Welcome to the Sex Matters memo, a weekly roundup on sex and gender. This week:
  • Home Office corrects equality policy 
  • Transactivist GP Adrian Harrop suspended
  • Educational equality scheme ditches data on sex
  • Science museum promotes gender-identity ideology
  • Trans road crossing costs over £10,000
  • First Minister Nicola Sturgeon blocks gender-critical campaigners
  • Canada could outlaw gender critical views
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Home Office shifts stance
Earlier this week a Sex Matters supporter tipped us off that the Home Office has amended its equality and diversity policy to now include the category of "sex" in its list of "protected characteristics". Such oversights have been found to be common within organisations which pay to be advised by Stonewall.

Last week Joanna Cherry MP challenged the Home Secretary about the Home Office's membership of the Stonewall Diversity Champions scheme. 

Sex Matters has been tracking which organisations have left Stonewall; twelve government departments have opted out so far this year. Working with legal experts, Sex Matters have produced a guide outlining the risks of accepting policy advice from Stonewall.

It seems it is not just government departments who are reviewing their policies and language on sex and gender. Yesterday the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) apologised for releasing guidance that failed to refer to women. On Twitter, the RCM said: 

"We would like to apologise that women are not mentioned in our recent safer sleeping guidance. This was a huge oversight on our part, especially as we are committed as an organisation to ensure that women are never erased from the narrative around pregnancy & birth."
Dr Adrian Harrop suspended
Transactivist Dr Adrian Harrop has been suspended from the register of General Practitioners for a month. On Tuesday, the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) declared that Harrop had used "highly offensive" language online and that his behaviour on Twitter had been wholly inappropriate.

Harrop targeted a number of gender-critical people online, including Catholic campaigner Caroline Farrow. Farrow, who has been subjected to years of harassment from transactivists, said:

"The frustrating thing for me is that the past few weeks have been used as a mechanism to reignite the campaign of abuse using the process and the media. So many details were redacted so that to the impartial outsider it looked like nothing more than an unpleasant Twitter spat."

The MPTS found:

"Harrop's actions in posting inappropriate tweets over a sustained period of time, in contradiction to the advice he was given, breached fundamental tenets of the profession."

In a statement following the ruling, Harrop said:

"I am not transgender myself but I am a fervent supporter of transgender rights."

Harrop was quoted in a sympathetic article by Ben Hunte, the BBC's former LGBT correspondent, as saying:

"I will be dedicating my energy and enthusiasm to improving things for trans people…There is so much I can achieve as a doctor, not only for trans people, but for the wider LGBTQ community."
Equality scheme ditches sex 
A charity-run scheme to increase the numbers of women studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) has come under fire for ignoring sex. Athena Swan aims to "support and transform gender equality within higher education".

Advance HE, which runs Athena Swan, has updated its guidance. It now recommends that educational institutions ask a "question about gender rather than asking a question about sex. This ensures equality efforts are…inclusive of a diverse range of gender identities.”

The move has been criticised by some senior academics, including Professor Kathleen Stock, who said "the founding premise of Athena Swan" had been "destroyed" by the move.

Advance HE boasts on its website that it works "closely with relevant third sector organisations such as Stonewall".
Museum goes "trans" science

The Science Museum in London has opted to make a display about biological sex more "trans-inclusive" following complaints.

Items in the "Is it a Boy or Girl?" exhibit case, which asks the question: "how are boys and girls different?", already include chest binders, testosterone patches and "packers" worn by some women who identify as transmen. In 2016 the same display was altered to remove a sign that stated "your X and Y chromosomes define your biological sex".

 A write-up accompanying the display says: "Your gender identity is our sense of yourself as male or female, or, for some people neither or both. It may not match your biological sex."

Sex Matters director Maya Forstater said:
 
"The Science Museum should reflect biology...It is concerning that a place dedicated to science is being swayed by cultural trends in this way."

The museum has said that the gallery is updated "on a rolling basis, where resources allow, to reflect areas where there has been fresh research or a shift in scientific consensus". Internal documents revealed that the Science Museum has been in communication with the Brighton-based Museum of Transology.
Crossing cost revealed

Freedom of Information requests revealed that a road crossing painted in the colours of the transgender flag cost £10,464. The crossing was installed by Camden Council to mark Transgender Awareness Week.

The council claims that a full equality impact assessment was undertaken before the crossing was installed. But a number of disability groups have complained that such "colourful crossings" put those with visual impairments and people some neurological conditions at risk.

Sturgeon blocks gender-critical campaigners

Members of leading Scottish women's groups have been blocked on social media by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and other senior members of the SNP.

Susan Smith from the feminist group For Women Scotland said that some politicians are preventing communication on social media with campaigners who are asking perfectly polite, legitimate questions.

She added:

"If they block people, it just says they don't think they've got a case. One of the things that have been of concern to a lot of the women that have tried to contact their politicians is how little engagement politicians are prepared to have on this subject anyway."

The online behaviour of Sturgeon and other MSPs drew criticism from Conservative MSP Meghan Gallacher. She said:

"Nicola Sturgeon previously dismissed women's concerns over their rights as not valid. Now it appears she and her fellow SNP colleagues are unwilling to hear these views via social media."

Canada proposes criminalising gender criticism
A new law in Canada could soon criminalise the expression of gender-critical views.

Bill C-36 proposes amendments to the Human Rights Act and Criminal Code concerning hate speech and hate crimes. Liberal Party MP David Lametti, who introduced the bill in July, said:

"The bill defines 'hate speech' as the content of a communication that expresses detestation or vilification of an individual or group of individuals on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination. These grounds of discrimination are race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression…"

What to read and watch

Read author Simon Edge's insightful analysis of Stonewall detailing the charity's decline.

 

Listen to Professor Kathleen Stock and India Willoughby discuss on BBC Radio 4's PM (starts 46 minutes in).

Read Mr Menno on his experience of being offered conversion therapy and his views on the proposed government ban.

Woman's Place UK is inviting nurses to sign a letter demanding the Nursing and Midwifery Council leave Stonewall schemes.

Read this excellent overview from The Economist detailing the unintended consequences of the government's proposed ban on conversion therapy.
If you haven't done so, you can use the Sex Matters guide to email your MP.

And finally...

Following a cordial interview on BBC Radio 4 PM with Professor Kathleen Stock, India Willoughby, a former television presenter, complained bitterly about Stock's apparent lack of expertise.

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