In corporations and councils, from parliament to playgrounds, the two sexes – man and woman, male and female – are being sidelined in language, law, policy, and public spaces.
Biological sex is a fact of life. It is simple and straightforward and central to how we organize our world. But now the concept of sex is being undermined.
Instead, we are offered the idea of ‘gender identity’ – an ‘internal sense of self that each of us can define for ourselves. Replacing sex with self-declared gender identity in law and policy is often called ‘gender self-identification.
We are lucky to live in a free society that values self-expression and self-exploration. Everyone, young or old, is free to experiment with their sense of self: how they want to live, dress, and express themselves. And nowadays, the sorts of restrictions that used to keep women out of public life, or relegate them to second-class status when it came to family law, finances, employment, and so on, are thankfully over.
But for some things, sex still matters. It’s not possible to organize sports, or shared spaces like changing rooms and toilets – or to gather meaningful data – based on self-identification.
Clarity about sex matters for single-sex spaces. These are essential to both sexes for dignity and privacy, and to women for safety as well. Everyone has a right to privacy about their bodies, especially when undressing or vulnerable. But self-identification means it is becoming impossible to exclude people of one sex from a space that is supposed to be reserved for the other. It means that male people who say that they are women are being allowed into spaces that are supposed to be female-only.
Clarity about sex matters for sport. Girls and women need single-sex competitions because that’s the only way to guarantee safe and fair participation. We deserve to be celebrated when we reach the peak of sporting achievement – just as men are. But self-identification means letting boys compete against girls, and men against women, which in most sports is not fair, and in some is not safe.
Clarity about sex matters for safeguarding children. And yet children are being taught that what makes a child a boy or girl isn’t which of the two body types they have, but whether they fit best into masculine or feminine stereotypes. This sexist nonsense is bad for all children, but especially the most vulnerable ones, who can get confused about who they are.
Local elections are due on 5th May 2022. And local authorities are also adopting policies that deny the importance of sex. They are ignoring science and undermining language. They are spending thousands of pounds on training that misrepresents the law. In schools, single-sex facilities such as toilets and changing rooms are being replaced with ‘gender-neutral’ ones – which means mixed-sex. Boys who identify as girls are being allowed into girls’ sporting competitions. In public libraries, adult material such as ‘drag queen story time’ is being presented to children. In municipal sports facilities, women’s changing rooms are being opened up to members of the opposite sex on the basis of self-identification.
From now, until the 5th of May, we need to send politicians a message. We will tell political parties, and the candidates and campaigners who knock on our doors, that sex matters. Women matter. Single-sex spaces matter. Female-only sporting events matter. Child safeguarding matters.