Women Speak Tasmania

Human Rights Week 12 December 2018

 Isla MacGregor writes …

 ‘If one section of our community want to change the definition of what it is to be a woman, then women rightly have a major stake in this discussion, not only on their own behalf but in the best interests of children.’

At the core of the global contoversy on transgender rights lies the most fundamental of all human rights – freedom of speech.  Without freedom of speech we can have no rights.

The ICCPR Article 19 states:

  1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
  2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the formof art, or through any media of choice…..

Why am I speaking here today? Because some women, young women and lesbians especially, many of whom are calling for the L to be taken out of LGBTIQ, who have jobs, are students or belong to certain affinity groups, are too afraid to be seen here today to listen to our views, attend or speak publicly at forums about the impacts of transgender law reforms on the human rights of women and girls. Their freedom of speech and right to participation has been curtailed for fear of retaliation by the trans rights lobby in Tasmania.

 Last week, the Womens International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) decided to cancel their Human Rights Week event that Bronwyn and I were invited to speak at today on the topic of women’s rights and transgender reforms.

In 2015 I delivered a talk at the WILPF Human Rights Week forum on the subject:

 “How will Amnesty International’s Sex Trade Policy Impact on Human Rights, Poverty and Violence to Women Globally?”

There are many urgent questions that must be addressed by the human rights community. Most importantly, the voices of survivors of all forms of violence against women, including in the sex trade, must be heard. They must not be silenced or threatened.”

Since my talk in 2015, I am finding that more and more women are being silenced when they speak out about women’s human rights – and this   during a time when the me too campaign has gained enormous momentum and media coverage globally.

The trans rights debate is certainly the most toxic debate concerning women’s human rights that I have observed and it appalls me to hear and read the constant abuse, vilificiation, slurs, threats and especially bullying from some fundamentalist trans rights activists towards women and girls who want to assert their rights and express their views. Slurs such as:

 TERFS, SWERFS, transphobes, fearmongerers, hate speech and bigots

 are frequently used by trans lobbyists against gender critics when speaking with journalists and on social media.

 I have come to understand this debate in the same context as the climate change debate.   Climate change deniers and women’s rights deniers expect the public to believe there is no evidence to support either that climate change is caused from anthropogenic sources or that there is no evidence to support the impact on girls and women from transgender laws reforms.

 It is becoming increasingly evident that not all people who identify as transsexual, transgender, lesbian, non binary or gay support the trans rights agenda.   More and more people are coming to recognise that this campaign has impacted on women’s rights and women’s only spaces and that  attempts to discredit and silence women from speaking out against proposed reforms for Self ID are underpinned by highly dubious motives.

Transexual Debbie Hayton from the UK recently tweeted:

 Debbie Hayton@DebbieHayton Dec 7

Sixteen transsexual people wrote to @thetimes to express our dismay regarding the escalation in harassment, threats and abuse directed at women and women’s groups in the name of ‘transgender rights’.

And transexual Miranda Yardley wrote:

 I have made the observation many times that transgender activism is men’s rights activism, and a wholly negative form of men’s rights activism it is, having itself become the new, socially acceptable form of sexism, misogyny and homophobia. This is a huge step backwards; when I recall the political landscape of the 1980s when young people rallied against sexism, homophobia and misogyny, a reaction against regressive attitudes embedded in society and, in the UK, a reactionary government that in 1988 enacted Section 28, it breaks my heart to see exactly the same sort of attitudes shown by that era’s moral dinosaurs re-emerge under the cloak of transgenderism: virulent homophobia, Victorian beliefs about female brains claiming the biological essentialism of innate gender, and po-faced complaints about ‘sexism against men’ while telling women to shut up and do as they are told.

