by Enrico Petrucci

In the United Kingdom there are the early signs of a change of course on the policies of inclusivity and gender absolutism that sought to overturn the very principle of the existence of biological sex as an element characterising the individual. Reversals are coming from politics, both Conservative and Labour, and from academia, marking a definite change from recent years when the principles of gender absolutism had become a kind of untouchable revealed truth.

No more neutral toilet

In April, it was Prime Minister Sunak who initiated this change of course with what appeared to be a joke. In an interview, Sunak had agreed with the interviewer that '100% of women do not have penises'. This joke was followed in August by a statement from Kemi Badenoch, Minister for Trade and Equal Opportunities, who launched an executive action against gender-neutral toilets (those that do not separate users by "gender"). The idea of the British executive is to impose by law the existence of toilets separated by biological sex in order to ensure the protection of the 'fundamental right' to 'privacy and dignity' of women and girls.

In short, for the British Conservatives, the fight against wokeism begins precisely with those 'neutral toilets' that are becoming a common sight even in Italian high schools and universities. And while the Conservatives are waging the culture war on an element that is both symbolic and concrete, Labour is also beginning to correct its narrative with an eye to the next election. At the end of July, Labour's shadow minister for Equality, Anneliese Dodds, published a lengthy clarification on The Guardian about how the party would deal with transgender rights reforms. The pretext is to ensure that divisive issues are not used as an excuse to oppose Tory propaganda. But to do this, Labour is abandoning its proposal for a gender self-declaration law along the lines of Scotland's!

This law had become the centre of a white-hot debate in Scotland at the end of 2022, as a simple administrative self-certification would have sufficed to declare oneself a woman (and to access the legal privileges and guarantees for women). The coming into effect of the Scottish law on self-certification of 'gender' had been blocked by Rishi Sunak's government in London, effectively nullifying Scotland's autonomy on these issues. And the same radical positions on gender taken by then Scottish First Minister Nicholas Sturgeon, including the decision to put a biological male convicted of rape in a women's prison because he identified as a woman, were among the reasons for his resignation in March 2023. In the Guardian article, Labour abandoned self-certification and reverted to the requirement to 'obtain a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria' as a condition of access to a 'gender recognition certificate'.

Even on a legal level, the case against the Tavistock Clinic, already at the centre of litigation and controversy over hasty gender reassignment and forced to close, has reached a new level. With the news that in April a group of parents of children and young people transitioning at Tavistock sued the Department for Education directly for failure to monitor.[1]

A group of parents whose children have changed sexes intend to sue the Ministry of Education for failing to protect them from trans ideology in schools.

Parents accuse ministers of failing to provide guidance to teachers and allowing a 'harmful' gender ideology, pushed by LGBT pressure groups, to take hold in thousands of schools.

Some teachers did not inform parents when their children changed sex. Others have been accused of encouraging pupils to transition even after being warned by National Health Service psychologists.

 Even in universities, they stop being woke

Finally, even the academy is beginning to clarify the primacy of biological sex over gender. In May, the case of Oxford with a letter signed by more than 40 academics and intellectuals against the woke absolutism that claims to silence any critical voice against gender theory's aim to deny biological sex. The letter, published by the Telegraph[2], is in support of Kathleen Stock, a feminist philosopher (and proud lesbian) who has been a victim of deplatforming and cancellation culture in the past. This time, the 40 Oxford professors spoke out against preventing Kathleen Stock from taking part in an event organised by the Oxford Union, one of the most prestigious student associations at the British university. Kathleen Stock is a radical feminist who takes gender-critical positions: she opposes those readings that deny that biological sex is a real, pre-eminent and fundamental element of human beings. And she is openly opposed to new legislation that turns 'gender reassignment' into a simple administrative self-certification, as in Scotland.

