Sajid Javid: “biological sex matters”, but does it?

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The UK Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid, has signalled support for anti-trans rhetoric currently plaguing the UK political system. This via the dogwhistle; “biological sex matters”.

In a tweet posted May 17th, the member of Parliament for Bromsgrove wrote; “Biological sex matters – ask any doctor or nurse. Facts matter. Respectful debate matters. This growing culture of shutting people down is deeply disturbing and must be challenged.” While quote replying to an article from The Times which attracted controversy for its poor sourcing, and resulted in the dogpiling of Owen Jones for questioning that.

The original article claims that an 18 year old student of a sixth-form was ousted by her fellow students – up to 60 of them – and given no support from the sixth-form itself. The only source for this are claims from The Times that they spoke directly to the student and an article from a known transphobic campaign group called Transgender Trend.

Transgender Trend specifically target trans youth and schools, attempting to make life harder for them in a myriad of ways such as support for outing transgender children to their parents. Which many LGBTQIA+ activists warn could put those children at risk of abuse if their parents are not supportive.

So its probably time we address the phrase; “biological sex matters”. Does it? As an expert transgender, prominent “TRA menace” and bisexual vampire my answer would be, “yeah sure I guess”. Which is to say that there are definitely important things about what is being referred to as ‘biological sex’ here. I don’t think you’ll find a group more keen to agree to that than trans people who seek medical transition, for example.

But it isn’t the only thing that matters and there’s a lot more to the whole story of who people are than which of the two categories in our binary system someone looks close enough to. That’s the thing they aren’t saying when they say things like “biological sex matters”, they’re missing out the implied “only” they put at the start of that.

Many of them outright do not accept gender identity as a concept, call for ‘elimination of transgenderism’, and straight-up do not believe trans people exist to a cartoonishly villainous level. I’ve seen transphobes literally write people’s actual legal names in scare quotes as to imply its not their real name. Madness!

Another argument from transphobes is that trans people are arguing “gender identity trumps sex” in some respect, but I don’t see that anywhere. Evidence for this appears to be inclusive language choices such as the many times transphobes have dogpiled cancer charities for wanting trans men and non-binary people to get checked out too.

They treat the inclusion of other people alongside women in these materials as exclusion of women, which it isn’t. The only people excluded by trans inclusive language choices are transphobes who want trans exclusion.

Of course, sex matters – but is the view of sex that transphobes want to uphold as an avenue to do transphobia through worth protecting? No. Not in the slightest. Which is why even despite trans people being positioned as believing sex doesn’t matter via their rhetoric, you will still find trans people on the front lines of so many of the causes we’re told can only be fought for via a trans exclusionary, strict and rigid view of sex as a binary system.

Respectful debate is important in any democratic society, but I would argue that with fundamental inequalities, a lack of freedoms and opportunities and under a corrupt and criminal government which have repeatedly signalled their support for anti-trans rhetoric; trans people do not live in a democratic society here in the UK.

There can be no respectful debate on any of these issues until trans people have liberation; nor should we have to pay lip-service to the system that is attempting to crush us.

Gemma Stone
Gemma Stone is a transgender writer who has been covering the rise of transphobic hate campaigning in the UK. She has written hundreds of articles dissecting aspects of transphobia including debunking blatant disinformation. She is very tired and trying her best, and hopefully having a positive impact on such a beautiful community.

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