10 January 2021

How to pass off gender identity while pretending to talk about something else

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As we have said many times, true core of Zan's ddl against homotranssphobia is gender identity. The rest of the contents of the ddl matter much less. The legitimate demand to protect the rights and dignity of homosexual and transgender people actually conveys the powerful goal of gender identity in the direction of self-id, which is the free decision to choose one's gender irrespective of one's birth sex and by a simple unilateral administrative act, at the registry office or notary.

Self-id, which has a major impact on society and in particular on women and girls, was recently rejected in Great Britain 'by popular vote' (94 per cent of Britons against, survey The Times June 2020). The Zan bill intends to introduce it surreptitiously in Italy conveyed by the law against homophobia. There is no hope of passing a law that directly addresses the issue of gender identity, you sugarcoat the pill, you hide the real target behind a 'veil', knowing full well that the vast majority of the population would reject gender identity, while the protection of the rights of homosexual and transgender people can meet with majority support. The technique is that suggested by the so-called Dentons directives. This excellent article by James Kirkup published by The Spectator explains in detail the lobbying tactics. The article also explains the reasons why the law was discussed and passed in the House almost clandestinely, at a time when people were pressed by pandemic and economic crisis: the less the public is informed about these issues, the better. Kirkup's analysis may not make us more aware in the fight against this ugly law.

"The transgender debate is largely unexplained. One of the most mystifying aspects is the speed and success with which a small number of small organisations have gained great influence on public bodies, among politicians and civil servants. How did a certain idea catch on in so many places so quickly?

People and organisations that until 10 years ago did not have a clear political idea or even the slightest knowledge of trans issues, today are enthusiastically embracing topics such as gender identities non-binary and trans, offering neutral toilets and undertaking other necessary changes to accommodate trans people and their interests. Changes that surprised many people, wondering how this could have happened and why no one asked them what they thought about it or considered how the news might affect them.

Some of the organisms that have embraced these changes with the greatest zeal leave one astounded: law enforcement agencies are not known for being so liberal, yet many are now in the vanguard, to the point of controlling how we use pronouns and harassing old ladies who say the wrong thing on Twitter.

How did we get to this point? It is difficult to think that we are simply organisations adapting to a changing society. In reality society still does not know much about transgenderism. If you work in central London in certain sectors, live in a university town or have children attending a school (preferably middle class) you may have some first-hand knowledge of them. But I remain convinced that most people do not know trans people and have not formed an opinionand how legislation concerning their status should be changed.

So again the question: how did organisations with small budgets and limited resources achieve such staggering success, not just in the UK but everywhere?

Well, thanks to the site Roll On Friday I saw a document which helps to answer this question.

The document (you see it here) is a work of Dentonswhich claims to be the largest law firm in the world; of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, a branch of the old media giant dedicated to gender identity politics; and an international youth and student organisation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex people (IGLYO). Let it be Dentons both the Thomson Reuters Foundation make it clear that the document does not necessarily reflect their views.

The report is called 'Only adults? Good practices in legal gender recognition for young people '. Its aim is to help trans groups in different countries to introduce changes in legislation to allow children to legally change their gender, without the consent of adults or any authority. "We hope that this report will be a powerful tool for activists and NGOs working to promote the rights of trans youth in Europe and elsewhere", reads the preface.

As one would expect from a report written together with the staff of a major law firm, it is a comprehensive and solid document, summarising laws, policies and 'advocacy' in different countries. Based on contributions from trans groups around the world (...) it collects and shares the 'best practices' of 'lobbying' to change the law so that parents no longer have a say in the legal gender of their child.

In the words of the report:

"It is recognised that the requirement of parental consent or the consent of a legal guardian can be restrictive and problematic for minors".

One might think that the very task of parenting is, at least in part, to 'limit' the choices of children who by definition cannot make fully informed adult choices for themselves. But this is not the position of the report. In fact it is suggested that 'States should take action against parents who hinder the free development of a young transgender person's identity by refusing to grant permission when requested'.. In short, it is a manual for lobbying groups that want to eliminate the need for parental consent on significant aspects of children's lives, manual written by an international law firm and supported by one of the world's largest charitable foundations.