 In the UK, it took a enormous effort to get balanced media coverage on the transgender debate but finally women’s voices began to be heard.  This year The Spectator ran a series of 12 articles from different perspectives and The Times and Guardian have given increasing and fair coverage to women and gender critics including whistleblowers. But media and journalists have not been exempt from being targeted by trans rights activists:

 On 19 October 2018 in London, trans rights activists smoke bombed Northcliffe House, which houses offices of the Daily Mail, the Evening Standard, the Independent and the Metro. The attack by trans rights activists was in response to the Metro’s publication of a full page advertisement they claimed promoted ‘transphobia’. The advertisement, from the group Fair Play for Women, stated they were ‘concerned that in the rush to reform transgender laws, women’s voices will not be listened to’.

On 20 October 2018 The Times journalist Janice Turner wrote:

Suicides should never be a political weapon

For some trans activists to accuse me of causing the deaths of troubled teens shows how toxic this debate has become.

Last weekend the trans activist Helen Belcher resigned as a judge of a journalism prize because, against her wishes, I reached the shortlist. She announced that: “Since The Times started printing such [transphobic] pieces, starting with one by Turner in September 2017, I have heard of more trans suicides than at any point since 2012…….

Here in Tasmania we have had virtually no coverage from the media.  The Mercury has given extensive coverage to the trans rights lobby. Journalist Tim Martain wrote a 4 page feature in Tas Weekend magazine profiling 4 transgender persons.  Bronwyn Williams rang Tim and asked him to write up our views on the trans debate.  She wrote in Tasmanian Times (TT):

With this in mind, I contacted Tim Martain today and asked if he would be interested in running an article demonstrating  the women’s rights perspective on the trans rights debate.

The answer was a firm, ‘no’.

Mr Martain said he raised the issues about which I was concerned with the interviewees for his original article and was entirely satisfied with their ‘ready responses’. To run a story as I suggested, from a women’s rights position, would be ‘fear-mongering’.

Mr Martain also offered the following – ‘there’s a myth that balance is needed in journalism’ – that journalists need to present alternative views. In his opinion, an alternative view in this article would have created ‘conflict, not balance’, and was therefore unnecessary.

Because, after all, balance in journalism is just a myth – too bad if readers are relying on it.

Finally, Mr Martian said he was ‘not prepared to write this story’ and assured me his editor, Chris Jones, and the TasWeekend magazine editor, Kirsty Eade, would ‘back him up’.

Writer Christopher Nagle who comments frequently in support of our articles on TT said …

 We live in a society whose social infrastructure has been heavily corroded. Its boundaries have been removed by a process of systematic indulgent deregulation that spectacularly benefits otherwise insignificant minorities that align with that, who ordinarily wouldn’t get a sniff at mainlining their agenda. The genuinely substantial feminist re-regulatory sexual politics that would actually change the world by reconstructing that infrastructure is floundering in the wake of smart gender and sex sales industry bluffers, cribbers and fudgers.”

 The fundamentalist trans rigthts lobby have deployed tactics typically used to attack anyone who attempts to expose corruption, fraud, dangers to public or environmental  health or serious misconduct. The same tactics as those used to attack  whistleblowers and dissidents:

 spread rumors, repeat slurs, blacklisting, threats to jobs, transfers, demotions or sacking, harrassment, mobbing, ridiculing, censoring reports and research papers, vilification, abuse, assault, intimidation, death threats, trolling on social media, and most commonly of all – bullying.

In this debate one of the most common tactics is to spread fake hate speech claims.

 With 40 years of human rights and free speech activism behind me, I can honestly say that I have never seen a social movement in Australia or elsewhere mount such an aggressive attack against the right to freedom of speech of women. An attack that has been gaining momentum in Tasmania since 2012:

 2012 – Sheila Jeffreys  – Attempted no-platforming by Jade Barker from the Scarlet Alliance – threatened to smear Jennie Herrera’s and Quakers name if given platform at public forums including at UTAS Law School – both forums went ahead and ABC TV news ran a story with Prof Jeffreys about the attempted no-platforming.

 2015 – Bronwyn Williams and 4 young women were expelled from the  UTAS Women’s Collective without being given reasons but essentially because they asked questions about trans ideology. Bronwyn Williams submitted a formal complaint to UTAS which effectively got nowhere. 

