Dear leaders of public sector organisations,
You think you are doing the right thing, appointing so-called LGBT representatives and inviting Stonewall, Gendered Intelligence and the like to write policy for you. It’s time to open your eyes. Your own people are doing the work of transactivists and you’ll be the one left carrying the can.
LGBT often means trans-focused, at the expense of other protected characteristics, especially women. Gender ideology is now deeply embedded within most public organisations and it’s your own staff who are facilitating it. Stonewall and co can keep their hands clean and orchestrate the erasure of sex from a distance. When things do go wrong – when your organisation is taken to court and your policies ruled unlawful – it will be your organisation, and you, as the leader, that ends up with egg on your face. You suffer the reputational damage and legal costs. Stonewall are nowhere to be seen.
Take the recent Census debacle, ending in public humiliation for the ONS and its bosses. Reading the breezy statement on Stonewall’s website welcoming the “clear and inclusive guidance on how to answer the Census sex question”, you’d think they had nothing to do with it. Indeed, it was Sir Ian Diamond getting grilled on the Marr Show about unlawful guidance, and it was the government’s first treasury counsel, Sir James Eadie QC, left fumbling to the judge how sex is an ‘umbrella term’ and that ‘social sex’ is now a thing. What a stitch-up.
There’s a pernicious form of gender ideology ‘group think’ going on. Staff who disagree, or are simply questioning, don’t speak up for fear of shame or disapproval – or at worst disciplinary action. There’s a civil service LGBT network pumping its propaganda around your intranet and into your staff inboxes, ready to pounce if anyone dares step out of line.
Despite your clear obligations under Public Sector Equality Duty law your staff don’t want to engage with all relevant stakeholders. Many have been duped by the rhetoric that advocates for sex-based rights must be some kind of a ‘hate group’ and that using words like biological sex or male puberty is a ‘transphobic dog-whistle’. We are viewed with suspicion when we reach out to support you in policy development. The truth is you need a range of views and perspectives. We are the ones who can help you get your policies right from the start.
Stonewall is considered wrongly an expert rather than a lobby group with its own priorities and objectives
It’s an easy mistake to make. You need a transgender policy so you task your transgender equality manager to write one and they go to the transgender groups for expert advice. Job done.
Here’s England Rugby proudly stating how its transgender inclusion policy was developed in partnership with Stonewall – as if that’s some kind of quality assurance mark. It’s not. You’ve been hoodwinked by a rather clever lobby group into believing it’s ok to expose yourself to the risk of women getting their necks snapped in a scrum with a male opponent.
Despite the title your transgender policy isn’t actually a transgender policy at all. In reality it’s your policy on how to balance the sex-based rights and needs of one group with the gender-based rights and needs of another.
No wonder you get given bad advice – trans groups aren’t the experts on sex-based rights and legislation – quite the opposite in fact. That’s why you are getting your policies so wrong and why you are blind to your exposure to litigation risk. It’s obvious from the outside – you are sitting ducks.
Stonewall is extending its reach into your women’s policies too
Stonewall are experts on LGBT issues – that’s their brief. Stonewall did good work with ONS to get new questions into the Census this year. There are now two voluntary questions on sexual orientation and gender identity. That’s a welcome addition and serves the needs of the communities they advocate on behalf of.
But we also see them using their established, behind the scenes relationships with staff to muscle into other policy areas. Freedom of information requests have revealed Stonewall asking about the “sex guidance” after a meeting for the LGBT questions. They used this off-line opportunity to signal what they wanted ONS policy to be what they would “likely to be fine with”. Here’s one such internal email between ONS staff:
“He [Stonewall representative] asked about the sex guidance….. He said that Stonewall accept there will be probably be some compromise and that they would likely be fine with a version that keeps to the basic principle that allows trans people to respond with sex that they would choose to respond with”
Stonewall and other LGBT representatives then get invited to stakeholder events on sex, outnumbering stakeholders representing sex-based rights. At a meeting hosted by the ONS to discuss the definition of sex in the Census Fair Play For Women was the only representative arguing that sex means sex and was outnumbered by Stonewall, the LGBT foundation and numerous LGBT representatives from government departments. No government departments sent representatives of the needs of women and girls. Do such representatives even exist?
ONS have clearly stated in the past that “biological sex is a fundamental variable for the Census”. The question on sex is necessary for the sex-disaggregated data we need to monitor and guide policy development to reduce inequality and disadvantage based on sex. This is the question women and girls rely on to fight sex-based discrimination. Women’s groups should be the main stakeholders here – not LGBT groups. Instead Stonewall has preferential access and women get side-lined. It’s no wonder the result is bad policy – and in this case unlawful policy.
Sex, as biologically determined, is one of the most frequently used and important characteristics the census collects as it is used in most multivariate analysis of data and feeds into the UK population projections. It is critical that the collection of information on gender identity for a small population (estimated to be less than 1%) does not jeopardise the quality of data collected on sex for the population who don’t have trans identities or the protective characteristics of gender reassignment [page 15, ONS Census Transformation Programme: The 2021 Census: Assessment of initial user requirements on content for England and Wales Gender identity topic report published May 2016]
Stonewall uses its #NoDebate tactic to silence opposing views.
