by Oxford Feminist Union
Thursday, 2
December 2021
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12:45

Oxford City Council quietly passes radical trans motion

An unchallenged bill on 'trans inclusivity' could threaten single-sex spaces
by Oxford Feminist Union

At an Oxford City Council meeting on Monday, a motion entitled “Becoming a Trans Inclusive Council” was approved. The BBC reported that it was ‘backed overwhelmingly‘, which, given that it passed almost unanimously in the chamber, might seem like a fair account. But the story isn’t that simple.

Some of us expressed serious concern that hidden among the statements — such as “the council will seek to better support transgender and non-binary people to live happy, healthy and fulfilling lives” — were commitments with enormous ramifications for the legal protections of sex-based rights. The motion itself, which didn’t include a legally necessary Equality Impact Assessment, promised that sweeping changes to policies, services and procedures, would be made.

In the agenda documents, planned statements from a member of the public compared critics of trans-inclusivity to Evangelical Christians and even Nazis (removed when delivered, without apology). A number of claims were posited as scientific fact. Gender identity, for example, was referred to as “neurological” and “genetically determined”.

Many residents first heard about the motion in a news article released after the deadline to request to speak or for questions. One anonymous resident told us that she had not heard back after contacting the council with her concerns. Another resident asked to speak and was told she could not as the deadline had passed. Recent motions on subjects like electric scooters were given wide public consultation, but it seems no effort was made by the council to solicit alternative perspectives in this case.

‘Debate’ speeches during the proposal’s twenty minute slot were unanimously in favour of the ruling. Submitted concerns were not mentioned once. And with that, a well-meaning motion was passed, starting a path of uncertain consequences for women served by the council. By passing a motion including statements such as “trans women are women”, councillors had almost unanimously indirectly pledged to prioritise gender over biological sex. Acting on the basis of this statement (with its implications upon sex-based rights), is likely to bring the council’s future policies into conflict with existing laws.

It is not yet clear what the impact of this motion will be for women in Oxford. However, there is a feeling among some that they can no longer expect their voices to be heard or valued, with the council’s position now firmly sealed. Steadily the number of places willing to support its female residents is falling across the city. Numerous local organisations including the Council and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust continue to be members of the controversial Stonewall scheme, despite the recent public scrutiny of its practices.

This year, the Oxford Student Union has introduced a seven page definition of transphobia, which includes forbidding “claims” that women’s rights and trans rights may ever conflict. Academics are hounded to the point where, in the case of Professor Selina Todd, they require security at their work. Not a single councillor across four political factions was willing to publicly discuss their residents’ concerns. As a city many across the world look to lead the way, it may concern them which direction they may be heading.

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G A
G A
6 months ago

One problem is that you’re writing this in a publication where most readers will agree with you. This needs to be in the guardian, the metro etc.

Last edited 6 months ago by G A
Andy Martin
Andy Martin
6 months ago
Reply to  G A

The Guardian?
Good luck with asking them if they might be so kind as to print an account critical of decisions made at this meeting that they would probably be applauding.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
6 months ago
Reply to  G A

Or a follow up investigation by Stephen Nolan after Stonewall, which has had an enormous impact because it was so balanced and logically relentless.

Alex Stonor
Alex Stonor
6 months ago

Please don’t look to Oxford to lead the way. The city council are spineless before both of the universities and as residents we are accustomed to being ignored, neglected and undermined.

Karl Francis
Karl Francis
6 months ago
Reply to  Alex Stonor

Good post.

Glyn Reed
Glyn Reed
6 months ago
Reply to  Alex Stonor

It would appear that councils have grown so bloated and arrogant that they hold their residents in the same contempt that we have grown accustomed to receiving from out elected parliamentary representatives.
This is not a good state of affairs.

Michael James
Michael James
6 months ago
Reply to  Alex Stonor

Vote them out then.

Alex Stonor
Alex Stonor
6 months ago
Reply to  Michael James

And vote who in?

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
6 months ago

So, what exactly are the qualification requirements to be on Oxford City Council?

I do understand the Students’ Union though. When I was a student we used to do stupid things and people just said, “Ignore them. They’re just students.” Today people are listening to them with a kind of awe.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
6 months ago

“A number of claims were posited as scientific fact. Gender identity, for example, was referred to as “neurological” and “genetically determined”.”
Gender identity is genetically determined. If you have XX chromosomes you are female, and if you have XY chromosomes you are male.

