PC Culture

This Week at the U.N.: Feminist Concern about Transgenderism Is ‘Misplaced’

Scotland First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon addresses the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh in 2017. REUTERS/ (Russell Cheyne/Reuters)
Scotland’s highest-ranking politician sides with radical LGBTI activists who advocate gender ‘transitioning’ for children.

Christopher Hitchens used to say that “that which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” I wonder what he would have made of modern “gender identity” theory — that quasi-mystical and unfalsifiable belief one has about oneself, which can supposedly override one’s biological sex.

In any case, thanks to “gender identity” policies in the U.S., girls who “identify” as boys are having double mastectomies as young as 13 while parents are being reported to child services for addressing their children by their correct, sex-based, pronouns. Because of “gender identity” policies in the U.K., males who “identify” as females are getting access to women’s-only spaces — like Karen White, a transgender male who sexually assaulted female inmates in a women’s prison — while law-abiding citizens are being reprimanded by the police for tweeting their doubts about transgenderism.

And because of “gender identity” laws and policies, doctors, parents and women across the political spectrum are speaking out to say that enough is enough is enough. Is anyone listening?

My home country, Scotland, is proudly progressive when it comes to “gender identity.” As the serving first minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon is my country’s highest-ranking politician. Yesterday, she was speaking about human rights at the United Nations. I attended this conference and raised some of these concerns with her.

I said:

My name is Madeleine Kearns. I’m also from Scotland, as you will probably hear. My question relates to women’s rights specifically.

As a journalist, I’ve spoken to many feminists — and particularly lesbians — from the U.K. and the U.S. who are very concerned about the implications of legally enshrined “gender identity” for women and children’s sex-based rights and protections.

So, I’d like to ask the first minister if she understands “woman” to mean adult human female or a person who identifies as a woman — and how Scotland plans on addressing some of the obvious concerns that come from this question.

Sturgeon replied:

Well, this is a very live debate in Scotland right now, as it is across the U.K. and in many other countries. Scotland has plans to bring forward legislation to simplify the process around gender recognition. It doesn’t change the fundamentals. It simply makes that process easier. And, I hope, intends to put more dignity into that process for people who are going through the process of changing their gender.

The debate would be a lot more “live,” I’m sure, if the Scottish government hadn’t decided that criticizing transgender ideology is a “hate incident.” But at any rate, here she is referring to the proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act that would allow a person to change his or her legal gender simply by filling out a form, and that could make it possible for minors to change their legal gender, too. She continued:

This debate has become, in many countries, very polarized, and I think it’s incumbent on all of us to try and depolarize it. The reason why I think it’s important to simplify the procedure around gender recognition is that many transgender people go through extreme difficulties in a whole range of different ways and I think we should be doing everything we can to address that and to recognize their rights and to allow them to express those rights as fully as possible.

This, of course, does not address the premise of my question, which related to the definition of “woman” and concerns related to their sex-based rights and protections for children. She continued:

In my view, some of the concerns that are expressed on the part of women and feminists, while we have to listen and understand that, I think many of those are misplaced.

She didn’t specify which concerns were “misplaced” or why they are. Instead, she continued:

As an ardent, passionate feminist, and have been all of my life, I don’t see the greater recognition of transgender rights as a threat to me as a woman or to my feminism. But I think there is a need to bring different parts of this debate together and to try to find the way forward that will respect the rights of transgender people and recognizes and hopefully addresses some of the concerns that are expressed.

I wonder if Sturgeon would have anything to say to the “ardent, passionate” feminists and women’s-rights activists whom I recently interviewed for National Review Online and who, only last week, were busy fostering transatlantic and bipartisan resistance to legally enshrined “gender identity.” Or the group of “ordinary women from all over Scotland who have come together to fight for women’s and children’s rights,” For Women Scotland.

Later in the conference, a man called Peter Smith introduced himself as the grandfather of Scottish children and asked specifically about parental rights. He said that in “some jurisdictions,” children have been removed from their parents’ custody if the parents refused to affirm their self-declared “gender identity.” (Indeed, only two days ago, I interviewed such a parent living in Spain.)

