‘Lie of gender identity’ spurred founding of LGB Alliance, court told | Transgender

The organisation LGB Alliance was founded to “prevent the dissemination of the lie of gender identity”, a court was told on Wednesday, during a hearing over whether the Charity Commission was right to grant the body charitable status.

Co-founder Kate Harris told a hearing that a surge in anti-lesbian discrimination was another motivation for the creation of the organisation.

The General Regulatory Chamber is considering a challenge by the transgender children’s charity Mermaids to the Charity Commission’s decision to award charitable status to LGB Alliance last year.

The hearing examined whether the defence of trans rights can lead to conflicts with women’s rights or the rights of lesbian, gay and bisexual people.

Michael Gibbon, KC for Mermaids, on Wednesday questioned the two co-founders of LGB Alliance, Bev Jackson and Harris, both of whom are lesbians, over whether the organisation was primarily focused on an anti-trans political and lobbying agenda or whether it was created to undertake charitable activities in support of lesbian, gay and bisexual people.

Asked about the organisation’s creation, Jackson said organisers were in part motivated by a change in the definition of homosexuality adopted by Stonewall and other leading LGBT groups in around 2015 from same-sex attraction to same-gender attraction.

She said the founders wanted to bring together “other LGBT people who agreed with our view that homosexuality was being redefined in a way that we found offensive”.

She said lesbians had found the redefinition particularly challenging, with some feeling that they were no longer free to express same-sex attraction; she pointed to the ejection of lesbian activists from a pride march for asserting same-sex rather than same-gender attraction.

The hearing spent some time addressing the concept of gender. “We objected to the view that everyone has a gender identity. I don’t have a gender identity, and I object to being told that I do,” Jackson said.

Gibbon questioned Jackson on the “provocative and inflammatory” language used in tweets by associates of the charity, including use of the hashtags #endgayconversion and #transingthegayaway – referring to LGB Alliance’s belief that gay children were being influenced by messaging on YouTube and social media into thinking that they were trans and subsequently seeking treatment.

Jackson responded that LGB Alliance used these hashtags to draw attention to their work. “Anti-lesbian prejudice and fear is leading many teens, especially lesbians, to believe that they have ‘gender identity’ issues when they are in fact grappling with their emerging lesbian/gay sexual orientation,” Jackson said in her witness statement.

She said the organisation believed the use of puberty blockers by gender identity development services (GIDS) for children “who might otherwise grow up to become gay adults” was “a huge medical scandal in the making”.

Co-founder Harris described gender identity as “a lie” during a speech given at the launch of LGB Alliance Scotland in 2020, the court heard, and dismissed it as “pseudo-science”. She said she had “a personal interest” in the question of how discussion of gender identity could impact children, describing how she was “considered boyish by others” as a child and placed in the boys’ groups for sport at school.

She said she was “100% sure” that if she had been taught in sex education lessons that everyone has a gender identity that could differ from the sex assigned at birth she would have asked to be “fast-tracked on to puberty blockers, insisted on hormone treatment and no doubt ended up having surgery”, rather than “growing up to become a happy lesbian”.

In evidence given earlier in the week Dr Belinda Bell, chair of the trustees of Mermaids, said it was implausible to suggest that gay children would embark on the difficult process of transitioning in response to homophobia, and noted that the vast majority of trans adults are not straight, so the process of transition could not accurately be described as gay conversion.

“LGB Alliance appears to take the view that trans children do not exist, or that they cannot know they are trans before adulthood,” she said. “LGB Alliance has repeatedly stated in public forums that Mermaids seeks to inappropriately push LGB children into identifying as trans. Such allegations are false and harmful to Mermaids’ ongoing work.”

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