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Backpedaling about Gender in Britain

John Stonestreet and Timothy D Padgett | BreakPoint, BreakPoint | Thursday, August 24, 2023
Backpedaling about Gender in Britain

Backpedaling about Gender in Britain


A recent article in The Atlantic by Helen Lewis made the bold claim that “The Gender War Is Over in Britain.” An overstatement, to be sure, but not entirely unwarranted. Keir Starmer, head of the Labour Party, recently led his party away from full support of radical gender ideology. This was a notable shift for the United Kingdom’s largest left-wing party, which had previously encouraged radical elements of trans activism and stood aside as feminists were canceled for resisting the new orthodoxy. The shift, which was quietly announced to the public, made “three big declarations.”  

One was that “sex and gender are different.” Another was that, although Labour continues to believe in the right to change one’s legal gender, safeguards are needed to “protect women and girls from predators who might abuse the system.” Finally, Labour was therefore dropping its commitment to self-ID—the idea that a simple online declaration is enough to change someone’s legal gender for all purposes—and would retain the current requirement of a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria. 

The author of the Atlantic piece equated Starmer’s muted approach to “a man who had chucked a hand grenade over his shoulder and walked away, whistling,” though it likely had more to do with strategy than anything else. Although it may be the cause du jour of ivory tower activists, the past few years of policies and platforms at odds with common sense and basic biology have left affirming politicians high and dry when it comes to public support. 

Some have already paid the price by losing their respective offices. Recently, the head of the Scottish Nationalist Party was toppled, in part, for her attempted defense of placing so-called transgender men in women’s prisons. And it’s not just politicians who are getting the boot. Last year, the Tavistock Clinic near London shut downoperations on account of lawsuits against its “gender-affirming” practices. In fact, the greater trend across Europe seems to be a growing skepticism, which stands in stark contrast to the mood in North America.  

At the same time, the protest in the U.S. seems to be growing. More stage time and prominence are being given to “de-transitioners” like Chloe Cole, who, as young people, bought the lies and did irreparable damage to their bodies through amputation and chemicals. More female athletes are following the lead of Riley Gaines and the Connecticut high school sprinters, standing up to intimidation and threats and insisting on the “crazy” idea that only women should be in women’s sports. As more people refuse to be muzzled by societal pressure, others will speak out, too. Only in this way will what is true about reality reassert itself

All these things should give us hope that societal decline is not inevitable. But we must also remember that social media isn’t real. Most of the controversies that monopolize the time and attention of pundits around the world are just “sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Most people around the country and the world are more firmly rooted in reality than the folks writing headlines, pushing progressive policies, and posting TikTok videos.  

One complicating factor here is that American politics is uniquely polarized. For example, in post Roe v. Wade America, the American left has elevated abortion to the point that no compromise is tolerated. So, even though many European nations have far stricter laws regarding abortion than even conservative American states, it will take significant effort to further move the needle here in the U.S. The same reality is at play in our efforts to protect children who are already born. 

What can and should continue to encourage us is that reality will always strike back. Dangerous ideas, even when mandated by cultural gatekeepers, cannot change reality. When Christians and other likeminded people stand up against dangerous ideas, we’re not pleading for our own narrow, partisan claims. We’re standing for the reality of the world as it truly is. We’re standing for science and fact, for basic biology and common sense. No matter the folly of human pretensions against reality, this is still our Father’s world. Its boundaries can only be pushed so far. 

This Breakpoint was co-authored by Dr. Timothy Padgett. For more resources to live like a Christian in this cultural moment, go to breakpoint.org.

Publication date: August 24, 2023

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Vladimir Vladimirov

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Christian Headlines.

BreakPoint is a program of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. BreakPoint commentaries offer incisive content people can't find anywhere else; content that cuts through the fog of relativism and the news cycle with truth and compassion. Founded by Chuck Colson (1931 – 2012) in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends. Today, you can get it in written and a variety of audio formats: on the web, the radio, or your favorite podcast app on the go.

John Stonestreet is President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and radio host of BreakPoint, a daily national radio program providing thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.

Backpedaling about Gender in Britain