Debbie Hayton

Is the BMA afraid of the word ‘sex’?

Is the BMA afraid of the word 'sex'?
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The British Medical Association is the latest organisation to fall victim to gender identity ideology. At the BMA's annual representative meeting, medics called on the government to let anyone change their legal sex on the basis of a 'witnessed, sworn statement'. But in the midst of a pandemic, is this really a matter worthy of being listed as a prioritised motion on the agenda?

It's hard to see how it is. Yet perhaps a more worrying aspect of this motion is what isn't included: the word 'sex'. Even amongst doctors, it seems that the word 'gender' has supplanted biological sex. This shouldn't come as a surprise. For the past few years, a fervent bunch of ideologues has been busy quietly lobbying public bodies and private companies to elevate gender identity above biological sex. The aim? To ensure that anyone who wants to define as a man or a woman can do just that.

In backing this proposal, doctors are following the lead of the Girl Guides. Since 2017, male-born trans adults who self-identify as women can be Guide leaders and trans children who self-identify as girls are allowed to be members. On trips, children can share toilets, showers and tents. Those who are unhappy with these policies are given short shrift.

With the medical profession appearing to be following a similar path, it is vital for trans people like me to speak out against this shift in thinking. In Britain today, our rights as trans people are secure. The Equality Act, in particular, protects us against discrimination and harassment and means that we can get on with our lives and contribute to society with confidence and security.

But motions such as the BMA's will do little to make life easier for trans people. Make no mistake: this is a debate over the definition of men and women – and how we divide society – and it is especially worrying that even the medical profession now suggests that this can be a matter of choice. Along with the demand for self-identification, the motion calls on the government to:

  • ensure that under 18s are able to access healthcare in line with existing principles of consent established by UK Case Law and guidelines published by the public bodies which set the standards for healthcare;
  • enable trans people to receive healthcare in settings appropriate to their gender identity;
  • ensure trans healthcare workers are able to access facilities appropriate to the gender they identify as;
  • ensure trans people are able to access gendered spaces in line with the gender they identify as.

But where do women fit into all this? As the word 'sex' has disappeared from view, 'gendered spaces' has been quietly slipped into the lexicon. The suggestion here is that these places should be open to anyone who may choose to identify as a particular gender. 

There is nothing progressive about such policies: this motion could demolish the boundaries that protect the rights women have fought for over the past hundred years. And what would it mean for me as someone who chooses to present myself in a manner more typical of women, but accepts that I am not female? It seems to perpetuate the suggestion that we really are the opposite sex, which I do not agree with. 

Such thinking could also be dangerous: I will never need a cervical smear, though I may well need my prostate to be monitored. That piece of male anatomy stays in place even after gender surgery. This is not hypothetical scare mongering. Tragically, it was reported last year that a baby was stillborn to a transman who arrived at a hospital with severe abdominal pains and was misdiagnosed; the pregnancy was initially overlooked.

Yet none of that matters, of course, to the Terf hunters on Twitter. Yes, trans people need the support of doctors and the BMA; but this latest motion will do little to help.

Written byDebbie Hayton

Debbie Hayton is a teacher and journalist

Topics in this articleSociety