A lesbian barrister says she has been "thrown under the bus" by her chambers, which is investigating her for setting up a lesbian, gay and bisexual group that opponents claim is transphobic.
Allison Bailey, a barrister at Garden Court Chambers, has received death threats for promoting LGB Alliance on social media.
The new group says its aim is to "counteract the confusion" in the public sector between sex, which is biologically determined, and gender, which is a social construct often based on stereotypical characteristics of men and women.
LGB Alliance argues that homosexuality is same-sex attraction, putting it in opposition to the UK's largest LGBT charity, Stonewall, which now defines homosexuality as same-gender attraction. Stonewall’s interpretation enables male-bodied people to identify as lesbians and female-bodied people to identify as gay men.
Bailey said the "bigger picture" was that Stonewall had "signed up many companies, public bodies, voluntary organisations and government departments to their manifesto and their value system regarding trans rights", and has been "so successful" that the "planned compulsory education in primary and secondary schools from 2020 will tell children that 'gender identity' is a reality they need to understand".
Bailey's new group argues that telling children who do not conform to gender stereotypes that they are born in the wrong body is "damaging and regressive". It also believes that, contrary to the stance promoted by Stonewall and trans rights activists, sex "is not ‘assigned’ at birth but observed", and that the "soaring numbers of teenage girls suddenly presenting as trans is evidence of social contagion and discomfort about lesbianism".
Dresses for girls and guns for boys. Educational slide from transgender children’s charity Mermaids.
Critics called LGB Alliance "transphobic" and "disgusting". Andi Maratos, CEO of Chrysalis, a charity tackling transgender isolation, said, "Any organisation that purports to support those of diverse sexualities yet which excludes those of trans and questioning gender identities actively conflates sexuality with gender identity since it ignores the obvious fact that trans people can be lesbians, gays, bisexual, straight, asexual or any other sexuality."
Garden Court posted a statement on its website emphasising that Bailey's group was not a part of it, "nor representative of the views of Chambers". It then announced on Twitter that it was "investigating concerns" about Bailey. "We take these concerns v seriously & will take appropriate action", it said.
Bailey joins the fray.
Bailey said Garden Court had "simply gone along with what the hate mob want" and were "offering me no support whatsoever". She added that she had "no faith" its complaints process would be conducted fairly. One factor which might lead her to that conclusion is fellow Garden Chambers barrister Alex Sharpe, a transwoman and trans rights activist.
Sharpe, who presumably gives Bailey a wide berth at the office, has previously said lesbians should consider why they won't sleep with transwomen who identify as lesbians, and has implied that lesbians who don’t question their attraction to people of the same sex are being unethical. Referring to the ‘cotton ceiling’, a term coined by trans rights activists to describe lesbians' refusal to have sex with people with penises, Sharpe tweeted, "Cotton ceiling. There is nothing wrong with asking people to reflect on preferences where they exclude a whole class of ppl”. Sharpe added, “If X likes white guys, but only white guys, he should not be forced or pressured to have sex with non-white guys, but it might be ethical to reflect on why".
Garden Court did not respond to a request for comment.