The capitulation of the establishment to the politics of transgenderism has been astonishing. I’m struggling to remember any other time when a new and contested ideology has been so uncritically embraced by the powers-that-be.
We have a Tory government pushing a Gender Recognition Act that would allow anyone to change his or her gender without so much as popping a hormone pill. An established Church which yesterday issued guidelines to its schools encouraging them to let kids ‘explore gender identity’. Police forces exchanging helmets for caps because ‘gender-based headgear’ is disrespectful to trans people. And of course a university system — the nurturer of future leaders — in which women’s colleges are throwing themselves open to people who were born male, students are told to use gender-neutral pronouns, and anyone who says ‘Men cannot become women’ can expect to be hounded off campus.
From the stuffy Tories to the armed wing of the state to the actual Church of England, one by one the core institutions of the nation have accepted an idea that we really should have more debate about, no? Namely that gender is fluid. And that children should be allowed to decide if they’re male or female. And that men who transition into women are actual women — full-on, legally recognisable, going-into-women’s-changing-rooms women — rather than transwomen, as they were respectfully referred to for many years. Anyone who claims that trans politics is edgy is kidding themselves: it is one of the most established, protected ways of thinking of our time.
Indeed, raise so much as a peep of criticism of the ideology of gender fluidity, or the wisdom of chest-binding for teenage girls who think they are boys, or whether primary schools really should let little lads wear dresses to school, and you will be shot down with accusations of ‘transphobia’. Even to suggest there are two sexes and that one cannot really become the other, to state what many people consider to be biological fact, is to risk being branded with the phobia tag.
So protected is the dogma of transgenderism that it now effectively enjoys its own blasphemy law. Suggesting people who were born male shouldn’t use women’s changing rooms in clothes shops is the 21st-century equivalent of saying ‘the Bible is nonsense’, as the Times’ Janice Turner discovered this weekend when she was subjected to a metaphorical tarring and feathering by the Twitterati for criticising trans thinking. In essence for being that thing that established and intolerant ways of thinking have always had a problem with: a woman who doubts, a woman who thinks. Trans activists should ask themselves how their campaigning came so closely to resemble old, unforgiving religions.
The institutionalisation of trans thinking is making critical debate tantamount to heresy. An elite, eccentric idea that has its origins in the rarefied land of Gender Studies department, whose language — cis, ze, gender fluidity — is the language of academic cliques rather than of pubs or bus-stops or barbershops, is being foisted on the land by religious and political institutions now more keen to cosy up to tiny groups of influential campaigners than to connect with the concerns of ordinary people. And this is wrong. The unilateral reorganisation of the basic categories of social life by aloof institutions is undemocratic and worrying. And it is not transphobic to say so.
Nowhere is it more worrying than in schools. The trans outlook increasingly holds sway in education. The CofE’s guidelines instruct teachers to let kids explore gender identity ‘without…comment’. That is, say nothing, pass no judgement, exercise no reason: just stand back and nod as the boy tells you he is a girl. Teachers who want to keep their jobs have little choice but to accept this advice. A Christian teacher in Oxford currently faces disciplinary action allegedly for ‘misgendering’ a female student who identifies as a boy. Worse, the teacher believes biological sex is defined at birth. This is heresy now. No matter that most people believe this, or that society has been organised upon this basis for centuries: overnight it has become the great unsayable.
We need to ask questions about the importing of trans thinking into schools because it shows how far down the rabbit hole of relativism our society has gone. I fear for the future if we will not even tell boys they are boys and girls they are girls. If teachers lack the authority even to say, ‘You’re a boy and should wear a boy’s uniform’. We are cultivating a new generation that will expect its every instinct to be instantly respected, and worse that the social infrastructure, from bathrooms to uniform policies, should mould themselves around their instincts. It’s so bizarre: we don’t trust kids to walk past chicken shops or read difficult literature, but we think it’s cool for them to choose their sex.
Well, ‘we’ don’t. ‘They’ do — the new trans-friendly rulers of society and policers of public discussion. More of us need to blaspheme against their eccentric strictures. Let me make this as clear as possible: trans adults should enjoy the same rights as every other adult, and by the same token, their ideas, their beliefs, their faith, should be subjected to the same levels of criticism and even ridicule as everybody else’s. People have rights; their ideologies do not.