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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

Want to know why women are livid? (trans thread)

204 replies

Datun · 22/02/2018 17:01

Want to know why so many posts start with 'Trans people should have full rights...but'...?

Because the equality act is being manipulated to elevate the rights of one protected characteristic over another.

Being mis-used. Being breached, in fact. It smells wrong, it feels wrong, it is wrong.

Because the equality act is designed to be fair. All protected groups have equal value.
It's got the word in the damn title.


But the one thing this doesn't feel like, is equal.

Equality decisions must fairly balance the needs of everyone affected. This does not mean treating everyone the same. Because sometimes treating people differently is the least discriminatory outcome overall.

So when a business wants to implement a new policy they must take into account how it will impact on all the protected characteristics and then work out the fairest and least discriminatory way to do it. Life doesn't happen in a vacuum. A rule for one will impact others too and the Equality Act has been designed to reflect this reality. It is perfectly legal to discriminate against someone if overall it's the fairest thing to do for all concerned. The key phrase here is 'a proportionate means to a legitimate aim'.

And in no-one's book does fairness mean boys' sleeping in girls' accommodation, beating them at sport, making girls uncomfortable or working in a rape refuge.

It is not transphobic to raise this at work, in school, in leisure activities.

The gaslighting has to stop.

What we have been witnessing is no longer about fairness and inclusivity, it's about a cohort of men actively campaigning to hoodwink or coerce the public into validating NOT their identity, but their authority.

Can a refuge for women employ only women staff? Yes, of course they can. We all accept this because despite it being unfair to men it is overall the fairest thing to do for everyone involved. And for exactly the same reasons, it is lawful to exclude people who have reassigned their sex/gender, from that job role. In this instance, the internal gender feelings of the employee is not as important as the impact of their perceived maleness. The needs and impact on vulnerable women seeking refuge are greater than the needs and impact on a transgender person seeking employment. In this instance the balance falls squarely favour of women.

A transactivist will want everyone to draw everyone's attention solely to the impact and unfairness of that situation on the transgender people and claim DISCRIMINATION!. But that's just not how it works. It's written down in law – Occupational Requirements Schedule 9 Part 1.

There a lots of these legal exemptions written into Equality Law. They have been put there to be used and to protect women. We have to start insisting that they get applied. All of us. Now.

Here are some more examples that this time apply to services (Schedule 3, Part 7 Sections 26-28).

Can a woman ask for a female-born HCP? Yes, she can. It's not transphobic to say no to a transwoman in that context. She's not saying no because they are transgender – it's because they were born male and as someone born female she prefers the same.

It's written in law (Schedule 3, Part 7, Sections 26-28) and examples are set out in the Equality Act: “If a service is used by one or more people or involves physical contact between a user and someone else and that other person may reasonably object if the user is of the opposite sex”.

What about changing rooms? If a TIM wants to use a female changing room with individual lockable cubicles and no-one minds, then fine. The overall balance is fair. But if people do object, and for reasons of privacy, dignity and safety when they in a state of undress, and they don't feel able to use the changing rooms with just a flimsy curtain that doesn't close properly, then the balance of fairness changes.

The equality act does not say oh well, too bad. The retailer must take into account the impact on other people too (women). If there are reasonable options available to the retailer that makes it fairer for all then they must consider them.

Insisting all transgender people must use the facility of their natal sex would be unfair to them, but this doesn't mean the only fair option is to allow them into the facility for the opposite sex or to make the whole thing uni-sex and to hell with how the women feel. It could be enough to provide them with an alternative, just for them. This is a fair balance that considers everyone.

But a retailer doesn't know the impact on us unless tell we tell them. Women are socialised to not object. Which is part of the problem. Let's stop doing that. Let's hold our retailers to account to uphold the equality act by telling them we object, and why. They must take that into account.

Don't wait for it to actually happen. Get them to formalise their policies and insist they take women seriously from the start.

What about fairness in sport?

