A conference in Dublin, which was addressed by leading campaigners for women’s rights, has been told that transgender ideology is being taught like a “religion” in schools.
Helen Joyce, a former editor at The Economist, said that the teaching of “gender ideology” in schools had become like a “neo-religion”.
“In England, our schools have adopted gender identity dogma which purports that how you feel and how you present yourself is what makes you male or female,” she said. “I don’t think that schools should be teaching children lies or unethical ideological material like this. You can’t actually change your sex. It’s not possible.
“We’re not just supporting children to change their sex, we’re encouraging them to do it and we’re presenting it as social justice. We’re creating mass body dysmorphia, which is a very dangerous situation,” she said according to the Times.
The journalist said that the trend of rising numbers of children who felt they wanted to change sex was being driven by what was being taught in schools.
Schools in Ireland are encouraging children to explore gender identity separately from their parents, she said, and children are asked to compare themselves to “stereotypes of the sexes”.
“I don’t think that schools should be teaching children lies or unethical ideological material,” she said. “This is an activist ideological agenda and schools should not be pushing activist agendas.”
“Lots of people don’t fit a stereotype according to their sex and there’s nothing wrong with that — it doesn’t mean you have to change your body,” she said. “It’s a sexist way of thinking.”
At least 200 people attended the conference, organised by Women’s Space to Speak, who say that women’s voices are being silenced on transgender issues, even as biological males are being allowed into women’s sports – and are being placed in women’s prisons and domestic violence shelters which were traditionally women-only spaces.
Irish schools have become somewhat of a battleground in the controversy, and many parents have been shocked to learn that children may be told that their biological sex does not determine whether they are a boy or a girl, or by radical changes to the curriculum which may be leading to confusion amongst children as to whether they are a boy or a girl.
Some transgender activists insist that gender is fluid and that parents cannot assume a child is a boy or a girl based on their sexual organs.
The Dublin conference was also warned that the forthcoming hate-speech bill which enjoys cross-party support, would be used to target anyone who said that biological sex was a reality or affirmed that a woman was an ‘adult female human’.
Christina Ellingsen, who is being investigated by the Norwegian police over asserting that men cannot be women, girls, mothers or lesbians after Norway introduced the concept of “gender identity” into Norwegian hate crime laws, also addressed the conference.
Gender self-identification was introduced in Norway in 2016, similar to Ireland.
Ellingsen, who faces faces a prison sentence of up to three years said: “I haven’t said anything wrong or remotely hateful,” she said. “In any democracy there are bound to be differences of opinion but what I’ve said has been reported as hate speech.”
“The law has been abused in Norway and will be abused here,” she said. “Women here will be prosecuted for simply having the belief that gender is biological and cannot be changed, and for speaking about it.”
UK-based barrister and employment lawyer Anya Palmer, who successfully represented barrister Maya Forstater in her landmark case about holding the belief that biological sex is real, told the conference that the case might not have succeeded here.
She said that while a British employment tribunal had found that Forstater’s suffered discrimination because of her protected belief that sex is real, those beliefs were not protected in Ireland because an EU law had not been fully implemented.
“This should have been done by December 2003,” she said. “Instead of making it unlawful to discriminate on grounds of religion or belief, Ireland only made it unlawful to discriminate based on ‘religious belief’ — not other beliefs.
“This is a case of failure to implement a directive correctly. I believe this could be challenged in the High Court, and I would encourage Irish women to do that.”
Stella O’Malley, a leading psychotherapist who has spoken about the concerns of rushing young people into sex change treatments, told the meeting that people should not be made afraid to speak about transgender issues.
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Iseult White, a granddaughter of Seán MacBride, one of the founders of Amnesty International also spoke about the “chilling” effect of hate-speech legislation. Ms White spoke up when Amnesty published a letter demanding the removal of “legitimate representation” from men and women who believe sex is binary and that it is material in people’s lives, particularly in the lives of women and children.
“For too long, the successful demands of those promoting gender identity have been the only voices heard along with the claim that affording extra rights to those who identify as the opposite sex doesn’t affect the rights of women and children,” said a spokeswoman for Women’s Space Ireland, a website designed to raise awareness of women’s sex-based rights as well as the need to safeguard children from the risks posed by the promotion of “gender identity”.
“We know that many women and men are not just concerned at the consequences of the 2015 Gender Recognition Act but at the plans for more legislation to embed the concept of gender identity further into Irish society.”
“The main addition to the Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Crime) Bill 2022, which will replace our existing 1989 legislation, appears to be the protection of ‘gender’ including ‘gender expression or identity’. There is also the planned addition of ‘gender identity’ to our equality legislation, into a ban on conversion therapy and the possible extension of legal gender recognition to children under 16.”