 2016 – Tessa Anne a member of Women’s Liberation Front (WOLF) wrote a submission to  then Anti Discrimination Commissioner Robin Banks outlining her concerns about the Options Paper released for public comment on

Legal recognition of sex and gender diversity in Tasmania: Options for amendments to the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1999

Tessa Anne met with Robin Banks and (EOT) Policy Advisor Leica Wagner for two and a half hours to discuss issues and ask questions about definitions used in their paper. This was to be a very unsatisfactory and extremely distressing experience for Tessa.

In August and October 2016 – 2 articles were published in The Australian and again in January 2017 regarding Tessa Anne’s allegations of  bullying, intimidation and ridiculing by Banks and Wagner.

 2017 –  The Nordic Model Australia Coalition International Women’s Day  forum on the global sex trade included a WOLF speaker. An invitation was sent to Adrienne Moreton,  President of  Tas Women Lawyers to forward to members. Moreton refused to pass the invitation on to TWL members citing the WOLF speaker’s views on transgender issues. Follow up comlaints were fobbed off.

 2017 –  Dr Meredith Nash UTAS Deputy Director, Institute for the Study of Social Change Senior Lecturer, Sociology, was to chair a NorMAC/UTAS World Environment Day Lecture given by Robert Jensen, Professor of Journalism from the University of Texas. Two hours before the forum  started, Nash withdrew from chairing the event after a complaint she received from Saffire Grant from UTAS Women’s Collective, alerting her to Jensen’s views on trans issues.

 August 2018 – An article I wrote outlining the five cases above, was posted to TasmanianTimes (TT) – Dr Meredith Nash subsequently threatened defamation action against TT editor Lindsay Tuffin. Tuffin’s view was that the article was factual and correct and so remained posted.

 Three weeks after the above article was published on TT and 3 years after publication of Bronwyn Williams’ 2015 Togatus article on her expulsion from the UTAS Women’s Collective, Bronwyn received notification that her article had been removed – allegedly due to defamation with no explanation given.

Now we come to the current fiasco on amendments to the Births Deaths and Marriages Registration Act rammed through the Lower House of state parliament in November, without any proper debate or proper community consultation.

 WST started putting out many media releases from October this year but were not contacted for comment by any papers or TV stations.  Eventually we did interviews on radio with Tasbroadcasters also Radio Tasmaniatalks. Bronwyn had one op ed in The Mercury only after the bill was pushed through the Lower House. The  Advocate and Examiner refused to publish anything at all from WST. One short interview with ABC radio’s World Today.  After hearing ABC radio host Ryk Goddard criticise WST this week on Monday morning,  and emailing him afterwards,  we called in to the ABC offices and did an impromptu interview which went to air this morning. We eventually met with journalist Matthew Denholm from The Australian who wrote two articles giving fair coverage to all sides of the debate. Tasmanian Times editor Lindsay Tuffin has always provided us with fair coverage and we can not thank him enough for his commitment to publishing all sides of this debate.

 On 7th November four women’s NGOs: Women’s Legal Service, Engender Equality, Hobart Women’s Shelter and Women’s Health Tasmania put out a joint media release targeting WST:

 WST also argue that transgender women pose a threat to women’s safe spaces.

There is no research or service experience to suggest that men who seek to harm women change their gender or masquerade as transgender women in order to do so….Acknowledging in law the human rights of transgender people does not reduce the human rights enjoyed by non-transgender people. Protecting women’s rights and supporting transgender people are not mutually exclusive…To the extent that WST have an issue with that, it is clearly an ideological one and in its effect it is discriminatory.

Who is on the Board of these four women’s NGOs is of interest. Robin Banks on the Women’s Legal Service, UTAS Dr Meredith Nash on Women’s Health Tasmania as previosuly was Jade Barker from the Scarlet Alliance. Alina Thomas is the CEO of Engender Equality and a member of the Scarlet Alliance.

This cabal also attacked WST when giving their presentation to the Legislative Council in mid November along the same lines.

Last week in The Australian, journalist Matthew Denholm published extracts from an email by former Tasmanian Anti Discrimination Commissioner Robin Banks which she had sent to WILPF regarding WST speaking at their HR event scheduled for today.

