An employee of a leading think tank was fired for publicly arguing that transgender women were not real women. Maya Forstater was a tax expert for The Centre for Global Development (CGD). In March 2019, Forstater posted a series of tweets in support of the statement that “men cannot change into women.”
She was fired by CGD for her comments, and she subsequently sued the company on grounds of discrimination. She cited the 2010 Equality Act, which she stated made it illegal for the company to fire her based on her views about gender transition.
However, Judge James Tayler rejected Forstater’s argument, and said that her views on the matter were “not worthy of respect,” and that they were not legally protected.
The judge stated that her opinion was "not a philosophical belief protected by the Equality Act” and that it "is not worthy of respect in a democratic society."
He added, "[Forstater] is absolutist in her view of sex and it is a core component of her belief that she will refer to a person by the sex she considered appropriate even if it violates their dignity and/or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment."
The 45-year-old had maintained that there exist two biological genders, male and female. She expressed these beliefs on Twitter, and Medium, a blogging site.
Her Sept. 2, 2018 tweet read; "Radically expanding the legal definition of 'women' so that it can include both males and females makes it a meaningless concept, and will undermine women's rights & protections for vulnerable women & girls."
On Sept. 25, 2018, she tweeted; "Yes I think that male people are not women. I don't think being a woman/female is a matter of identity or womanly feelings. It is biology."
Her colleagues confronted her about the tweets, stating that they were “transphobic.” In response, she set up a new Twitter account, @2010Equality.
Forstater stated that sex is “a material reality which should not be conflated with 'gender' or 'gender identity,’” in her witness statement.
She also wrote, "Being male or female is an immutable biological fact, not a feeling or an identity."
After the ruling, she expressed her “shock and disbelief” in a series of tweets.
Her lawyer, Peter Daly, spoke to the Guardian, stating: "Had our client been successful, she would have established in law protection for people – on any side of this debate – to express their beliefs without fear of being discriminated against."
The Index on Censorship advocacy group stood in support of Forstater during the trial. Jodie Ginsberg, the group’s CEO, told the Guardian, "I cannot see that Maya has done anything wrong other than express an opinion that many feminists share – that there should be a public and open debate about the distinction between sex and gender."
Forstater, through the CrowdJustice site, raised $109,000 to cover her legal expenses.
She is considering appealing the ruling.