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Stop saying the UK is transphobic The Council of Europe is peddling a fantasy

Sex cannot be erased (Photo by Guy Smallman/Getty Images)


January 27, 2022   5 mins

When it gathered in Strasbourg on Tuesday to condemn “the extensive and often virulent attacks on the rights of LGBTI people”, the Council of Europe singled out a small collection of the most inhospitable countries. It contained the usual suspects — Russia, Turkey, Poland, Hungary — but also a more surprising addition: the United Kingdom.

The UK has left the European Union, but we remain a member of the Council of Europe. The CoE is an older and larger organisation — hence the inclusion of Russia and Turkey — and is built around the European Convention on Human Rights. This week’s meeting revealed just how empty some of those human rights have become.

The title of the resolution passed by its Parliamentary Assembly was noble enough — “Combating rising hate against LGBTI people in Europe” — but, as ever, the devil was in the detail. As well as conflating the UK, where LGB and trans people are well-protected, with the rather different situation in parts of Eastern Europe, the resolution quietly erased sex from its list of protected characteristics.

Deplorably, sex was not even mentioned in respect to refuge shelters. Victims, the CoE ruled, must be protected against “re-traumatisation on the grounds of their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics” — but not their sex.

It then got worse: the resolution further demanded that member states “refuse to provide funding to local, regional or national authorities or other State or non-State actors that deny the human rights of LGBTI people, and to withdraw such funding if it has already been granted”. This was, in effect, a call for governments to turn their backs on single-sex provision.

Let’s be clear: the LGBTI community is made up of people whose human rights deserve to be protected. But other groups also have human rights, and sometimes rights need to be balanced. When vulnerable women need single-sex provision, they must not be expected to share with members of the opposite sex, however we might identify.

It shouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility to create additional spaces for transsexuals like me so as to assure everyone’s rights. Yes, it might cost more money — but this resolution was driven far more by ideology than economics. A whole paragraph was devoted to stamping out what its author perceived to be the “highly prejudicial anti-gender, gender-critical and anti-trans narratives which reduce the fight for the equality of LGBTI people to what these movements deliberately mis-characterise as ‘gender ideology’ or ‘LGBTI ideology’”.

It was the kind of statement trotted out in student debates — and you could be forgiven for thinking its impact will be just as small. After all, CoE Resolutions are not binding on member states, and I suspect that few Europeans care enough to know that its Parliamentary Assembly even exists, less still the business conducted by the 324 representatives drawn from national parliaments (including 18 UK members from the Commons and the Lords).

The truth, however, is that it does wield an influence over us all: when issues such as gender identity reach national parliaments, CoE resolutions allow politicians to present their case as a fait accompli. Indeed, when Maria Miller first introduced the concept of gender self-identification to the House of Commons in 2016, she cited: “Resolution 2048 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.”

That isn’t to say that all politicians subscribe to the CoE’s transgender agenda. On Tuesday, five members of the UK delegation tabled 10 amendments in an attempt to rescue the resolution. Just three managed to find their way into the final text. The first, Amendment 11, crucially inserted the word ‘sex’ into paragraph 12.1:

“amend criminal legislation as necessary to ensure that its provisions with respect to hate crimes clearly cover all offences committed against a person or group of persons based on their sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics, include proportionate and dissuasive sanctions, protect victims’ rights and make provision for them to receive compensation”.

Amendments 12 and 13 ensured that sex would be protected elsewhere in reference to the criminal law.

In a powerful yet conciliatory speech, Labour MP Tonia Antoniazzi introduced the 10 amendments. She skewered the most egregious failings of the resolution and the accompanying report that has been forwarded by Fourat Ben Chikha, a Green politician from Belgium. Antoniazzi was clear in her objectives: “We need transparency
 I hope to amend the resolution to reflect the reality of the situation.”

