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Blame the Conservatives for letting gender ideology flourish

Labour has picked up the mantle from the Conservatives on trans activism. Credit: Getty

July 5, 2024 - 11:45am

As we watch with trepidation to see how far the new Labour government will pursue its manifesto commitments to gender ideology, it’s easy to forget how fully the Conservative Party succumbed to trans activism. Looking back, the high point of absurdity was reached in 2016 when the former Tory culture secretary, Maria Miller, had the nerve to turn on feminists.

At the time, Miller was chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, which had just published a report packed with proposals that now seem barking mad. They included introducing self-ID, allowing people to record their gender as “X” on passports, and permitting trans-identified males to access single-sex spaces. When Miller was challenged, she announced that she was a feminist and anyone who disagreed with her must be an impostor. “The only negative reaction that I’ve seen has been by individuals purporting to be feminists,” she shot back.

It took just over a quarter of a century, in other words, for the party of Margaret Thatcher to embrace a thoroughly misogynistic ideology and call it feminism. By then, of course, any number of institutions had been captured. Police forces, NHS trusts and government departments competed — and paid — for gold stars from Stonewall. Gender-neutral toilets, male sex offenders in women’s prisons, trans women on female hospital wards — all of these things happened under Conservative administrations, including one led by the Tories’ second female PM, Theresa May.

May was as keen to suck up to trans activists as Keir Starmer would prove to be a few years later. In 2017, she appeared at the Pink News awards, promising to “streamline and de-medicalise” the process of getting a gender recognition certificate, something that sounds very much like self-ID.

The Tories got us into this mess, and it’s ironic that it was the Tories’ third and spectacularly unsuccessful female prime minister who put the brakes on. In 2020, when Liz Truss was Women and Equalities Minister, she abandoned plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act, putting her party back on the road to sanity on this subject alone if little else.

This sequence of events is easily overlooked, now that Labour has picked up the mantle from the Conservatives. But the Tories were in power for 14 years and it’s only in the last few months that they’ve proposed amending the Equality Act and banning the teaching of gender identity in schools. Starmer would have less room for manoeuvre if he had inherited a legislative landscape where issues such as women-only spaces were already firmly protected by law.

Even this year, some female Tory MPs have still failed to reach a sensible verdict. Back in May, boasting that her understanding of the issue had “evolved”, then-Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said that men who had undergone gender reassignment were women, arguing: “I personally believe if you have gone to that level of, you have got the gender recognition, you have got the reassignment, then you are legally and medically allowed to say that you are a woman.” Then there was Alicia Kearns, who had a go at the Alba Party’s Westminster leader for removing the “T” from “LGBT” in a speech in Parliament. She also campaigned vociferously to ban conversion therapy, seemingly ignorant of the unintended consequences that such a law may bring.

Identity politics is clearly not easily reducible to a Left-versus-Right analysis, given that Angela Rayner and Anneliese Dodds are now spouting the kind of nonsense we used to hear from Tory women. But it’s hard not to feel this morning as though we’re back where we were seven or eight years ago — and that’s as much the Tories’ fault as Labour’s.


Joan Smith is a novelist and columnist. She was previously Chair of the Mayor of London’s Violence Against Women and Girls Board. Her book Unfortunately, She Was A Nymphomaniac: A New History of Rome’s Imperial Women will be published in November 2024.

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Mike Rees
Mike Rees
6 days ago

Another example of quasi conservatives taking over the Tory party. Anyone who struggles with the idea of biological reality cannot really claim to be a “Conservative” .

tintin lechien
tintin lechien
7 days ago

Well written and we fear the worst is yet to come. Women all over the country must unite and fight this trans invasion into every sector and corner of our society. Kimi, where are you when we need you?

Stephen Follows
Stephen Follows
7 days ago
Reply to  tintin lechien

Kemi (sic) is still in parliament and will reply to you soon.

Martin Goodfellow
Martin Goodfellow
7 days ago

Why worry? It can only get worse, thanks to the naivety of our well-meaning politicians. “Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad.” Let’s hope its the politicians who are meant by this, not the rest of us.

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
7 days ago

Liberals, by their nature, want to help the helpless, and have convinced themselves that the most helpless are trans. This is the “Culture of Victimhood”. If UK residents are not minding the store, the self-ID idiocy will come back. Trans is not yet dead.

Talia Perkins
Talia Perkins
7 days ago
Reply to  Paul Thompson

Why, when self-id is correct about the gender of a person no less than 44999 times out of 45000,d o you pretend you reasonably have a problem it?

