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Response to Maya Forstater judgement

Responding to today’s judgment in the Maya Forstater case, Helen Belcher, for TransActual UK said: “I am very pleased that the judges in her Appeal have upheld the law much as most trans individuals believed it to be.” 

“There are two issues in this case. The first, settled today, is whether a gender critical view of gender may be considered to have the status of ‘philosophical belief’.

“This, the judges confirmed today, was possible. Though it may be that in time those supporting Forstater will come to regret this case, as the ruling today makes clear that pretty much any belief short of outright Nazism or totalitarianism would be afforded the protection of the law (par 111).

“Advocates of an absolute right to unfettered free speech may celebrate that. The rest of us are left wondering what the implications of this are for those who might be targeted by someone holding other such ‘philosophical beliefs’, such as ‘all women should stay at home and have babies’, or ‘white people are genetically superior to others’.

“And, while the ruling seemed to take the gender critical view as a philosophical debating point, such a view has very real impacts on trans people and how we live our lives which seemed to be totally ignored. 

“More positively, the judges throughout were at pains to distinguish between the right to hold such a belief and the expression of it. In particular, they were very clear that repeatedly misgendering a trans individual in the workplace could still count as harassment or discrimination, and possession of a gender critical philosophical belief was no shield to such a claim (par 104). 

“They made clear that this judgment does not permit those with gender-critical beliefs to ‘misgender’ trans persons with impunity. Also, that the Equality Act still protects trans people from discrimination and harassment. (par 118).

“In short, as one commentator put it: ‘you have the right to hold abhorrent views. But nobody has won the right to act out like a spoiled child because of them’.

“All that Forstater has won is that her tribunal may be heard again, bearing in mind the judges’ comments today.”

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