And how is the legal change suggested? I think it is worth quoting at length, because this is the first time it has actually been put in writing in a public forum. And anyone with an interest in how policy is constructed and how it works should pay attention to it. Here is an extensive excerpt from the report on how best to implement a pro-trans agenda:

"While cultural and political factors play a key role in the approach to be taken, there are certain techniques that are effective in advancing trans rights in countries that adopt 'good practices'." These techniques include: "anticipating governments' agendas'.

What does it mean? Here are the details:

'In many of the NGO advocacy campaigns we have considered there have been clear advantages in NGOs being able to get ahead of the government and publish progressive legislative proposals before the government has time to develop its own. NGOs must intervene early in the legislative process, before it has even begun. This will give them a far greater ability to shape the government's agenda and the final proposal than if they intervene after the government has already begun to develop its own proposals".

It will sound familiar to anyone who knows how a Commons select committee report in 2016, which adopted several trans groups' positions, was followed in 2017 by a UK government plan to adopt legal gender self-identification (self-id). To many, that proposal, coming out of Whitehall in some detail, will have seemed born out of the blue.

Here is another suggestion from the document: "Link your campaign to a more popular reform'. For example: "In Ireland, Denmark and Norway, changes to the law on legal gender recognition have been introduced at the same time as other more popular reforms such as the egalitarian marriage legislation. This providedveil of protectionparticularly in Ireland where egalitarian marriage was strongly supported while gender identity was less likely to enjoy the same public support'.

This was an issue for which it was "difficult to obtain public support'better to hide it behind the "veil of protection' provided by a popular issue such as gay rights. Anyone who has even taken a look at the transgender debate in the UK will recognise this logic.

Another recommendation is even more revealing: "Avoid excessive press coverage and exposure'. According to the report, the countries that moved most quickly to promote trans rights and remove parental consent were those where pressure groups succeeded in prevent the wider public from learning about their proposals. Conversely, in places like Great Britain where the greater the 'visibility' of the programme, the less successful the lobbying activities have been:

"Another technique that has been used to great effect is limiting the coverage and exposure of the print. In some countries, such as the United Kingdom, information on legal gender recognition reforms has been misinterpreted by the mainstream media and opposition has arisen as a result. ... In this context, many believe that public campaigns have been detrimental to progress because much of the general public is not well informed about trans issues, and therefore misinterpretations can arise. In Ireland, activists put direct pressure on individual politicians and tried to minimise press coverage to avoid this problem ".

Although he offers ample advice on the need to keep the transgender rights agenda out of the public eye, the report has much less to say about whether supporters can simply try to do what everyone else in politics does, building a persuasive argument for their cause. Actually convincing people that this stuff is a good idea is not much in the report, which runs to 65 pages.


Therefore, a leading international law firm helped write a lobbying manual for people who want to change the law and to prevent parents from having the final say on significant changes in their children's status. That handbook advises those lobbying for that change to hide their plans behind a 'veil' and to make sure that neither the media nor the wider public knows much about the changes that are being sought on children. Because if the public were to learn about these changes, they might object.

I started my first job as a researcher in the House of Commons in 1994. Since then I have studied and written about politics. And based on my experience of the way laws are changed, the approach described in that report is not normal or usual. In a democracy we are all free to support whatever policy or position we wish. But normally anyone who wants to change a law accepts that to do so requires the support or at least the consent of the people whose authority ultimately gives force to the law. The approach outlined in the Dentons report amounts to a very different way of lobbying for desired laws and policies. In particular indicates that in a number of countries successes have been achieved by lobbying behind a 'veil' in a way that deliberately avoids public attention. I think this should be of interest to anyone who cares about how policies are conducted, regardless of whether or not the transgender issue is involved.

I will conclude with an observation I have already made but which I think is worth repeating about that report and what it might communicate to people on other aspects of the trans issue: no policy made in the shadows can survive in the sunlight".

James Kirkup (director of the Social Market Foundation and former political editor of The Scotsman and The Daily Telegraph)

translation by Marina Terragni (the original article here)

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