Why indeed had Ben Chikha shackled the UK with Hungary, Poland, the Russian Federation and Turkey when reporting on hate in Europe? Without any context, anyone reading his proposal might reasonably imagine that those five countries were hotbeds of anti-trans hatred. In his report, Ben Chikha cited a 2021 Annual Review by ILGA Europe — an NGO which advocates for the “human rights and equality for LGBTI people at European level”. The ILGA review does contain a raft of tables and charts — but their evidence points to a reality somewhat different from the fantasy Ben Chikha presented to the Assembly.

As Antoniazzi pointed out: “The [ILGA] Review links the data source, Rainbow Europe. In the rank order of 49 European countries, the UK was placed fifth in respect of hate crime and hate speech. I want to underline that, it was fifth.” Not the fifth worst, but the fifth best. The table cited by Antoniazzi andplaced Malta at the top, with the UK only four places behind, ahead of France, Germany and Ben Chikha’s Belgium. Turkey, Poland and Russia languished at the foot of the table.

What these figures actually mean is open to discussion: do they reflect law and policy, or the experience of LGBTI people in society? But either way, there was nothing to suggest that the UK had a particular problem. The UK nation was defamed in this report, and Antoniazzi was correct to point it out.

Lord Blencathra, who spoke after Antoniazzi, was equally forthright:

“In my years serving in this honourable assembly, I can say that the report by Mr Ben Chikha is unique. Unique, because I have never before seen such a biased distorted and utterly wrong work of fiction than his comments about the United Kingdom. If [the resolution] goes unamended then it will bring this assembly into disrepute
 What it appears to be suggesting is that UK society suffers from bigotry by allowing an open discussion about introducing new laws about self-identification of gender.”

Even worse, perhaps, is the message it sends to LGBTI people suffering appalling treatment in Eastern Europe. In January 2019, it was revealed that around 40 LGBTI people had been imprisoned in just one month — two of whom reportedly died under torture. How can the situation in the UK possibly be comparable? Women speaking up for their rights in the UK should never be conflated with concentration camps in Chechnya — but that, it seems, was Ben Chikha’s intent.

Antoniazzi’s proposed remedy was straightforward: “Delete the following words, and the United Kingdom.” What followed next was anything but. It seemed at first that the amendment would be discarded without even being put to the vote. Antoniazzi needed the support of at least 10 colleagues. But under Covid regulations, this was a hybrid session and, in a display of anti-democratic farce, those logging in remotely were unable to register their support.

This led to a dramatic intervention by Lord Foulkes who interrupted the debate to express his frustration: “We raised points of order and we were ignored.” After he was supported by an unlikely alliance of Jeremy Corbyn and Lord Howell, a vote was eventually taken.

Yet it was lost by a margin of 61 to 24 — and the resolution was subsequently carried. Despite all the speeches, and all the facts and evidence presented from the UK, the verdict of the Parliamentary Assembly was blunt: “The Assembly strongly condemned ‘the extensive and often virulent attacks on the rights of LGBTI people for several years’ notably in Hungary, Poland, the Russian Federation, Turkey and the United Kingdom.”

So for now, at least, we can only take solace in the fact that the arguments were made and there was a debate. Perhaps even more significantly, the debate was recorded for posterity, so that it can be rekindled as soon as it reaches Westminster, Holyrood and elsewhere. For make no mistake: this resolution will reach these quarters, where it will be used by those who hope to paint the UK as a country riddled by anti-trans prejudice. But when that happens, there will be one glaring omission in their arsenal: the truth.


Debbie Hayton is a teacher and a transgender campaigner.

DebbieHayton

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Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
2 years ago

