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MPs debate self-identification for first time

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David T.C. Davies began a debate in parliament about gender self-identification – the first time parliament has debated this. Mr Davies mentioned Christian Legal Centre client, Joshua Sutcliffe, a maths teacher disciplined for ‘misgendering’ a pupil, as an example of how organisations are operating ahead of the law. Tim Dieppe, Christian Concern’s Head of Public Policy, highlights the key points and argues the laws of nature will always trump the laws of parliament when it comes to gender identity.

David T.C. Davies MP initiated a Westminster Hall debate on self-identification of gender on Wednesday. Westminster Hall debates are opportunities for MPs to raise and discuss issues and receive a response from a government minister. There are no votes and motions are expressed in neutral terms about considering a specific matter.

On Wednesday, David Davies moved:

“That this House has considered proposals to allow self-identification of gender.”

David Davies is to be applauded for initiating a debate on this important subject. Remarkably, this is the first time that this important topic has been properly debated in the House of Commons. Mr Davies gave a superb introductory speech raising many important points, in spite of being interrupted several times.


The law as it stands

David Davies explained that the law as it stands requires someone who wants to change their legal gender to show that they have lived in their acquired gender for two years and that they have been diagnosed with some form of gender dysphoria. They have to commit to living in their new gender for the rest of their life. But then:

“One thing that they do not have to do is undergo any form of medical treatment or surgery. They do not even have to be taking any hormone pills. The vast majority of people who change gender maintain the body in which they are born. As far as I can find from the statistics, only one in five people who have changed gender have had any form of surgery. This is the cause of concern for many people.”


Self-definition of gender already happening

David Davies went on to explain that self-definition of gender is already happening. Organisations are operating ahead of the law. This is particularly the case with respect to children where schools are being told that children can change their gender identification without their parents even knowing about it. In some cases, doctors are giving puberty blocking drugs to children as young as 12, about which there are many medical concerns.

“At least one doctor in my constituency has been giving these drugs out to children as young as 12. That can then progress on to hormone blockers, which have powerful and irreversible side effects. Once people start on that road, there is a danger that they may end up having more drastic and irreversible surgery, because once one is on that pathway, it becomes difficult to get off it.”


Operating ahead of the law

Mr Davies then highlighted the case of Christian Legal Centre client Joshua Sutcliffe, a maths teacher who was disciplined for ‘misgendering’ a pupil at school. This is another example of how organisations are operating ahead of the law. A child under the age of 18 cannot legally change gender, yet schools are allowing pupils to change gender and cross dress. Other pupils and teachers are then instructed to refer to them with acquired gender pronouns.

Another case he could have mentioned is that of Nigel and Sally Rowe who raised concerns when a six-year-old boy in their son’s class started to sometimes come to school dressed as a girl.

Mr Davies also mentioned the case of Karen White, a male-to-female transgender prisoner who was allowed into a women’s prison. Within days he carried out four sexual assaults on women. Once again, the prison was operating ahead of the law by allowing him into the women’s prison.

“Shortly after [this incident] happened and the court case concluded, I asked the head of probation and prisons in Wales whether there had been any change to the guidance given to prison authorities about housing transgender prisoners, and I was told that there had not. I subsequently sought an urgent question about that, because, as I hope the hon. Lady would agree, it is appalling that vulnerable female prisoners, many of whom have been victims of male violence, are being put at risk in this fashion. It was not deemed important enough to be discussed in Parliament.”

These examples show that self-identification is taking hold already in this country.

“My point is that even before any legislation has been passed, we are already seeing organisations such as schools, hospitals and prisons allowing people to define themselves as a different gender from the one that they were born with, and to which, in the majority of cases, their body corresponds. That has an impact on others, and particularly on the right of women to privacy and to sex-segregated spaces.”


Lack of debate

Mr Davies also raised concerns about the lack of debate on this issue. He complained that publicly funded organisations promoting transgenderism, such as Mermaids, appear to have an open door to the government while those expressing concerns are ignored. Mr Davies has had numerous complaints made against him for hosting meetings in parliament with women’s groups. He has twice had to explain himself to the Sergeant at Arms, which is very unusual, and he has been investigated by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, which is also highly unusual. None of the complaints were upheld.

