Our day in parliament – MPs are invited to hear the other side of the story
FPFW joins Parliamentary discussion
Last Tuesday I was honoured to attend the discussion in Westminster, as a representative of Fair Play For Women, around Maria Miller’s proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act 2004.
Videos about the Gender Recognition Act – on this page: David Davies (no audio) | James Caspian | Sex Matters | Fox-Brents MMA fight. More videos about the Gender Recognition Act: Miranda Yardley | Julia Long | Stephanie Davies-Arai
Interest in the Gender Recognition Act
This was the first time critical views had been heard!
The meeting was called by Monmouthshire MP David Davies. Although many of the invited speakers don’t share his politics, we certainly share his caution about the Gender Recognition Act in its proposed form. We are grateful that he was willing to put his head above the parapet when so many of us have received near-identical virtue signalling responses from our own MPs when raising our concerns with them.
It was a relief to see a range of MPs and staff from across the House in the audience, as well as spokespeople from the medical, legal and educational world. A relief because this was the first time informed critics had been given airtime to spell out problematic areas, without threatening cries of ‘transphobia’ or worse to silence discussion.
(No audio) Read the full text of “Transgender rights versus women’s privacy” by David Davies MP.
Powerful and moving
First to speak was a representative from A Woman’s Place, who gave a very powerful and moving account of her own experiences as a sexual abuse survivor, and now working in women’s health. As well as looking into female only spaces in domestic abuse services, she highlighted the current situation in prisons.
Maria Miller disregarded the fears raised
A couple of audience members were also able, at a later point, to add considerably to this particular area, with research and statistics about the characteristics of prisoners choosing to transition whilst in prison, and the fears which were raised by the Prison Service but disregarded by Maria Miller.
Next up was Miranda Yardley, a gender critical transsexual. Miranda’s one of the people that the original Gender Recognition Act was set up to help, but feels very strongly that the move to allow self-identification in the new Bill is detrimental to women and girls, to the smaller proportion of the transgender community who are transsexual, and to sufferers of sex dysphoria.
Transgender is not transsexual
Miranda looked closely at the linguistic acrobatics employed by pro-trans campaigners, which successfully confuses most people who don’t understand the complexities of the subject, and who incorrectly assume that transgender people are the same as the transsexuals of the past.
Stephanie Davies-Arai is the founder of Transgender Trend, a website for parents questioning the trans-narrative
Gender psychology research stifled
The final speaker of the day was James Caspian, who has spent many years as a psychotherapist in the country’s first private specialist gender clinics. He is a Trustee of the Beaumont Trust, a charity set up to educate about and support transgender people. His concerns about a massive rise in what has been called ‘sudden onset’ gender dysphoria in young people; increasing numbers seeking to ‘detransition’ led him to approach Bath Spa university to undertake a research project. Initially approved by the university, it was later vetoed for the fear of drawing negative attention due to the repressive political climate.
Medical professionals feel ‘handcuffed’
James is also very concerned by new guidelines drawn up by the NHS that discourage treatment beyond ‘affirmation’ if a client self-diagnoses as transgender. This concern was echoed through the room by other medical professionals, who fear they are handcuffed in their approach, and risk being branded as heretics or struck off.
Read James Caspian’s talk at Westminster here (PDF)
After the main speeches we heard from some other invited guests, myself included, who had brought extra research to the table, and there was an open question and answer section.
The FPFW contribution:
Good afternoon. I am here as a representative of Fair Play for Women, an organisation which speaks for ordinary women in the debate about the Gender Recognition Act.
Fair Play was created following heated debate and concern on Mumsnet about the decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to allow trans women to compete within the women’s categories in Rio. Concerned about their daughters, over 1,000 women on Mumsnet pledged their allegiance to free speech and open debate on the trans issue.
Women have fought hard for representation in sport, and in recent years things have moved in the right direction. Sport is good for girls’ physical and mental well being but it is hard to encourage them to keep active as they get older. Girls are told to aim high, but if HIGH is dominated by transgender women it makes a mockery of everything achieved and many just won’t bother.
We hear that that local sports are already affected. They don’t have the resources to run the same tests as the IOC. Some are frightened of being accused of discrimination and allow trans women to compete as women. At my son’s school, like many reported on Mumsnet, the girls now have to accept a biologically male student who identifies as a girl in their facilities and sports teams. The head of house told me that “If the girls don’t like it, that’s their problem”.
At a time when we are trying to teach our girls about consent and boundaries, this is confusing and places one individual’s feelings above young women’s discomfort.
Internationally confused: the Olympic Committee
Currently the IOC has rules and restrictions in place but, if the proposed amendments to the Gender Recognition Act are passed, will it become discriminatory to ask for those tests to be done? Will we just need to accept a woman athlete based on self-declaration alone?
The IOC acknowledges that men and women are physically different as they make no restrictions upon female-to-male athletes, whilst male-to-females need to demonstrate a year of testosterone levels maintained below 10 nanomols per litre, which is more than 3 times the upper level found in natal women.
Fair Play For Women video: Why Sex Matters in Sport
Men and women have different anatomy
Men’s bones are bigger and stronger in size and density. The legs are longer and straighter and attach to the knees at a different angle. The shoulder and elbows joints are also differently arranged, and the ligaments that hold the skeleton together are far stronger in men – which is why women are more flexible.
We have different muscle to fat ratios and men have far more of the fast twitch muscle fibres. Even with intensive training women cannot match the bulk and explosive strength of men.
Larger hearts and higher lung capacity, and greater levels of haemoglobin within their blood allowing men another 15-25% increase in their ability to utilise oxygen.
All these factors affect performance and give men a mechanical advantage over women which cannot be changed by reducing testosterone levels. Endocrinologists estimate that it would take 15 years of hormone suppression in addition to surgery to see any significant changes in bone density.
Males are taking women’s titles
In countries which have already introduced gender identity legislation, we can see women’s sports titles being won by transgender women.
From amateur to professional levels the transgender athletes are beginning to rise to the top, from US High school state competitions where sporting prowess is rewarded with college scholarships, to cyclist Jillian Beardon cleaning up in the women’s section of the El Tour de Tuscon, and Laurel Hubbard who recently broke all women’s weightlifting records at the World Masters. The Iranian national women’s football team has 8 trans women on their squad.
This is not only unfair to our female athletes, but potentially very dangerous, especially in contact sports for girls who may be pitted against competitors who have the strength and build that growing up male has afforded them.
Warning: contains fight scene. Tamikka Brents vs Fallon Fox; comment by Ashlee Evans-Smith
I would like to ask MPs to ensure that women’s sport will be protected, and that Fair Play and other organisations representing women and sports women will be consulted about the Gender Recognition Act.
The Gender Recognition Act: Let’s talk!
Everyone really started getting into the questioning at the end and we ran out of time, but I was pleased to see a great number of conversations along the corridors of power, and am hopeful that at last people are realising that this is a lot more complicated than a simple progressive, brownie point scoring, tick box exercise to win the youth vote.
Or download the original PDF:
Header photo, left to right: Stephanie Davies-Arai, Judith Green, David Davies MP, James Caspian UKCP, Miranda Yardley. Westminster, 31st October 2017. Consultation on the Gender Recognition Act.