Now, I'm sure that most traditionalists will be appalled by the case. The assertion of a basic aspect of reality is being declared by the courts to be "not worthy of respect" and therefore not a protected belief. It is a sign of our disordered times.
I'm sure, too, we can agree with Maya Forstater when she declares:
I struggle to express the shock and disbelief I feel at reading this judgment, which I think will be shared by the vast majority of people who are familiar with my case.
My belief … is that sex is a biological fact, and is immutable. There are two sexes, male and female. Men and boys are male. Women and girls are female. It is impossible to change sex. These were until very recently understood as basic facts of life by almost everyone.
… This judgment removes women’s rights and the right to freedom of belief and speech. It gives judicial licence for women and men who speak up for objective truth and clear debate to be subject to aggression, bullying, no-platforming and economic punishment.
So do traditionalists stand with Maya? Well, yes and no. I have no doubt we would support her in speaking up for objective truth when it comes to the issue of sex being an immutable, biological fact.
But things are not as straightforward as they might seem. After all, feminists like Maya Forstater also push their own version of unreality.
Both the "terfs" (feminists like Maya Forstater who believe that sex is immutable) and "trans" have a common philosophical starting point. Both believe that we should be subject only to what we ourselves determine as individuals.
But they have a different take on this liberal principle. For feminists, the unchosen fact of sex, of being male or female, exists as a biological reality, but it is to be made not to matter. Feminists achieve this by separating out sex and "gender". Feminists declare that our sex is real, but that masculinity and femininity are mere social constructs, based negatively on an attempt by men to oppress and exploit women. Therefore, the aim is to deconstruct the distinctions between men and women, so that there is something like an equality of sameness.
Transsexuals also separate out sex and "gender". But their take on this is different. They believe that gender is innate but is not connected to our biological sex. Therefore, I can identify as a woman even if I am, as a matter of human biology, a man.
If you look at this dispassionately, is the feminist idea any less radical or any less damaging than the transsexual one? Both are based on the idea that you can separate out sex and "gender". (There is an argument to be made that feminists, in separating the two, paved the way for transsexualism.)
Maya Forstater spoke at a feminist conference in May of this year and said:
I think the position that women exist as a sex is something like gravity. That's going to be held by people across the political spectrum. I think it's important to make the distinction between people who say men should be men and women should be women meaning that sex is innate and is linked to masculinity and all the gender stereotypes we are trying to fight against and the position that says that sex is innate and that gender is something that is imposed on us.
She declares that women exist as a sex but denies that there is any meaning to being a man or a woman as "gender is something that is imposed on us". Sex exists but is wholly irrelevant to who we are is the feminist mantra. This separating out of sex and "gender" is a radical denial of sexual reality, just as is the transsexual claim that we can be a woman if we are a man.
If we accept the feminist view we are forced to live a lie just as much as if we are forced to address a man as "ma'am". Let me give just one example of this. Every year at my workplace we have a lunch before the Christmas holidays where we farewell people who are leaving. By the end of this I am always struck by how different women are to men. When a woman steps up to give the farewell speech for another woman, she is already struggling. She starts to fan her eyes to try to stop the tears, she tries not to look at her friend who is leaving, her voice starts to fail her, she stops to try to compose herself, but fails and the tears begin. She is handed tissues, she starts again, now her colleague is also crying, then other women in the audience. One year the whole process had to be abandoned because of the emotional scenes. I just sit there in wonderment, not thinking badly of women (it's touching in a way), but struck by how different the interior life of a woman must be to that of a man.
But Maya Forstater wants me to think that no such differences exist and that what I am observing is just "gender" that is "imposed on us" and that has nothing to do with our existence as men and women.
I think we have to call out the lack of commonsense in both the feminist and the trans positions. And we have to recognise that both are engaged in a common project of separating out sex and "gender" - a project that we as traditionalists very firmly reject.
A note to Melbourne readers. If you are sympathetic to the ideas of this website, please visit the site of the Melbourne Traditionalists. It's important that traditionalists don't remain isolated from each other; our group provides a great opportunity for traditionalists to meet up and connect. Details at the website.