Don’t believe Stonewall’s line on gender identity? Penalty fee. You can’t get fired for that now

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<p><figcaption class=Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

You might think that the last place to harbor unlawful discrimination would be a bar association that prides itself on “upholding human rights and upholding the rule of law.” But the labor court found last week that Garden Court Chambers discriminated against and victimized her tenant Allison Bailey because of her “gender critical” beliefs.

It is the second finding of such discrimination by the courts in a month, after they ruled that think tank CGD Europe denied Maya Forstater a job because she articulated her belief in the scientific reality that someone’s biological sex it is real and immutable. Like Forstater, Bailey disagrees with campaigners such as the Stonewall charity that someone’s self-identified “gender identity” should override their sex, arguing that women are entitled to access sports, prisons, shelters and locker rooms only for women. Garden Court announced that it was investigating his activity on social media, including a tweet that strongly criticized Stonewall for defending gender ideology and another that denounced the coercive concept of the “cotton ceiling”, a reference to the panties of lesbians in the context of the absurd view that lesbians who exclude men who identify as women from their dating pool are transphobic.

The courts will not tolerate bosses victimizing those with whom they disagree politically

(Stonewall argues that the discussion of this is akin to “sexual racism.”) Bailey was treated appallingly by the human rights QCs who ran the chambers for her and was awarded aggravated damages, which apply where an employer has behaved in a particularly egregious manner. It is a critical ruling not only for employee rights but also for freedom of expression, showing that the courts will not tolerate bosses interfering with the democratic rights of their employees by victimizing those with whom they disagree politically. It sits alongside the appeals court’s observation that gender ideologues have used false accusations of transphobia to impede the free expression of their opponents.

Bailey also accused Stonewall of unlawfully “instructing, causing or abetting” Garden Court to discriminate against her, after a senior staff member wrote to warn cameras about his association with her. (As a member of Stonewall’s Diversity Champions program, Garden Court paid for job counseling and training.) She lost this part of her case, but the trial is far from vindicating Stonewall. The court ruled that Garden Court acted independently when she discriminated against Bailey, but that Stonewall’s letter could be credibly read as a threat to end her relationship with Garden Court unless the cameras expelled Bailey. And that Bailey’s belief that Stonewall’s gender ideology proselytizing is gravely detrimental to women and lesbians is compelling, serious, and important, and therefore a belief protected by equality law. (Stonewall, it turns out, has a history of targeting employers of gender-critical black lesbians; Lucy Masoud discovered that she secured a meeting with her employer at the time, the London Fire Brigade, which was preceded by an internal discussion of “how to attack her.”

Furthermore, a recent review by lawyer Akua Reindorf for the University of Essex found that its employment policies, reviewed annually by Stonewall, misrepresented equality law “as Stonewall would prefer it to be rather than as it is”, paving the way for illegal discrimination against two female academics. As a result, Reindorf, now a commissioner of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, recommended that Essex reconsider its relationship with Stonewall.

The information commissioner also found that Stonewall operates a “significant degree of influence” over members of its workplace index, in which organizations compete to show how aligned they are with their worldview.

Universities are supposed to be bastions of academic freedom, high-ranking defenders of QC rights. It is extraordinary to what extent they and others, including the BBC, government agencies and the police, have been captured by a controversial ideology that promotes the view that sex is irrelevant in law and society.

But by far the worst example has been in children’s health care. Gender ideology posits the view that when boys express discomfort with their gendered bodies, this should be understood as an indicator of a fixed trans identity that should be immediately affirmed as the basis of any clinical treatment for gender dysphoria. Stonewall claims that children as young as two they may have trans identities, which, given that they can barely speak, is revealing of the extent to which adult identity politics are imposed on children who do not conform to regressive gender stereotypes.

Gender-nonconforming behavior is something to celebrate, rather than the basis for teaching children that they may have been born in the wrong body, as some schools now do. There are many reasons why children and young people may experience gender dysphoria: it can be a sign that a child will have a fixed trans identity in adulthood, but it can also be associated with the discomfort of puberty, dealing with same-sex attraction. and childhood trauma. There is a coincidence with autism.

However, the NHS has ignored this by embracing the unproven affirmative model of gender ideology and has put a growing number of young people on the path to irreversible medical treatment that can render them infertile and has potentially significant risks to their brain and physical development, without adequately exploring the reasons. because of her gender dysphoria.

The Cass report has told NHS England to close the Tavistock Center’s gender identity development service clinic. Photograph: Guy Smallman/Getty Images

Whistleblower experts who sound the alarm about a lack of caution have been branded fanatical by other doctors and institutionally vilified by the NHS. It has taken years of dogged campaigning and more than one court case to get the government to set up an independent review of gender identity services for NHS children, led by the distinguished pediatrician Hilary Cass.

That review has yet to produce its final report, but it has already concluded that the affirmative model has no evidence and has criticized the NHS for not tracking outcomes for children undergoing this experimental treatment. Last week, he instructed England’s NHS to close the Tavistock gender identity clinic to which children have been referred and replace it with a more holistic model of service delivery that explores why children may be experiencing dysphoria. of gender and builds the evidence base that is sorely lacking. .

One day we can look back and ask ourselves how a regressive and controversial worldview – that being a woman is not a scientific fact but rather an inner feeling or conformity to sexist stereotypes of femininity – came to exert such an influence on so many public institutions and professions. It is a product of corrosive groupthink, charities whose campaigns revolve around intimidating their opponents by portraying them as fanatics and individuals so eager to prove they are on the “right side of history” that they abandon the critical faculties that are critical to your profession. It has caused serious damage and is long overdue for course correction.

• Sonia Sodha is a columnist for the Observer

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