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April 14, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Two contrasting pieces of news crossed my path today. In the UK, the most liberal of the candidates for last year’s contest for the leadership of the Conservative Party, and now a non-party affiliated candidate for election and Mayor of London, Rory Stewart, recounted that when he had been a government minister with responsibility for prisons, there had been cases of (as he put it) “male prisoners self-identifying as females” raping members of staff. For this reason, he is not in favor of opening up “female spaces,” such a public lavatory, to all comers.

The other news item was that a women’s shelter in Canada, Vancouver Rape Relief, has been deprived of public funding for not letting in, well, all comers. Furthermore, it has been described in an article on Medium as a “neo-nazi style”, “cryptofacist” “hate group” for this stance. Even more intriguingly, when I clicked on the link to read the article making these claims, I was instead presented with an error message: “This post is under investigation or was found in violation of the Medium Rules.” So here’s a screenshot from Twitter.


Yes, readers, this will run and run. Some have suggested that the experience of politicians who found themselves on the losing side of the conflict—let’s not call it an “argument”—about same-sex “marriage” convinced many in the political class that the only thing to do when a “woke” bandwagon is rolling is to jump on board and shout “hurrah!” more loudly than anyone else, no matter how much popular opposition there might be to it. My personal favourite example of this process was the referendum in Taiwan which rejected changing marriage, which was simply ignored.

Letting prisoners, including those convicted of sexual crimes, choose whether to serve their prison sentences in prisons full or men or prisons full of women was, obviously, insane. Certainly, ministers had been assured by advocates for “trans rights” that the only people who would want to be incarcerated with women were either women in the normal sense or people with “female brains” and personality, who wouldn’t hurt a fly. But since it was part of the program that no assessment be made of the individuals concerned to determine whether this generalisation held true for each one, this claim seems a pretty feeble basis on which to build policy.

Didn’t ministers worry that they would be responsible for making possible horrible crimes? As Rory Stewart reminds us, these crimes have now been committed not only against prisoners, but against female staff. Female prison officers are trained in self-defence, but criminals can be pretty handy in that department too, and those whose physical development has taken place in the context of male puberty will almost certainly be bigger-boned and stronger than even well-developed “cis” women.

If anyone had been in any doubt on that point, the capture of female sports by “trans women” should have settled the matter. 

A purer example of the triumph of ideology over common sense would be difficult to imagine. Future generations will be astonished at was has been going on. The witch-panics, by comparison, were localised and episodic, but this is persistent and global. There are, however, signs that the “trans rights” movement may have overreached: resistance is becoming less unsayable, at least on my side of the Atlantic. But the extraordinary willingness of policy-makers and legislators to dismiss the interests of vulnerable people such as rape victims in order to burnish their woke credentials should not be forgotten. They should be held to account for this, just as they have in at least some cases be held to account for their tolerance of paedophilia in the 1970s.

From an abstract point of view, it is a fascinating phenomenon. In some ways, it continues longer-term trends, such as against sex-specific jobs. So, men and women are basically interchangeable, right? But actually the trans movement is saying the opposite of this. The categories of male and female are of supreme importance for them, while they simultaneously empty them of objective content. It is interesting to watch a politician trying to hold these two ideas together at the same time: the distinction between male and female is of fundamental importance and yet lacking in meaning. A nice example was given by the female candidates for the recent leadership election for the British Labour Party, who were unable to answer an apparently simple question: “what is a woman?”. 

What, after all, is the officially approved, ideologically correct answer to that question? I particularly liked this approach: “What is a woman? It depends why you ask.”

It may be another straw in the wind that the Labour Party contest was won by Keir Starmer, the candidate apparently least enthusiastic about the trans agenda, and also the only man.

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Dr Joseph Shaw has a Doctorate in Philosophy from Oxford University, where he also gained a first degree in Politics and Philosophy and a graduate Diploma in Theology. He has published on Ethics and Philosophy of Religion and is the editor of The Case for Liturgical Restoration: Una Voce Position Papers on the Extraordinary Form (Angelico Press). He is the Chairman of the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales and Secretary of Una Voce International. He teaches Philosophy in Oxford University and lives nearby with his wife and nine children.