The equality act is quite clear. It's written into Equality law Schedule 16 Part 1. It's is entirely lawful to restrict participation of transgender people if this is necessary to uphold fair or safe competition.

“A gender-affected activity is a sport, game or other activity of a competitive nature in circumstances in which the physical strength, stamina or physique of average persons of one sex would put them at a disadvantage compared to average persons of the other sex as competitors in events involving the activity.

The IOC have issued guidelines that rely on testosterone being the determining factor and deciding that reducing it will eliminate the advantage TIMs have. But when men are routinely beating women, it's quite clear that this is not an adequate determinate.

Sporting bodies, Swim UK, etc, should be able to provide evidence of a level playing field. Otherwise it is neither fair or safe for women and this is in breach of equality law.

What about communal accommodation - Girl Guides, school trips, dorms?

Again there is a exemption in the equality Act to deal with this (Schedule 23). It explicitly states that transgender people can be excluded from communal accommodation for use by one sex if that is that's the fairness thing to do overall. In other words, the least discriminatory option. The needs of all pupils must be considered. The protection of the dignity and privacy of girls, is a legitimate aim. Furthermore, requiring pupils to share accommodation with the opposite sex raises specific issues around menstruation, risk of pregnancy, etc. Any institution which fails to acknowledge and accommodate these issues when formulating policy will risk breaching the EA.

The EA does need tightening up. Not ripping up. TIMs are already assuming they have a whole bowl of fruit and making everyone else assume it, when, in actual fact, they only have a couple of plums.

It's now no surprise that the favoured narrative is that trans people are oppressed, abused, murdered, at risk. Because it is that description that has somehow elevated the protected characteristic of 'gender reassignment' above 'sex' in people's mind. It's completely wrong.

They have equal value As does sexual orientation. Claiming lesbians are transphobic for not sleeping with natal males, is NOT upholding the equality law. And I realise it's only individuals who are mainly saying this, but Stonewall have refused to clarify that homosexuality means same sex attraction.

We have to change the narrative here.

We can change it. We have the right to change it.

We just need to do it.

OP posts:

Ereshkigal · 23/02/2018 08:58

We either roll over and let them take womanhood or we start to speak up. It's all we can do and mumsnet is uniquely placed to do this. I can help with advice but I'm a lone voice on my own. I can meet with the government to raise concerns (which I've done) but I can be dismissed as fringe and unrepresentative. The only way things have any hope of changing is when the numbers of women speaking up significantly increases.

Absolutely. And we can start by raising our concerns to our local public organisations. Making a nuisance of ourselves if need be. And it probably will be necessary.


SweetGrapes · 23/02/2018 09:19

Nothing to add... just place marking. It's a really interesting discussion and answers so many of my questions on the law.


PencilsInSpace · 23/02/2018 09:44

Thank you HaruNoSakura and DoctorW for your very informative posts.

WRT to the deliberate (or otherwise) conflation of sex and gender in the GRA - I've been wondering whether gender in 2004 meant something different to what it means today. Reading the act, gender appears to be being used simply as a politer term for sex:

Where a full gender recognition certificate is issued to a person, the person’s gender becomes for all purposes the acquired gender (so that, if the acquired gender is the male gender, the person’s sex becomes that of a man and, if it is the female gender, the person’s sex becomes that of a woman).

Did anybody have a 'gender identity' in 2004?


GaraMedouar · 23/02/2018 09:56

I’m just doing an immunisation form for my DS and you have to tick for Gender Male or Female , there is no ‘Sex’ box. I tend to read Gender as sex - I haven’t asked my DS this morning what he is self id’ing as at the mo .

Very interesting thread. I watched the itv programme last night about transgender kids . Gosh.
I am nearly 50, single mum and have a young DD too - all very worrying about what is happening.


Datun · 23/02/2018 10:06


I haven't watched the programme, my pressure can't take it.

I do know that they cut out almost 2 hours worth of input from the women who were opposed to self ID.

Leaving about 4-5 minutes.