On 30 November Robin Banks, emailed WILPF….

‘I am writing out of concern for WILPF, having just seen the invitation to your human rights week event at which you have Women Speak Tasmania as the speakers.

I anticipate that the reason you have invited this group is their apparent promotion of women’s rights. Sadly, this is not a group that support human rights for all.

They have, at present, a nasty and untruthful campaign targeting members of Tasmania’s gender diverse community. They do not support the human rights of people who are gender diverse. Indeed, they deny their very humanity and existence.

The giving to this group a platform for their hateful views by WILPF will be seen by many in the LGBTIQ community as an endorsement by WILPF of those views. This is the very real potential to damage the reputation of an extraordinary and compassionate long-standing human rights group.

If there is any way that I can help you to negotiate what I think is a very difficult situation, I am happy to do so

Robin Banks

Pressure by the fundamentalist trans rights lobby, along with backlash from the expose on Banks  published in The Australian, and WILPF receiving ‘strong indications that the media will try to be involved in WILPF’s event’ –  ‘indications’ that did not come from WST  – led WILPF to cancel their event.

Transforming Tasmania also contacted WILPF requesting their point of view be heard at the forum but the double standards operating here need to be exposed.

In August 2018, WST publicly released proposals for reforms to the Anti Discrimination Act 1998 that related to proposed transgender law reforms.

On 17 October the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute (TLRI) and Transforming Tasmania co-hosted a public forum at the UTAS Stanley Burbury Lecture Theatre:

‘Transforming Tasmania: Legal reforms for gender diverse and intersex equality Panelists:  Professor Margaret Otlowski, Robin Banks, Dede River, Transforming Tasmania spokesperson and legislative drafter and Matty Wright, Transgender Tasmania community leader.

WST did not receive an invitation to attend this forum or an invitation to be on the panel to share our proposed legal reforms or point of view.

We did contact the TLRI to ask to be on the panel and were rejected and of course the forum went ahead.

So here we are today at the end of Human Rights Week in Tasmania – attending a ‘secret womens meeting’. Predictably, the human rights community in Tasmania have remained silent about the co-ordinated and deliberate attack on women’s freedom of speech by the fundamentalist trans rights lobby. 

Before I finish I would like to read a comment that was posted on TT last week from ‘Jack’:

There is a big difference between asking for tolerance and acceptance and demanding affirmation and ideological conformity through threat, intimidation and blackmail.

I’m prepared to accept that transgender people have a right to live their lives as they see fit. The irony is that they seek an affirmation and self-actualisation through others that they can never have.

Personally I know several transgender people who function very well .. and others who don’t. Those who do well never demand affirmation or false platitudes, yet others are full of rage if they cannot manipulate affirmation. This seems to be due to a deep desire for others to reinforce their self-image .. and a deep anger when this does not happen.

We have not, as a society, discussed the limits on what can be expected from others in affirming the identity of minorities. I don’t think that affirmation can be demanded – ever. This leaves transgender people in the lurch as they seem heavily dependent upon others for their own self-actualisation.

Whatever the case, it should never require women to redefine their own gender, biological autonomy and legal protections to provide affirmation for a minority group. Nor should anyone have to sit passively and accept a barrage of histrionics and venom that attempts to silence them or paint them as villains if they don’t parrot the correct ideological narrative.

My impression is that very few people spend much time worrying about the morality of transgender issues, or see it as a threat. It’s kind of a non-issue until the list of demands arrive. Then militancy, name calling and emotional manipulation kick in and all of a sudden the discourse is centred on a culture of anger and conflict rather than cool headed integration into wider society. This is so counter-productive that one has to wonder if attention-seeking is part of the game.

Finally I will come back to Miranda Yardley’s point…..

transgender activism is men’s rights activism, and a wholly negative form of men’s rights activism it is, having itself become the new, socially acceptable form of sexism, misogyny and homophobia.

What do you think?


Bronwyn Williams writes …


Yesterday, I took a break from attempting to analyse the amendments to the Justice and Related Legislation (Marriage Amendments) Bill 2018 to write this brief talk.