“No debate” is a well known tactic employed by trans activist groups. Hyperbolic claims that we are ‘debating trans people’s existence’ serve to keep public awareness low, and to keep sensible, respectful difference of opinion out of the mainstream media. Our campaigns can then be monstered from the shadows. One of the biggest barriers we face when getting onto radio and TV is the ‘guest veto’. The BBC necessarily strives for a balance of opinion. Therefore refusing to participate in live discussions or to appear at all alongside “transphobes” is an easy and commonly used strategy to silence us. The BBC code of practice says guests must not veto others but in practice staff let it happen.
We were booked by Newsnight to discuss Girlguiding’s policy to allow boys who identify as girls to shower and sleep in tents with girls. The item was dropped at the last minute because no counter voice could be found.
Likewise an interview on BBC five live was disrupted when Rachel McKinnon refused to appear if Fair Play For Women was involved. They claimed it was akin to asking a black person to be interviewed with a member of the KKK. The topic was fairness and inclusion in sport. The interview went ahead without us and instead we were booked for the following week – when topic was already ‘old news’.
It is no surprise the BBC is scared of this topic. Even the chair of OfCom says ‘Stonewall are the experts’ when asked about how to achieve balance in the media.
Why on earth are you giving a lobby group the power to influence who it deems fit to be its opposition?
We now see Stonewall setting the terms of the stakeholder debate too.
Worryingly, this #NoDebate tactic is extending to stakeholder discussion meetings too. For too long Stonewall have been the only ones at the table but now they have to start sharing that space with other stakeholders like us. Freedom of information reveals Stonewall using the fear of a ‘hostile environment’ to restrict free and open discussion in official stakeholder meetings. What’s worse is we see ONS staff facilitating that and offering pre-meetings ahead of the event to understand their ‘thoughts and concerns’. The next day all attendees were told they would have each contribution restricted to 3 minutes only. The meeting was strictly managed and no discussion was allowed.
Email from member of staff at ONS to Stonewall: “I fully empathise with your words that ensuring that a hostile environment is not created and I can reassure you that ONS will consider very carefully how the meeting will be conducted. I will also arrange from a colleague to take a call with yourself ahead of this event to run through your thoughts or any concerns you may have”
This is not an isolated incident. Prior to our attendance at the World Rugby transgender policy meeting other stakeholders complained about our invitation to the meeting. We were challenged by organisers to explain why we have been accused of being a ‘hate group’ by other invitees. All attendees were sent an email banning “hate-speech” and meeting itself began with a explicit warning by the Chair that no offensive or disrespectful behaviour would be tolerated. This sets a uncomfortable tone and is a clear nod to the transactivists present that the hosts will comply with policing the debate on the activists’ terms. The hosts know full well that ‘transphobes’ aren’t in the room and that Fair Play For Women is a respected and respectful organisation. No consideration appears to be given to whether this preamble was in itself ‘offensive’ to the women it’s aimed at and how it creates a ‘hostile environment’ for women. It feels like being gagged before you even open your mouth to speak.
Email to attendees: “We need to insist that there will be no personal references or any inkling of hate speech during the workshop. All sessions have a moderator and failing that, I will ensure that any inappropriate discussion or behaviour is stopped and if need be the speaker be removed from the meeting”.
There are even attempts to restrict the language we can use to argue our points. We are experienced stakeholders advocating for sex-based rights of women and girls in sport. This means we talk about sex and the reality and consequence of being male and female. In sport policy meetings we talk about male-performance advantage and the competitive advantage gained by males during male puberty. It’s necessary for us to be very clear who that applies to and how that must include transwomen. It is a simple and unavoidable fact that transwomen are male people who have been through a male-type puberty. But without fail, at some point in the meeting, someone will object to the ‘offensive language’ they are hearing and that it’s not a ‘safe environment’ for trans people. This is despite us never mis-gendering an individual and making it very clear we support everyone’s right to declare and express their identity.
Nevertheless, we always respectfully and determinedly decline to omit the words male and female from our arguments. We advocate for sex-based rights for females. We cannot do that without access to the most basic words of all: male and female. While we have the courage and position as stakeholders to argue that we must keep using those words, many others do not and we’ve seen many ‘women’s groups’ crumbling under pressure and submitting to replacing their language of sex with gender. The result is women and girls get overlooked and forgotten about in policy – that’s exactly what Fair Play For Women is set up to address and why we are needed.
Public organisations must hold the line.
Lobby groups lobby and will always try to get their voice heard ahead of others. Stonewall advocates for LGBT communities. We advocate for women and girls and their sex-based rights. That’s how lobby groups work. Influence and persuasion is the name of the game.
But it’s the role of staff in public bodies not to be unduly influenced. It’s up to you to insist on and facilitate the open and transparent process of consultation during policy making. Policy should not be made in back rooms.
You’ll be the one left picking up the pieces when the house of cards falls.
In the end the buck stops with you.
Want to take action?
Supporters have asked if we can provide a letter raising these points, to be sent to local authorities, police forces and the like. Here is a draft letter for you to download and customise.
Who’s behind the government losing sight of reality?
Advice to policy makers: You don’t have to decide if ‘transwomen are women’ or not
Why is a female prisoner suing the UK government over its policy on transgender prisoners?
Why are women fighting back against the Census?