So just why are so many people standing with Maya? That’s what Mark Hamill would like to know. He saw JK Rowling’s now infamous tweet, tagged, #IStandWithMaya, and added his own little like. For that, he was called out by a fan who absolutely does not stand with Maya.
Hamill backtracked instantly.
He didn’t realize that thinking a woman should not lose her job for believing women are more than fictional creatures conjured up out of ponytails, makeup, and a yen to be submissive, was actually transphobic.
So what is #IStandWithMaya all about, and why are so many notables standing up for Maya Forstater, and for women who believe that biological sex exists?
This is the tweet that started it all.
In September 2018, Maya Forstater hit “peak trans.” After careful consideration, research, digging into the issue, and spending a lifetime advocating for women’s causes, fairness, inclusion, and compassion, Forstater could no longer stand behind the idea that men who transition gender, either socially or surgically, are actually women.
Forstater, who had been a tax researcher at the London Centre for Global Development, wrote on Medium that she “…started by viewing the issue as a straightforward matter of compassion, inclusion and social progress. People should be free to live their life without discrimination or harassment. Vulnerable minorities should be protected… At the same time,” she goes on to say, “I have never believed that women are people who share a common innate sense of ‘gender identity’. Women are people born with female bodies. Womanhood does not depend on dressing, acting or thinking in a feminine way.”
All good so far. Forstater had co-founded a group in 2012 called Let Toys Be Toys, which advocated for toy and advertising companies to stop “boxing” children according to gendered roles and preferences, but to open up STEM based educational toys to girls. She marched in London’s Women’s March. She wore a pink, pussy hat, and was surprised when that turned out to be non inclusive of non-vagina owners. But it was when she saw footage of the attack by trans activists on Maria MacLachlan, a woman in her 60’s, in 2017 that she started to take notice.
Forstater writes that “This attack was celebrated by ‘trans rights activists’ on social media, and by organisations such as Action for Trans Health, who argued that beating up this woman was a legitimate part of their struggle because she was a ‘TERF.” She started to dig deeper, to find out just how this movement affected and re-classed women. The Gender Recognition Act was being fast-tracked through UK legislative bodies, fueled by consultations with LGBT groups, heavy on the T. Women and women’s groups were not consulted, instead, the GRA was pushed ahead under the banner of inclusion and compassion.
The upshot of the GRA was the concept of self-ID, wherein a person could change their sex simply by saying so, thereby earning access to sex based protections for that group, covering everything from bathrooms to political quotas. Though many women found this to be a problem, no one listened. Women started leaving the Labour party over it, but they were dismissed as bigots.
In was in September 2018 that Forstater found she could no longer stay silent, and she dipped her toes in the gender critical waters with a 4 tweet thread on Twitter. These were not viral tweets, they didn’t take the internet by storm, at time of writing they still have barely double digit likes. So she kept going. She wanted to have this discussion. She believed it was her right, as a woman, to raise concerns about the GRA, which would make anyone who said they were a woman, a woman.
A conversation began to pop over the sometimes trans gender CEO Pips Bunce, who wears femme clothes some days, masc clothes other days, and was counted among the Top 100 Female Executives that year.
It was after this series of tweets, wherein Fostater posited that “Women are adult human females. It is not about gender identity, or gender expression or medical treatment,” and said “I don’t know what the ‘feeling of being a woman’ is. If ‘woman’ is defined as someone who has this feeling I don’t fit the criteria!” When she was contacted by HR at the Centre for Global Development. In the end, she was told that she had used “offensive and exclusionary” language, and that her “appointment as a Visiting Fellow at CGD would not be renewed, even though [she] was named in a successful funding proposal for a two-year research project…”
Forstater wasn’t the first woman to suffer professional consequences from speaking up for women’s rights. And she wasn’t the last. But she took her employers to court, to hold them accountable for her termination. She crowdfunded her legal team’s legal fees, and caught the attention of gender critical feminists around the globe.
That case was heard, and the verdict came down that Maya Forstater’s belief that women are adult human females and men are not is a legitimately fireable offense. Forstater lost, with a court saying that it’s not okay to think men are not women.