This is not balanced debate. It isn't.

Regarding your son's form, Cross out gender and write sex with a big exclamation mark.

Let's change this bloody narrative.

OP posts:

AngryAttackKittens · 23/02/2018 10:28

The best thing about this is that if retailers see enough possiblity of this having an impact on their profits they might do the political lobbying for us. It would take a while, since profits are measured quarterly in general, and even a dip for one quarters could be attributed to other reasons, but if they're getting a clear message of "if you force me to share changing rooms and toilets with male people I will never buy from you again" and then see a drop in profits to back it up that should light a fire under their currently complacent bums.


AngryAttackKittens · 23/02/2018 10:32

Also, and it's going to grate against every bit of female socialization a lot of women have to do this but it has to be done, if you see a TIM in a sex segregated space then you need to complain. Not to them, to the people managing the space. When they tell you they have no option, show them the parts of the EA that indicate that they do. And escalate up the chain from there.


GaraMedouar · 23/02/2018 10:38

Unfortunately Datun it was online tick box so cannot amend the Gender to Sex!

I did like the 3 women who were talking sense. Wish they had let them speak for longer. I’m just waiting for my DD to have a talk at primary school - they haven’t as yet but I’m sure it will come.


HaruNoSakura · 23/02/2018 11:41

@Datun 02:41

By having the GRA refer to both sex and gender it ensured the law would apply to all previous existing pieces of legislation and common law, regardless of whether the word 'sex' or the word 'gender' was used in that law. It was a way of pre-empting an argument that a piece of law wouldn't apply to a person with a GRC because the law in question uses the term 'sex' and not the term 'gender'.

e.g. As a hypothetical, say that the GRA2004 only referred to a GRC changing somebody's gender. A person gets a GRC but their employer refuses to update their records to reflect this. The person takes their employer to court citing the GRA2004 and the employer responds by saying the legislation doesn't apply because the employer doesn't record 'gender', it records 'sex'. Or maybe the person takes their employer to a tribunal saying that they've been discriminated against because of their gender but the employer responds saying that the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 refers only to sex and not to gender, and therefore regardless of their GRC the plaintiff is still the sex they were born as and therefore hasn't been discriminated against.

By having the GRA refer to both gender and sex being changed, and by conflating them so that they are the same thing for the purposes of the Act, it preempts all those arguments.

As for Government departmental forms, the Passport Office is a good example. The passport being issued uses the word 'sex' but the application form uses the word 'gender'. Even though it's obvious that the Passport Office is using the words synonymously, the wording in GRA2004 preempts any legal challenge over the use of the words in regards to the issuance of a GRC and all that follows on from that point by ensuring that the GRA2004 covers both the use of the word 'sex' and the use of the word 'gender' on all forms and documentation.

The problems we face now are as the result of sloppy wording, or rather the lack of wording, in EA2010. The Act uses both the words 'Gender' in Gender Reassignment as a protected characteristic, and 'Sex' in the protected characteristic of 'Sex', but doesn't define whether 'Sex' and 'Gender' are to be considered synonymous for the purposes of the Act, or the words are actually meant to have different meanings.


DoctorW · 23/02/2018 11:58

PencilsInSpace Did anybody have a 'gender identity' in 2004?

No is the answer to that. Back in 2004 the GRA2004 was made to support transsexual people. An international ruling made by the European Court of Human Rights said it was against a transsexuals human rights (the right to a private life and right to a family life) not to be able to legally change their birth certificate. The thinking within the European Court and UK parliament was that this law was for about 5000 post-op transsexuals so what harm could it really do. I've written a short article highlighting this - its interesting to see what was intended at the time.

The protected characteristic of 'gender reassignment' didn't exist back in 2004. This came in with the Equality Act in 2010. It's really important for us to remember that 'sex' and 'gender reassignment' are two very different categories in equality law.

Gender reassignment = do not discriminate because someone is transgender.

Sex = do not discriminate because of the sex someone is (male or female).

