In this 20 minute audio recording you can hear Dr Nicola Williams explaining the key issues and why we must Stop Sex Self-ID.
The Government is proposing a change in the law. They want to make it easier for transgender people to switch the sex on their birth certificates.
One idea they’re considering is ‘sex self-ID’. This would allow anyone to go online, fill out a form, and gain the right to have their birth certificate reissued to say they were born the opposite sex.
This revolutionary idea is being presented as a mere administrative change.
But, if it’s passed, it will erode the rational basis of our law on an industrial scale.
It will rob women and girls of our legal rights.
It will destroy the legal definition of woman, erase the meaning of ‘female’, decimate women-only spaces, services and sports, undermine schemes tackling female exclusion, and jeopardise the safety and privacy of women and girls.
It would lead to the worst rollback of women’s rights in a century.
Powerful transgender lobby groups are pushing hard for these changes. If we don’t speak up now, the Government will cave in.
We need to stop them before it’s too late.
Here’s some background on what’s at stake.
Every vulnerable group in society is protected from unfair treatment by the Equality Act.
Women and girls must not be treated unfairly because of their SEX.
Transgender people must not be treated unfairly because they are TRANS.
There are nine protected characteristics.
The category of the FEMALE SEX is ours. It underpins women’s rights.
The rights that generations of women fought long and hard for. Rights they died for. Rights we take for granted.
We’re in this legal category because we were born female. It’s what’s recorded on our birth certificates. Birth certificates are an official, legal record of your actual biological sex. They are not a record of gender identity.
Despite this, a law was passed in 2004 that created an alternative route into the legal category of female.
This law was called the Gender Recognition Act, and it was designed for “transsexual” people, meaning people who had made a physical transition to look more like the opposite sex, which often included genital surgery, after a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.
Provided they went through a medically supervised two-year process and could show a sincere attempt to transition, they could apply for a birth certificate saying they were born the opposite sex.
The law introduced a contradiction between biological and legal sex. For the first time, it was possible to be biologically male but legally female.
A number of people warned about the precedent this would set; they warned it would diminish other people’s rights, especially those of women. They warned of the impact it would have on wider society. And they warned that it was, above all, bad law.
Yet despite these warnings, and the lack of public debate, this “legal fiction” was established in law on compassionate grounds.
Parliament promised women and society as a whole that this would pose no problem because the number of transsexuals was so small — only about 5,000 people in the whole of Britain — and strict eligibility rules would be enforced.
Roll on 2018, and all those promises have been forgotten.
A revolutionary change is now on the cards. Again, without an open debate about the impact on society as a whole, our female sex category may now be opened up to another group: a group who define themselves as “transgender”.
This group is A HUNDRED TIMES larger, and very different from, the original group of transsexuals.
Transgender is an umbrella term that includes anyone whose personal sense of gender identity differs from their biological sex.
Trans people may be transvestites, part-time cross-dressers, men who reject social norms of masculinity and those who enjoy the trappings of ‘femininity’.
Most transgender people only make a social transition, changing their name and clothes, and don’t want or need any medical treatment.
A few take hormones to develop some of the external attributes of the opposite sex.
Almost all retain their birth genitals. Most transgender people do not have gender dysphoria, so do not have the right as the law now stands to get their birth certificate reissued in the opposite sex.
Powerful transgender lobby groups like Stonewall want to change that.
They want a system of pure sex self-ID, where transgender people who do not have gender dysphoria and have no intention of having surgery or medical treatment, can obtain a birth certificate in the opposite sex based on self-declaration alone.
No doctor’s diagnosis, no changes to their bodies or behaviour, no checks and balances at all.
At Fair Play for Women we support everyone’s right to look and dress as they wish, to be as traditionally masculine or feminine as they want, or to break out of oppressive gender norms as so many of us do, and not to be treated unfairly because of it. It’s absolutely right that transgender people have their own category under equality law, and protection from discrimination.
But people born male do not have the automatic right to enter the legal category of the female sex.
Feeling like a woman is not the same as being a woman.
Presenting as feminine is not the same as being female.
