Here we go again. The extreme transgender ideology that threatens academic freedom in the United States—the belief that men who “identify” as women are literally the same as biological women and must be treated as such under all circumstances—is now seeping into the judiciary.
In a ruling that is gaining notoriety worldwide, a British judge ruled October 2 against a Christian physician who refused to comply with hospital edicts that he address so-called “trans women” as “madam.” Dr. David Mackereth, 56, a National Health Service employee, was fired from his post at the Department for Work and Pensions in July 2018.
Mackereth compounded his offense by stating publicly that it’s scientifically impossible for a person to change his or her biological sex no matter how many surgeries or hormone injections may be offered. On this, Mackereth is on solid ground from a scientific point of view. While left-wing activists pretend that sexual differentiation is arbitrary and merely a social convention (and regard gender as being “assigned” at birth), science has long demonstrated that sexual differentiation exists on a cellular, anatomical level.
And while it’s true that expressions of masculinity and femininity vary across cultures, biological males are genetically distinct from biological females, despite rare chromosomal abnormalities (such as Turner and Klinefelter Syndromes). To take a relatively straightforward example, only biological females have the anatomical organs necessary for gestating children and giving birth, while only males can impregnate females.
In Mackereth’s case, a supervisor pressured him to refer to a “man six foot tall with a beard” as “she” and “Mrs.” When the veteran doctor refused, believing it was “compelled speech,” he was called in for a detailed interrogation concerning his beliefs about sexual differentiation—and eventually sacked.
So far, so typical. But what happened next is sending chills down the spines of all freedom-loving people in the Western world: a judge on the Employment Tribunal, sitting in Birmingham, made it clear that belief in the transgender ideology is no longer optional, at least not for those who work with the general public.
Quite explicitly, the judge ruled that “lack of belief in transgenderism and conscientious objection to transgenderism in our judgment are incompatible with human dignity and conflict with the fundamental rights of others, specifically here, transgender individuals (Para 197).”
Note carefully: it’s lack of belief, not merely lack of speech, that is “incompatible with human dignity.” The judge is quite literally describing a thoughtcrime out of George Orwell’s 1984.
And the judge went further, drawing the obvious implication of his own ruling. Referring to Mackereth’s appeals to longstanding Christian views about the complementarity of sexual difference, the judge stated that “in so far as those beliefs form part of his wider faith, his wider faith also does not satisfy the requirement of [previous court case] Grainger (Para 231)—that is, “being worthy of respect in a democratic society (Para 167).”
In the words of the British Christian organization Christian Concern, the judge placed Mackereth’s Christian beliefs in the same category as “racist and neo-Nazi ideologies which have been held to be ‘not worthy of respect in democratic society’ in earlier judicial decisions.” Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of the Christian Legal Centre, rightly pointed out that that the only version of Christianity the state will tolerate is one that “recognizes transgenderism and rejects a belief in Genesis 1:27.”
Others complain that the demands of transgender activists have only grown more extreme with the passage of time. As Ryan Anderson describes in his important book, When Harry Became Sally, these activists are always changing their creed and expanding their demands. “Yesterday’s mandatory vocabulary will become tomorrow’s epithets, [and] yesterday’s enlightenment will be tomorrow’s bigotry,” he writes.
Ten years ago, for example, activists were demanding merely that men and women afflicted with the rare condition of gender dysphoria or rare genetic abnormalities not be discriminated against in housing or employment and be treated with respect. Today, they are demanding that no distinction whatsoever be made—in sports, public accommodations, and health care—between women born biologically female and men who “identify” as women.
The insanity reached its apex during the first U.S. Democratic Party presidential debates in June 2019, when Julián Castro insisted that “trans females” should have a legal right to abortions—even though “trans females” are biologically male, and therefore scientifically incapable of becoming pregnant, since they lack female reproductive organs.
What was once an extreme fringe position in the academy and among homosexual activist organizations is now seeping into mainstream political discussions and official court rulings. Activist judges are increasingly unwilling to tolerate any dissent whatsoever from transgender ideology. Anything less is “bigotry”—“hate speech” that can be punished by legal sanctions, dismissal from employment, and, of course, “deplatforming” by social media censors at Facebook and Twitter.
For his part, Dr. Mackereth plans on fighting back. He has filed an appeal of the Employment Tribunal ruling. “I am not alone in being deeply concerned by this outcome,” Mackereth told British media. “Staff in the NHS, even those who do not share my Christian convictions, are also disturbed as they see their own freedom of thought and speech being undermined by the judges’ ruling.” Indeed: it’s not just Christians who need to be worried. When Big Brother starts coming for thought criminals, nobody’s safe.
Author: Robert J. Hutchinson
Robert J. Hutchinson writes frequently on the intersection of politics and faith. He is the author, most recently, of What Really Happened at the Lincoln Assassination (Regnery, 2020).