The Tories can’t afford to capitulate to the trans cult

With a Labour victory on the horizon, this is the last chance to enshrine protection for millions of impressionable youngsters

Secretary of State for Education Gillian Keegan leaves Downing Street

Reading Brave New World recently, I came across “mother” rendered as “m------”. In Aldous Huxley’s dystopia, the word for female parent has become an obscenity. The idea of giving birth and living in families is disgusting and those people who reproduce normally are despised outcasts. Any preference for one person over another has been eliminated. 

Huxley’s science fiction classic was published in 1932. Ninety-one years later, staff at Great Ormond Street children’s hospital (GOSH) are being advised not to use the inflammatory words “girls” and “boys”. Guidance produced by the hospital’s Diversity and Inclusion team and Pride Network, entitled “Using Pronouns at GOSH”, suggests that they stop using “gendered language” in conversation. Apparently, the wrong pronouns can make people feel “disrespected, invalidated, dismissed, triggered, alienated, or often, all of these things”. 

A friend’s child died at Great Ormond Street. My friend was Sophia’s mother, a woman. Sophia was my friend’s darling daughter, born of a woman. Neither of those statements would be remotely controversial to the parents who hover tenderly, fearfully, at their child’s bedside in that remarkable institution. In fact, telling them their sick infants are non-binary creatures whose sex is an affront to the purple-haired, rainbow-lanyarded activists in the Diversity Office would cause distress and bewilderment. 

But who cares what normal people think, eh? What matters is the noble goal of “inclusion” and if the vast majority demurs then they’d better buck up their ideas and become an “ally” of the miniscule minority whose feelings we are now busy rewriting the English language to spare. 

You would hope that a Conservative Government would know what its role was here. It’s pretty clear, isn’t it? Stand firm against an aggressive, vocal minority that is imposing its fashionable ideology on the rest of us while providing support to confused children going through that Krakatoa of the hormones known as puberty. 

An opportunity to do just that presented itself when ministers were called upon to resolve the issue of  “social transitioning” at school: that’s where kids who say they are trans ask to be referred to by a different pronoun and wear the uniform of the opposite sex. Jill decides to be Jack. It’s a fast-spreading contagion. Gender dysphoria used to be a rare condition presenting almost exclusively in young boys. Now, there are thousands of teenage girls, for whom anorexia often used to be the malady, asking to be treated as male, with or without parental consent. 

One poor teacher told me she had referred to a student as “she” only to be hotly rebuked. It turned out the pupil was suddenly identifying as a boy although, unhelpfully, she looked exactly as she had done the day before. A complaint was lodged and, astonishingly, the head told the teacher she was guilty of “misgendering” and must apologise to the child. 

As places dealing in factual knowledge, schools surely can not be seen to be accommodating fictional claims that lack any basis in biological science. Worried parents have eagerly awaited action from the Government which would make that crystal clear. Then, back in January, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan dropped worrying hints that a cowardly compromise was on the cards. “We have to be very sensitive to children,” she said, “We are actually going to publish some guidance and consult because it is a very tricky area to get right.” 

Asked whether she thought 16 was too young for gender self-identification (without medical verification), Keegan replied, “No, I don’t actually. I was working at 16, I was paying tax at 16, I was making decisions for myself at 16.” What an unforgivably fatuous statement from a minister presiding over so many young lives. Keegan’s “decisions” at 16 didn’t involve binding her breasts as preparation for “top surgery” (the jarringly jaunty term for a mastectomy) or taking puberty hormones that might wreck her fertility. And at an age when our society considers a kid too young to drink, drive or get married. 

Forget all that lifelong harm stuff. This week, we learnt that Rishi Sunak is “considering abandoning plans to ban children from changing gender at schools”. The Prime Minister was told by Attorney General Victoria Prentis that a law was needed to bar social transitioning, because otherwise it could contravene the Equality Act. Sunak may be backing away from including such a law in this autumn’s King’s Speech. Apparently, he’s worried about party differences being exposed in the Commons in the run-up to an election. 

With a Labour victory on the horizon this is the last chance to enshrine protection for millions of impressionable youngsters and to give parents peace of mind that their kids aren’t being inducted into some sinister cult at school. The Conservative government may now fail to do so. How dismayingly gutless, how morally inert. Frozen, scared stiff of saying the wrong thing and upsetting people who would never vote for them in a million years, the Tories are fretting instead about being “on the wrong side of history”. 

Have we totally lost the plot? The Government can summon the resolve to rush an Energy Bill through the Commons this week which could get you arrested for not limiting your energy consumption (dishwashers at 3am, chaps) in the debatable cause of net zero. Yet when it comes to safeguarding children, their health both physical and mental, suddenly it may be all too difficult. 

Be kind to vulnerable trans kids, they cry. Yet, as the excoriating Cass Report into the Tavistock Gender Identity Clinic said, “social transition” is not a “neutral act” but a major psychosocial intervention that may affect whether a child’s gender distress disappears or becomes long-lasting. In other words, refuse to treat Katie as Karl, insist on a degree of good old-fashioned conformity in school hours and the phase may well pass. 

As the organisation Sex Matters notes, Hilary Cass rejected the ideological label of “trans children”, which suggests a well-defined category and wrote instead of young people who may be going through a difficult developmental stage and are likely to be harmed if a potentially transient personal identification is treated as stable and permanent. Your average tricky teenager in other words. 

And what about the negative effect of one student transitioning on hundreds of other pupils and staff? Many schools which are facilitating social transition, often without informing parents, are going beyond supporting changes of name and preferred pronoun, allowing a trans pupil to use facilities intended for the opposite sex and to play single-sex sports. Why shouldn’t that make the majority of children feel “invalidated, dismissed, triggered and alienated”? Their feelings don’t matter, of course. 

Some campaigners tell me that a change in the law is not necessary and it is perfectly lawful to issue strong guidance to schools right now. We’ll believe that when we see it. I woudn’t trust this Government to do anything Conservative if it could possibly avoid it. 

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored,” wrote Huxley. Prophetic in so many ways, he was wrong about that, or very nearly. The basic facts of humanity – girls and boys, mothers and fathers  – are stealthily being erased by people who wish to remodel society in their own image. To ban social transitioning in schools would be a big step towards rescuing fact from fiction, and rescuing some children, too. 

That’s not finding yourself on the wrong side of history. It’s being on the right side of decency and common sense. Rishi Sunak should give it a go.