The issues are very important for the whole of society and Mr Davies is rightly concerned that significant changes are being proposed without proper consideration.

“People should not face dismissal from their jobs for suggesting that a woman cannot have a penis. It may be an issue about which we can have different opinions, but it is certainly a debatable point at the very least. Nor should they face dismissal for the so-called offence of ‘misgendering’.”

“Women who want safe same-sex spaces are not transphobic and are not committing hate crimes. They are simply reflecting a concern for their own safety, which, as a man, I have to say is based on a valid fear for far too many.”


A matter of belief vs. biology

Some MPs spoke in favour of relaxing the requirements for changing legal gender. One in particular was Layla Moran. David Davies put her on the spot:

“May I bluntly ask her whether she would be happy sharing a changing room with somebody who was born male and had a male body?”

Layla Moran replied:

“I believe that women are women, so if that person was a trans woman, I absolutely would. I just do not see the issue. As for whether they have a beard, which was one of the hon. Gentleman’s earlier comments, I dare say that some women have beards. There are all sorts of reasons why our bodies react differently to hormones. There are many forms of the human body. I see someone in their soul and as a person. I do not really care whether they have a male body.”

Layla Moran doesn’t care about the body. She only looks at the soul, though how she sees the soul is not clear. She is a true believer in self-identification. Perhaps Mr Davies should have asked if she would prefer a man or a woman to conduct a strip search?

While Layla Moran may not care about the biological body, many people do care, and they are right to care. The soul does not exist independently from the body. A person is an integrated whole, comprised of a body and a soul. The two are inseparable until death. Layla Moran has a fragmented, fractured view of the human being that sees the body as entirely separate from the person and irrelevant to personhood.

Furthermore, as Mr Davies pointed out,

 “The reality is that the vast majority of sexual assaults are carried out by males against females. I am told that the figure is higher than 90%, and I believe that.”

Mr Davies means biological males against biological females – just in case that need to be explained. In other words, biology matters and makes a difference in this area and many others.

Mr Davies concluded:

“The important thing—it comes down to this—is that if people believe a trans woman is a woman, then it is not possible to protect female sex-segregated spaces in the way that many campaigners would like. Many people do not accept the proposition that a trans woman is a woman. A trans woman is a trans woman, worthy of respect, absolutely deserving of protection under the law against discrimination, or physical or verbal assault, but not necessarily eligible to access single-sex areas.”


100,000 consultation responses

Victoria Atkins, Minister for Women, responded on behalf of the government. She explained that the consultation on Reform of the Gender Recognition Act which closed in October, received over 100,000 responses which demonstrates the level of interest in the topic. The government hopes to have a response to the consultation ready by spring next year.

Victoria Atkins stated that the government is “committed to retaining protections for single-sex services.” She explained:

To be clear, the single-sex exceptions under the Equality Act 2010 allow a service provider to provide a service for women or men if an organisation needs to define it in a way that does not allow a trans person to access their services, or to provide a service to them in a different way. They are able to do that as long as they can show that it is a proportionate means of meeting a legitimate aim.”

It is not at all clear how a single-sex service provider can define gender in a way that differs from a person’s legal gender. This shows the complexities involved.

Victoria Atkins also stated that:

“We have no intention of lowering the age at which people may legally change their gender, namely the age of 18.” 

This is reassuring, but the question remains about what action the government will take in regard to schools allowing pupils who are under 18 to change their gender?


The laws of nature will trump the laws of parliament

David Davies appears to be the only MP who is prepared to speak out about the dangers of allowing gender self-identification. Certainly, he was the only one to do so in this debate. He should be applauded for initiating this debate and for his contribution to it.

At the end of the day, the reality is that people cannot self-define their gender, no matter what the law says. We are created male and female. As Mr Davies tweeted last month:



We hope and pray that the government will listen to the very strong arguments he is making.



Full transcript of the debate:

Christian Concern: Christian maths teacher facing disciplinary hearing after calling pupil born female a ‘girl’.

Christian Concern: Parents to challenge church school’s ‘transgender’ policy.

Spectator: This MP has summed up everything wrong with the transgender debate.