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Topics: Cultural Engagement, Transgenderism

British Legal Reasoning Takes Us Through the Looking Glass

December 19, 2019

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

Excerpt from Lewis Caroll’s Through the Looking Glass

Earlier this year, Western legal reasoning crossed the Rubicon. Now it seems we are through the looking glass.

Yet another decision was handed down this week by a British judge that sounds more like it was written by Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass than a member of the Western legal tradition. The judge’s decision is as radical as they come, for it effectively marginalizes anyone who refuses to conform to the radical group-think of transgenderism.

Maya Forstater, the employee at the center of the controversy, was fired from her job when “anti-trans” comments from her social media account surfaced. What beliefs were so radical in her comments that required her firing? Forstater believes that biological males are men and biological females are women, and she “lacks belief” — this is the actual terminology used by the judge in the decision — that trans women are actually women.

This judge’s decision continued to make waves as it caught the attention of many in the media, including well-known author J. K. Rowling:

Seeing the reaction to Rowling’s tweet, it is clear her non-conformity and belief that “sex is real” is not going over well with the culture-makers.

“Not worthy of respect in a democratic society”

The legal reasoning in this judge’s decision is astounding. The judge concludes that beliefs like Maya’s — which, let’s be clear, represent the beliefs of the majority of the world living today as well as the near-universal beliefs of every human prior to 2015 — are “not worthy of respect in a democratic society” and are incompatible with “human dignity and fundamental rights of others.” In other words, if you believe only males are men and females are women, you are no longer allowed in polite society — or even allowed to do an honest day’s work.

The judge appeals to the authority of a gender-activist professor in order to “scientifically” establish the fluidity of gender and sex. Dr. Fausto-Sterling, Professor Emerita of Biology and Gender Studies in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and Biochemistry at Brown University (yes, that Brown University), is quoted in the decision saying,

“There has been a lot of new scientific research on this topic since the 1950s. But those looking to biology for an easy-to-administer definition of sex and gender can derive little comfort from the most important of these findings. For example, we now know that rather than developing under the direction of a single gene, the foetal embryonic testes or ovaries develop under the direction of opposing gene networks, one of which represses male development while stimulating female differentiation and the other of which does the opposite. What matters, then, is not the presence or absence of a particular gene but the balance of power among gene networks acting together or in a particular sequence. This undermines the possibility of using a simple genetic test to determine ‘true sex.'”

Curious about this statement, I looked up Dr. Fausto-Sterling to see what else she has said. Only a few minutes on her personal website gave me this gem:

“I am deeply committed to the ideas of the modern movements of gay and women’s liberation, which argue that the way we traditionally conceptualize gender and sexual identity narrows life’s possibilities while perpetuating gender inequality. In order to shift the politics of the body, one must change the politics of science itself.

Indeed! Honestly, I thought the dots would be a little harder to connect. What is Dr. Fausto-Sterling’s stated goal? Truth in the name of scientific inquiry? No! She wants to “shift the politics of the body.” How does she go about accomplishing this? The rigor of the scientific method? Of course not! She aims to “change the politics of science”! You may be forgiven if you didn’t know that there was such a thing as “politics” in science. But you can put this quote in your ever-growing file of reasons to disregard scientism and bald appeals to capital-“s” Science.

Nevertheless, the judge in this case appeals to Dr. Fausto-Sterling’s authority in order to overturn millennia of religious, philosophical — yes, even scientific — reasoning on sex.

You must think like Humpty Dumpty, or else

What is to be done with people, like Maya, who continue to believe against the “science” of Dr. Fausto-Sterling? The judge rounds out his decision with Humpty Dumpty-like precision:

“The Claimant could generally avoid the huge offense caused by calling a trans woman a man without having to refer to her as a woman, as it is often not necessary to refer to a person’s sex at all. However, where it is, I consider requiring the Claimant to refer to a trans woman as a woman is justified to avoid harassment of that person.”

According to this judge, it is no longer reasonable to merely allow transgender people to believe what they believe about themselves. We must join them — and affirm them — in their belief. Don’t believe me? Here are the judge’s concluding words:

“It is also a slight [sic] of hand to suggest that the Claimant merely does not hold the belief that trans women are women. She positively believes that they are men; and will say so whenever she wishes. Put either as a belief or lack of belief, the view held by the Claimant fails the Grainger criteria and so she does not have the protected characteristic of philosophical belief.

The Grainger criteria cited by this judge come from a precedent-setting decision that functions much like the US First Amendment in protecting religious liberty. Don’t miss this: there is no longer any protection for those who not only believe that only biological males are men and biological females are women, but who also lack the belief that trans women are actually women.

This totalitarian impulse is spreading throughout the West, and it is happening not as a result of science, but of propaganda. Recognizing and refuting that propaganda is going to be our burden going forward, for the ideology is toxic — as Maya Forstater just painfully found out.

Woe to those who call evil good
    and good evil,
who put darkness for light
    and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
    and sweet for bitter!
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
    and shrewd in their own sight!

Isaiah 5:20–21

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