First Draft of the GRARG Manifesto

October 3rd 2020

All comments welcome. Either comment below the post or email

EDITS 4th October IN BOLD

Comments in italic

Thanks to all for your comments. If you made them on Twitter, apologies if they got lost, I may not have captured all.

With regard to the ‘self evident’ truths I think we need to achieve unanimity, or as near as possible. These are the matters that we will no longer agree to spend time debating. They are facts and they are true.

Those matters we deem worthy of discussion can be more contentious – it is not for us to press for any particular solution. But I think it is important that we at least engage with what these solutions might be.

We hold these truths to be self evident.

  1. The definition of a ‘woman’ is ‘adult human female’
  2. The definition of a ‘man’ is ‘adult human male’.
  3. There are only two sexes; male and female.
  4. Sex is determined at fertilisation and revealed at birth or, increasingly, in utero.
  5. Sex is not determined by clothes worn, hairstyles, choice of pronouns or activities.
  6. Sex is immutable and objective.
  7. The existence of rare and well-described ‘disorders ‘differences of sexual differentiation’ (so called ‘intersex’ conditions) does not negate the fact that sex is binary and does not prove the existence of any ‘third sex’. It is unacceptable to attempt to use those with DSDs to provide support for any such argument. A person with a DSD is either male or female.
  8. Gender describes a social system that varies over time and location and involves shaping of a set of behaviours, clothing or activities deemed appropriate for one’s sex.
  9. Gender can be perceived as oppressive and potentially painful harmful to all people of both sexes as it may impose unfair and limiting stereotypes on both men and women.
  10. Gender is mutable and subjective.
  11. ‘Gender identity’ is a phrase used to describe a belief held by a minority of people about their identities and the nature of them. This may be expressed by clothes worn, hairstyles, choice of pronouns and activities.
  12. A belief in a ‘gender identity’ has no basis in science and therefore is akin to any other religious belief; it is subjective, cannot be falsified and is not universally accepted as true.
  13. ‘Sex’ ‘gender’ and ‘gender identity’ are therefore substantially categorically different things and must not be conflated.
  14. Sex is a protected characteristic pursuant to the Equality Act 2010. ‘Gender’ or ‘Gender identity’ are not.
  15. Single-sex spaces are protected by the Equality Act if for a proportionate and legitimate aim.
  16. All have a right to live free from abuse, harassment, victimisation and unlawful discrimination, regardless of their actual sex or claimed gender identity and the State has a positive obligation to protect these rights by use of either the civil or the criminal law.
  17. There is a distinction between a personal right to claim a freedom to do something (choose one’s sexual or marital partner for e.g.) and claiming a right of entitlement to goods, services or employment prospects.
  18. A right of entitlement is meaningless without the law to recognise and enforce it. Therefore both the entitlement and the person claiming it must be capable of clear definition.
  19. If the State wishes to elevate any particular characteristic as attracting greater protection at law, that characteristic must be capable of definition.
  20. Sex is capable of such definition; ‘gender’ and ‘gender identity’ are not.

Definitions of sex and gender from Sex, gender and gender identity: a re-evaluation of the evidence BJPsych Bulletin July 2020.

We hold these issues worthy of discussion

  1. Section 9 of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA) is not fit for purpose and should be amended or repealed

Where a full gender recognition certificate is issued to a person, the person’s gender becomes for all purposes the acquired gender (so that if the acquired gender is the male gender, the person’s sex becomes that of a man, and if it is the female gender, the person’s sex becomes that of a woman).

2. The Gender Recognition Act creates a ‘legal fiction’ in that the holder of a Gender Recognition Certificate has ‘changed sex’ and must now be treated as the opposite sex, save for the defined exceptions. How this interacts extent to which the ‘legal fiction’ of the Gender Recognition Certificate operates with the Equality Act 2010 to allow males access to female single-sex spaces is confusing, not well understood and persistently mis-represented over time.

3. Single-sex spaces remain necessary for women and girls, for their safety dignity and well being; the activities that take place in these spaces are such that many women and girls would reasonably object to the presence of males. We are particularly concerned about those spaces where women and girls are accommodated in close proximity to each other and have little or no choice about how they enter or leave this space. For example, prisons, hospitals and women’s refuges.

