by Debbie Hayton
Thursday, 7
July 2022
Reaction
09:30

We should all be grateful to Maya Forstater

Her victory is an important milestone for women's rights
by Debbie Hayton
Maya Forstater’s successful appeal is a landmark victory for women’s rights

Maya Forstater has finally won her case against her former employer, the Center for Global Development. Yesterday, her (second) Employment Tribunal determined that her complaints were well-founded, agreeing that she had faced direct discrimination when her contract was not renewed, and victimisation when her profile was removed from CGD’s website.

Her ‘crime’ incidentally? Tweeting out the truth, for example: “A man’s internal feeling that he is a woman has no basis in material reality.” But sanity has now been restored.

Looking back, one of the more bizarre features of this case might be the framing of facts. For example, describing Pips Bunce, a male who identified as a woman for part of the week, as a ‘part time cross dresser’ — as some kind of belief. But ‘religion and belief’ is still protected under the Equality Act. Meanwhile, in this strange post-modern world, stating the wrong kind of facts can leave you out of work and without recourse.

This judgment matters. In J.K. Rowling’s words, “Every woman who’s been harassed, silenced, bullied or lost employment because of her gender critical beliefs is freer and safer today.”

Labour MP Marsha de Cordova — notably the former shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities — needed just two words, “Congratulations Maya x.”

Forstater is not or was not transphobic, and her victory also protects trans people like me who accept that we have a psychological condition rather than some soul-like gender identity.

But the cost to Forstater has been immense. An Employment Tribunal can rule against an employer — and ‘remedies’ will be determined at a future hearing. But she can hardly expect to get her job back. Her career in international development entered an abrupt hiatus over three years ago in March 2019.

At her first Employment Tribunal that year, Judge James Tayler dismissed her case, ruling that her beliefs were “not worthy of respect in a democratic society”. That decision was notably overturned at appeal, but inevitably at more cost, more time, and more uncertainty for Forstater.

But a precedent was set. ‘Gender critical’ views are now protected under law, and Forstater will be remembered for securing those rights. However, fighting a legal battle does not put food on the table, or a roof over anyone’s head. In this case, for over three years.

For that, she is in everyone’s debt. Certainly, those of us who value our right to tweet the truth about sex and gender without fear of a summons from HR the following morning. It is the truth that everyone once knew. As Forstater explained: “Human beings cannot change sex. It is not hateful to say that; in fact it is important in order to treat everyone fairly and safely. It shouldn’t take courage to say this, and no one should lose their job for doing so.”

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Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 month ago

“Her victory is an important milestone for women’s rights”
Human rights not just women’s.
It is a free speech issue that concerns us all whatever our sex.

Debbie Hayton
Debbie Hayton
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Yes, it does benefit everyone. Including trans people who don’t believe that we have gender identities.

Paul Walsh
Paul Walsh
1 month ago
Reply to  Debbie Hayton

Thank you for this article. Having seen a few soundbites about the case, I had been wondering what this was actually all about. I am a live and let live sort of guy, but it seems there are grey areas that need discussion, in a calm and rational manner.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

I’ve subscribed to her organisation ‘Sex Matters’ because of her efforts on this issue. Hopefully she’ll be organising actions to exploit the precedent of this case, as well as Sex Matters’ success in getting the Information Commissioner to instruct Oxford University to release its comms about achieving diversity champion status with Stonewall.
https://sex-matters.org/posts/updates/ico-stonewall/

Andrew McKinney
Andrew McKinney
1 month ago

How did James Taylor become a judge and is he still on the bench?

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
1 month ago

I’m pretty sure he was promoted.

Melissa Martin
Melissa Martin
1 month ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

He could write his own ticket after what the Judicial College wrote in the manual, the Equal Treatment Benchbook. He actually cited it in his Judgment; mistaking propaganda for the Law. A Judge!

Melissa Martin
Melissa Martin
1 month ago

Therein lies a tale. A legal version of Stonewall called Gendered Intelligence infiltrated the Judicial College. See Prejudging the Transgender Controversy by Thomas Chacko for the Policy Exchange,

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 month ago
Reply to  Melissa Martin

Thanks for that reference. Having read the very detailed paper by Thomas Chacko I can see how Judge Peter Taylor so lamentably misrepresented the true legal position in his judgement. It is clear that tendentious views have been represented as facts by the Judicial College. That said Peter Taylor seems to have gone even beyond the views expressed by the Judicial College.

Nancy G
Nancy G
1 month ago

Someone should ask James Tayler if he is a man. If he answers yes, he should be asked how he knows…

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
1 month ago

A very sympathetic on-point reading of this case and of Forstater.
… trans people like me who accept that we have a psychological condition rather than some soul-like gender identity.
And an empirical statement expressed clearly.
I would certainly welcome Hayton’s views regarding the meaning and use of language around this issue.

Debbie Hayton
Debbie Hayton
1 month ago

Language is crucial. It mediates our communication, but it also mediates our thoughts. I’ve written about this elsewhere.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 month ago
Reply to  Debbie Hayton

Yes, I don’t believe many are actually transphobic. Live and let live is likely to be the general attitude. What does exasperate is the attempt to impose pronouns and refer to birthing persons and all similar language nonsense.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Exactly.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 month ago

Deleted

Last edited 1 month ago by Jeremy Bray
Angela B
Angela B
1 month ago

A question for me, since the initial ruling, is: could slurs like TERF and accusations of transphobia for stating GC beliefs be deemed hate speech?
Should they at least be recorded as non crime hate incidents?

Carol Moore
Carol Moore
1 month ago

Well said