Kathleen Stock has already been the victim of erasure campaigns in recent years: in 2020 when she was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire, an appointment that cost her a letter with over 600 signatories accusing her of transphobic positions and lashing out against 'transphobia in philosophy'. The following year, Stock was found guilty of new 'offences'. She had previously published Material Girls: Why Reality Matters for Feminism, a reflection on feminism based on the assumption that for the absolutists of gender theory (as well as the whole ideological complex of wokeism) 'feelings are more important than facts', i.e. that the feeling of gender identity, something innate, is more important than the biological element. This leads to the inevitable paradox that if reality (biological sex) contradicts feeling (gender identity), then reality will have to succumb to therapies based on progressive affirmative aesthetics (pronouns), puberty blockers, hormones and surgical treatments, in a process that seems to mirror the old reparative therapies for homosexuals. After all, according to the latest trends in gender theory, there are infinite 'genders', but for surgery there are always two options in the end. Finally, Kathleen Stock was appointed to the board of the LGB Alliance, the UK's lesbian, gay and bisexual rights charity, which stands in open contrast to the historic homosexual associations such as the famous Stonewall, which in recent years have focused their efforts solely on protecting trans people. This is the cause of the rift that separates radical feminism and lesbian associations from the promotion of gender theory at all levels. See the Italian case of Arcilesbica's opposition to the Zan DDL or the debate in Norway where two gender-critical feminists risked prison for their "gender critical" positions.

Tutti i VIP e intellettuali "non allineati" sul tifo pro-Ddl Zan

By the autumn of 2021, the situation at the University of Sussex had become intolerable for the lecturer, including threats, with the local police merely telling her to install security cameras and get an escort to the faculty, as Stock herself recalls in an interview with Il Foglio. It was a crystal-clear example of the cancellation culture that the academic fell victim to at the end of 2021, and a few open letters in defence of Kathleen Stock and freedom of thought did not gain much visibility. But now, in 2023, it seems that Oxford academics have reared their heads again, and yet another act of cancellation culture, of which Stock was the victim, has seen the reaction of leading figures from Oxford's various faculties, including two of the university's leading lights, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and Anglican vicar and philosopher Nigel Biggar. The letter in defence of Kathleen Stock, published by The Telegraph on 16 May, focuses mainly on freedom of expression. The letter reads

"Professor Stock believes that biological sex in human beings is real and socially relevant, an opinion that until recently would have been such a truism that it did not merit affirmation. Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with Professor Stock's views, there is no plausible and attractive ideal of academic freedom, or freedom of speech more generally, that condemns its expression as outside the bounds of permissible discourse. Unfortunately, the position of her opponents seems to be that Professor Stock's views are so illicit that they cannot be safely discussed in front of an audience of consenting, intelligent adults in Oxford University's premier debating society. If this were the case, it is doubtful that they could be safely expressed anywhere else - a result which, as her opponents are no doubt pleased to note, would amount to their effective prohibition.

Universities must remain places where controversial views can be openly discussed. The main alternative, apparently preferred by many of Professor Stock's opponents, is simply unacceptable: a state of affairs in which university institutions collude to suppress the expression of controversial, but potentially true, views in an attempt to prevent their dissemination."

What is normal today is no longer normal

Of course, there is only a veiled reference to the factual reality of biological sex and the existence of two sexes: it is pointed out that until recently the question of biological sex was a matter of course! And this is precisely the crux of the debate between Stock's position and that of the genderists.

It is yet another sign that in Britain, where the wokeist and genderist hotbed has been seriously flared up, the first antibodies against the excesses of gender theory are beginning to react. It remains to be seen whether there will be a willingness to take on organisations such as Stonewall by insisting on the factual reality of biological sex beyond the mere question of toilets, in addition to the call for the moderation and restoration of sex-separated toilets.


[1] Sanchez Manning, Parents of trans pupils plan to sue the government after teachers ‘kept their children’s gender switches secret’, Daily Mail, April 30, 2023

[2] Louisa Clarence-Smith, Free speech in peril as trans row engulfs Oxford University, The Telegraph, May 16, 2023


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Essayist and popularizer, among his publications Alessandro Blasetti. Il padre dimenticato del cinema italiano (Idrovolante, 2023). With Emanuele Mastrangelo Wikipedia. L’Enciclopedia libera e l’egemonia dell’in­formazione (Bietti, 2013) and Iconoclastia. La pazzia contagiosa della cancel culture che sta distruggendo la nostra storia (Eclettica, 2020).