The suit was brought to the Employment Tribunals under the Equality Act of 2010, and Forstater’s claim was that she had been discriminated against based on belief. The Judgement states that “The Claimant [Forstater] contends … that sex is immutable, whatever a person’s stated gender identity or gender expression. The Claimant contends that her gender critical views are a philosophical belief and that she has been subject to direct discrimination because of them…”
Forstater claimed that her belief in the absence of the essential nature of gender is a philosophical belief that deserves protection under the Equality Act, just as a trans advocate’s belief in the existence of innate gender is protected.
The Judgement goes through all of Forstater’s gender critical tweets, and expert witnesses were called. The Employment Judge, MJ Tayler, states in the decision: “I conclude from… the totality of the evidence, that the Claimant is absolutist in her view of sex and it is a core component of her belief that she will refer to a person by the sex she considered appropriate even if it violates their dignity and/or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. The approach is not worthy of respect in a democratic society.”
Believing that men and women are different, and stating that fact, is “not worthy of respect,” per Taylor. It’s hard to even read that without screwing up your face in confusion and perplexity.
Taylor goes on to reference “decision of the Supreme Court in Lee v Ashers that persons should not be compelled to express a message with which they profoundly disagreed unless justification is shown.”
Taylor believes that this is the justification: “The Claimant could generally avoid the huge offense caused by calling a trans woman a man without having to refer to her as a woman, as it is often not necessary to refer to a person sex at all. However, where it is, I consider requiring the Claimant to refer to a trans woman as a woman is justified to avoid harassment of that person.”
The judge actually states that Forstater should be compelled to speak according to government dictates because otherwise it would not be nice. Forstater’s right to not say something is trumped by someone else’s right to force her to say it.
Taylor writes: “I do not accept that there is a failure to engage with the importance of the Claimant’s qualified right to freedom of expression, as it is legitimate to exclude a belief that necessarily harms the rights of others through refusal to accept the full effect of a Gender Recognition Certificate or causing harassment to trans women by insisting they are menand trans men by insisting they are women.
While Forstater is making a claim against the Gender Recognition Act, the judge uses the Gender Recognition Act to say that the claim against it is invalid.
Taylor goes on to say that “Believing that a trans woman is a woman does not conflictith… the Gender Recognition Act, or involve harassment. It does not face the same issue of incompatibility with human dignity and fundamental rights of others as the lack of that belief does because that lack of belief necessarily involves the view that trans women are men. It is also a slight of hand to suggest that the Claimant merely does not hold the belief that transwomen are women. She positively believes that they are men; and will say so whenever she wishes. Put either as a belief or lack of belief … she does not have the protected characteristic of philosophical belief.”
If this all seems absurd, that’s because it is. If believing one thing is a philosophical belief, then believing the opposite must also be a philosophical belief. If a person is making a claim that a law is unlawful, that same unlawful law cannot be the basis for the law being lawful. This entire judgement reads like an indictment in Kafka’s The Trial, when K is brought up on charges, but never quite told what they are. Except in this case, the lie is Forstater’s own body, and fiction is truth.
The smack of absurdity in the face of rational reasonableness is why so many people are standing with Maya. The trans advocate’s ask for compassion and kindness, the desire for preferred pronouns, to be treated as the sex they choose to portray, all made basic sense. Women were like, “yeah, okay, you want to use the fitting room, and we can’t tell the difference, and everyone’s basically discreet, sure, be comfy, you do you.”
But where the entire trans ideology began to fall apart is when women were redefined in the context of trans, by being called cis. Or when laws began to appear that legally required women to use preferred pronouns, under threat of arrest or interrogation. Or when women were told that men with penises and beards were actually women. Or when those spaces where women are most vulnerable—prisons, crisis centers, bathrooms, hospitals—-were opened to men who said they are women. Or when women started being fired for stating their belief that biological sex is an actual real thing.
And now, when a Judge can state that a grown woman who believes men and women are different is able to be lawfully fired for that, while at the same time protections are rolling in for trans people who claim the opposite, we have truly walked into the realm of absolute batshit craziness.
No matter what Mark Hamill thinks, or how he’d like to appease his fans, men and women exist, and they are different. Everyone who knows that stands with Maya. To do anything else would mean you believe your own body is a lie. #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill