Welcome to the Sex Matters memo, a weekly roundup on sex and gender. This week: 
  • Tell your MP to "press pause" on conversion therapy
  • New Olympics rules undermine single-sex sport
  • Lawyers' LGBT meeting includes gender critical speaker 
  • GP Adrian Harrop's tribunal progresses
  • Government funding awarded to controversial LGBT schools group
  • Former aide opens-up about Stonewall's influence on PM
  • Peers debate amendment to keep males out of female prisons
  • UN expert rails against gender critical campaigners
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Conversion therapy: press pause
Three weeks ago the government launched a consultation on banning conversion therapy. Usually, the public would be given twelve weeks in which to respond, but the time period has been reduced to just six in order that the legislation can be well under way in time for the "Safe To Be Me: A Global Equality Conference" in June 2022.

The proposed law risks criminalising parents, teachers, therapists, social workers and others, if they do not affirm a child's gender self-identification. Among the most likely to identify as trans are autistic children, those traumatised by abuse and those who will grow up to be same-sex attracted. In their current form, the proposals would prevent the underlying causes of gender dysphoria from being explored.

Over 1,500 people have already used Sex Matters' template form to ask their MPs to press the government to:

1. Extend the consultation period beyond six weeks.
2. Revisit the research evidence.
3. Wait until the Cass Review of paediatric gender-identity services has completed its work.

Sex Matters' position paper on the conversion therapy ban can be read here.
Email your MP
Guidelines threaten women's sport
After a two-year consultation process, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) this week released its new "Framework on Fairness, Inclusion and Non-Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity and Sex Variations".

The framework is based on ten principles which prioritise inclusion and the desires of athletes who identify as trans above the needs of women.

The IOC said: "The principles contained in the Framework are aimed at ensuring that competition in each of these categories is fair and safe, and that athletes are not excluded solely on the basis of their transgender identity or sex variations."

Point five, "No Presumption of Advantage", could potentially spell the end of women's sports, since it means that males will no longer have to reduce their testosterone in order to compete as women. Previously, the IOC had recommended that trans women suppress their testosterone levels to under 10 n/mol per litre for at least twelve months to compete. In fact, this did little to narrow the wide performance gap between the sexes, but at least reduced the number of males eligible. Now all objective criteria for male inclusion in women's events look likely to be removed.
Activist GP at tribunal

This week has seen transgender activist and GP, Adrian Harrop, before a tribunal to determine his fitness to practise. Fifteen charges have been filed against him, all of which relate to his social-media use. Foremost among them is the accusation that he targeted a woman and shared personal details about her to his followers.

Ryan Donoghue, for the General Medical Council, told the tribunal:

"He [Harrop] felt so strongly that he was right that he saw it as his job to silence those on the other side of the debate."

Despite the case being ongoing, an interview with Harrop appeared in Vice News. Author. According to its author, former BBC LGBT correspondent Ben Hunte, "VICE World News was sent all of the material being discussed in the tribunal, including the full dossier of allegations, witness statements, and documents defending the doctor."

The case continues.

Sex Matters' chair speaks at LGBT law event
On Tuesday 16th November an event titled "The fight to ban gay conversion therapy" was hosted by Middle Temple (an Inn of Court).

As initially plannned, the panel would not have included any gender-critical voices: the chief executive of Stonewall, Nancy Kelley, was scheduled to appear alongside Kieran Aldred, Stonewall’s head of policy, and Robin Allen QC.

But just days before the event, after representations from gender-critical lawyers and others, the title was changed to "Banning Conversion Practices: The Path to Good Law", and Sex Matters chair, barrister Naomi Cunningham, was added to the lineup.

As soon as the decision to include Cunningham was announced, a letter of protest was drafted. Jolyon Maugham QC and other transactivists complained bitterly on social media. Signatories of the letter argued that the decision sent "a damaging message to trans members".

Nonetheless, the event went ahead as advertised and Cunningham gave her speech alongside Kelley and Jayne Ozanne, an evangelical Christian and lesbian who spent 20 years seeking conversion therapy to change her sexual orientation and now wants such practices banned, even for adults normally regarded as competent to consent. It was another important step towards ending the Stonewall-declared era of "no debate".