Gender reassignment is a category anyone can self-identify into. Anyone can declare themselves transgender. No doctors required. No surgery. No nothing. Just a vague intention to live as the opposite sex. The obligation on others is to treat you as your preferred identify unless there is a reason not to (these reasons are for societal pressure and opinion to define). However, in some circumstances it is legal to exclude someone because they are transgender on the grounds of gender reassignment. This lawful form of discrimination is written into the single sex exemptions.

sex is not a category you can self-identify into yet. You can be a member of the female sex class in two ways. 1) by virtue of birth; you were born female. or 2) by obtaining a GRC to legally swap sex categories; you were born male but changed to female. Getting a GRC needs a medical diagnosis and 2 years living in role. The government proposes to change this of course to self-declaration.

So how do these two categories interact? The don't really. They work independently. So lets consider an example of a women-only refuge. The refuge wants this to be for biological women only and can argue why this is a proportionate means for to achieve a legitimate aim.

John knocks on the door. He was born male and is not transgender. The refuge can legally exclude him based on the grounds of sex. He is legally male.

Johanna knocks on the door. Johanna was born male but identifies as a women. They do not have a GRC so are still legally male. The refuge can legally exclude him based on the grounds of sex. He is legally male.

Julie knocks on the door. Julie was born male but identifies as a women and has a GRC and so are legally female. The refuge can't legally exclude Julie based on the grounds of sex. Julie is female. However, they can exclude on the grounds of 'gender reassignment'. Julie has undergone a process of gender reassignment and the law states in black and white this can be a reason to exclude them.

Josephine knocks on the door. Julie was born female. She does not identify as male. Josephine cannot be turned away.

So the key message here is that a transwomen is not turned away because she's not a biological female - that's not recognised by law. The transwomen is turned away because they have reassigned their gender. This is why, for the purpose of equality law, it doesn't matter if they have a GRC or not.

So what's the point in a GRC then I hear you ask? Well, not that much which is why not many trans people both getting them. There have only been 4500 ever issued. Trans people get all their rights from Equality law. However, the existence of a GRC gives organisations a nice and easy compromise they can use. They can decide on a policy that only partially invokes the single sex exemptions. Prisons do this. Prison policy is to locate someone based on their sex category only. So now a GRC really matters. You go into a women's prison if you are legal female (i.e. born female or have a GRC to be female). Prisons could, if they wanted, exclude on the basis of gender reassignment but they do not. Its a halfway house measure.

So far this compromise policy has worked more or less ok because there aren't many TIMs with a GRC. And the ones that do have at least been through a gate-keeping process so they are not just faking it to get into a woman's prison. However, all that will change if getting a GRC is as easy as filling in a form. This will open up the category of sex to everyone. The consequences are obvious. Chaos and women put at risk by opportunistic males.

So we have two different tasks ahead. Both important but both with different objectives.

  1. Oppose reform of the GRA2004. It is not right that anyone can self-identify into the female sex class. This sex class underpins all of our rights as women to fight sexism.


  2. Insist that single-sex exemptions are used fully. For this to happen a scenario must pass the reasonable and fairness test. What is considered reasonable and fair is down to public opinion. This can be changed. And it will only start to change if women shout up and say what about us.

HolgerDanske · 23/02/2018 12:02

This thread has given me so much hope. It is such a good resource.

Thank you.


Ouchbirthhurted · 23/02/2018 12:15

Dr W yes to all this.

On the wording of this one, I wonder about going with opposing the PROPOSED reforms from the laughably titled women's equalities committee which basically seems to have asked men if they want to have all women's rights and access to safe spaces. Having a wider conversation about how the current GRA works for women's safety as well as safeguarding people with and without gender dysphoria etc who are minded to live as the opposite sex I think would be a good debate. Possibly essential since so much has changed culturally since then. So reform may be good or even necessary given increase in numbers of people saying they are trans without GRC, TERF culture, etc

  1. Oppose reform of the GRA2004. It is not right that anyone can self-identify into the female sex class. This sex class underpins all of our rights as women to fight sexism.

