UK Court Rules Transphobia Is A Sackable Offence In Landmark Case
A researcher who was sacked after tweeting her view that men ‘cannot change into women’ has lost her case in an employment tribunal after her language was ruled to be ‘offensive and exclusionary’.
At the time of her controversial tweet, Maya Forstater, 45, had been a visiting fellow at the Centre for Global Development (CGD), a non-profit think-tank concerned with issues of international development and global poverty.
Tax expert Forstater made the comments in reference to proposed reforms to Gender Recognition Certificates, which would allow people to self-identify as a gender different to the one they had been assigned at birth.
Following her dismissal, Forstater submitted a claim form to the Employment Tribunal bringing forward ‘complaints of belief and sex discrimination’ against the CGD while raising over £85,000 in legal fees through a crowdfunding site.
According to court documents, the case was regarded to be as a test of whether gender critical views – the belief there are just two biological sexes and it is impossible to change sex – could be protected philosophical beliefs under the 2010 Equality Act.
The Central London Employment Tribunal case has since upheld the dismissal, with Employment Judge James Tayler describing Forstater’s views as ‘incompatible with human dignity and fundamental rights of others’.
In his ruling, Judge Tayler said:
If a person has transitioned from male to female and has a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), that person is legally a woman. That is not something [Miss Forstater] is entitled to ignore.
[Miss Forstater’s] position is that even if a trans woman has a GRC, she cannot honestly describe herself as a woman. That belief is not worthy of respect in a democratic society.
Even paying due regard to the qualified right to freedom of expression, people cannot expect to be protected if their core belief involves violating others’ dignity and creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating, or offensive environment for them.
Making a statement through her Crowdjustice page, Forstater expressed her ‘shock and disbelief’ at the ruling:
I struggle to express the shock and disbelief I feel at reading this judgement, which I think will be shared by the vast majority of people who are familiar with my case.
My belief as I set out in my witness statement is that sex is a biological fact, and is immutable. There are two sexes, male and female. Men and boys are male. Women and girls are female. It is impossible to change sex. These were until very recently understood as basic facts of life by almost everyone.
As I said at my tribunal I will as a matter of courtesy use preferred pronouns and I support human rights. Everyone should be free to express themselves, to break free of gender stereotypes and to live free of violence, harassment and discrimination.
But this does not require removing people’s freedom to speak about objective reality, or to discuss proposed changes to law and to government policies clearly.
This case is a landmark ruling for British trans people, with the case setting a precedent for how trans people are treated at work.
The judge’s decision is a historic step forward in the protection of trans people from targeted gender identity based discrimination, including individuals who identity as non-binary or gender nonconforming.
This ruling has led to heated debate online, with many people believing her views on gender to be completely unacceptable and discriminatory.
However, it has also sparked the hashtag #IStandWithMaya amongst Forstater’s supporters, who believe her gender critical views should be respected.
Amongst these supporters was Harry Potter author JK Rowling, who has previously been criticised for liking tweets written by trans-exclusionary feminists (TERF), one of which referred to transgender women as ‘men in dresses’.
Tweeting to her 14.6 million followers, Rowling said:
Dress however you please.
Call yourself whatever you like.
Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you.
Live your best life in peace and security.
But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real?
Many people have expressed disgust at Rowling’s tweet, questioning why somebody who champions kindness and diversity within her writing would choose to take such a hurtful stance.
One person commented:
I’m not usually one to rely on your books for political analogy, because they’re for children, obviously, but I think it’s appropriate to make an exception in this case: You’ve just joined the Death Eaters.
As a gay man that found safety in Hogwarts throughout my childhood – knowing that Trans people wouldn’t be able to have that safety breaks my heart.
Even Human Rights Watch (HRW) stepped in to slam Rowling, tweeting:
Trans women are women.
Trans men are men.
Non-binary people are non-binary.
CC: JK Rowling.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues, and want to speak to someone in confidence contact Mindline Trans+ on 0300 330 5468. The line is open Mondays and Fridays, 8 pm to midnight and is run by trans volunteers.