4. Access to such spaces should not be automatically determined by possession of a Gender Recognition Certificate or any equivalent document and should NEVER be permitted by allowing a member of the male sex to identify as the female sex on his declaration alone (‘Self ID’). This is unlikely to be proportionate or legitimate as it risks harm to the dignity and/or safety of women and girls. comment: not sure why you say, “his declaration alone.” Surely all males should be excluded from access? I realise this excludes the ‘safe’ transexuals, but I’d be inclined to be more absolutist about this

5. Women and girls also have a right to be provided health or other intimate care from a person of the same sex

6. We recognise that some men and women do not feel comfortable to be identified as the sex they were born and wish to present and be treated as the opposite sex. This is often called ‘gender dysphoria’.

7. We agree that it is legitimate to ask how the ECHR Article 8 rights of such people to psychological integrity can be balanced against the rights of women and girls to single sex spaces. Comment: Does this point mean the we query the very possibility of ‘balancing’ against single-sex spaces? If so fine (but needs to be stated more clearly). Or does it mean that its legitimate to balance trans rights against women’s right’s to single-sex spaces? In which case, no. Women’s rights to single-sex spaces under EA exceptions must be off the table.

8. We agree it is reasonable to investigate how provision of third spaces could protect the psychological integrity of those with ‘gender dysphoria’ while protecting the rights of women and girls. Comment: do we need to even mention third spaces? This is not a problem for us to solve.

9. We do not agree that accessible spaces currently designated for those with the EA protected characteristic of disability should be automatically considered appropriate for use as such a ‘third space’ and where no such ‘third space’ exists, the assumption must never be that a single-sex female space can be used instead.

10. We agree it is reasonable to investigate how documents used to determine a person’s identity could be changed to remove any indication of a person’s sex for those situations were sex is irrelevant.

11. However we assert that registration of birth a birth certificate is a historical record and should record the sex of a person at birth and should not be changed. Birth certificates could however be issued in ‘short form’ to remove any reference to sex.

12. We assert that accurate recording of birth sex is also important for statistics, such as rates of criminal offending, and for ensuring that correct medical treatment is given.

13. We do not think that any child should be encouraged to access medication or surgery regarding their ‘gender identity’ before the age of 16 years. We do not think any child below the age of 16 should have access to puberty blockers or cross sex hormones regardless of whether or not that child is found to be Gillick competent to consent, and that it should be clearly stated in law that no child of any age should be permitted to consent to any surgical intervention which has as its main or primary goal alteration of observable sex characteristics. This provoked a lot of comment – I had initially used the age of 16 because I could not find any primary legislation that prohibited surgery for the over 16s – but it does seem that medical organisations do not permit their members to carry out such surgery on any person under 18 and some set the age limit even higher. Many argued for an upper age limit of 21 or even 25, given the seriousness of what was at stake. This is clearly a very important area that is going to need much more discussion and is beyond the remit of this document.

One detailed comment read:

Physical interventions for gender dysphoria should not be available within general clinical service (ie as a standard treatment) before the age of 25. The NHS Long Term Plan calls for a seamless mental health service from 0 to 25 and there’s widespread acceptance within healthcare professions of the distinct needs of the mid-teens to mid-twenties group. For example, the Royal College of Physicians says that “young adults and adolescents (YAA) aged between 16 and 25 years need to be considered as a defined population.” The CQC states that “Adolescence/young adulthood should be recognised across the health service as an important developmental phase”; NICE guidelines on transition to adult services calls for “everyone working with young people in transition up to the age of 25 [to understand]… young people’s development (biological, cognitive, psychological, psychosocial, sexual, social)” and the NHS’s own toolkit for delivering developmentally appropriate healthcare cautions that “young people’s development does not have a fixed time frame attached. Much of this development will take place after reaching the legal age of adulthood at 18.”

2. We don’t think that gender reassignment surgery should be available to any child (ie before the age of 18). This is also the current NHS position.

3. We believe that all physical interventions for gender dysphoria for this group should be available only within a research study. This would provide for independent ethical approval and oversight during the duration of the study; ensures reporting of outcomes, good and bad; signals clearly to patients that the interventions are experimental; and is the only way we’ll be able to determine their safety and efficacy, better than we can now.


7 thoughts on “First Draft of the GRARG Manifesto”

  1. Could you summarise (in a quick preamble, perhaps) what circumstances this addresses and what audience/goal it’s intended to serve? I think that would be helpful to support discussion around the articles themselves.

    For example, my first instinct is that this does not yet fully address the fundamental challenge of moving trans people’s needs from a patient’s rights footing to a human rights footing – eg, the implications this then has for assenting to trans adults’ belief that they were born this way, that they are a natural kind and ethical community, which as the logical consequence of constructing the “trans child”.

    However this more philosophical level of abstraction might not be of relevance to your purposes for this document?

    1. Sarah Phillimore

      We want to be part of a rational and evidence based debate that will lead to reform of the GRA. In its current form it is not fit for purpose and its interaction with the Equality Act is not well understood or properly applied. The major weakness is its conflation with sex and gender. We hope to provide a simple and clear document that we can circulate to those MPs who are currently identifying as ‘unsure’ on issues around sex and gender.

      The current ‘debate’ has become so toxic and polarised we think that more philosophical abstraction will have to wait until these basics can be established.

      But I think your point is a very interesting and important one so will attempt to incorporate it into a revised draft.

  2. I think this is a great starting point for us and I am impressed by the comments and your incorporation of them into the document Sarah. Most of the things I spotted as needing clarification/editing, someone has already mentioned it 🙂
    Printing it out and reading again, as my brain works better that way.

  3. Well done, looking very good.

    I’m wondering if we could subsume 13 into 14. No. 12 is a very strong statement that ‘gender identity’ is essentially a religion. And so I was thinking that it may weaken it if we then refer to it in no.13 as you have done? Better just to stick to the key point about GI not existing and should not be conflated with sex? So I suggest delete 13 and change 14 to this:

    14. Sex is a protected characteristic pursuant to the Equality Act 2010. ‘Gender’ or ‘Gender identity’ are not; and must not be conflated with it.

  4. No. 13 – where it says “and that it should be clearly stated in law that no child of any age should be permitted to consent to any surgical intervention which has as its main or primary goal alteration of observable sex characteristics”.

    Because the earlier reference in this section was to the age of 16, do we mean here by ‘child of any age’ an under 18 year old? (Because that’s the legal definition of a child). Can we amend this to ‘no child, i.e. under the age of 18’).

    I would be happier making it clear that we don’t think it appropriate for gender reassignment surgery to be available before the age of 18 – and to refer to this being the current NHS position seems sensible.

    [Personally I’d say 21 but I think it’s difficult to go ahead of where current guidelines stand, though we could add something about this being highly experimental, lacking an evidence base into long term outcomes; and we look to the forthcoming Cass review to provide much needed clarity on diagnosis, treatment and clinical management of GD…]

  5. I’m ok with 8 because the other statements are clear about single sex, and 9 rules out exploitation of disabled spaces. I think it’s worth indicating that we are happy to have a discussion about the needs of those whose rights claims are clashing with ours, under the conditions we specified – because it gives a bridge to those MPs who need a ‘solution’ to keep everyone happy, and its an undeniable solution to anyone rational. Good to keep mentioning ‘gender dysphoria’ because the onus is on others to claim this is an innate identity not an illness.

    I’m not sure what ‘automatically’ means in no. 4… Would this wording work:

    Access to such spaces should not be permitted to those in possession of a Gender Recognition Certificate or any equivalent document nor by allowing a member of the male sex to identify as the female sex on his declaration alone (‘Self ID’).

  6. No. 16: All have a right to live free from abuse, harassment, victimisation and unlawful discrimination, regardless of their actual sex or claimed gender identity…

    Could change ‘claimed gender identity’ to ‘how they choose to present themselves in public’ (if we consider it better to avoid mention of gender identity and spell out what this actually means …)

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