Arthur G
Arthur G
7 days ago
Reply to  Talia Perkins

Gender doesn’t exist. There’s only sex. Your sex matches your chromosomes 100% of the time. Every cell in your body is identifiable as male or female. Any belief otherwise is merely a delusion that should be treated.

Talia Perkins
Talia Perkins
7 days ago
Reply to  Arthur G

No imbecile. These research works link to the some of the genes linked to producing the transgender development of it, and these are some of the scans of brains probing the atypical effect.
A)It has genetic causes:

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-53500-y

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31882810

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17765230/

https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/104/2/390/5104458

B)
It affects the sexual dimorphism of the brain while in utero, not infrequently causing quite typically female brain anatomy in a person with a male sex, or a quite typically male brain anatomy in a person with a female sex, other people have intermediate sexual dimorphism in their brain.

https://www.jsm.jsexmed.org/article/S1743-6095(21)00425-2/fulltext

https://psychcentral.com/news/2018/03/16/structural-brain-differences-for-transgender-people#1

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31134582/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8955456/

“Every cell in your body is identifiable as male or female” <– No, not even by karotyping. What is typical is not universal.

Your belief the common is universal is your delusion.

Talia Perkins
Talia Perkins
7 days ago
Reply to  Arthur G

Fascinating I post links proving what I say, and that you are delusional.

The Herd here must protect itself from facts.

Talia Perkins
Talia Perkins
4 days ago
Reply to  Arthur G

And that is the only actual gender ideology, and it is evil, counterfactual, and stupid.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
7 days ago
Reply to  Talia Perkins

Citation needed here I think. Dare I mention detransitioners? (Waiting for the usual TP response).

Talia Perkins
Talia Perkins
7 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Detransitioners are the 1 in 45000+ people.
With current availability and current techniques/results, 1 in ~450 will transition. Of those 1 in 450, <1% regret transition. The WPATH standards of care identify correctly who is cisgender and who is transgender with medical transition correctly recommended/disrecommended 44999 times out of 45000.
And of course the current level of lawsuits over a false positive for a recommendation of medical transition are consistent now as they have been for decades, with less than 1% of that 1% believing they have cause for suit.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
6 days ago
Reply to  Paul Thompson

This is the Americanised ‘Liberal’, it’s certainly not the classical liberal as outlined by J S Mill. But fair points

Jane Awdry
Jane Awdry
5 days ago
Reply to  Paul Thompson

‘Trans’ people & the ‘trans’ lobby are anything but helpless. They are determined, self-righteous & nasty. They are driven by a fetish that has wormed its way out of the bedroom, via drag acts that seem harmless & ‘fun’ – performed by men who played ‘feminine’ like eccentric aunts but who in reality despise women. It was then inserted carefully into the cultural, social & political spotlight by activists & has been a masterpiece of manipulation – with women persuaded to become ‘allies’ but who are nothing more than handmaidens, brainwashed into betraying their own sex. (Gosh, don’t someone write a novel about this??)

Jane Awdry
Jane Awdry
5 days ago
Reply to  Paul Thompson

They will do anything to get their fetishist agenda validated. Their desperation to get into women’s toilets etc speaks for itself. Why do you thing they want in? It’s because they want & desperately need validation. They know that most women are afraid to accost them. Partly because they are men & potentially violent & partly because they will make a HUGE fuss about being ‘denied’, discriminated against, excluded, ‘erased’ & a host of other ‘poor me’ drivel. They are self, obsessed, narcissistic psychopaths & they need to be stopped, ‘Gender dysphoria’ is a chimera, a smokescreen – it doesn’t exist.
Women, wake up! Men are not remotely interested in fighting this battle for us. There’s no benefit for them, they have no skin in this game, as evidenced by some of their comments here. We’re being taken back 100 years & we will be utterly subsumed unless those spineless people who remain quiet speak up..

El Uro
El Uro
7 days ago

“Blame the Conservatives for letting gender ideology flourish” article (this article!):
.
She also campaigned vociferously to ban conversion therapy, seemingly ignorant of the unintended consequences that such a law may bring.
.
“Team GB rugby’s body confidence advert sexualises women” article:
.
Instead, why aren’t there more ad campaigns pushing for body neutrality?
.
The campaign is, supposedly, designed to encourage young girls not to drop out of sport. This is a genuine and concerning issue: by age 14, only 10% of girls achieve the Chief Medical Officer’s recommended levels of 60 minutes of physical activity a day, and almost half of girls who would have considered themselves “sporty” disengage from sport following primary school.
.
Tories, Labour… Did you ever look at the mirror, dear editors?

