciation from the judge? As Forstater argues, “My belief … is that sex is a biological fact, and is immutable. There are two sexes, male and female.”
Trans Activists Are Silencing Gender Realists
Louise Rea, who works for the law firm that supported the CGD in this case, applauded the decision: “Judge Tayler held that ‘the claimant’s view, in its absolutist nature, is incompatible with human dignity and fundamental rights of others.’ He observed that the claimant was not entitled to ignore the legal rights of a person who has transitioned from male to female or vice versa and the ‘enormous pain that can be caused by misgendering a person.’” Dismissing the claim that this was an issue of free speech, Rea argued, “It is the fact that her belief necessarily involves violating the dignity of others, which means it is not protected under the Equality Act 2010.”
On Nov. 26, 2019, after diving into the trans debate online, Will Johnson, a literary editor in Canada working for the Humber Literary Review, tweeted, “I love trans people. Every trans person I’ve ever met is a world class human being. I know some f-cking amazing trans writers too. So how come so many trans rights activists are such petulant, small-minded sh-t-heads?”
Shortly after, he was terminated from his job. His employer emailed, “We have grave concerns about comments on your Twitter account and threads that give rise to transphobic sentiments or question the validity of people of any gender.” Johnson, who has been a vocal LGBT advocate throughout his career, responded, “Anybody who believes I am capable of expressing or encouraging hate doesn’t know me at all.”
Jesse Singal, who writes for New York Magazine, carefully documented his exchange with Twitter about the suspension of a feminist advocacy account known as 4th Wave Now. During a conversation, the account stated, “Sara is a trans woman — her gender identity, female, does not align with her natal sex, male,” and was subsequently reported for abuse.
In response to Singal’s inquiries, Twitter confirmed that the statement violated Twitter’s rule on “hateful content,” justifying the account suspension. In Singal’s thread, he determined, “In a lot of situations, simply describing what being trans *is* could lead to you losing your account.”
In all three cases, the issues at hand were not the abuse of nor violence toward transgender people. No one was targeting trans people online or in any physical environment, nor did any trans person face discrimination. All three people involved consider themselves left-leaning in their politics and typical advocacy.
The only “crime” committed was expressing an idea now believed by far too many in power to be dangerous and morally offensive. Under the guise of protecting the emotional safety of transgender people, these authorities claim that merely believing in binary biological sex is harmful.
The Equality Act Will Police Beliefs
What is being described is akin to a religious doctrine in which those who hold opposing beliefs inherently violate that doctrine. While citing potential harm toward transgender people if beliefs regarding binary sex are permitted, it never occurs to these authorities that transgender people have the freedom and power to define what the term “sex” means for everyone else.
Essentially, these determinations raise one group of people and their beliefs above others holding different beliefs. The outcome is tangible legal and social inequality.
The events in Canada and the U.K. provide startling insight into our future if the Equality Act were to pass, for the U.S. bill includes the same references to sex, sexual orientation, and gender in its anti-discrimination language as the U.K. Equality Act 2010. The debate on the U.K. side spirals into the precise meaning of every phrase within its own version of the law, which dictates what is “legal” and “illegal” to believe regarding gender and sex.
While not directly restricting speech, the law effectively does so. People who violate arbitrary speech rules may be punished through social shaming or even a loss of employment. In the same way, Twitter requires those who violate its arbitrary “hateful conduct” rulings to delete the tweets in question before accessing their accounts again, effectively coercing public profession of belief.
The progressive instinct to coerce belief through shaming and stigma is far more effective than a simple law making speech illegal. Once a person’s beliefs are declared “not worthy of respect in a democratic society,” and he is forced to erase his own words in order to continue participating in public discussion, idea suppression is already in place. As Singal articulates, people will simply avoid saying out loud what they fear will get them targeted for removal from public platforms.
The power of legal precedent cannot be underestimated, either. The U.K. judge used his own interpretation of the law to enforce his personal beliefs. In Canada, where human rights law recognizes gender identity and expression, merely arguing that a portion of the transgender movement is toxic and bullying was enough for a five-year literary veteran’s dismissal. The Equality Act in America will empower these same bullies to intimidate and legally coerce dissenters here too.
The Transgender Movement Is Powerful
Transgender people have long relied on their status as a “marginalized” and “vulnerable” community to demand protections, sympathy, and public support. But as time moves forward, the movement has become a remarkably powerful aggressor in the public square, using the full force of its influence to shut down speech it finds threatening to its worldview.
The transgender movement has sought to radically change what it means to be human and has bullied and intimidated its way through all social, scientific, and medical industries to expel opposition. Now these bullies seek to erase anyone, regardless of political or social views, who stands up to them online.
In 2019, we must regard the transgender movement as a powerful and influential threat to freedom and personal expression. These activists are far from a persecuted minority simply trying to live their lives in peace. The movement has become a Puritan court imposing its will onto a population fearful of social and financial consequences.
To state the simple truth of biological sex has become a rebellious act with real-world consequences, and the only way to battle this kind of censorship is through rebellion. It was never enough to be tolerant or even accepting. This contingent demands we must change our very beliefs just to avoid public wrath.
We must reach a breaking point where we as a society say, “No more.” Transgender bullies will not intimidate me into hiding my beliefs, and the more people who refuse to be silenced, the less power they will have over all of us.