The amendments, which have now been incorporated into the original bill, were nine in number and comprised almost 14 pages of text.  They have taken what was a relatively simple procedural bill, and turned it into a nightmare.

As you know, the government was required to remove the ‘forced divorce’ provision in the Tasmanian Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act in order to bring Tasmanian law into line with changes to the Commonwealth Marriage Act last year that legalised same-sex marriage.  Because same-sex marriage was previously illegal, any person making an application to change the sex marker on their birth certificate under Part 4A of the BDMRA was required, amongst other things, to be unmarried.  If they were married and legally changed their sex , they would be in a same-sex marriage – that is to say, an illegal marriage.  Once same-sex marriage was legal, the requirement to be unmarried no longer applied.

Under the Australian Constitution, the Commonwealth makes laws with respect to marriage, but the states legislate for matters concerning the registration of life events like births, deaths and marriages.

So, all that was required to put the Commonwealth Marriage Act and the Tasmanian BDMRA into synch was a simple repeal of two sections in Part 4A of the Act.

Instead, Labor and the Greens – the Opposition parties – put forward a suite of amendments to the Government’s bill that proposed significant changes to both the Anti-Discrimination Act (ADA) and the BDMRA.  The text of the amendments was not provided to the Government until literally the last minute, going against standard parliamentary protocols whereby any proposed changes to legislation before the House are circulated amongst all members to ensure debate, when it happens in the Chamber, is fully informed.

Without the benefit of this information, the Attorney-General was unable to properly debate the amendments and they were passed, one after the other, in quick succession by Labor and the Greens with the support of the Government’s Speaker, Sue Hickey.

As you are aware, the Government has only a one seat majority in the Tasmanian Lower House.  Ms Hickey was elected to the role of Speaker by voting for herself, along with the Labor and Greens members, to out vote the Government’s nominated member, Rene Hidding.

The amendments are problematic in several respects.

First, the terms ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ are used interchangeably and inconsistently.  The inclusion of ‘gender expression’, which includes ‘names and personal references’ in the protected attribute of gender identity under the ADA has obvious implications for normal social discourse.  Use of incorrect pronouns or a trans person’s ‘dead name’ could be grounds for an anti-discrimination claim if the transgender person takes offence.  Likewise, any public discussion of the trans rights issue could be severely limited if we are unable to say an obviously male self-identified transwoman is a ‘he’.

Second, the definition of ‘gender’ to be included in the BDMRA reads as follows –

Gender means …

the apparent sex of an infant specified by the parent; or

the gender of the person as specified on a gender affirmation declaration

The problems with this definition are many.  The apparent sex of the infant is to be determined by the parent.  Does that mean only one parent, or both parents in agreement?  What if they disagree?  What if they have an obviously biological male child but they want to specify them as female?  How will that information, which they may or may not include on the child’s birth registration form, interact with the objective biological sex recorded by the doctor or midwife attending the birth?

What is a ‘gender affirmation certificate’?  According to the Labor/Greens’ amendments it’s a ‘statutory declaration in which the declarant affirms the declarant’s gender identity’.  Meaning anybody can self-identify as a member of the opposite sex and have the change legally recognised, literally at the stroke of a pen.  And, the amendments say nothing about how many times this can be done.  Yearly, bi-annually, three times, five times – we don’t know.

So, in these two definitions, ‘gender’ and ‘gender affirmation declaration’ – and I use the term ‘definition’ loosely – we have three different concepts – apparent sex, gender and gender identity – but absolutely no idea what they each mean and the relationship between them.  Legislation is meant to be precise, to allow for proper application of its provisions.  These bizarre, circular definitions would spiral down a rabbit hole, or up their own backsides if left to their own devices.  And the proponents of this meaningless jumble of politically correct language are offering no answers.  Apparently the distinctions are obvious – but only to them.

