THE LITTLE GREY BOOK ON SEX AND TRANSGENDER
by Patrick J. Byrne
Wilkinson Publishing, Melbourne
Paperback: 95 pages
Reviewed by Terri M. Kelleher
This second book on transgender by Patrick J. Byrne is an excellent introduction to his more detailed treatment of the subject in his first book, Transgender: One Shade of Grey.
It is a handbook of the concepts that you need to get your head around to begin to make any sense of transgender ideology. Those who do not share that ideology are beginning to realise it affects them and can have a serious consequences for them.
The author refers to the “growing … conflict between two worldviews about human sexuality and human nature”. There is the biological worldview, based on science, that recognises a person’s sex is a part of their inherent, immutable, biological hardware and is defined by the binary (two complementary) reproductive functions of men and women. In this view, sex means male and female.
The transgender worldview, on the other hand, is based not on science but on the belief that a person can choose a gender identity separate from, or in place of, their biological sex. A person’s gender identity is said to be “their cultural and social software, based on their feelings about their identity, as expressed by their ‘outward social markers, including their name, outward appearance, mannerism and dress”. In short, gender identity is not a biological reality but wholly a social construct.
An ideology is a belief system and it is in the nature of ideologies that their proponents seek to impose their beliefs on everyone. This is done by changing the law. It is happening right now in the United States, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark, New Zealand and Australia, where laws are being implemented that give legal recognition to self-chosen gender identities in place of biological sex.
The transgender ideology is being written into three main areas of law: birth certificate laws (and regulations around other identity documents such as passports and driving licences); anti-discrimination/equal opportunity laws; and marriage laws.
The book teases out the consequences of these changes. There is right now a Bill before the Victorian Parliament to amend the Victorian Births Deaths and Marriages Registration Act to allow a person to change their sex on their birth certificate to the gender they self-identify as, with or without gender-reassignment surgery. The law would then recognise that person as the sex recorded on their changed birth certificate.
A biological male who identified as female, whether having had gender-reassignment surgery or not, would be legally recognised as female and have the right to use women’s toilets, change rooms and showers, women’s gyms and clubs, be accommodated in women’s prisons and to compete in women’s sporting competitions.
The author of The Little Grey Book asks, is it fair to oblige biological women to accept men who identify as women using their safe/private spaces, competing in their sporting competitions, sharing prison cells with them?
The Bill would also allow children and young people (under 16) to alter the sex on their birth certificate, provided they have parental support and a statement from a doctor or registered psychologist stating that the decision is in their best interests.
But at what age does a child have the capacity to decide to change their sex or gender? At age five, nine, 13 or 16? Given that most children under 16 would not have experienced sexual intimacy or seriously considered the possibility of having their own children as adults, should a change of sex on birth certificates be restricted to adults only?
If a child has their self-chosen gender identity recorded on their birth certificate, will that impose an obligation on parents, schools and medical practitioners to support the child to transition with puberty blockers and then cross-sex hormones, with all the known risks?
Anti-discrimination laws also impose obligations on others. Australia’s Sex Discrimination Act (SDA) makes it an offence to discriminate against (treat “less favourably”) a person on the grounds of their self-chosen gender identity. Should school principals and teachers risk complaints of discrimination, and possible loss of professional accreditation and/or loss of employment if, in exercising their duty of care for biological girl students, they refuse a biological boy who identifies as a girl access to the girls’ toilets, change rooms and showers?
Will female beauty parlour employees risk discrimination complaints if they refuse to provide intimate services such as body waxing for men who identify as women?
Will employers risk complaints of discrimination if they refuse a biological man who identifies as a woman access to jobs or scholarships reserved for women?
The conflicts that are surfacing as a result of the clash between the biological worldview of human sexual identity and the transgender ideology are wide and deep. Laws that recognise people by their subjective self-chosen gender identity are imposing the transgender ideology on everyone and making the majority of the population who recognise the biological worldview at risk of legal or professional sanctions for non-compliance.
Is there a solution? The author proposes that the law recognise biological sex; that “man” is objectively defined as “a member of the male sex”, a “woman” as “a member of the female sex”; and that “sex” is defined according to the respective “biological reproductive functions of men and women”.
This reflects biological/scientific reality and the view of the vast majority of people. Those who wish to identify socially as transgender are at liberty in a free democracy to do so but the law should not force legal recognition of the subjective, self-chosen gender identity on everyone else, thereby taking away the rights attendant on their biological sex.