Carrie Clark and Shelley Charlesworth
It isn’t necessary to take a position on the validity of LGBT charity Stonewall’s claims about the nature of sex, gender and identity to recognise that they have far-reaching consequences and should therefore be subject to maximum public debate.
Since adding transgender rights to its remit in 2015, Stonewall has adopted gender identity ideology and lobbied for self-identified gender to govern many domains of public life previously determined by biological sex.
This has entailed the development of an expansive definition of what constitutes “transphobic” speech, encompassing any criticism of gender identity or self-identified gender as concepts.
Standpoint epistemology and a belief that linguistic categories can be “oppressive” or “exclusionary” are at the root of much Stonewall policy. Both frameworks further hinder the ability to speak plainly about issues arising from the transgender debate without incurring accusations of transphobia.
Through the operation of the Diversity Champions programme and School and College Champion schemes, Stonewall ideology has come to be enacted at the institutional level with relatively little public scrutiny. This has entailed stigmatising and penalising people exercising their speech rights to comment on the repercussions of Stonewall policies.
This briefing summarises the impact Stonewall has had on freedom of speech and the process by which the organisation appears to have bypassed the marketplace of ideas in policymaking.