“Get The L Out” protest at last year’s London Pride
I sh e rwo od
©Pa m beliefs. Stonewall’s recommendations ignore all that. Mixedsex facilities make many women feel less comfortable and safe, and leave some religious women, including conservative Muslims and Orthodox Jews, with no option but to self-exclude. Since both sex and religious belief are protected characteristics under the Equality Act, companies that listen to Stonewall risk claims of discrimination.
business that wishes to signal its progressive credentials can seek to become a Stonewall “Diversity Champion”, thus demonstrating that it is “fully trans-inclusive”. The main step Stonewall will recommend is to make toilets and changing facilities “gender-neutral”. Never mind that this usually means simply changing signs on doors, thus making all the toilets accessible to men and forcing women to share the space that was previously theirs, at the same time as they are unlikely to use formerly-male facilities with urinals.
The original Stonewall built single-issue coalitions, even with religious groups that regarded homosexuality as perverse and sinful but could be persuaded to support equality of minorities before the law. “Instead of charging at people and calling them homophobic, we addressed genuine concerns,” says Simon Fanshawe, one of Stonewall’s co-founders. Transactivists are characterising genuine anxiety as phobia, he says. “If you have stubble and are claiming to be a woman, women who are frightened of men are going to be frightened of you. That’s not prejudice; it’s reality. I don’t know what the answer is yet. But I’m certain it will not be found by calling people scum.”
It is perhaps Stonewall’s abandonment of same-sex attracted women that is most remarkable. Redefining orientation to refer to gender, not sex, affects everyone in theory; in practice, lesbians bear the brunt. Most high-profile trans advocates are trans women oriented towards women—in other words, het-
erosexual males who, as trans women, describe themselves as lesbians. An estimated 90 per cent never undergo gender-reassignment surgery.
Stonewall puts these trans women’s insistence that they be accepted as lesbians ahead of the sexual boundaries of females who assert same-sex orientation. (For some reason, gay men come under much less pressure to accept female-bodied partners.) At last year’s London Pride “Get the L Out”, a small group of women calling for lesbians to abandon “LGBT” movements like Stonewall, forced its way to the front, waving banners reading “Transactivism erases lesbians” and “lesbian equals female homosexual”. In a statement, Ms Hunt called the women “transphobic” and said they were spreading “myths and lies”. At this year’s Lancaster Pride, women waved banners reading “Lesbians don’t have penises” and “Pro woman not anti-trans”. They were hemmed in and threatened by a larger group, mainly of males (gender identity unknown). “Thank you! The right instinct”, tweeted Jan Gooding, the chair of Stonewall’s board, in response. An organisation that for decades fought against homophobic bullying now actively encourages it.
“As soon as Stonewall switched to defining orientation as referring to gender identity it gave up on its mission,” says Bev Jackson. In 1970 she was a maths student at the London School of Economics. She attended the first meeting of the Gay Liberation Front that year—the only lesbian, along with 19 gay men. The harmful impact of trans lobbying has galvanised her to reenter a battle she thought had been won long ago. “In my day you would have straight blokes wanting to have sex with lesbians, because let’s face it, straight blokes have always found lesbians titillating,” she says. “But now you have blokes identifying as women and wanting to have sex with lesbians. That’s actually worse because lesbians no longer have any organisation standing up for them.”