Last Saturday Angela Ponce won a beauty competition and will now represent Spain in the Miss Universe 2018 pageant. This attracted some newspaper coverage because Angela was born as a biological male, but has undergone “surgery for sexual reassignment” and identifies as a woman.
In another case, Fallon Fox was born as a biological male and became a husband and father.
However, Fallon then identified as a female and, after gender reassignment surgery in Bangkok, became a mixed martial arts fighter, competing as a “transgender female” against biological females.
The word ‘transgender’ was only coined in 1965, but today transgenderism is a subject that features regularly in newspapers and on radio and television.
There have been transgender characters in most British television soaps, as well as many documentaries and news reports about transgendered people. There are even transgender ‘celebrities’ such as Caitlyn Jenner, who was born as a biological male named Bruce Jenner.
Indeed, newspaper reports at the weekend revealed that 2% of BBC staff are transgender. The most startling thing about that figure is that it is probably seven times the percentage of transgender people in the UK.
Of course, with its headquarters in London, BBC staff is disproportionately urban, metropolitan and socially liberal, but I doubt if the corporation will ask why a particular group is so over-represented in its staff.
Joshua Sutcliffe was a maths teacher at a school in Oxford and also an associate pastor in an evangelical church. He had in his class a pupil who was born as a biological female, but had self-identified as a male. This raised questions about how to address the pupil, and so he generally used the pupil’s preferred personal name.
However, on one occasion he referred to this pupil and another pupil as “girls”.
It was an oversight, but it resulted in his suspension from his teaching post for the offence of “misgendering”.
So, how should you address someone who is born as a biological male, who now identifies as a female and who may or may not have undergone surgery? Or how do you address someone who is born as a biological female, who now identifies as a male and who may or may not have undergone surgery?
This takes us into the realm of gender-neutral pronouns. ‘He’ and ‘she’ are out and in come the plural ‘they’ to refer to an individual, or newer terms such as ‘ze’.
Of course, some people imagine that controversies about transgenderism are restricted to the concerns of Christians, but that is far from the case.
Some feminists are deeply concerned about biological males identifying as females and sharing female-only facilities. Some of them have even formed the organisation Woman’s Place to oppose proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act, but they have been targeted, sometimes violently, by transgender militants.
We would be foolish to imagine that Northern Ireland will be immune to such controversies and, earlier this year, Trans Pride NI was established as a limited company, just in time for a Trans Pride event in the centre of Belfast.
In fact there are a number of transgender organisations in Northern Ireland which are campaigning to “normalise” transgenderism with demands for transgender guidance in the workplace, gender-neutral facilities, transgender strategies and action plans and transgender awareness teaching in schools.
That local activity is set against the background of a growing national and international transgender tide, which is supported by wealthy pro-transgender activists.
For example, an American transgender billionaire gave $2m to establish a chair of transgender studies at a Canadian university.
We live in a world that is increasingly confused and confusing. It is also a world where the radical activists often dominate the public discourse and the public consultations, enabled by public funding and aided by the socially liberal and metropolitan elite.
It is imperative that this dominance is ended and that all voices are heard, including those of the socially conservative, who hold to traditional values but who are often hounded into silence.