Third, given the either/or definition of ‘gender’ in the BDMRA, which Ella Haddad suggests can be used to inform the use of the term in the ADA, we now have a situation where exceptions allowed under the ADA for sex-specific reasons, like single sex schools, will be useless.  Those exceptions are based on ‘gender’ in the ADA, and under this brand new legislative regime ‘gender’ is either some notion of biological sex, determined at the whim of a parent OR whatever ‘gender identity’ a person says they have.

And, this is just a start.  I won’t bore you any further, but there are obvious conflicts with the Family Law Act, an array of completely unnecessary changes to the births registration process, and provisions requiring a magistrate to determine the ‘will and preferences’ of children about their ‘gender’ by ‘asking them’.  What if they’re pre-verbal.  What if they’re verbal, but don’t have a clue what gender means (and the definition we’ve got here won’t help them)?  How is this meant to work?

The fact is, it doesn’t work and our Legislative Council will be struggling to make sense of it before March.

It didn’t need to be this way, but for the gross political opportunism of Labor, the Greens and Speaker, Sue Hickey,  and the self-serving hubris of Transforming Tasmania.  Every other state in Australia passed the conforming legislation required by the Commonwealth Marriage Act changes with no fuss.

The Northern Territory parliament did what was required and also made changes to their birth registration laws that added two new categories to birth registration details – ‘unspecified’ and ‘intersex’.  The need for sex re-assignment surgery before a change could be made to the sex marker on an individual’s birth certificate was removed and replaced with ‘appropriate clinical treatment’ certified by a registered medical practitioner or psychologist.  Relatively modest amendments compared to the rampaging, take no prisoners onslaught on Tasmanian legislation we witnessed in the House of Assembly on 20 November.

In Western Australia, the Labor government declined to make any changes to their birth registration process, despite a recommendation they do so by the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia after a year-long consultation on the issue of transgender law reform.  The government opted instead to make only the changes necessary to comply with federal marriage law.

So, Tasmania is out on its own, with a slew of radical, untested and poorly drafted reforms.  The Attorney-General said they could have a number of unintended consequences, and she was right.  Only time will tell how much of a disaster they turn out to be.

Tasmania is on the verge of enshrining in law a political agenda that has rapidly and uncritically become firmly embedded in modern society’s collective unconscious.

Today, those who speak out against trans ideology are openly vilified, their views are silenced and their livelihoods are threatened.  This is particularly the case for scholars and medical professionals who challenge the now accepted wisdom that ‘gender’ is innate, and can be fluid, not fixed.  Who are alarmed at the trend towards ‘gender affirming’ treatments for transgender children, and who question the massive exponential increase in the number of children presenting at the shiny new gender clinics for treatment – some as young as three or four years of age.

In Canada, Dr Kenneth Zucker, was removed from his position as director of the Child Youth and Family Gender Identity Clinic at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto.  Dr Zucker’s 30 years of work with transgender youth was shut down in 2015 after an external review of the clinic found it to be ‘out of step’ with current practice.  Zucker made the mistake of taking a wholistic approach to young people suffering gender dysphoria, preferring to analyse and treat all presenting issues rather than immediately following the path of ‘gender affirmation’.  In the course of his lifetime’s work, he estimated around 80 to 85 per cent of children presenting with gender dysphoria became comfortable with their birth sex during the course of puberty.  Many later expressed a homosexual sexual orientation.

Zucker’s therapeutic approach made him a target for the trans activist community.  His work was likened to ‘gay conversion therapy’ and he was the subject of significant defamation and abuse.  In October this year his employers apologised for publishing inaccurate and damaging information about his clinical methods and paid him a settlement of nearly $US600,000 in compensation.  But his life’s work is a thing of the past, and he is still regularly abused and subjected to no-platforming actions by the trans lobby.

Another example of academic suppression is the ground-breaking work of Lisa Littman, a physician and researcher in the School of Public Health at Brown University in Rhode Island.

In 2017, Littman conducted a survey study of transgender youth that revealed an exponential increase in the number of adolescents, especially females (83 per cent of the survey group), presenting with gender dysphoria in their teens, having previously demonstrated no issues with their birth sex.  She named the phenomenon Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria and described it as a form of social contagion.  There were clear links between the expression of gender dysphoria in the subjects and involvement with ‘trans groups’ in schools and on social media.