Samuel Gee
Samuel Gee
6 months ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

You are falling into their well laid trap. Gender is a social construct. But biological sex is immutable.
They always want to speak about gender in place of biology. They want those two terms to be synonymous so they can assert that trans people have magically changed sex instead of just changed how they present their gender to the world.
Let’s make sure that we keep a clear mind and sepration of those two things. You can change your gender. You can dress, and behave as a person of another gender and live your life that way. Even have surgery and take hormones to change some of your appearance. It’s not for everyone but for some people that’s important to them and, since it’s no skin off our noses, we can play along and be polite about it.
The line is however when they say that they are not just changing their gender but have in fact changed their sex.”Trans women are women”. First of all, that’s not possible since, as you say chromosomes determine sex and that’s the end of it. Then we have slippery slope of going along with a lie. That may be an easy path paved with good intentions (more often fear) but we know where that path leads. But most importantly of all if you eradicate biological sex as a meaningful category then this has a terible effect for all the areas where we have sensibly made sensible provision for women only spaces. In changing facilities, prisons, sports, hospitals etc.This is dangerous and that is why we need to be very careful. They play language games to trick people. To oppose them you need to be very clear about the difference between gender and sex.

Last edited 6 months ago by Samuel Gee
Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
6 months ago
Reply to  Samuel Gee

I’m not falling into their trap at all. On the contrary, I’m refusing to acquiesce in the redefinition of the word “gender”, which has a perfectly serviceable meaning viz. denoting the possession of either male or female gametes and genitals. I completely agree that the activists presuming to speak on behalf of the trans are hateful people who must be dealt with robustly and never, ever conceded to.
In connection to which, gender is immutable and trans people are either men who wish to live as women, or women who wish to live as men. In many cases their impersonations are surprisingly successful, and I wish them all the happiness which their chosen lifestyles can bring them, subject to the necessary restrictions you mention regarding changing facilities, prisons, sports, hospitals, etc. But they are still either men wishing to live as women or women wishing to live as men. Fact.

Samuel Gee
Samuel Gee
6 months ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

I think that’s wrong but we are on the same page in attitude. I think tactically we may differ. Their strategy is based on bamboozling people and muddling things to achieve compliance from the gullible, attack anyone that attempts to push back or clarify and just bore the vast majority who don’t care that much, and see what happens to anyone that says anything different. They are trying to establish an orthodoxy. The way to push back and win the crowd is to remove the salience of the prime tactic. Confusion. That’s my strategy anyway.
FWIW. Gender is the socialized counterpart of biological sex. ie the state of being male or female in relation to the social and cultural roles which are considered appropriate for men and women.
It can be a synonym for sex in common language because in most cases it correlates. They rely on this lack of clarity.
Traditionally there has been recognition of the social nature of gender such as in the term Tom Boy or various words taken to be more offensive for effeminate men. So people recognise that the Gender thing has a spectrum.
Biological Sex is immutable. It doesn’t matter how much of a TomBoy a girl is she is still biologically female. And it matters not, even post surgery and after hormone treatment, how passabe a man may be as a woman. He is still biologically a man.
So a Trans Woman is a man. A trans Man is a woman.
Sex is not gender, no matter how much they claim it to be.

Last edited 6 months ago by Samuel Gee
Andrew Roman
Andrew Roman
6 months ago
Reply to  Samuel Gee

Your sex is what you have at birth between your legs, gender is what you have between your ears.

MJ Reid
MJ Reid
6 months ago
Reply to  Samuel Gee

If we continued to use the term transsexual, the majority of people would continue to get it. Transsexual people fully understand the difference between biological sex and made up gender.
There are a number of transsexuals who are very vocal in the fact that they are biologically male but present as women or who are biologically female but present as men. The problem is that they are not listened to because those who believe they can actually change sex have louder voices and many more organisations that are their allies.
Many older transsexual people who have done so much to educate people on what it means to be transsexual have been bullied and harassed off social media and out of their jobs by those who believe transwomen are women etc. They have been called liars. They have been called traitors. They are people who grew up when homosexuality was illegal. They have suffered many human rights abuses. They went about their lives not wanting to breach anyone else’s rights, quietly and with dignity. They hate what has happened and want it to stop. But they are older and they are tired. We have to fight for them in the same way we have to fight to keep women only spaces. And put gender ideology back in the bottle.

Caroline Watson
Caroline Watson
6 months ago
Reply to  Samuel Gee

Absolutely. ‘Gender’ is a socio-linguistic concept; sex is a biological one. People can challenge ‘gender’ norms (sex-role stereotypes) without pretending to change sex or without anyone else having to go along with that pretence. That’s what we should be encouraging.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
6 months ago

Alternatively, in my language people are welcome to challenge the roles traditionally associated with one or other of the two genders.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
6 months ago
Reply to  Samuel Gee

Samuel. Yes, we know!

