A British tribunal last month ruled against a woman claiming her employer fired her for saying people cannot change their biological sex.
Maya Forstater, a former tax expert at a think tank in London, filed a complaint with the Central London Employment Tribunal early last year. She claimed the Center for Global Development dismissed her over her tweets criticizing the British government’s plan to allow citizens to self-declare whether they are male or female.
Forstater, a 45-year-old self-described feminist, said she was concerned about how such laws would affect women and girls, especially regarding single-sex spaces, including shelters, prisons, changing rooms, hospital wards, and women’s sports.
“I am concerned that governments around the world are rushing through laws and policies which say that people with male bodies can become women simply by identifying as women,” Forstater wrote on a crowdfunding page set up to help her pay her legal fees. “This is happening without adequate consultation or consideration for the impact on women’s privacy, safety, and inclusion.”
In November, Forstater and her attorneys argued before Employment Judge James Tayler that she faced unlawful discrimination for her “gender critical” beliefs—specifically that sex is a material reality that should not be conflated with gender, that being female is an immutable biological fact, that sex matters, and that it is particularly important to be able to talk about sex in order to take action against the discrimination, violence, and oppression that still affect women and girls because they were born female.
But Tayler disagreed. In his decision rendered on Dec. 18, he said Forstater’s approach was “not worthy of respect in a democratic society,” concluding, “The Claimant is absolutist in her view of sex and it is a core component of her belief that she will refer to a person by the sex she considered appropriate even if it violates their dignity and/or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.”
The judge’s low-profile ruling quickly garnered global attention, thanks to J.K. Rowling, author of the bestselling Harry Potter series of books. On Dec. 19, the politically progressive Rowling tweeted, “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? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill.”
The Twitterverse quickly castigated Rowling, labeling her a “trans-exclusionary radical feminist,” or “TERF,” a slur used against feminists who are critical of transgender ideology. Critics called her transphobic and said her legacy as an author was forever tainted. “Trans women are women. Trans men are men. Non-binary people are non-binary. CC: JK Rowling,” tweeted LGBT advocacy giant the Human Rights Campaign.
But despite relentless attacks, Rowling has not backed down, defying the path well-worn by celebrities who either accidentally or intentionally cross the transgender agenda. She has not publicly apologized or removed her original tweet, and the LGBT group GLAAD told Variety that Rowling refused its invitation to take part in an off-the-record discussion between the author and transgender individuals.
Forstater said she is considering the ruling with her legal team and will determine what can be done to challenge it.
“There are two sexes. Men are male. Women are female. It is impossible to change sex,” Forstater tweeted after Tayler’s decision. “These were until very recently understood as basic facts of life. … This judgement removes women’s rights and the right to freedom of belief and speech. It gives judicial license for women and men who speak up for objective truth and clear debate to be subject to aggression, bullying, no platforming and economic punishment.”