Littman published her study in the peer-reviewed open access journal PLOS One in August 2018, but after pressure from trans activist groups PLOS One instigated a review of the article and its conclusions and Littman’s employer, Brown University, removed all references to the article from its website

In both cases, trans activists acted to suppress ideas that don’t fit the dominant trans narrative – that gender dysphoria is not a psychological issue, or a symptom of normal adolescent body issues, but an inborn incongruence between an individual’s assigned sex at birth and their gender that must be fixed at all costs, and the sooner the better.

Which brings us to another fly in the trans ideology ointment.  Detransitioners.  People who transition from one sex to another, using cross sex hormone treatments and often undergoing sex re-assignment surgery, but regret their decision and transition back to their natal sex.  Trans activists actively silence these people – they are isolated from the trans community and its supports and dismissed as ‘not really trans’.  They are pariahs whose stories challenge the underlying premise of trans ideology that says if you were ‘born in the wrong body’ transitioning will fix everything.

Yesterday, the Sydney Morning Herald reported the story of a detransitioned transwoman, Jeremy Bate.  Now living again as a man, Bate says the transgender groups to which he belonged offered him no support with his detransition.  He said he was shocked those groups ‘turned on him’.

‘It sends alarm bells to me, because they don’t want to tolerate anyone moving away from it.  They’d rather think I was never a proper trans in the first place, because they just can’t stand the idea.  Their basic ideology is that you have to have been born that way, and if you can turn away from it, then that cancels their argument’, he said.

Recently, in the UK, academic, researcher and trans therapist, James Caspian submitted a proposal to Bath Spa University to conduct research into the detransitioning phenomenon after encountering it in his clinical practice.  His research proposal was eventually rejected by the university’s ethics committee because it was ‘politically incorrect’.  Caspian was told there might be criticism of the research on social media and criticism of the research would be criticism of the university, and it was better not to offend people.

Fortunately, the push to immediately begin gender affirming therapy on supposedly trans children has encouraged some concerned medical professionals to come out in support of more ‘gatekeeping’ when treating young people for gender dysphoria.   Earlier this month the Lancet medical journal published a letter from four medical practitioners titled ‘Gender-questioning children deserve better science’ where they criticised the Royal Melbourne Children’s Hospital care and treatment guidelines for trans and gender diverse children and adolescents as based on ‘imprecise language and overplayed empirical evidence’.

The authors called for more rigorous research into untested treatment protocols, and the clinical progression of gender dysphoria in those affected.  They also recommended greater engagement between the medical profession, the public and legislators on the issue.

Also, and most encouragingly, the founder of web-based information network Transgender Trend, Stephanie Davies-Arai was recently shortlisted for the 2018 John Maddox Prize.  The prize is awarded to individuals who ‘promote sound science and evidence on a matter of public interest, facing difficulty or hostility in doing so’.

Transgender Trend provides evidence-based information in relation to the sharply rising rates of gender dysphoria amongst children, especially adolescent natal females, as well as desistance studies and evidence that gender nonconformity in children is predictive of later homosexuality.  The group also does outreach work in schools, despite constant, unsupported criticism from trans activist groups in the UK.

Davies-Arai’s nomination reminds us all that we must speak out – for women’s rights, and for children – and not be discouraged.

Bronwyn Williams is a retired lawyer and social worker

Isla MacGregor is a women’s human rights and free speech advocate

Women Speak Tasmania is a network of women and their supporters based in Tasmania. We operate as a secular group. We are not aligned with any political party or ideology. We share research and information on a broad range of women’s rights issues. These include – female only spaces, services, groups and facilities; the sexualisation of girls and women; pornography/prostitution and the harms of the global sex trade; surrogacy as a violation of women’s human rights; and ending male violence against girls and women. We understand that sex-based oppression affects all women, and underlies all abuses of female rights. We support the right of women to speak freely about the inequities and discrimination they experience. We aim to give a voice to girls and women in the pursuit of justice, peace and security. We support full autonomy and personal freedom for all women.