Proposals to amend the Gender Recognition Act to bring in self-ID have now been formally dropped (Times, 23 September: “Plans to let transgender people self-identify are shelved”). But self-ID is being widely implemented in practice by public and private bodies, and any questioning of such policies is increasingly framed as hateful; see for example the Liberal Democrats’ definition of transphobia, published last Saturday.
We are lawyers and legal academics. Some of us specialise in discrimination law; all of us are personally opposed to arbitrary discrimination on grounds of sex, race, sexual orientation, pregnancy or maternity, disability, age, marital status, gender reassignment or religion or belief. We believe that all people should be treated with dignity and respect, and should be able to live their lives free from unlawful discrimination, abuse or harassment.
We also believe that sex is biological, and (in humans) immutable: we do not believe that it is possible for a human being literally to change sex. We think it self-evident that biological sex has material consequences. We think there are circumstances in which it is necessary to draw distinctions between (natal) women and trans women. (These are our personal beliefs; we say nothing about the beliefs of any organisations with which we are associated.)
We are surprised that any of this needs saying. But in the face of escalating efforts to make these unremarkable beliefs a matter for shame and secrecy — or loss of livelihood, party discipline, public or even judicial opprobrium — we wish to make it public that they are our beliefs.
Prof Allessandra Asteriti, Jessica Atkinson, Pippa Banham, Susan Bruce, Rebecca Bull, Thomas Chacko, Naomi Cunningham, Peter Daly, Joanne Deveney, Deborah Evans, Eileen Fingleton, Prof Rosa Freedman, Clare Gould, Caroline Gutteridge, Victoria Hewson, Francis Hoar, Rachel Horman-Brown, Karen Jackson, Amanda Jones, Donal Lawler, Belinda Lester, Audrey Ludwig, Lucy Masoud, Tessa McInnes, Emma McNulty, James Mendelsohn, John AP Moir, Barbara Muldoon, Simon Myerson QC, Anthea Nelson, Helen Nettleship, Maureen O’Hara, Adam Ohringer, Clare Page, Anya Palmer, Sarah Phillimore, Tim Pitt-Payne QC, Dr Hannah Quirk, Prof Peter Ramsay, Barbara Rich, Rachel Rowles Davis, Chris Sheridan, Angela Smith, Amy Stroud, Emma Stuart King, Elizabeth Todd, Harry Trusted, Catherine Urquhart, Nina Vallins, Merry van Woodenberg, Emily Watson, Anna Whetham, Gudrun Young, Charlotte Godber