Maya Forstater won a victory at London’s Employment Appeal Tribunal June 10 when it upheld her freedom of expression after she was dismissed from her job at the Center for Global Development for her defense of women’s rights.
Bosses at this “think tank” had refused to renew Forstater’s contract as a tax researcher in December 2018 after she posted comments critical of U.K. government plans to let people declare whatever gender they choose.
The tribunal overturned a December 2019 ruling by a lower court that upheld her dismissal, claiming Forstater’s opinions were “not worthy of respect in a democratic society.”
What were those “unworthy” opinions? Forstater had expressed a scientific view shared by millions that biological sex is “real, important, immutable, and not to be conflated with gender identity.”
The recent verdict, written by High Court Justice Akhlaq Choudhury, was limited, finding that Forstater had the right to express those views.
“Being free to hold a belief means the freedom from being harassed, discriminated against or having your livelihood taken away from you,” Forstater said in response to the decision.
The court didn’t order the Center for Global Development bosses to reinstate Forstater or award damages, or express any view about whether they had the right to fire her for what she wrote.
“I believe that it is impossible to change sex or to lose your sex,” Forstater told the tribunal. “No change of clothes or hairstyle, no plastic surgery, no accident or illness, no course of hormones, no force of will or social conditioning, no declaration can turn a female person into a male, or a male person into a female.”
Forstater was congratulated by J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, who has backed her fight.
The Center for Global Development said the ruling was “a step backwards for inclusivity and equality for all.” For woke capitalists, like those who own the organization, “inclusivity” means excluding those who dare express an opinion that goes against their credo. Rather than appealing, the owners say they will go back to the original tribunal to “dispute Maya Forstater’s version of events,” to try to prove that her comments amount to actual harassment of transgender people.
Student investigated for views
Other conflicts have posed the same issues. At Abertay University in Dundee, Scotland, law student Lisa Keogh faced an investigation from the college’s disciplinary board after she said during an online class that women are born with vaginas and “the difference in physical strength of men versus women is a fact.” Keogh said men who identify as women shouldn’t compete against women in martial arts. It took the university administration two months to determine that she had not harassed or discriminated against anyone. Keogh won backing from the Free Speech Union of which she is a member.
“It was a modern-day witch hunt,” Keogh told the press when she was cleared. “No woman should face discrimination in the way I have because she believes in sex-based rights.”
“When I worked in a garage, men would help me because I wasn’t physically as able as them,” Keogh told online magazine Spiked. “I have equal rights to them and to men in general, but I cannot be a man.”
Accepting the reality of biological difference between sexes is a precondition to advancing working-class solidarity against bosses who seek to pit men against women.
The opposite class view is widely promoted by companies and state bodies that sign on to the “Diversity Champions” program put forward by the British group Stonewall. The list includes the Scottish government. Some 500 organizations fork out the 2,500 pounds ($3,500) annual membership fee to be graded by the group for their “diversity.” Measures used to determine this include whether companies lobby for legal changes to let people “self-identify” their sex.
Anti-scientific notions that “men” and “women” are merely subjective categories to be changed at will are frontal assaults on conquests won by the movement for women’s rights.
“Women and girls lose out on privacy, safety and fairness if males are allowed into changing rooms, dormitories, prisons, sports teams,” Forstater has pointed out.
In a related matter, a man who says he is now a woman has been admitted to compete on a woman’s team at the Olympics for the first time. Despite the obvious advantages of having gone through puberty with male testosterone levels, 43-year-old Laurel Hubbard will be competing against women in weightlifting for New Zealand this summer. Hubbard did not make the grade as a senior international competitor until announcing he was transitioning to become a woman, at the age of 35.
This is a blow to women’s sports, which depend on separate competitions for men and women, and a blow to hard-fought gains for women’s rights.