KikiMadeMeDoIt · 23/02/2018 12:18

Thank you for putting that all together, I’ll pass it on as often as I can. I’ll also pass it to DH who has actual influence and is absolutely in agreement with everyone on this thread.


BeyondTerfyCassandra · 23/02/2018 13:25

Hey datun, have you seen this - you're famous! Grin


OlennasWimple · 23/02/2018 16:08

DoctorW - thank you for your simple explanations of the law.


Datun · 23/02/2018 16:29



Well if it gets the word out there, it's only a good thing.

OP posts:

ghome1971 · 23/02/2018 16:36

There is an excellent guidance for schools which reflects the OP and can be downloaded from


mercuryrev · 23/02/2018 17:43

It's worth noting that the Government's Guide for Service Providers was actually written by Gendered Intelligence. This is one of the problems resulting from only listening to trans groups at the Trans Inquiry - the subsequent guidelines become completely one-sided


Hellothereitsme · 23/02/2018 17:53

I don’t know if this has been clarified. But where do single sex toilets stand? I mean the type where you have 3 cubicles in a room and a row of hand basins. The walls and door around each toilet do not go down to the floor or up to the ceiling. In the men’s there is a line of urinals and again 2 cubicles. Can a transgender person use either toilet depending on their gender and not their sex? Can women born as women say they don’t want to share their toilet room with a transgender? Completely hypothetical here but just a question that always gets asked by people.


thebewilderness · 23/02/2018 18:11

Back in 2004 the GRA2004 was made to support transsexual people. An international ruling made by the European Court of Human Rights said it was against a transsexuals human rights (the right to a private life and right to a family life) not to be able to legally change their birth certificate. The thinking within the European Court and UK parliament was that this law was for about 5000 post-op transsexuals so what harm could it really do. I've written a short article highlighting this - its interesting to see what was intended at the time.

It is no coincidence that this was the point in time the Trans Umbrella was introduced in LGBT groups. Transgender advocates had been complaining for some time that too much time was being spent on marriage rights and not enough on transgender rights so by the time same sex marriage was legalized the groundwork had been done to redirect the control of the organizations from the LGB to the T.


DoctorW · 23/02/2018 20:11


Equality law sets out the principles of the law. It is up to an individual organisation to carry out it's own equality impact assessment and to set its policy accordingly. It's policy has to be the least discriminatory option.

My feeling is - with current public opinion as it is - that it would be very hard to show that excluding both males and transgender-identifying males from the toilets in this example would be a proportionate response to a legitimate need. However, it may be that modifications to the cubicles could be made.

It's going to be difficult to win our debate in terms of toilets when at the moment people are quibbling over whether a TIM should be allowed to work in a women's refuge.


ScienceIsTruth · 24/02/2018 01:58

@Datun, even mumsnet use 'gender' rather than 'sex', I know because it winds me up every time see it on my account info page. Fantastic post, btw. We definitely need to do something; I'm actually starting to get scared at the way things are going. I simply can't understand how ppl can't see what they're trying to do and how they can so easily deny biology, and therefore, reality.


Datun · 24/02/2018 08:27


I know. This whole gender instead of sex rubbish has to stop.

And I agree, people need to wake up. It's interesting, that as soon as the idea is presented to them that a lot of these people have a sexual fetish, it becomes blindingly obvious. Instantly.

There is a reluctance to characterise any part of it as sexual.

But as soon as it occurs to you, you only wonder why you'd never seen it before. Because it's so obvious.

OP posts:

BeyondTerfyCassandra · 24/02/2018 09:12

I've started filling in my yougov questionnaires again. Every single bloody time it says "single gender" (Winter Olympics being the very recent example) I have been leaving it in the feedback at the end that they mean "sex". It's my tiny daily act of ...dammit, what is the word I'm thinking of there...?!


boatyardblues · 24/02/2018 09:36


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