Talia Perkins
Talia Perkins
7 days ago
Reply to  El Uro

Why shouldn’t conversion therapy be banned? It is always a fraud.

You want to pretend you are neutral about bodies now?

You never see when you look in a mirror.

El Uro
El Uro
7 days ago
Reply to  Talia Perkins

🙂

Red Reynard
Red Reynard
7 days ago
Reply to  Talia Perkins

Of course CT should be banned, Talia; it is degrading, disrespectful, and , above all, destructive. The problem with the Tories was they ducked the thorny issue of drawing a line between pray-the-gay-away, and talk-the-trans-away type snake-oil ‘therapies’, and genuine medical psychological evaluation which required in some treatment regimes.
If nothing else, the job of politicians is to tackle these thorny issues, and give the rest of us mere mortals a stear on them. All the best

Talia Perkins
Talia Perkins
6 days ago
Reply to  Red Reynard

The line already is drawn, the WPATH standards of care which are gender-affirming as opposed to being conversion therapy.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
7 days ago
Reply to  Talia Perkins

“You never see when you look in a mirror”

Maybe true if you’re a vampire.

Jane Awdry
Jane Awdry
5 days ago
Reply to  El Uro

What are you on about?

El Uro
El Uro
3 days ago
Reply to  Jane Awdry

I mean, convincing young women to do sports invented by men for men is phenomenal idiocy. The age of 14 is the most active phase of female puberty and it is not surprising that girls don’t give a damn about the advice of insane “experts” at this point. Start them with dance lessons, they will gladly agree, but they have no desire to sweat, running short distances.
And in general, I sincerely doubt the intelligence of modern feminists and those who support them, who want to turn women into pathetic semblances of men, instead of being women in their beautiful feminine nature.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
7 days ago

You want change and sanity? Then make it politically advantageous for people to do the right thing. Until that happens, nothing else will. Yes, the Tories went along with the contagion because officeholders were hectored and verbally assaulted for daring to do otherwise. Meanwhile, the election result speaks for itself.
If you think things are back 7-8 years ago, let some more of this trans idiocy bake into the system. By then, the LGB wing will be 15-20 years back and will only then realize that the TQetc bloc is not their ally but their enemy. First, women refused to stand up for women. Now, gays are refusing to stand up for gays. All to the benefit of less than 1% of the population plus an assortment of attention seekers.

Nancy G
Nancy G
7 days ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

The LGB Alliance was formed in 2019 to help gays stand up for gays. The LGBA now has a helpline, an annual conference and other activities. But it’s a struggle, given that so many members of the public think that LGB and TQ+ are glued together and given that so many organisations and institutions have swallowed the pill of gender ideology.

Talia Perkins
Talia Perkins
7 days ago
Reply to  Nancy G

The LGB Alliance is not gays standing up for gays, it is anti-transgender bigots standing up for other like bigots. No more, no less.

You also will not be able to state let alone restate from transgender people, what you claim their gender ideology is.

Talia Perkins
Talia Perkins
7 days ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

But moron, social conservatives who loathe transgender people also loathe the L, the G, and the B. The Leopard will eat their faces too. The T and Q are no threat whatsoever to the L, G, or B. You are only giving voice to your own baseless, brainless bigotry.

David L
David L
7 days ago
Reply to  Talia Perkins

I loath degenerate crybullies, it’s true.

Talia Perkins
Talia Perkins
7 days ago
Reply to  David L

The gender critical are that.

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
7 days ago

I see the Party for Women only got 5000 votes so obviously women in that constituency don’t seem to care that much about men flashing their willies at their teenage daughters in the school bogs.

This, dear Joan can hardly be blamed on ‘The Tories’ or Boris’s birthday cake, can it ?

Why do 50% of the population let this nonsense go unquestioned and indeed actively promote it in the
name of kindness ? There’s the rub.

Talia Perkins
Talia Perkins
7 days ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

“I see the Party for Women only got 5000 votes so obviously women in that constituency don’t seem to care that much about men flashing their willies at their teenage daughters in the school bogs.” <– Most women are rational, and no that A) that near never happens and B) they know it is already illegal.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
7 days ago
Reply to  Talia Perkins

Trans women can commit sexual offences ranging from flashing to sexual assault and have done so. You’re assuming that people don’t watch the news or read newspapers?

Talia Perkins
Talia Perkins
7 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

And 12% of sex offenders are women, almost all cisgender women. What is your point? I know you give what you read and pick and choose undue emphasis.

