The street I grew up on was the border of a public housing estate. On my side of the street was state-sponsored housing, and on the other side of the street was the new estates of the suburban middle class. The safe assumption was that everyone on my side of the street voted Labor and everyone on the other side voted Liberal (conservative for international readers). I hadn’t met a middle-class person who voted Labor until I went to university.
The middle-class left were generally Marxists, the suburban working-class of my parent’s generation were not Marxists. My parents considered Marxism an elite indulgence, reserved for the upper classes, or those living off the public purse because they were too educated to be of any use to an employer (like Marx himself). The kind of elite leftists that I met and were manufactured at university were the types that eventually pushed me across the street to sit with the middle-class Liberals; a place where I have never been entirely comfortable.
My political journey reminds me of a scripture that is frequently quoted from Isaiah. “Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings … For you shall expand to the right and to the left.”( Isa 54:2-3). We quote it to people who are finding themselves expanding their area of influence or their understanding. I realised this week, as the tent between the left/right political dichotomy expands, the right may not realise that the people fleeing from the authoritarian left are not going to blend seamlessly into the conservative right. If we are going to give serious opposition to the left, the conservative right itself will first become uncomfortable, and it will have to change.
I am a Christian, so the right is not a place I am completely unacquainted with, but right now I would sum up my attitudes towards conservatives in my mother’s words, “I am not angry I am just disappointed”. I wonder sometimes if conservatives have forgotten the great John Stuart Mill and the principles of individual rights, personal liberty, and pluralism.
On the weekend in The Australian, it was reported LGB Alliance spokeswoman Jessica Hoyle brought a test application for an exemption from the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination commissioner to hold some single-sex events. “Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Sarah Bolt has ruled lesbian events that exclude trans-women carry a “significant risk” of breaching legislation.”. I was disappointed to see this news brought a kind of sick joy to some conservatives.
I left Labor over issues of LGBTQ politics. The reason wasn’t to do with gay people, it was that that the cultural re-engineering agenda that underpinned the LGBTIQ movement was deeply illiberal. I noticed as many did, that to achieve the stated aims of the LGBTIQ movement, radical reengineering of human sexuality in the population was required. I was a lefty, but I have always been at my core, a classic liberal.
The change came with the shift from “we have to accept gay people” to “every good person must believe in their heart that two people of the same sex can really be married”. From “people have a right to diverse gender expressions” to, “you must believe in your heart that trans women are women”. These are violations of conscience, the latter of science. But as I moved to the right, I did find it a stretch politically and culturally.
Due to my interest in cultural studies, I have been following the breakaway of the LGB Alliance from the wider LGBTQ movement for some time. The LGB Alliance is more like a traditional pluralist lobby group for same sex attracted people and it rejects the illiberal gender ideology that is now the bread and butter of LGBT organisations.
The LGB Alliance groups have been highlighting the personal liberty issues that lesbians are facing. I was first introduced to these issues by a YouTuber, the late Magdalen Berns. Magdalen claimed that lesbians were being rather impolitely asked to welcome males into their bedrooms if the males were trans-identified. Lesbians, she maintained, are women who are same-sex attracted and have no interest in male-bodied people sexually.
If you want to see this point beautifully and entertainingly argued, go to Ms. Berns 2017 video “Are genital preferences transphobic”. Here she tackles the regressive and now legally enshrined views of transgender activist Riley Dennis. Dennis claims that it is “cis-sexist” to have a “genital preference”. Contrary to this “queer theory” view, most people understand that there are three main human sexual attractions: opposite-sex (heterosexual), same-sex (homosexual) and both sexes (bisexual). But “queer” ideology, insists that these are all culturally based and biased ideas; that our society can evolve to where humans see only “gender” and not “sex”. As classic liberals, we know that this society will never emerge without a form of tyranny. To be fair Christians also gave state-mandated sexuality a go. It led to the ability of men to access a special cultural power that overrode all safeguarding norms. This cultural power rested in the priesthood, many of whom were decent devout men. But the failure in safeguarding was to assume they all were.
Legally applied queer theory inevitably rests on confusing definitions of “gender”, “gender identity” and “sex”. Sydney lawyer Katherine Deves says that we have found ourselves in competing rights claims between “trans women” and women, partly because key terms of “sex” and “gender” are not properly defined in law. I believe that they are not defined because the gender identity ideology is largely fiction, and the confusion is a deliberate political strategy to force cultural re-engineering.
