When Ideologies Rule, Other Rights are Trampled

by Daniela Ellerbeck
27 March 2018

By Michael Swain, Executive Director of FOR SA

The radical ideology that drives the transgenderism agenda is the idea that there are no objective truths and that our individual subjective preferences should be treated as absolute. Our mental or emotional realities should therefore be respected as being more concrete than the physical reality around us.  Furthermore, everyone must conform to how we feel – so if I feel that I am a man in a woman’s body you must treat me accordingly. If you fail to do so, you are treating me inhumanely because you are denying my core identity as a person and the dignity of being treated according to my chosen gender.

Human rights are often in conflict with one another and no one right is absolute.  As a result, they often have to be balanced against each other to achieve a fair outcome. No other area provides a clearer and more current example than the debate now raging over transgender rights.  At the centre of the debate, is the redefinition of the word “gender” (which is one of the prohibited grounds of unfair discrimination in terms of the South African Constitution).

Historically, gender has been synonymous with a person’s biological sex. However, as discussed in our previous article in this series, the current gender identity politics advocate that gender must be reinterpreted as a fluid construct which is entirely subjective, can change at will and is separate from your physical body. This means that regardless of your biological sex, you can choose your gender – whether male or female, something else entirely, or none at all. An absurd example of this is was when Google allowed its employees to identify as non-human beings – such as fantasy creatures or buildings.

A major problem with ideology and identity politics is that they swiftly and negatively impact on societal norms.  As a result, mis-gendering people or refusing to recognise or cater for who they say they are, is increasingly being equated to an assault on their human dignity. The rationale is that, because gender is part of the core of who I am as a person, if you do not agree to deny biological/physical reality and embrace my subjective version of reality, you are unfairly discriminating against me and fundamentally dishonouring me.  This has resulted in many situations of politically correct overreach, where “special rights” have been granted and other rights trampled underfoot:

Losing custody of children:

In spite of it being noted that a 45% suicide rate accompanies cross-hormone therapy and that people who have undergone sex reassignment surgery often deeply regret their decision, parents have already lost custody of their own children for refusing to let them transition.

Bathroom wars:

The logical extension of demanding that I be treated in every way as my chosen gender identity, means that although I am biologically a man, if I identify as a woman, I must be allowed access to women’s facilities, including changing rooms, showers and toilets. Prohibiting me from this is an act of unfair discrimination. The so-called “Bathroom Wars” in the USA have become a symbol of the new frontier of identity politics, where rights to privacy and safety concerns are simply over-ridden. South Africa is fast following suit, with the implementation of gender neutral toilets at, for example, university campuses.

Understandably, this has resulted in major conflict and objections from women who find it deeply disconcerting (to say the least) to find themselves and/or their children joined in the changing room or shower by someone who they would typically recognise as a man. Apart from the privacy issues, in an age where many women have been subject to some form of sexual assault, this can be even more distressing  and cause further psychological trauma.

Female Health Visits:

Refusing to acknowledge physical realities has also resulted in some unforeseen circumstances, such as women being consulted by a male nurse when going for a pap smear, after specifically requesting to be seen by a female for this intimate procedure.

In the UK, it has also resulted in men being offered pap smears and breast cancer screenings if they self-identify as women, or women not being offered such services if they self-identify as male.

Sports Teams:

In sport, there is the erosion of the basic principle of fairness when a transwoman (a person who was born male but now identifies as a female) is allowed to compete on women’s sport teams.  This was the case in Texas, where Mack Beggs easily beat the competition to become State champion for the second year in succession.  This year’s Winter Olympics also permitted transgender athletes to compete in their chosen gender identity, and although it is not clear if this happened in practice, it is a major shift in sporting codes.  It is also a breach of the principle of equality, since it is patently obvious that these transgender athletes have a clear and unfair advantage.

School incidents

Parental rights are also being seriously infringed.  Recently in California, several primary school children were traumatised when a teacher facilitated a “coming out party”. Children were taught transgender ideology from a book entitled  “I Am Jazz” and were told that one of their classmates was a girl trapped in a boy’s body.  He then went out and returned dressed as a girl, and pupils were threatened with being sent to the principal’s office if they mis-gendered him.  Outraged parents were told that, in order “to protect student confidentiality and safety”, they have no right to know what transpired.  Again, special ideologically driven rights are steamrolling over parental and children’s rights. Parents and School Governing Bodies (SGBs) therefore need to be especially watchful that transgender ideology is not taught under the guise of Comprehensive Sex Education (CSE) classes.

While it is true that those suffering from gender dysphoria and other levels of confusion over their sexual identity should be loved and respected, there is clearly a threat that this courtesy will not be extended to the faith community.

Michael was raised in England, graduating from the University of Bristol with an honours degree in Law before immigrating to South Africa in 1983. He has been a successful businessman as well as having spent over 30 years in ministry in South Africa, Europe and the USA. He serves as the Executive Director of Freedom of Religion South Africa (FOR SA).

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