It isn’t just the Trans lobby – it is every lobby, every organisation with an agenda.
We live in a curated reality, where narrative trumps objective Truth. As a result, many millions of people believe they live in a world that bears no relation to the real one they actually inhabit.
If you are part of the Trans lobby then it helps your cause if you can get people to believe Transphobia is rife. If the truth got out that most people, most institutions are not Transphobic – individually or systemically – then the Trans lobby has no reason to exist – and they can’t have that, can they?
Most of those who claim to be in the “Equality” business are actually in the “Grievance” business. They need to promote their grievances and wildly overstate their case or there is no reason for them to continue.
Even well-respected Charities collude in this – for fairly obvious reasons. A charity that relies on donations has a vested interest in presenting the statistics that best suit their agenda. That isn’t cynical, necessarily, but it is how charities operate, they are multi-million pound businesses that rely on people giving money to alleviate whatever problem the charity exists to tackle.
If the charity downplays the problems then donations dip, if they can make the strongest case for the problem – by using statistics that sound appalling – then donations rise. It’s a pretty simple equation.
To take one oft-cited example, various childrens’ charities, ably assisted by the BBC & Guardian, like to bandy round the stat that 40% of children in the UK live in poverty. That is clearly a nonsense to anyone who stops to think about it for a moment – but by using the “Relative Poverty” metric they can claim it is fact.
Relative Poverty classes all those who live on 60% of the median income or less as automatically living in poverty. If you were ever unsure as to why Relative Poverty was a completely useless way to identify, measure or tackle poverty, you need only look at when, in recent years, we saw the biggest fall in families classed as living in relative poverty.
It was for the two years after the financial crash. Why? Were poorer families better off? It would seem wildly unlikely given the financial squeeze affecting the whole country at that time.
No, they were no better off – indeed most would have been materially quite a lot worse off – but they were “lifted out” of relative poverty simply because the median income fell. So, what does that tell you about a poorer family’s level of poverty over that “golden period”? Absolutely nothing. 
Yet it suits the activists’ agenda to give the impression that 40% of children – in C21st Britain – are living the lives of Dickensian street-urchins and there seems a distressingly inexhaustible supply of people willing to believe it.
It is the same with the culture-war messaging around race – it would pain activists to admit such a thing but C21st Britain is just about the most diverse, tolerant and un-racist culture that has existed in the history of the world, yet to hear the messaging from certain academics, activists and media organisations, one would think we were on the brink of race-war. It is quite mad.
Teaching young black men that they are oppressed, that society doesn’t value them as much, that the police are not to be trusted – Who does that help? Certainly not them, certainly not society. Does it improve their chances of success in life or does it weigh them down with unnecessary baggage? And yet the narrative that politicians and much of the media have allowed to develop in the US, (and by cultural osmosis to be felt here as well) that there is “an epidemic” of White Police officers killing unarmed, or innocent Black people, is demonstrably false and allowing it to be circulated and believed is destroying much of the ground gained by the civil rights movement in decades past.
For each of the anecdotal instances of intolerance that get wheeled out as “proof” of widespread racism, sexism, homophobia, etc etc there are a million other instances of just everyday acceptance of people, – regardless of colour, ethnicity or nationality – that are not worthy of anecdote simply because they are so everyday.
We can argue about what has caused this desire in some people to claim we are a nasty, xenophobic, transphobic, intolerant country – but I think anyone honest would agree that it is not in any way an accurate reflection of this country at all – and does us no favours at a time when we should be putting the most positive view of Britain to the rest of the world.

Last edited 2 years ago by Paddy Taylor
Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Great post!
I’m often wont to defer to Jerry Pournelle’s iron law of bureaucracy when it comes to explaining this kind of phenomona. I’m not sure it always works perfectly (I doubt any could) but it does fit at least fairly snugly:
“Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people”:

 First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.

Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.

The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.”

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

Excellent, I’d not come across Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy, thank you.
What worries me is that many of the people within those bureaucracies and thus involved in the dissemination of complete falsehoods are doing so unknowingly and believe their own narrative.
Any attempt to push back against their narrative is taken as proof of reactionary right-wing antipathy to their cause, and thus further entrenches their suspicion.

Last edited 2 years ago by Paddy Taylor
Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

Yes, and unfortunately those who are not hampered by spending their energy pursuing the goals of the organisation but instead devote their time to the organisation itself tend to climb to the top and redirect funds to the organisation rather than the goals.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Excellent post. It is always so much easier to assert a lie than prove it untrue.
Everyone has met some unpleasant individuals in life so it is unreflectively credible that some of the unpleasant people you have met might also spend their time oppressing transsexuals, women, blacks or other supposedly oppressed groups even if all the oppressed “minorities” you personally know seem to get on pretty well with everyone you know.

Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
2 years ago

Good piece and Hayton has been a solid advocate. Looked up who funds ILGA, the usual suspects – Arcus, Sigrid Rausing, Freedom House. Sigh

Last edited 2 years ago by Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Rach Smith
Rach Smith
2 years ago

Bravo Debbie, a fascinating article. Thank you for highlighting this travesty.

Debbie Hayton
Debbie Hayton
2 years ago
Reply to  Rach Smith

Thank you.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 years ago

As usual Debbie Hayton writes another admirable article. I presume this is a nihilistic exercise to drum up utter contempt for the Council of Europe among anyone of a modicum of sense.
A sort of institutional self harm. Is it some sort of cry for help? Should we send UK social workers in to persuade the members to seek psychiatric help in a place of safety?

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
2 years ago

Time to leave the Council of Europe; useless self-perpetuating boondoggle.

Jon Hawksley
Jon Hawksley
2 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

Why? Because it is insignificant or because the UK is insignificant.

Mike Wylde
Mike Wylde
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Hawksley

Both,but the CoE is marginally more insignificant.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Hawksley

OK, an insignificant, useless, self-perpetuating boondoggle.

Mark Walker
Mark Walker
2 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

Each Nation in the UK needs a Bill of Rights ~ (approved by plebiscite). Then let’s leave the CoE.

Harry Child
Harry Child
2 years ago

Meanwhile in the real world Russia is on the verge of invading Ukraine and China will no doubt use this action as an excuse to invade Taiwan. This is the real fight for human rights and I wait to see if the EU will do anything constructive to avoid these disasters apart from endless pointless discussions.

Kat Kazak
Kat Kazak
2 years ago

A person (let alone a European politician) would have to be out of their mind to truly believe that the UK is transphobic and in this regard similar to Russia and Poland, so I assume it’s a calculated attack that was never intended to be based on facts. It’s like writing to the KGB that your neighbor is a closeted Stalin-hater in the 1930s, the neighbor gets executed, you get his room/job/wife. Or at least enjoy a day of gloating.
I was born in USSR, I’ve lived in the US, in Russia and now I’m living in Scotland. I have noticed that the extrapolation force of the US is incredible. “oh, they’re British, they speak the same language, they must have all the issues we have here”, like no, that’s not true. A trans person in the UK can go to the NHS and get medication and surgeries for free (yes, they’ll have to wait for the surgeries, but I’m diabetic and I’m in a 2 year waiting list for a pump, so that’s just how things work here), isn’t THAT the important bit? An American can be all accepting and all BuzzFeed-ey about trans people, but their taxes aren’t paying for US trans persons’ transitions OR medications.
Now, American ignorance can be explained and excused, they live on a different continent a whole ocean away. Europe though. They k n o w. They know that the UK is one of the very few countries in Europe where *all* trans healthcare costs are being covered by the government. There will always be correlation between state funds and practices, and unsurprisingly in Russia basically nothing is covered by the state, same case with Poland. And in the UK is been law since 1999 that medical procedures and medication for people with gender dysphoria is covered by the NHS.
All the countries that supported the condemnation of UK for its alleged transphobia better get a reality check and put the money where their words are – go pay for all the gender reassignment surgeries and hormonal therapies that their citizens require.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 years ago
Reply to  Kat Kazak

Excellent comment.

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 years ago
Reply to  Kat Kazak

You make a good point, but I’m not sure that I’m happy to subsidise genital mutilation in the name of gender reassignment, any more than I would be to subsidise FGM. I guess that makes me a transphobe.

Debbie Hayton
Debbie Hayton
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

The UK is welcoming and accepting of trans people. And, yes, it covers the cost of our treatment as part of the NHS.

GRS helped me. I never claim it to be an ideal solution. But it provides palliative relief to what can be a debilitating condition.

I would not consider it transphobic to question whether GRS is appropriate or not, but before we stop it we would need to come up with an alternative approach.

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 years ago
Reply to  Debbie Hayton

Thank you replying politely to a comment which might have been construed as provocative! Is there an alternative? I don’t know, maybe in some cases through psychotherapy rather than surgery?

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew D
Edward De Beukelaer
Edward De Beukelaer
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

The issue in relation to ‘treatments’ is that in modern medicine we still think too much in ‘fixing what is wrong’. Two problems: fixing is a bit like mechanic fixing a car: ‘an expert fixes the person’s problems’: it is a very mechanical view on medicine we have inherited from the 18th century. The second issue is ‘what is wrong’. This can be judged by an outsider (society) or by the patient. These two views do not necessarily coincide.
Time we move to a medicine that adapts to each individual patient and finds the solution in perfect partnership with the patient. This is slowly happening (integrative oncology) but many in the medical ‘industry’ are a bit scared of this… It does not tick boxes.
from: https://www.raadrvs.nl/documenten/publications/2017/6/19/no-evidence-without-context.-about-the-illusion-of-evidence%E2%80%90based-practice-in-healthcare
a few quotes:
The emphasis in healthcare has shifted to external accountability, transparency, standardisation and controls. Much of what is valuable in the personal relationship between client and healthcare provider is not encapsulated in the existing research methods and indicators. By making this recommendation, the RVS wants to initiate a dialogue from a different perspective about new foundation for good healthcare.
 
For health insurers, authorities and supervisory bodies, it means that the frameworks they define must give scope for an experimental approach to care practice and that they must prioritise the capacity of care professionals and care organisations to learn from this and to improve.

Jane Watson
Jane Watson
2 years ago
Reply to  Debbie Hayton

I think the NHS treating gender dysphoria with drugs and surgery has pros and cons. It can be accused of too readily ‘affirming’ transition as a solution and treating psychological distress as a physical problem. I am personally most concerned with female to male transition in this regard, particularly for young women, as physical changes can be dramatic and permanent, as per Keira Bell.

On the other hand, the NHS does seem to protect against some of the excesses seen in the US, where girls of 13 can (and do) have their breasts removed by ‘sympathetic’ surgeons.

On the subject of the UK being a Hell Hole for minorities of any hue, the opposite would seem to be a more commonly held view. Half the planet is apparently queuing up to get in after all.

Last edited 2 years ago by Jane Watson
Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Join the club. I believe a woman is a woman and a man is a man. So I suppose I am transphobic as well. There should be room for different views.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago

Almost certainly fuelled by EU bitterness about Brexit.
The next time something like this occurs, the U.K. should just table sensible amendments – and then abstain from the vote.
Maybe we should also start considering the current CoE as a direct equivalent to the Eurovision Song Contest.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ian Barton
Jon Hawksley
Jon Hawksley
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

What has Brexit to do with it? From the article I assumed it was because of toxic publicity arising from Stonewall and others pushing an extreme position that had created a backlash and polarisation that Debbie Hayton is trying to get clarified.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Hawksley

Brexit prejudices in Europe, and especially the CoE, pollute most supposedly informed discussions of any issue. It’s like Democrats and the Trump Derangement Syndrome.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Hawksley

Yes, that’s the core of the article, but leaving the U.K. on the list suggests other motives

Mark Walker
Mark Walker
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Almost certainly fuelled by EU bitterness about long list:
City of London; UN Veto; English language; UK Universities; Nobel Laureates etc.
Brexit and loss of income was the final straw for Brussels.

Last edited 2 years ago by Mark Walker
Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
2 years ago

To me, the whole trans thing shows that people are bored.

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Or are boring, and want to appear interesting

R Wright
R Wright
2 years ago

The Council is a joke. Expecting Russia to follow human rights law is a bad joke.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago

Challenging the trans orthodoxy is not allowed. If you try to you are guilty of bigotry and hate speech. There can be no discussion, it’s a done deal, women must sacrifice their safety and their spaces to appease men who identify as women. Surely this is obvious?

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

It is not a done deal. Women should have safe private places without men who think they are women coming into them.

Graeme Laws
Graeme Laws
2 years ago

The Council of Europe has become a sick joke, a platform for single issue lobby groups to promote victimhood and divisiveness. Who can seriously argue that a human rights organisation with Russia and Turkey as members is anything but a satirists dream?

We should leave, now. And we should say why we are leaving. We do not need lectures about human rights from the likes of Putin and Erdogan.

Karl Francis
Karl Francis
2 years ago

Great piece from Debbie Hayton. Well researched, fair and rooted in a quest for truth and balance. More power to your elbow Debbie. This is exactly why I came to UnHerd.

Debbie Hayton
Debbie Hayton
2 years ago
Reply to  Karl Francis

Thank you. I have been following this issue at the Council of Europe since October. Astonishing what is going on. I’m grateful to Unherd for shining a light on it.

Dave Corby
Dave Corby
2 years ago

A well balanced article – I am always surprised considering the topic, this author always does a good job.
“When vulnerable women need single-sex provision, they must not be expected to share with members of the opposite sex, however we might identify.”
Absolutely correct.
But I disagree with:
“It shouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility to create additional spaces for transsexuals like me so as to assure everyone’s rights.”
Why should organisations have anything to do with peoples sexual orientation and preference? Especially transsexuals and flamboyant LGBTQ+ where it just disturbs the peace to have sexually explicit clothing or an obvious man wearing women’s clothing.
Where is your concern for absolutely everybody else? It seems selfish to me to do something by choice that you know will cause distraction and disruption and upset (even if you think they shouldn’t be upset,) – except at very specific times such as a protest.
I believe in loving your neighbor, and would not treat anyone differently if they are in need, but I do not think that everyone has a right to demonstrate their inner feelings all of the time wherever they are. Especially if there are children around who have not reached any sexual understanding yet. (e.g. LGBTQ+ rallies where overtly sexual clothing, or lack of, abounds.)
Sex, and sexual behaviour, is for your private life. Please be unselfishly considerate of the rest of the vast majority of the population by acting nearer to what is societies ‘normal’ when out in public to help keep the peace.

Debbie Hayton
Debbie Hayton
2 years ago
Reply to  Dave Corby

Thanks for your comment. My focus as a transsexual campaigner is the protection of transsexuals. If I don’t, who will? We have a diagnosable psychological condition and gender reassignment does bring relief. I do not think it is an ideal solution but that’s not a debate for now.

Regarding additional spaces, I think they should be provided for anyone who does not wish to share with their own sex. That includes transsexuals.

Dave Corby
Dave Corby
2 years ago
Reply to  Debbie Hayton

I read your articles because you clearly and eloquently discuss and explain some very complex and difficult subjects.
In this it makes no difference to me your personal circumstances (although I appreciate it gives you some credibility to a certain group of people.)
I just wonder where provision for additional places, for all such personal concerns, stops.
A major purpose of a safe space regarding sex is to know that the people you are with cannot seriously, physically, attack you. i.e. not be a man. It is sad it is necessary, but it is.
If additional spaces are required for any other issue then it is surely important to create spaces where there is no consideration of your personal circumstances (especially sex or sexual expression) – i.e. that is only concerned for your safety as a person. That is a true human right.
Dividing people up due to any characteristic promotes and increases the very problem you want to solve. Doesn’t it?
It is the start of mistrust, and then rumour, and then treating that ‘other’ group as inferior people.
I can only give our church as an example where we welcome absolutely anybody. We are an extremely diverse congregation and a lot of us attend 3 times a week to promote love of people. Every human being is of equal value, we all sin, and no sin is greater or worse to God – so we cannot look down on anyone thinking we a better than them.
This is a true safe space for anybody. If you came dressed in women’s clothes you would, of course, turn a few heads (which is why I would hope that you wouldn’t)- but I would be shocked if you didn’t get the exact same welcome as everyone else.
While I understand that not everyone would do this out of Christian instruction, I would hope that the primary goal of all caring people is this focus on humanity rather than work to create little groups away from everyone else.
The universities started creating safe spaces for black people. What a complete and obvious disaster.
Please can we passionately promote that, from conception to death, people are people and everything else is secondary. But along with this is the responsibility of every individual to live in peace with their neighbours by not dressing or acting provocatively and keeping their inner preferences, desires, orientations, and expressions, to their private life.
Then we can focus on the real issues of the breakdown of the family, moral decline, poverty, violence, drugs, crime, sickness, homelessness etc.

