Women are bullied, cancelled and receive death and rape threats for expressing doubts about gender ideology, comedy writer Graham Linehan told a House of Lords committee today.
Giving evidence to the Communications and Digital Committee’s inquiry into freedom of expression online, the Father Ted writer said that gender ideology had put society “under a spell” that makes it practically impossible to discuss the profound, permanent consequences of childhood transitioning and the impact of trans-inclusive policies on women.
Linehan was invited to give evidence along with feminist campaigner Helen Staniland. Linehan was thrown off Twitter last year after tweeting the words ‘men are not women’. Helen Staniland is a feminist who was also thrown off Twitter for asking the question “Do you believe that male-sexed people should have the right to undress and shower in a communal changing room with women and girls?”. The committee is collecting evidence on how public policy can best protect the right to freedom of expression on the internet and how that right should be balanced with other priorities.
Detailing the issues that women cannot discuss without attracting vitriol and threats, Linehan pointed to “matters such as the scandals at the Tavistock [NHS Centre], the confusing and misleading advice that Stonewall has been providing to institutions all over the UK, the issue of men in women’s sports, in women’s prisons, their rape crisis centres [and] the destruction of basic safeguarding principles.”
If you believe that JK Rowling is transphobic, a woman who has devoted her work and much of her fortune to the vulnerable, the bullied, the forgotten and the abused, then you are under a spell.
“My position is very simple,” Linehan told the committee. “I believe everyone should be allowed to talk about these issues. In fact, I believe it is a moral imperative that we do so.” Yet this is impossible, he argued, with the “silencing and abuse of feminists, doctors, teachers, academics and writers – anyone, in fact – who questions the fashionable American orthodoxy of gender identity ideology.”
Referring to the abuse author JK Rowling suffered after publishing an essay explaining how her experience of sexual assault has influenced her support for single-sex spaces, Linehan said:
“If you believe that JK Rowling is transphobic, a woman who has devoted her work and much of her fortune to the vulnerable, the bullied, the forgotten and the abused, then you are under a spell. If you believe that men can fairly compete against women in their sports – including contact sports – then you are under a spell. If you believe that men will not go to the most extreme lengths to gain access to women and children, then you are under a spell. If you believe that children as young as three years old can agree to a procedure that puts them on a medical pathway for life, that arrests their natural puberty, and that has almost no scientific proof as to its efficacy as a treatment for dysphoria, then you are under a spell.”
The Communications and Digital Committee is chaired by Lord Gilbert of Panteg and Linehan and Staniland were questioned by peers including Conservative Baroness Buscombe, Labour’s Lord Lipsey, Crossbencher the Viscount Colville of Culross and the Lord Bishop of Worcester. The peers asked whether social media platforms’ moderation policies have due regard for freedom of expression and about Twitter’s moderation policies and appeal processes. They also asked about Facebook and how well the police handle allegations against people of ‘hate crimes’.
Gender identity ideology began in American universities, is uncritically disseminated by the popular media, but social media companies are the enforcers.
Linehan gave a speech to the committee in which he was very critical of the giant social media companies and their damaging influence on public discourse:
“Social media has created a through the looking glass world which is robbing everyone of their ability to think. My final statement on Twitter, the straw that broke the camel’s back, was simply “Men are not women.” A world where statements like “Men are not women” is hate speech is a world on the brink of chaos. Feminists are just the canary in the coal mine in this upside down world where public discourse depends on the whims of a small group of men in Silicon Valley. Gender identity ideology began in American universities, is uncritically disseminated by the popular media, but social media companies are the enforcers.
“People do not understand the extent to which they have been indoctrinated by this ideology. Women who oppose it are trying desperately to be heard. Helen [Staniland], who is here with me today is only one example of thousands. I have heard from young lesbians who are frightened that their sexuality will have them labelled transphobic, I have heard from therapists unable to tell distraught children that their favourite author does not want them dead, I’ve heard from detransitioners who tell of young women being groomed by older men in trans youth groups.”
Linehan argued that the discourse is being shaped by trans rights activists:
“In place of reasoned arguments and democratic discussion, we have mantras like “No debate” and “Transwomen are women”, we have policies passing by stealth, we have bogus statistics about trans murder epidemics and we have the unconscionable weaponising of suicide for political ends. The discourse is broken. We are all the poorer for it, and most importantly, our children less safe. As I say, the stakes could not be higher.”