SEXUALITY, ORIENTATION & OUR SEX BASED RIGHTS
‘There is no such thing as a single issue struggle, because we don’t live single issue lives’ - Audre Lorde
What does self sex ID mean for lesbian and bisexual orientated women?
If a man can identify as a lesbian, what does this mean for the rights and body autonomy of lesbian women?
In UK law, lesbians and bisexual women are protected two-fold under the Equality Act 2010. They belong to two protected characteristics; ‘sex’ and ‘sexual orientation’. This legislation enables lawful discrimination on the basis of these characteristics - it protects lesbian-only groups, for example. This could include lesbian social groups, support groups, sexual health clinics, domestic violence survivor workshops, pattern-breaking groups, etc.
If sex self ID became law, then these sex protections would be rendered meaningless. As an example, it would no longer be possible to exclude a heterosexual male from a lesbian-only support group. If his birth certificate sex marker says female we have no mechanism to enforce equality law.
Culturally there is a push to redefine homosexuality as ‘same gender’ attracted. This is common parlance in LGBT support groups, school RSE packs and from public bodies and political parties. In doing so it undermines the previous legal definition of ‘same sex orientation’. A legal term that not only defines same-sex attraction in law, but protects from conversion therapy. 'Orientation' being the phrase that embeds in law the concept that same-sex attraction is not a kink, a choice, or something to be 'fixed'.
When same-sex attraction is redefined as 'same-gender' it erases the lesbian experience. WE are coerced to accept male bodied people into our lesbian spaces and dating pools. WE are described as 'vagina fetishists' if we choose women as our sexual partners. This is referred to as the 'cotton ceiling'. WE want a party that does not expect lesbians to accept trans lesbians within their dating pool, or put pressure on lesbians to deny their same sex attraction in favour of 'gender identity'.
Gender Identity and the lesbian woman:
The concept of ‘gender identity’ hurts women and girls, especially gender non conforming girls. The concept of 'gender identity' asserts that sex is a spectrum, and our ‘identity’ (personality, sense of self) defines our sex. For example, w girl previously referred to as a Tomboy, now receives the social messaging that her rejection of sexist stereotypes makes her a literal boy. This sounds alarming but is being taught in schools via RSE guides and Alsorts style trans-inclusion school guidelines. See here. Following a Judicial review of such guidance these toolkits are being withdrawn by councils, but many remain in place.
This is deeply problematic as it further embeds sexist gendered expectations into our cultural narrative. Where, historically, women have fought the idea that they must be passive, submissive, caregivers and enjoy performative femininity, we are now once again receiving the social messaging that this is the very definition of womanhood. WE must identify with our gender, the very thing that has subjugated and limited women globally.
Conversely, girls and young women who do not live up to gendered (sexist) expectations are receiving the ‘wrong body’ message. Their love for ‘boys toys and pursuits’ (whatever they are) means they aren’t a 'real girl', but they have the 'gender identity' of a boy. Any feelings of anguish or distress they may feel towards puberty, or being a girl in man’s world can be swiftly diagnosed as dysphoria.
WE know there is evidence that lesbian and gay adults are likely to have lived gender non conforming childhoods. WE must, therefore, ask the difficult questions as to why so many gay and pre-gay/questioning children are being referred to gender identity clinics. Are we medicalising a generation of same sex attracted people? These concerns have been raised by Tavistock clinicians and were the focus of a Newsnight investigation earlier this year.
Recent data shows that more than 70% of children referred to Gender Identity Services (Tavistock Clinic) are girls.
As the growing number of detransitioning young lesbian women shows, are our lesbian youth being medicalised, rather than celebrated? This is sometimes referred to as the 'Iran Model' where homophobic societies use transition to uphold the illusion of compulsory heterosexuality and gender conformity. Please click here and here to learn more.
WE must consider the impact of sex self ID on normalising this notion of 'gender identity' and the impact this has on women and girls.
And what does sex self ID mean for gay men?
For this we put you in the competent hands of Simon Fanshaw OBE, one of the founders of Stonewall.
He is hosting @LGBAlliance webinar 'The Gay Spot', named in tribute to Ruth Ellis and her partner Ceciline "Babe" Franklin, who in 1937 moved to Detroit.
As Black lesbians they were shunned in white gay bars, and shunned in Black straight bars. As a response they opened their home, soon to become known as The Gay Spot, and cementing their place as sheroes in LGBT history.