Last edited 2 years ago by Dave Corby
Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago

Thanks again to Debbie. I can only imagine what this stance costs her in her “community.”

Debbie Hayton
Debbie Hayton
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Life can be interesting in “the community.” 🙂

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago
Reply to  Debbie Hayton

I’m sure! Credit to you for not kowtowing to the herd

Paul Smithson
Paul Smithson
2 years ago

Credit to Debbie Hayton on what is the kind of fair, well-researched, well written article most of us came to Unherd to read.

I found it so refreshing that Debbie could have easily approached this whole article from a different angle, ie. UK is a bad, anti-trans, and LGBT place, but instead she came at it with the kind of intellect and pragmatism that is so lacking in journalism, politics, and the public sphere in general.

Last edited 2 years ago by Paul Smithson
Katy Hibbert
Katy Hibbert
2 years ago

As if we need lessons on human rights from countries that in living memory were, and in some cases, Fascist, Communist or both, or Islamic, which is the worst of all.
The UK practically invented human rights. We should pull out of any organisation with “European” in its name.

Vince B
Vince B
2 years ago

These kinds of comprehensive condemnations of Britain being “transphobic” are infuriating not only for their wild exaggeration, but for their parochialism. “Transphobic?” Other than Britain or other members of the “Anglosphere” or Western Europe, where else would trans people wish to live? And it’s not that it’s enough to settle. These nations are really kind and respectful of trans people, their rights and dignity – as all nations should be.
At the risk of over-generalizing, I’ve noticed a demand among some trans people to be actively celebrated as a “human right.”

Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
2 years ago

If wonderful women like you were in charge of trans activism there would not be any transphobic people anywhere in the world.
Sadly, very loud cis men are in charge of trans activism and they are harming women, including trans women (does no one stop to think of how self-proclaimed gender could make it easier for predatory men to harm trans women as well as cis women?)
I do believe trans women like you are women, Debbie. I’m sorry, but I can’t help myself.
Thank You for having the selfless courage to oppose the misogynistic excesses of trans activism.
There is no natural conflict between trans rights and cis women’s rights, but Woke Irrationalists have created a conflict that has harmed all of us.
Your voice is so needed and so important, Debbie.

William Shaw
William Shaw
2 years ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

“I do believe trans women like you are women, Debbie.”
Does that belief include women’s sports?ï»ż

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

I don’t think Debbie is a woman, I think she is a man suffering from gender dysphoria and transitioning has helped alleviate that. But I happily call her a she and I respect her as an individual.

Debbie Hayton
Debbie Hayton
2 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

I’m not a woman. Human being is good enough for me. My earlier piece for Unherd, Why I became trans, sets out my ideas on what was behind my rather bizarre decision to transition.

When sex matters (like in women’s sports) I know I need to stay out. Otherwise, I am happy to associate with people who want to associate with me.

David McDowell
David McDowell
2 years ago
Reply to  Debbie Hayton

Fair enough but then why isn’t human on its own good enough for feminists?

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

You have made that choice but it should still be a choice.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago

Whilst initially irritated by this unjust finding, I actually welcome it since it destroys the credibility of the CoE in the U.K.
That’s why Corbyn was against the finding as it means the CoE has shot itself in the gut with this one, and he can’t rely on his European mates to help him in the U.K. on other issues now as they’ll carry no influence (contrary to what the article says).
Shout this decision from the rooftops!

Anton van der Merwe
Anton van der Merwe
2 years ago

Great article. My personal experience is that the trans people are incredibly reasonable and and generous, and are sympathetic when vulnerable women voice concerns about the risk of losing single sex spaces. We can all get along and protect each other.