An open letter and plea to Justine Greening on her gender identity proposals
This is a copy of a letter sent by David Robertson to Justine Greening, Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities, with a copy to the Prime Minister. He intends to send edited copies to his MP and MSPs and urges others to do the same.
Dear Minister, Ms Greening,
I am writing to you to express my concern, and the concern of millions of others over your governments recent proposals announced concerning people being able to legally (if not in reality) change gender. You announced this weekend that 'what we want to do is streamline the process, make it easier, demedicalise it and make it less intrusive'.
As you are aware the current Gender Recognition Act 2004 recognises that there is such a condition as gender dysphoria but insists that before legally changing gender they must have lived in their new gender for two years and have obtained a certificate from a gender recognition panel. You are proposing to change this so that gender change can be done by simple self-declaration. In addition to this you want to add to the number of genders – adding to male and female gender X.
There is considerable pressure for this from a very small but vocal group of people within society. And it appears that you, the Prime Minister, the leader of the Opposition and indeed most of the political class have given into this pressure. I wonder if you are happy to be on the same radical agenda as Jeremy Corbyn? I am writing you because I regard it as a fundamental error which will cause considerable harm to our society and to many people within it – especially those for whom you have a particular responsibility as Minister of State for Education, children. I would urge you to consider the following problems:
1) The attempt to uncouple gender totally from biology is something that is completely unscientific and unevidenced. It is a sociological political theory known as 'Queer Theory', originally taught by the American philosopher Judith Butler, which regards gender as merely a social construct and nothing to do with the fundamental nature of who we are as human beings. Your adoption of this radical agenda without evidence and without thinking through the issues is profoundly disturbing.
2) If your proposals are accepted it means the end of feminism, because after all there is ultimately no such thing as the feminine. It will mean the end of women's sports (did you know that eight of Iran's women's football team are men?) and also the end of gender quotas in parliament and elsewhere. If I can legally change my gender at any point then if I find that I can earn more money, or get a better job by simply announcing I am a different gender, what in your proposals will stop me from doing so? You state that this will be a great step forward for women, when in reality it is a great step backwards – which is why feminists such as Germaine Greer, Dame Jenni Murray and Elinor Burkett are so opposed.
3) Furthermore there is a danger in terms of prisons, hospital wards, women's crisis centres that men will be able to gain access to them. There was a case in Scotland of a man who was charged with double rape announcing he was a woman and being asked to be placed in an open women's prison and insisting on his right to be searched by female prison guards. If people are allowed to self-identify what can you actually do about this?
4) It will not help those who suffer from GID (Gender Identity Dysphoria). They are prone to suffer to a far greater degree from depression, substance abuse, self-harm, suicide, personality disorders and other mental issues. Your encouraging confused people in this direction is the equivalent of your agreeing with the six stone person who suffers from anorexia that they are fat!
5) There are enormous implications for civil liberties. After your 'consultation' (which will of course not be a consultation – even though it self-identifies as one) you will pass laws which eventually will end up criminalising those of us who do not buy into the Queer Theory view of humanity. Already in New York you can be fined up to $250,000 if you use the wrong pronouns for a person. We are all going to have to learn a whole new language. In Canada a bill is just about to be passed which will allow the State to take children away from their parents if the parents have the wrong views about gender identity. This is the inevitable route you are leading us.
6) And there are incredible implications for education and children. NHS Scotland recently released 'guidelines' to schools saying that they should ditch the terms 'boys and girls'. We don't want our boys and girls to be taught that they are not boys and girls but rather that they were 'assigned' genders at birth which they can change. Can you imagine the upset that a seven-year old girl felt when she returned home from school in tears, and told her parents that her teacher had told her she could choose whether she wanted to be a boy or a girl?! This is the kind of insanity you are unleashing on our children. Children are incredibly suggestible – which is why the number of children in Scotland seeking to change has gone up from 34 in 2013 to more than 200 last year. Given the high-profile of transgender personalities, the propaganda on TV and the indoctrination that you are proposing in schools we can expect this number to rise.
Some of us live at the sharp end of this. I could tell you several stories but one will suffice – I think of the mother of impeccably liberal credentials who phoned me really angry that her young son had come home from school and announced that he was really a woman. It turned out that he had gone for counselling because he was suffering from depression and his teacher had suggested that he might be unhappy because he was in the wrong body. Why would the teacher do such a thing? For the same reason that the headteacher in another school, much to the disgust of the teachers who actually had to deal with the situation, announced that a messed up and confused girl who was struggling with many issues announced herself transgender, whereupon the headteacher made it as public as possible. Why? Because both the teacher in the first case and the headteacher in the latter wanted to show just how liberal, cool, hip and happening they were.
When I listened to the very sparsely attended parliamentary debate on this issue earlier in the year I was astounded to hear one MP say that we just had to forget about the older generations and aim to teach (indoctrinate) the children. Is this what you are proposing as education secretary? Do you think that we as parents will stand for this?
None of the above takes away from the fact that there are a small percentage of people – 0.1 per cent – who suffer from GID and need help. But the help they need is not for you to attempt to change the whole basis and structure on which our society is built. To be honest at the end of the day it is not going to be you and the political class who have to face the real consequences of what can only be described as this insanity. You are safe enough in your gated environments, protected from the consequences of your own ill-thought out decisions based on a failed and flawed philosophy. It will be the poor in our housing estates who will be taught this insane doctrine and be accused of being irrational bigots if they dare to oppose it and speak up for what they know to be true.
Minster – you are supposed to be a conservative minister. Someone who conserves what is good in society, seeks to minimise the role of the State and who seeks to restrain evil. You are acting in precisely the opposite way. I am sorry for putting this in such strong terms but it appears that you and your colleagues are not listening, and that even those who agree that its daft will not speak out because of the bullying, abuse and targeting they will then experience in the media, social media and elsewhere. Having myself been on the receiving end of this I can understand something of that reluctance. But someone has to speak out. Who will have the courage? Personally my hope is that this madness has gone too far and that the ordinary people of Britain will stand up against this insanity and let those of you in your ivory towers know that you don't have the right or the power to try and remake humanity in your own image.
Can I plead with you for the sake of our children please turn away from this madness? Think about what you are doing. Do what you can to help those who suffer from GID, but don't make the rest of us suffer by dismantling a key part of our identity and society.
I look forward to hearing from you,
David Robertson is Associate Director of Solas CPC in Dundee and minister at St Peter's Free Church. Follow him on Twitter @TheWeeFlea. This is an edited version of a piece first published on David Robertson's blog.