In the humanities, “gender” is the word we use for the meanings cultures give to the two sexes. Unfortunately, few lawmakers correctly define gender and simply define it as an individual’s inner feeling of self, which is what is called “gender identity”. This is a critical confusion, because “gender” is defined by cultures, it is not defined by the individual. Confusing gender with the more modern idea of “gender identity”, has led to a legal definition of “woman” that is not a body, but a soul, evidenced by culturally defined and medically fashioned indicators. These include clothes, makeup, and artificially produced secondary sex characteristics. But with self ID, “woman” can just be the declaration of an “inner feeling”.
Women of various political and ideological persuasions are demanding that the law base a definition of “women” precisely where female vulnerability lies, in our biology, in our sex. Many women and transgender identified males believe that transgender individuals can live full and safe lives in our community, without this radical and dangerous legal re-definition of “woman”.
Exploiting the legal opportunity, lesbian dating and social circles are being flooded with males who self-identify as women. Some of these are males with gender dysphoria, some are males with a fetish for dressing as women called “autogynephilia”, there is no ability to legally discriminate between these types of people when “woman” is defined as a self-declared essence. This is a top-down redefinition of human sex and sexuality.
Our own ABC are completely on board, now openly cheering what has, in my opinion, become legally sanctioned rape culture. This week, the ABC reported, “Concerns ACT consent reform bill could open door to criminal prosecution of transgender people”. The reason that the proposed consent laws are being questioned,is that transgender activists don’t think that a trans person should have to declare their biological sex before they engage with someone in a sex act. The ACT Council of Social Service and Meridian, (which represents LGBTQIA+ communities, people living with HIV and sex workers), endorse consent law reforms but say “people should not have to disclose their gender any more than they should have to disclose their race or a disability during the process of granting consent.”
So young lesbians, can go home with what they assume is a woman, find it is a transgender person with a penis when they are in a state of vulnerability, and they have no legal basis on which to withdraw consent. At this point of the sexual encounter, they may be naked, they are with someone who is biologically stronger and is attempting to gain sex by deception. To be clear, the LGBTIQ+ juggernaut here give that woman two choices, be coerced into sex or be transphobic. The third scenario is not a choice, and that is to be raped with no legal recourse. Lesbians are saying this ideology is not just promoting rape culture but socially and legally sanctioned gay conversion therapy.
Legislation, then, is being influenced by powerful lobby groups who aim to legally entrench the principle that sexual rejection on the basis of sex is discrimination and harmful to trans people. The principle of harm is the key link to civil rights legislation. Magdalen Berns said that “Nobody likes to be rejected sexually, the point is that it’s really every individual’s responsibility to learn to cope with sexual rejection without expressing hostility towards those who sexually rejected them, that’s part of being an adult”. Sounds like classic liberalism to me.
Social pressure on women to be sexually available to men is hardly new, but if that pressure is backed by government this should disturb libertarians, conservatives, and Liberals. The conservatives have been saying “where are the feminists”, I may ask, “where are the Liberals?” Prominent wealthy lesbians like Keryn Phelps and Christine Forster, who we couldn’t get off our screens during the same-sex marriage campaign, are nowhere to be seen when young lesbians are being sexually coerced.
It isn’t just lesbians who are uncomfortable with gender ideology, many gay men have moved away from the LGBTIQ movement because activist groups no longer centre the issues of same-sex attracted people. Some gender-critical gay men are veterans of the gay rights movement and the AIDS crisis and have long argued for homosexuals to be accepted, not just in law, but in the community. Many have told me that the denial of sexual reality in gender theory, makes a mockery of the common-sense arguments that they used to gain rights and cultural acceptance.
I spoke with Jessica Hoyle of the LGB Alliance in Tasmania. She is a politically conservative woman from a Presbyterian family. She moved away from LGBT groups a few years ago because of the treatment of lesbians who refused to date transwomen. When I asked Jessica why she was taking on the anti-discrimination commission in Tasmania she said, “I’m doing it for lesbians, I’m doing it for my mother, I’m doing it for men who have daughters and wives, I’m doing it for all women, for everyone”. What she means, is that if a lesbian cannot draw a boundary around herself and a group of biological women to meet with, then neither can any woman in this country.
Australian women deserve rights to bodily autonomy and spaces because they are citizens and taxpayers. Women need single-sex provisions to engage in full citizenship. That means lesbians, that means Muslims, that means Christians. For the conservatives that means you. The difficult “word” I have been giving to some of my more conservative Christian friends, is that if lesbians can’t draw biological boundaries around a social event, then you can’t draw those boundaries around a women’s prayer retreat. Jessica is holding a small smooth stone in her hand and is up against a very powerful force. Having her on our side of the road may make some conservatives uncomfortable, but they have to widen their tent on this issue or face extinction.
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