Debate informed by evidence

Maya Forstater welcomes the end of No Debate:

“No debate” has been the longstanding position of Stonewall since it took up the cause of overwriting sex with by self-identified gender. It has refused all invitations to take part in discussion with those who disagree with its “trans women are women” position.

So when on Tuesday night Stonewall CEO Nancy Kelley spoke alongside Naomi Cunningham, Chair of Sex Matters, and answered questions from members of the LGB Alliance, history was made. 

The debate was about what Stonewall calls “conversion therapy” and reasonable people call not encouraging teenagers to rush into permanent changes to their still-changing bodies.

The proposed law would make it a criminal offence for a therapist or other professional to try to encourage a child who has declared themself trans to feel comfortable about their sex instead of putting them on puberty-blocking drugs.

Barrister Naomi Cunningham was a late addition to the event, after some Middle Templars, including members of the “EllGeeBeeTeeQueueCommunitee” (in Nancy Kelley’s smoothly practised phrase — lesbians  in old money) argued that Stonewall’s position did not represent them and should not be the only view presented. 

In response to the new line-up 100 barristers, pupil barristers and law students anonymously “signed” a letter of protest calling for Ms Cunningham to be de-platformed. 

Because what right do lesbians have to dispute anything Stonewall says? The nerve of them. Karens.

Cunningham pointed out why we need to debate ideas:

Debate informed by evidence is how we test ideas and proposals: if they’re any good, they’ll stand up to being poked with pointed questions. If they don’t stand up to being poked, they’re no good. This idea underpins our whole profession. 

There’s a further idea, which is that ideas and proposals that are too bad to stand up to pointed questions should not become policy.

Allison Bailey, a barrister suing Stonewall for victimisation also asked a question “How are you going to stop lesbians being harassed to accept transgender males into their dating pool when you are comparing lesbians to racists and anti Semites? It is coercion.” 

Nancy Kelley looked uncomfortable and replied “We are talking about two separate things: lesbian sexuality and who people date.”

Wut? Separate how?

The audience was split between those giving applause to Ms Cunningham when she called medicating same-sex attracted young people to stop them going through puberty “modern conversion therapy” and to Ms Ozanne when she made an apology to the trans community for Ms Cunningham being there at all. But over drinks and dinner the audience discussion was cordial and animated. Barristers and their guests, from all sides, explored the issues.  Nancy Kelley dressed in papal purple sat at the top table away from further debate and resolutely swerved any discussion other than small talk about her pets (she has fish, dogs and lizards), or burnishing Stonewall’s laurels for its assistance in evacuating Afghan refugees. 

Today Emma Barnett interviewed her on Woman’s Hour. I gather she came out of it a bit battered.

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