And at that your troglodytic UK legal system pretends women can not rape.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
7 days ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

The Party for Women didn’t exist until just a few short weeks ago, and none of its candidates have any political experience.

Please limit comments to something you know about rather than displaying your ignorance.

Janet G
Janet G
5 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

And the leader of the Party of Women was frozen out of the local hustings.

Jane Awdry
Jane Awdry
5 days ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

We do not ‘let’ this nonsense go unquestioned. If you just took the time you might research Helen Joyce, Maya Forstater, Alison Bailey, Joanna Cherry, Rosie Duffield, Kelly Jay Keen, Kathleen Stock, Julie Bindel, & of course JK Rowling – amongst thousands of others – of us who are trying desperately to get the media – any media – to give some attention to this absolute crap that fetishist men are pulling.
But maybe you haven’t noticed that men pretending to be women have infiltrated every organisation, institution, business & political party. But why would you bother investigating this? Women are being abused cancelled, threatened with violence & in many cases actually assaulted by men in dresses who want validation for their misogyny & sex fetishism. And here you are, casually wondering why we ‘let’ it happen when we are struggling to get anyone to just hear us. How dare you?

S Wilkinson
S Wilkinson
5 days ago
Reply to  Jane Awdry

MD is a bitter misogynist.

Arkadian Arkadian
Arkadian Arkadian
7 days ago

Totally!!
I only add that the worst news of the election is Miriam Cares losing her seat, as I have just found out.

Stephen Follows
Stephen Follows
7 days ago

Nobody cates about Miriam Cares.

Arkadian Arkadian
Arkadian Arkadian
7 days ago

Well, I did 🙁

Ah, I have just noticed the other comment you have penned here. Now it is all clear.

Rob N
Rob N
6 days ago

Not the worst but definitely very bad. For me the worst individual result was Andrew Bridgen not getting elected (and not even getting his deposit).

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
7 days ago

So right.

David Lindsay
David Lindsay
7 days ago

It was indeed the Conservative Government that presided over gender self-identification day in and day out. The whole of the public sector and its vast network of contractors now simply presuppose it. It has come to be treated as already the law only since 2015. Go back to 2010, and the concept itself was unheard of. This has happened entirely under the Conservatives, and without anything so vulgar as a Commons Division. How about one? Labour is right that the spousal veto has been rendered obsolete by same-sex marriage, which the Conservative Party has presented for a decade as the founding event of its present form.

In December 2022, there was a rare television depiction of Margaret Thatcher. In Prince Andrew: The Musical, she was played by one Baga Chipz, a drag queen. Of course. Gender self-identification is the inexorable logic of the self-made man or the self-made woman, and a figure comparable to Thatcher, emerging in the Britain of the 2020s, would be assumed to be a transwoman, just as Thatcher herself emerged in the Britain of everything from Danny La Rue and D**k Emery to David Bowie and The Rocky Horror Show. In a generation’s time, everyone will be saying that Tony Blair had always been as androgynous as Thatcher. Leo Abse wrote eye-opening books on both. The Right is still in thrall to one the two most androgynous figures ever to have emerged in British public life, who destroyed the stockades of working-class male employment while creating a new ruling elite of middle-class women funded and empowered by the State.

Talia Perkins
Talia Perkins
7 days ago

Smith,

Please pretend you can define “gender ideology”. Give it a try.

I can easily. I can define the only actual gender ideology. Yours. The gender critical ideology.

It is that gender either does not physically exist, or, if it does it is always magically identical to the observable sex of a person.

You are laughably stupid to believe such things, because of the quite so numerous varieties and individuals exemplifying the exceptions to what you claim are rules. In since, there is no such thing as an exception to a rule proving it correct — all exceptions to rules only prove how a rule is wrong. For the sake of your false ideology, you seek to force some girls to have beards and deep voices and to force some boys to have breasts and periods. For the sake of your moral vanity, you will see to it some who do not need to, die.

https://x.com/JolyonMaugham/status/1803729360731406489

You are a grotesque monster and child abuser.

El Uro
El Uro
7 days ago
Reply to  Talia Perkins

You are a grotesque monster and child abuser.
Try something new please

Talia Perkins
Talia Perkins
7 days ago
Reply to  El Uro

Yet it is still true.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
7 days ago
Reply to  El Uro

It’s like a stuck record isn’t it? And referring to Jolyon ‘fox-killer’ Maugham, really doesn’t help Talia’s case at all.

