“Come and join TERF central,” said a friend at a reception last week.

Published: 4 July 2023

And she took me through the crowd to meet some brave women who are defending children against the poisonous ideology of extreme trans activists and their fellow travellers.

She did so in the same spirit that at a recent conference I invited a friend to join the fascists, by which I meant some fellow conservatives who had been listening with approval to a thoughtful lecture about free speech.

If you are frequently insulted, adopting the derogatory term that is unjustly applied to you is a form of self-defence.

As a writer on Irish politics disapproved of by republicans, I have frequently introduced myself as “a lickspittle to the British government”. It’s my way of putting two fingers up to abusive enemies.

TERF is an acronym for trans-exclusionary radical feminist, a title devised to distinguish between different kinds of feminism but now in common use as an alternative insult to transphobe. It is used to try to shut up people who believe you cannot change your sex however much you want to.

To me that is simply a fact of life, and it is why I don’t think that biological men should, for instance, be allowed to compete in women’s sports or be admitted to such private spaces as women’s prisons and refugees. We must also protect against the potential for male predators who want unrestricted access to women.

And I think it appalling that children are being indoctrinated into gender ideology and given what is called “gender affirming care” to encourage them to identify as another sex. Troubled children — often autistic — being told a sex change might solve their problems.

I know fine trans people who want to live quiet lives and are utterly horrified by vicious trans activists who are working tirelessly to push children onto the medical path of puberty blockers that is a gateway to surgery that will ruin many lives.

They labour in the name of inclusion to make the English language gender neutral, present trans women as role models and denounce lesbians as bigots because they won’t sleep with men.

The Bank of England is one of the many distinguished institutions that forewent common sense to fall for the propaganda of Stonewall — once an honourable pressure group for the gay rights with which society is now mainly happy, but now a campaigner for extreme trans ideology.

In documents trumpeting its progressiveness, this great institution, known as The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street, refers to “birthing parent” rather than mother, boasts of unisex lavatories, covers medical treatment for sex change (which it calls “gender reassignment”) and is setting targets for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and trans) recruits.

Closer to home, we have the example of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. You might think that such an organisation would be in favour of free speech, but you’d be wrong.

Last year, this newspaper revealed that the body’s chief commissioner Alyson Kilpatrick, was uncomfortable because of internal “questioning of homophobia, transphobia, conversion therapy… I find difference in views to be problematic. I know it’s welcome to have different views but I think if you’re a pro human rights organisation you have to be for human rights.” The Commission has now issued a horrifying report on “Relationships and Sexuality Education in Post Primary Schools in Northern Ireland: A Compelling Case for Reform”.

It expresses concern that schools often protect pupils’ rights to hold “diverging opinions” and speak of “tolerance” rather than “rights”, which implies “that young people are permitted to hold prejudiced opinions towards people of different sexual orientations and gender identities, so long as they are held in a ‘peaceful manner’”.

So children must not question progressive dogmas.

If you’re worried about your children being indoctrinated with gender ideology, I strongly recommend the website of the brilliant Transgender Trend (https://www.transgendertrend.com), a volunteer organisation of “of parents, professionals and academics based in the UK who are concerned about the current trend to diagnose children as transgender”. Its founder, Stephanie Davies-Arai, was awarded the British Empire Medal for services to children.

For years she has been one of the sane voices standing up against the ideologues.

This TERF is proud to call myself an ally.

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