Being a gender-nonconforming man does not stop you being male.
Females exist. Women and girls exist. We share unique characteristics because of our biology and the way our femaleness is treated by society.
We share a high risk of being victims of violence and discrimination. We MUST retain the right to define ourselves uniquely in law so we can fight for our shared needs. #MeToo reminded us that we have a long way to go.
Yet we are now facing a change in the law that could allow an unlimited number of fully intact biological males into the female category, simply because they say they ‘feel’ female.
The Government forecasts that sex self-ID would be adopted by up to half a million people – that’s the size of the city of Liverpool!
Hundreds of thousands of males could gain the paperwork to say they are female. It could be many more, because anyone would be able to do it, for any reason.
Remember: a birth certificate is a legal, objective record of sex, not a record of someone’s subjective gender identity.
Allowing self-declaration of sex would mean allowing the unregulated falsification of a factual public record.
And if anyone can change the sex on their birth certificate on demand, why not their age? Why not their parentage?
This should matter to all of us in society. But it’s particularly disastrous for women.
To understand why, we need to look at why female-only services and initiatives were needed in the first place.
It is a fact that males commit almost all violent and sexual crimes. There are 14,000 sex offenders in UK prisons. Only 128 of these are women.
It is a fact that males, on average, are bigger, stronger and faster than females, physically able to overpower most females, more prone to violence, and vastly more likely to commit crimes such as stalking, rape, voyeurism, assault, murder and child sexual abuse.
It is a fact that half a million women are sexually assaulted in this country every year, that over 140,000 women are raped, and that three women a week are murdered by their intimate partners.
It is a fact that our parliament is still only 33% women despite women and girls being the majority of the population.
It is a fact that 90% of crimes of voyeurism and assault in public changing rooms happen in facilities where males are allowed in with women and girls.
Meanwhile, there is NO evidence to show that the average pattern of male violence decreases simply because a man identifies as trans, takes oestrogen or wears a dress and make-up.
It is because these facts that the Equality Act has special rules to allow women to have spaces away from the male sex.
The law allows women’s organisations to exclude males EVEN IF they are transgender, and EVEN IF they have “female” written on their birth certificate.
Female-only rape crisis centres and domestic violence shelters are vital.
Vulnerable abused women who’ve been traumatised by male violence need male-free spaces to heal.
An abused women’s trauma response doesn’t care how someone identifies. Her trauma response may include visceral and unconscious terror at the presence of a male.
This is not transphobia. This is her survival instinct kicking in.
No woman should be shamed for her need to recover from trauma.
The same applies to intimate services where women prefer a female practitioner.
Studies show that women are more likely to attend breast screening if they know that the mammographer is female.
Sex abuse survivors are less distressed about cervical smears when they know they’ll be performed by a woman.
If these women can’t be sure of getting an actual biological woman when they specifically request a female nurse, they won’t go to be screened. Their cancer will be missed and lives will be lost.
It’s vital that employers can use the special rules to hire females for specific jobs.
The rules are also needed to keep communal changing rooms, dormitories and sleeping compartments on trains single-sex.
Women and girls are uniquely vulnerable when undressed and asleep.
But if sex self-ID becomes law, you or your daughter could be undressing or sleeping in the presence of males in a space advertised as single sex.
Sooner or later women and girls will be harmed. Sex self-ID is wide open to abuse. And it has been abused many times over in countries where it is law.
The safety and privacy of women and girls must not be sacrificed on the altar of a political idea.
Some people say that the special rules that allow women to exclude ALL males, even those with female birth certificates, mean that sex self-ID will not harm women.
But they are wrong.
The mere fact of allowing any male to self-identify as female will make the rules impossible to implement on the ground.
The Equality Act says women’s organisations can exclude male-born people.
But the Gender Recognition Act took away all the tools to know who was born male.
It made it a criminal offence for an official to reveal that the sex on someone’s birth certificate was not the sex they were born. Only the police and the courts can have access to this information.
This means organisations have no way of proving that someone with a female birth certificate is actually male, unless the person reveals the truth themselves.
A birth certificate is the “document of last resort”. Transgender people can already change all their other forms of ID — such as passport and driving licence — on demand. The birth certificate may be the only remaining document that proves someone was born male.
If the government makes it easier for anyone to switch the sex on their birth certificate, it will be sweeping away these documents of last resort — the last factual piece of evidence of someone’s birth sex.
With this absolute proof lost, a refuge admissions worker would have nothing but a visual assessment to rely on when deciding whether to exclude someone who was biologically male but legally female. That is neither viable nor fair.
Now imagine the pressure on these rare female-only services if hundreds of thousands of male-born people feel entitled by their new birth certificates to use them. With no accurate records, and no register, they can check, front-line staff will be forced to admit male-bodied people into shelters for women who have been traumatised by males.
Places that have been havens for women in recovery will all become mixed-sex, because it will simply become impossible to guarantee males won’t be present.
Our male-free spaces are already disappearing. Even before the law changes, self-declaration policies are already being used, and are already causing harm.
Rape crisis centres, women’s health centres and domestic violence refuges have been bullied by transgender lobby groups to stop using the special rules and threatened with funding cuts if they don’t admit males who identify as trans.
Caledonian sleeper trains, Girl Guides and the Youth Hostel Association already allow males into sleeping areas designated female-only. The Labour Party now allows males onto schemes designed to end female exclusion from politics. Female toilets and changing rooms are being turned mixed-sex around the country, leading to a huge rise in crimes against females, including sexual assault and rape.
At the moment, these discretionary changes can still be challenged. But if sex self-ID is written into law, it will be the final nail in the coffin for our female-only services. They will be lost for forever.
One of the most blatant examples of this reckless disregard for women’s safety and boundaries is in prisons.
Prison experts have warned that predatory male prisoners will deliberately abuse sex self-ID to gain access to women and the less harsh conditions of the female estate.
We also know that half of long-term transgender prisoners have been convicted of sex offences, including rape.
If the law changes to make it easier for them to get a female birth certificate, many of these prisoners will do so to force a move to a women’s jail.
Prison bosses can block any move they deem unsafe, but they have already allowed a double rapist — who raped two girls, one of them disabled — to live in a women’s prison.
A repeat offender recently declared in court that he wanted to be a woman. The judge sent him to a women’s prison. Prison risk assessments concluded it was safe to move him there. Yet, within days, he was charged by police with sexually assaulting four women prisoners.
If the law changes, there could be thousands of requests for transfers. Prison officials will be overwhelmed, meaning more bad decisions and more women in danger.
Sex self-ID would mean our government was facilitating the abuse of captive women.
The proposed legal changes won’t just affect women. They’ll affect our children too.
This law will tell children that feelings override the physical reality of their bodies. It will tell children that adults believe you can actually change your sex, when you can’t.
This notion has already caused a massive surge in the number of children thinking they’re trans, particularly teenage girls, who are binding their breasts to look flat-chested, leading to broken ribs, breathing problems and healthy breast tissue being starved of oxygen.
Many detransitioned young women say — after making irreversible changes to their bodies — the problem was not them. The problem was society’s attitudes to their sex. It’s these attitudes that we need to change.
If we don’t, we should prepare to see, in 10 years’ time, a generation of detransitioned young women who’ve had double mastectomies and are sterile from testosterone shots, asking us why we colluded in their teenage beliefs.
WE are the adults. WE have a duty of care to this young generation. That is why I am speaking up, and why you must speak up too.
And why we’re telling the Government to STOP AND THINK.
We should all be worried when the Minister for Women doesn’t know that the legal definition of “woman” is “a female of any age”.
The soundbite “transwomen are women” doesn’t change the reality that transwomen are male. They were born male. They are still male. Most have a penis and testicles.
They are not women, because women by law and biology are female.
No one says this to be unkind. We say it because it’s the truth. And women’s safety depends on us being able to state the truth.
You can do it via our website at fairplayforwomen.com.
We have until 19th October 2018*.
NOTE: The government consultation on the Gender Recognition Act is now closed.