Smith pointed to research conducted in the Netherlands and elsewhere suggesting that over 80 percent of children with gender dysphoria (a marked feeling of incongruence with one’s sex) will grow out of it by the end of adolescence if they have not socially transitioned or received hormone treatment. Though this, of course, is to say nothing about the unprecedented surge of “rapid-onset gender dysphoria” among teenage girls and likely social contagion. And Smith did not go into the grisly details of medical harms inflicted on children who undergo life-altering sex-change treatments and surgeries. Both of these points only strengthen the argument for caution.

Sturgeon replied to Smith:

Let me say that nobody wants to see children be taken away from their parents and nobody wants to see parental rights not being given appropriate respect, but I’m also grateful that the rights of children and young people, and we’ve been talking here this morning, and I’ve been talking about the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and I think it’s really important that we also give recognition, and I’m not sure that I would quite as glibly talk about young people growing out of things.

Why “glibly”? She didn’t say. Instead, she continued:

I have had the privilege of speaking to so many young people, including transgender young people, young gay and lesbian young people, and the difficulties and the challenges that they face in being themselves — and they have a right to be themselves — can be considerable, and I think our duty is to help and support them, not make the challenges they face even more difficult.

One of the things that I’m very proud of, as first minister, was as a country that has a very good record on LGBTI rights and that has become the first country in the world to embed LGBTI education into the school curriculum. And I think that is really important, and it’s grounded on that respect for the rights of children and young people.

The “I” in the “LGBTI” acronym represents “intersex” conditions, known in medical literature as “disorders of sex development,” which are unrelated to the respective categories of sexual orientation (“LGB”) and “gender identity” (“T”).

And what might this mandatory LGBTI education look like? As it happens, I can tell you. Before I became a journalist, I trained as a teacher in Scotland, where I received instruction from an organization called LGBT Youth Scotland, which receives significant amounts of public money from Sturgeon’s government every year.

Our “expert” trainer (a teacher turned full-time activist) told us that the transgender “umbrella” ranges from a child “who does in their own mind think ‘Wow, this body’s wrong and doesn’t fit me’” to a boy who “thinks ‘I’m fine with my body, but actually I don’t buy this masculine clothing thing.’” Which is rather a lot of children to be uncritically socially transitioned by their teachers (who, smart and savvy though they may be, are hardly qualified to do on-the-spot psychological evaluations).

Indeed, this is a crucial point that is often neglected. Social transition — which is what this trainer was telling us to undertake for any child who claimed to be transgender — is a form of psychological treatment for gender dysphoria. Not just that. It is a form of psychological treatment that typically leads to irreversible medical and surgical outcomes. Britain’s main gender-identity clinic has seen an increase of over 4,000 percent in the number of girls seeking medical treatment for gender confusion in less than a decade. How many of those girls will be sterilized for life? How many will have their breasts cut off? How many will, like one 19-year-old lesbian I met, feel bitter regret?

And what about the parents? Our LGBT Youth Scotland trainer also told us that we should avoid “outing” transgender children to their parents and, if the child so wished, exclude parents from the process entirely. This approach has the full backing of the Scottish government. And an increasing number of U.S. states — such as New Jersey — have similar guidelines.

Excluding parents from serious welfare decisions is particularly concerning given LGBT Youth Scotland’s poor safeguarding history. In 2007, their chief executive was arrested — and later convicted — for being the ringleader in Scotland’s largest pedophile network and for “conspiring to get access to children.” Weirdly, though, no one thinks to mention that.

Nor do activists lament the treatment that women’s-rights campaigner Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull received for daring to criticize Susie Green, the chief executive of Mermaids U.K. (an English charity that, like LGBT Youth Scotland, aggressively promotes transition treatments for gender-confused youth). After Keen-Minshull criticized Green, on Twitter, for taking her 16-year-old son to Thailand for a now-illegal sex-change operation, Green complained of hate speech. In response, the police launched an investigation into Keen-Minshull.

So, there we have it. A quick trip to the U.N. from NRO’s office to find out that the first minister of Scotland thinks that concerns over “gender identity” laws and policies are “misplaced.” Either Sturgeon is ignorant of what is happening as a result of these laws and policies or she doesn’t care. In either case, it is high time that she and other world leaders quit their virtue-signaling and dealt with the facts.

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Madeleine Kearns is a William F. Buckley Fellow in Political Journalism at the National Review Institute. She is from Glasgow, Scotland, and is a trained singer.

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