Cunningham's speech can be read here.
Maya Forstater wrote about the event in The Critic. 
PM receiving one-sided advice
On Saturday former senior government aide Nikki da Costa broke the taboo of silence which usually surrounds the workings of Number 10 and spoke to The Times.

Having resigned from her post as director of legislative affairs at Number 10 in August, da Costa revealed that advice given the the PM is "skewed" by the influence of Stonewall. Although da Costa declined to name names, Johnson's most senior advisers include figures such as Henry Newman who has supported the lobby group.

"The PM is not receiving the range of opinions on the debate around gender identity that he should," da Costa said. "It is a result of a very small group of advisers being able to control what goes in the prime minister’s box and the advice he sees."

Government funds LGBTQ school groups

This week, the Department for Education (DfE) announced that a new round of funding, worth over £1 million, had been handed to five organisations to help schools and colleges "tackle bullying focused on protected characteristics".

But two of the recipients, Diversity Role Models (DRM) and Equaliteach, have questionable records. Both teach the concept of "gender identity" as fact, potentially breaching the DfE's own guidelines. In addition, Equaliteach and DRM advise schools that toilets and changing rooms should be separated by gender identity, not sex.

Equaliteach challenges "cisnormativity" within lessons and promotes the use of pronouns based on self-declared gender identity rather than sex, telling children: "Some people are more comfortable using gender-neutral pronouns such as they/their or ze/zir."

Last year Equaliteach released a statement smearing the established gender-critical group Transgender Trend. The statement was so shocking it drew the opprobrium of Equalities Minister Liz Truss.
Prison policy debate

On Monday, peers in the House of Lords discussed an amendment to the Policing and Crime Bill that would see "sex-specific incarceration for violent and sexual offenders". The debate was secured thanks to the work of the group Keep Prisons Single Sex.

At present offenders who have a gender recognition certificate (GRC) must be allocated to the female estate. Their offending history and anatomy are all considered irrelevant. Those without a GRC can apply to be transferred to a women's prison and will be considered case by case.

Powerful speeches were given, and the usually polite tone of discussion in House of Lords became acrimonious at times. Comments by former director of Liberty, Labour Baroness Shami Chakrabarti, drew particular criticism on social media. She referred to male, transgender sex offenders as "migrants" into the female sex.

The amendment didn't pass, though there is likely to be further discussion on the placement of male violent and sexual offenders who identify as women.

UN expert slams critics of gender

A report entitled "Practices of Exclusion" by Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the UN's independent expert on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), has drawn criticism from feminist, religious and LGB groups around the world.

Madrigal-Borloz has complained of a backlash against the incorporation of gender-identity frameworks in international human-rights law. In the report he accuses those with gender-critical views of evoking "a global conspiracy and create an atmosphere of panic and moral concern".

In response to the report, the LGB Alliance said:

"It is time to halt this dangerous drive to take us back decades, to a world of gender stereotypes. Every sentence that combines sexual orientation with gender identity obscures the conflict between them – to the detriment of LGB people."

What to read and watch

Listen to Stonewall chief executive Nancy Kelley on BBC Woman's Hour as she struggles to defend the charity's ailing reputation. It contains some unguarded and probably ill-advised admissions by Kelley.

Or read our transcript. 

This week marks #transawarenessweek which makes it the perfect time to share this piece by Madison Smith. Smith forensically unpicks some of the oft-repeated myths about the vulnerability of those who identify as transwomen.

Listen to this moving speech by barrister Allison Bailey, co-founder of the LGB Alliance, about why the organisation is so desperately needed.

Read Times columnist Janice Turner's insightful and moving interview with Professor Kathleen Stock.
And finally...

This week Ellie Mae O'Hagan, former Guardian journalist and director of the CLASS think tank, made a statement on live television so astonishing that she may never live it it down.

In response to a question from the presenter asking her about the definition of "woman", O'Hagan announced to viewers of BBC Politics Live:

"You know, I actually don’t know why some people are women and some people are men." Those who claimed to be able to tell the sexes apart, she added, were "liars".

The clip can be seen here.

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