A woman who was ousted from her job for writing on Twitter that men who identify as transgender are not women has lost her case before an employment tribunal that said her views are "not worthy of respect."
In a highly anticipated ruling, an employment tribunal decided that Maya Forstater, formerly a senior researcher at the London office of the think-tank Centre for Global Development, was not fired without just cause.
Forstater was fired from her job earlier this year for tweeting on her personal account that "men cannot change into women.” She was also critical of a decision to place a convicted pedophile and rapist who goes by the name Karen White — a biological male formerly known as Stephen Wood — in a women's-only prison because he claimed to identify as female and subsequently sexually assaulted female inmates.
“I conclude from … the totality of the evidence, that [Forstater] is absolutist in her view of sex and it is a core component of her belief that she will refer to a person by the sex she considered appropriate even if it violates their dignity and/or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. The approach is not worthy of respect in a democratic society,” Judge James Tayler wrote in the 26-page ruling Wednesday.
Forstater and many others were stunned at the result. That stating basic biological facts were upheld as legitimate grounds to be fired.
“I struggle to express the shock and disbelief I feel at reading this judgment, which I think will be shared by the vast majority of people who are familiar with my case," she said.
“My belief … is that sex is a biological fact, and is immutable. There are two sexes, male and female. Men and boys are male. Women and girls are female. It is impossible to change sex. These were until very recently understood as basic facts of life by almost everyone."
Forstater said she plans to challenge the ruling.
"This judgment removes women’s rights and the right to freedom of belief and speech. It gives judicial license for women and men who speak up for objective truth and clear debate to be subject to aggression, bullying, no-platforming and economic punishment," she added.
Voicing her support for Forstater, J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, tweeted Thursday: "Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill."
The hashtag #IStandWithMaya soon began trending on Twitter. Rowling's detractors began calling her a TERF, which stands for "trans-exclusionary radical feminist."
"I am blown away by the support and interest in my case, both in public and private," Forstater said in a separate tweet Thursday.
"All I ever wanted on this was for people to be able to talk about the policy questions around sex and gender identity in a normal, open, democratic way."
Commenting Thursday on his blog at The American Conservative, author Rod Dreher noted that that the decision is indicative of political efforts in the U.K.
"This is exactly what LGBT activists want here in the U.S: people like Maya Forstater — who doesn’t appear to be any kind of conservative, but rather a feminist — to be fired and silence[d]. What is it going to take to wake people up? This is a totalitarian movement. It honest to God is. It has colonized the minds of the liberal establishment," he said.
The rapid ascendancy of the transgender movement has caused a split in U.K. politics. Earlier this year, the LGB Alliance was formed in order to distinguish itself from Stonewall, the nation's leading LGBT rights organization. The LGB Alliance argues that transgender ideology undermines and endangers the rights of same-sex attracted persons.
Writing in The Spectator Thursday, Social Market Foundation director and writer James Kirkup opined that with one tweet, Rowling had fundamentally altered the debate about transgenderism.
"JK Rowling who has 14 million followers on Twitter and a good claim to being one of the most popular and even beloved women in the world today. And as a result, people are going to talk about this, and about her," he said.
"I do not underestimate the courage it has taken for Rowling to do this. It’s easy to say ‘well, she’s got billions and a huge platform — what took her so long?’ but I think that’s unfair. With that fame comes pressure and scrutiny that the rest of us cannot imagine. By entering this arena, she is exposing herself to significant risks, volumes of criticism beyond anything most of humanity will ever experience."
The ruling in the Forstater case resembles a previous ruling from an employment tribunal in Birmingham, England, where a Christian doctor, Dr. David Mackereth, refused to use transgender pronouns in a hypothetical scenario and was released from his job. Mackereth had argued that his firing was an example of religious discrimination, but the tribunal disagreed, ruling that not believing in transgenderism is "incompatible with human dignity."