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The Sunday Times, June 12, 2022

Brenda Power - Why women are right to defend their Terf

The invitation was mysteriously vague: would I be interested in attending an event that may or may not be happening, but would certainly include food? They had me at food, so I asked for more details. It'd be something like the event JK Rowling organised recently in London, came the reply. No need then for further explanation of the cloak-and-dagger tactics, and I was definitely in.

Since she queried the use of the term “people who menstruate” in preference to “women”, the Harry Potter author has been deemed transphobic - literally meaning a form of mental illness causing an irrational fear or hatred of trans people. She has also been subjected to abuse, death threats and attempts to erase her from the franchise she created.

Rowling recently hosted a lunch in London for a group of likeminded women, including some who had been “cancelled” and lost employment for their views. Women who believe that biological sex is immutable, and that being a woman is more than a costume to be donned or a feeling in a man’s head, are now called Terfs, or trans-exclusionary radical feminists. I was essentially being invited to a Terf event.

The location was kept secret until the last minute, and I won’t identify it for fear of a backlash against the very nice restaurant which took a chance on hosting 60 or more Terfs last Saturday week. When a woman carrying a placard stating “Woman = Adult Human Female” turned up at that sad National Women’s (People’s?) Council rally at the Dail last March, she was verbally abused by a group, including a large number of men, and asked to leave. You don’t want to draw those guys on a blameless restaurant, or indeed a group of women having lunch, so everyone respected the vow of omerta.

The guest of honour at the lunch was Helen Joyce, an editor at The Economist and author of Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality. In her brief speech she compared the trans ideology to Japanese knotweed: it has infiltrated every part of our lives when we weren’t looking.

The proof is all around us. Under the Gender Recognition Act, for example, all a man needs to do is make a statutory declaration in front of a solicitor, and he’s a woman. He can participate in women’s sport, including boxing. He can use women's toilets and changing rooms. He can be admitted to a women’s prison, and indeed there are two violent biological men in Limerick prison at present, one convicted of rape threats and who must be addressed as she.

The employers’ representative group Ibec recently circulated guidance that trans employees must be allowed to use the toilets of their gender. identity, not their biological sex, and any objectors should receive “training”. It has become “standard practice”, Ibec says, for staff to include their preferred pronouns — he/him, she/her — in email signatures.

To those of us who believe there’s more to being a woman than a frock and a feeling, that’s like saying it’s standard practice to begin every working day with a Hail Mary, because the trans ideology has all the hallmarks of a new religion.

Sceptics sneer when a man in a dress purports to turn the biological reality of bread and wine into something entirely different through transubstantiation. Yet when a man in a dress purports to turn the biological reality of masculinity into femininity through the process of transitioning, we are supposed to bend the knee. Or possibly face prosecution as hate criminals.

The extent to which the Transgender Equality Network Ireland (Teni) is now directing public policy is alarming. It collaborated on Ibec’s document, and Niall Muldoon, the ombudsman for children, has admitted that his article demanding more access to medical treatment for transgender children was also composed with Teni’s guidance.

According to the HSE, meanwhile, it’s “people with cervixes” who get cervical cancer, but men get prostate cancer. The Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2022 amends maternity legislation by replacing “woman” with “person”. Sara Phillips, who chairs Teni, fathered three children before transitioning and sits on the board of the National Women’s Council, has admitted to resuming her male identity for a job interview as “I didn’t believe I'd get a fair shake if I presented myself as female".

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