Sucked into the gender vortex

Janice Turner writes that Lisa Nandy brands herself as Labour’s truth teller:

Rational, grounded, fearless of factions, the only leadership candidate prepared to tackle the self-delusion and disconnect which lost four elections, she’d won many prospective votes, including mine. Until Tuesday, when Nandy signed up to a witch-hunt of thousands of (mainly female) party members, including me.

It’s that “expel the transphobic bigots” pledge, which Turner calls astonishingly totalitarian.

It not only demands signatories “accept there is no material conflict between trans rights and women’s rights” but says anyone who disagrees is a bigot. It names Woman’s Place UK and the LGB Alliance as “hate groups” whose supporters are transphobic and must therefore be expelled.

News flash: not wanting to surrender our rights to men who say they are women doesn’t make women “transphobic.”

I mention Nandy because although every leadership candidate except Sir Keir Starmer has now signed this pledge, she has doubled down. There are no spaces at all, she said on Radio 4’s Today programme, where male-bodied people should be excluded.

Maybe it’s not that gender critical women are transphobic but that gender not-critical women are transphilic? They certainly do put the claimed needs and firm demands of trans women ahead of ours. Women just have to put up with male bodies in formerly women’s private spaces whether we want to or not? Isn’t that a tad rapey? Or does transphilia excuse all?

Nandy is not the first politician who, sucked into the gender vortex, loses all reason. This week Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle confounded biologists by saying that “sex is not binary”. During the election Lib Dem Dr Sarah Wollaston denied that a baby’s biological sex is observed at birth; potential Lib Dem leader Layla Moran believes women can differentiate male predators from self-identified trans women by looking into their souls.

And the window for that is where, exactly?

How have LGBT issues, in particular gender self-ID, become such a moral test of politicians in progressive parties? Sociologists speak of how organisations can be overwhelmed by “purity spirals”. This is when a group grades its members by a single value, which has no upper limit or agreed interpretation. Those who seek power must demonstrate their purity in ever more abstruse ways: those judged “impure” are denounced and destroyed.

That makes sense. The single value and the no upper limit is exactly what we encounter day in and day out.

Working on the 2019 Labour manifesto, Lachlan Stuart observed that LGBT activists were not “driven by a motivation to improve the quality of life for trans people” such as increased mental and physical health provision, only “to erode or erase the political rights of female people.” Their alarming central goal was to open up all female single-sex spaces to anyone who identified as a woman.

How will voters, who have hitherto been unaware of this arcane debate, feel about a Labour Party fully committed to ending historic safeguards? To a party which believes any male person should be allowed to legally change sex without qualification or checks, leaving women and girls vulnerable yet unable to object? Will Labour leaders pull out of the purity spiral and heed the fears of thousands of women members? Or will they, as that nice Lisa Nandy demands, simply chuck them out?

Get out of the purity spiral while you still can.

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