The Tories may have taken self-identification of legal gender off the table, but the transgender thought police have certainly not gone away. Their latest victim is Kevin Price who, until last Thursday, was a Labour member of Cambridge City council, in a seat he had held for ten years.
While residents were probably more concerned with the impact of Covid-19 on their city, their councillors were busy discussing something else: 'Trans Rights are Human Rights'. Few people, surely, would disagree with that statement. But the actual motion debated by councillors last week was somewhat more problematic. And the rights that I value as a transgender person – access to employment, housing, healthcare and the provision of goods and services no less favourably than any other member of society – were largely absent from the conversation.
After complaining about the government’s decision (wise, in my view) to resist self-identification of legal gender, the councillors resolved to arrange yet more awareness training and ensure that the correct 'progress pride' flags are flown over the city.
Yet while it is easy to scoff at all this, doing so is unwise. The motion opened with the now familiar catechism of a movement that tolerates no dissent:
'Trans women are women. Trans men are men. Non-binary individuals are non-binary.'
Price found the courage to speak against the motion during the debate. He told the assembled council that those words, 'will send a chill down the spines of the many women who believe that there is a conflict of rights and who want to be able to discuss those [issues] in a calm and evidence-based way'. He then resigned his seat before the vote was taken to avoid opposing his party, who had supported the motion with predictable enthusiasm. His four-minute speech is worth watching in its entirety.
Alarmingly, however, it seems that Price's honourable resignation may not suffice for his critics. Price is a porter at Clare College, Cambridge, and, as James Kirkup has written on Coffee House, some students are unhappy. The Union of Clare students' LGBT+ officer Frankie Kendal said that 'at Clare, we have a small but vibrant trans and non-binary community that should not only feel safe but feel celebrated...trans and non-binary students should not have to interact or rely on him (Price) for support in any way'.
Victoria Longstaff, former Cambridge student union women’s campaign trans rep, went further. She declared that Price is 'unfit both to hold public office and to be in a position of responsibility over students'. Longstaff said that she supported 'either his resignation or his suspension from his duties at the college.'
It’s easy to dismiss this as silly student politics, but a man’s livelihood has been threatened simply because he called for women to be able to discuss their concerns. More senior politicians than Price have apparently preferred to face ridicule than answer the question 'What is a woman?' or have been trapped into making the astonishing statement that babies are born without sex. And given the reaction to Price's comments, it is not hard to see why there may be a temptation to toe the line rather than speak out. So while reasonable people have looked away, gender identity ideology has spread unchallenged. Behind a veneer of progressive inclusivity, it demands total compliance.
Let’s be clear, Cambridge students – the epitome of privilege – are calling for a college porter to resign or be suspended from his duties because he thinks that women like JK Rowling and Rosie Duffield should be allowed to discuss the impact of gender identity ideology on their sex-based rights. These stuck-up students – not Price – should be ashamed of themselves.