There exists, in the Netherlands, an ultra-strict sect of Calvinists who do not allow girls to wear trousers, on the Old Testament principle of the separation of the sexes. “Male and female He created them” is seen as meaning males and females must be seen to inhabit different spheres. This is a fundamentalism that most people would surely rebuff. Yet we are now seeing society tilt to quite the other extreme.

It now seems that almost anyone who affirms that men and women are naturally different is likely to be described as a “bigot” by gender-fluid campaigners. Even feminists who believe that women are entitled to have their own space are coming under fire from transgender activists: groups such as A Woman’s Place, which makes that point, are finding it harder to book locations for meetings for fear of being labelled “bigots” who deny “inclusion” to transgender people.

The current transgender policy of the Girl Guides compels groups to accept boys who “self-identify” as girls. As Helen Watts and Nicola Williams, supported by many others, wrote to the Sunday Times last weekend: “This poses safeguarding risks [for camping trips, etc] … A boy who identifies as a girl is still legally and physically male … male children who identify as girls can share sleeping and washing facilities with females. It is estimated that 65,000 cases of child sex abuse are committed by other children and young people each year … Segregating by sex, regardless of gender identity, is common sense.”

Common sense, however, has little to do with the ideology of gender politics, rooted in the delusional – yet now powerfully held – notion that everyone can “choose” their gender. Yes, there are individuals who feel they are born into the wrong body, and it is right and compassionate to extend tolerance and understanding for this condition. But the ideology has now been taken to such an extreme that women and girls are being disallowed from having spaces they can define as female only.

Changes outlined in the updated Gender Recognition Act will propose that any male person who claims to “self-identify” as female is entitled to have equal access to a female space. Female athletes feel particularly resentful that their sport may be open to competitors who have the physique, and the testosterone, of males.

The ideological source of much of this thinking is the academic Judith Butler, who wields enormous influence through the Gender Studies network. Professor Butler’s diktat is that male and female are merely “social constructs”, and have no link with biology. It would almost drive you to wondering whether those ultra-Calvinists have a point.

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