Talia Perkins
Talia Perkins
7 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Funny how you make no actual refutation of what Maugham wrote.

And since it is an accurate description of reality, what I have said is a far more stubborn thing than a stuck record.

El Uro
El Uro
3 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Talia’s case is a psychiatric case. Logic is powerless here.

Arthur G
Arthur G
7 days ago
Reply to  Talia Perkins

“Gender ideology” = believing a woman is anything except an adult human female (chromosomes XX) and/or a man is anything except an adult human male (chromosomes XY).
Anyone who believes or advocates for anything else is either deeply confused or dishonest.

Talia Perkins
Talia Perkins
7 days ago
Reply to  Arthur G

Except idiot, even contrary your examples, there are XXY men and XY women.

You have no idea what is physically proven real. You don’t care what grotesque harm you do for the sake of your delusion that you are well educated on the matter.

Arthur G
Arthur G
7 days ago
Reply to  Talia Perkins

XXY is a birth defect. It’s like using the fact that some people are born missing a leg to argue that humans can have either 0, 1 or 2 legs. Everyone who is XY is a man.

Talia Perkins
Talia Perkins
7 days ago
Reply to  Arthur G

“XXY is a birth defect.” <– Not necessarily, as it frequently causes no issues for the person with that karotype.

“Everyone who is XY is a man.” <– No moron, people with CAIS are cisgender women.

Humans have been recorded being born with anything from 0 to 4 legs.

People with birth defects are still people.

Arthur King
Arthur King
9 hours ago
Reply to  Talia Perkins

Yes they are people but they are not representative. Just because some rare phenotypes have 12 fingers does not mean that fingers are a continum. It is correct to say that humans have 10 fingers, despite the anomalies.

David McKee
David McKee
7 days ago

Joan is being very unfair. Keegan, Kearns and Miller were prominent MPs in the Conservative Party. They were not the Conservative Party.
In fact, quite a few people in the last government, and on the Conservative back benches, mobilised for women’s rights. https://thecritic.co.uk/the-conservatives-deserve-credit-on-sex-and-gender/

Talia Perkins
Talia Perkins
7 days ago

I see the Herd here at UnHerd are well into their despicable practices of disappearing posts and facts they don’t like. It is such genuinely despicable hypocrisy on your part.

My attempts at heaping upon you the disdain you deserve are so sadly inadequate.

Rob N
Rob N
6 days ago
Reply to  Talia Perkins

Your attempts at most things are inadequate. Probably your attempt to pretend to be a woman is as well.

Talia Perkins
Talia Perkins
6 days ago
Reply to  Rob N

There is no pretending there, nor an end to the child abusing villainy of the gender critical. Neither do you ever have anything factual to say otherwise.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
6 days ago
Reply to  Talia Perkins

What facts do you think UnHerd doesn’t like?

Talia Perkins
Talia Perkins
4 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

For one thing, the list of links I first tried to publish when this came out, which they have only now let be seen.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
7 days ago

Hilarious. You’re unhappy with your natural tribe and, now they’ve won, you blame the other side for all the gender insanity.

Flinging around blame that Conservatives didn’t reform the foolhardy legislation that Labour introduced in 2004 and 2010, clearly the root cause of your malaise, seems somewhat desperate. At least Sunak struck down the insane SNP GRR act. Does he not deserve some credit for that?

So, your tribe are back in and your position looks very fragile. Funnily enough, many on the right agree with you, but it’s a step too far to find a common cause, isn’t it?

Josef Ć vejk
Josef Ć vejk
6 days ago

Even Tesco would appear to now allow these chappies in to ladies toilets. The Tories should have knocked this nonsense on the head from the beginning when they were in power.

R Jackson
R Jackson
6 days ago

The SNP were slaughtered. People did not agree with all their gender nonsense or their Orwellian hate speech law. By passively acquiescing to the trans mob, the Fake Tories were also dealt a harsh hand by the electorate. Starmer would do well to heed this.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
6 days ago
Reply to  R Jackson

I don’t think this stuff registers on 99% of the population until it affects them.

SNP were rejected for corruption and incompetence, Tories very similar. I doubt v much if most voters know what gender ideology is

Jane Awdry
Jane Awdry
5 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Well it’s time they bloody well did. I’m sick of everyone ignoring the utter erasure of women, all in deference to boorish men in dresses who want you to think they’re a poor little vulnerable minority. We are struggling to be heard & everyone is looking the other way. Utter bullshit.

Graeme Archer
Graeme Archer
6 days ago

,