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
6 months ago

A number of claims were posited as scientific fact. Gender identity, for example, was referred to as “neurological” and “genetically determined”.

Yeah, well. These people see ecofascists getting away with corrupt science so of course they’re going to do the same. They’ll be calling you deniers next, if they don’t already.

Andrea X
Andrea X
6 months ago

I have had a quick glance at the definition of “transphobia” according to the Oxford Union and this is a very telling and insightful passage on the misuse of the term “concern”

“This is the classic tactic of haters, fascists and others and has been throughout history. Often the term “concerns” is a signifier for this. Just because you have “concerns” does not mean those “concerns” are valid. Indeed the fact that the term is being used regularly without evidence to support it suggests they are not.”

I thought it was interesting and it is a pity that it seems to work only one way. Maybe the Oxford Union should reread it from time to time to remind themselves.
Note that you can replace “concern” with “compassion”, “equality” and similar words and it would work just the same.

Last edited 6 months ago by Andrea X
Gavin Stewart-Mills
Gavin Stewart-Mills
6 months ago
Reply to  Andrea X

Fully agree however; I’m not sure if you mixed up 2 different institutions? Important to distinguish between the Oxford Union (a pretty meaty institution with a reasonably good track record on defending free speech), and the Oxford Students’ Union, which is (and always was) a fairly minor community of political lunatics that nobody much listens to.

Andrea X
Andrea X
6 months ago

I stand corrected. It is the STUDENTS’ union.

Dapple Grey
Dapple Grey
6 months ago
Reply to  Andrea X

This is the classic tactic of haters, fascists
What about communists? Not sure Chairman Mao and Stalin were exactly inclusive.
More recently I don’t think President Xi is either.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
6 months ago

“Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of those who can fabricate it.”
(The Origins of Totalitarianism, published in 1951) – Hannah Arendt

Last edited 6 months ago by Julian Farrows
James Joyce
James Joyce
6 months ago

“And with that, a well-meaning motion was passed,”
Why do some people, including the author, concede that this insanity is “well-meaning?”
What does that even mean? As I see it, there is absolutely nothing about this that is “well-meaning,” it is an essentially secret act, passed with many irregularities and w/o proper debate, designed specifically to hector and beat down people with opposing views.
What is well meaning about that?

George Glashan
George Glashan
6 months ago

Please try and have some understanding for the Lords and Masters of Oxford, they have had a tough couple of centuries; peasants used to do what they were told, or die quietly. Now peasants have noisy expectations of freedom and votes, but the peasantry only used this privilege to insult the Lords and Masters of the EU, disgusting philistines that they are.
Now that we are slowly returning to feudalism, soon Trans politics will be used to open the door for the age of consent to be abolished and the Lords and Masters of Oxford can get back to legally having sex with children like their historic peers could, and we will be allowed the privilege of being able to thank them for it, or to die quietly.

Last edited 6 months ago by George Glashan
Ken Charman
Ken Charman
6 months ago

And the Guardianists etc wonder why Boris retains his popularity? Even he, whatever he does, is preferable to parties that support these extreme minority views.

doktorboktor
doktorboktor
6 months ago
Reply to  Ken Charman

Johnson has never been particularly popular and he’s now on a -34% approval rating. Two thirds of the electorate think he’s doing badly.

Jonathan Story
Jonathan Story
6 months ago

Lets have some names: the moving lights in this extreme left Council, their links to the university, their electorate, etc.

pratima_mitchell
pratima_mitchell
6 months ago

Oxford City Council- its track record tells you everything. A once people friendly city trashed to a giant car park.

David Morley
David Morley
6 months ago

I understand the points about political process, but given that this has happened, it will give us a chance to evaluate some of the claims made in relation to this issue, within a geographically limited area.
For, example, will the number of attacks on women increase? Will these take place in female spaces? Will they be perpetrated by men under cover of claimed female identity?
And will activists of both stripes deliberately try and stir up trouble?

Mary Belgrave
Mary Belgrave
6 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

There was a media report on November 28th entitled “Scottish schoolgirls boycott gender-neutral toilets due to misbehaviour by boys”. This kind of policy was made without reference to the specific needs of women for privacy in relation to bodily functions such as menstruation. Hardly surprising is it that boys were “waving sanitary goods like flags” and urinating in sanitary bins”?
In Scotland gender neutral toilets in secondary school result in 12 yr old girls sharing toilets with 18 year old boys. How much research goes into these decisions? …. Outcomes always seems to favour the needs of a minority of ‘non-binary’ or trans individuals …..

Last edited 6 months ago by Mary Belgrave