Baroness Anne Jenkin
My prime role in life is as an advocate for getting more women in parliament. But lately I’ve found myself speaking out more and more about the trans question. Ever since the JK Rowling furore, I think the question of gender dysphoria and feminism have become impossible to separate – perhaps they always were.
I have become interested, for instance, in the case of Sinead Watson, a Scottish ‘detransitioner’, who is a campaigner on this issue. She changed gender but now her argument is that she should never have been allowed to have a double mastectomy and hormone therapy, and she’s taking the Sandyford clinic in Glasgow to court.
We’ll see the result of that case, but the 5,000% increase in the number of girls presenting with gender dysphoria is highly disturbing. The research seems to point to the fact that it relates in some ways to the amount of time young people spend on their phones. They are driven to consider the matter by influencer sites, and unfortunately it’s not possible to say that the influencer sites have no commercial interests in the fate of these young people. That’s why we have a 25 per cent year on year interest in puberty blockers and cross sex hormones.
In addition to that we have the widespread availability of violent porn, which until 15 years ago you’d have to reach for from the top shelf of a convenience store – and pornography was in those days tame by comparison to what we see today. Today everybody has access to everything and that is not only screwing up relationships, it’s also making young girls very fearful about sex when they see what’s expected of them.
It’s traditionally always been a traumatic period, when your body is changing from childhood into womanhood – or childhood into manhood. Traditionally, girls who struggled psychologically and emotionally with that might have become anorexic at that point. But today they have this other option which is to bind their breasts, and be injected with testosterone.
In a way what we’ve done is to conduct – pretty much by accident – this huge social experiment on children without really having any understanding of what the long term implications are.
At the centre of all this is the so-called JK Rowling cancellation. If you look at what Rowling said in her original blog, I challenge anybody to find anything remotely controversial in it. People who repeat it and say she’s transphobic, or a hater or anything like that – I don’t think any of them have actually read what she wrote. In fact, most of us are very proud of being women, and though it has its challenges, it’s also a tremendous privilege.
We’re at the point now where women feel they have been understanding and sympathetic about the question of female single sex spaces for too long. This is especially the case as while they’re being nice, their sex-based rights are being eroded. So you’ve got this concern about safeguarding children on the one hand, and concern around single sex spaces on the other – and single sex spaces are single sex for a reason.
Some people try and make the comparison that the plight of the LGBTQ community resembles the fight over Section 28 in relation to gay rights. What they don’t understand is that this is a clash of rights. Both women’s right and trans people’s rights are protected characteristics under the Equality Act. It’s not something we can turn away from – we need to sort it out.
Fortunately, there’s a novelist out there able to satirise this – and insodoing make sense of it a little. This is the brilliant parody The End of the World is Flat written by Simon Edge. It’s the story of small charity which achieves everything it needs to achieve and then has to pivot into campaigning for the – exactly as Stonewall has had to do once it achieved its goals in the field of gay rights. It is the Animal Farm of our times.
But Edge’s novel ends happily, and I don’t know where this particular story will end – I only know we need to sort it out.