LGBT+

Rise of the furries: A purr-fect storm for transgender rights

Unevidenced claims of children identifying as cats would be hilarious if they weren’t so dangerous for their real target group, writes Tabitha McIntosh

Unevidenced claims of children identifying as cats would be hilarious if they weren’t so dangerous for their real target group, writes Tabitha McIntosh

30 Jun 2023, 5:00

Last year I said in Schools Week that we were sleepwalking back into Section 28. I’d like to retract that statement. We’re not sleepwalking back into it: we’re being frogmarched into something much worse. 

Or maybe that should have read ‘cat-marched’, because last week the escalation of anti-LGBT+ rhetoric reached the improbable height of a full-blown, five-alarm, international media moral panic about British teenagers identifying as cats. And dinosaurs. Oh, and gay male holograms

According to the nation’s most easily outraged educators and opinion-havers, adults in schools have lost all control in the face of what the Daily Mail called ‘the rise of the furries’: an unstoppable tide of children identifying as animals, minerals, and random objects found behind the sofa cushions. Woke teachers, captured by post-human-moral-relativist-transgenderist-ideology, have no choice but to respect these identities. The West has fallen. You know the drill.

It’s hilarious. Except it’s not. It’s not at all funny that anecdotes entirely unsupported by basic fact checking can spread so virally. It is not hilarious that journalists are offering money to any anonymous parent willing to claim that woke schools secretly transitioned their children into exo-planets. What it is, fundamentally, is terrifying because these kinds of stories aren’t about furries or dinosaurs or holograms. They are aimed at undoing two decades of law that grant people the right to change their legal gender (Gender Recognition Act 2004) and protects them from discrimination if they do or plan to do so (Equality Act of 2010).

Think I’m exaggerating? The government’s minister for women and equalities is using the debunked catgender story to ask for an emergency inspection of the school at the eye of that culture war hurricane on the basis that a teacher supported the ‘contested political belief’ that gender ‘is not linked to the parts that you were born with’. Radical proponents of this belief that sex and gender are different include the law of the United Kingdom since 2004 and every dictionary of the English language.  

Our classrooms are the battlefield where this culture war is being fought

In February, that same minister invited the equality and human rights commission – the body responsible for the promotion and enforcement of our equality and non-discrimination laws – to reconsider the definition of ‘the protected characteristic of sex’. The commission’s chair dutifully provided a letter invoking the dystopian future that may ensue if people continue to be allowed to be treated in law according to their legal gender. Brace yourselves: ‘A women’s book club (for instance) may have to admit a trans woman who had obtained a gender recognition certificate’.

We have entered an entirely imaginary yet profoundly authoritarian parallel world in which you need to show your birth certificate before you can have a glass of Chardonnay and discuss Richard Osman’s latest. A world in which toilet guards inspect the legal and biological status of anyone who finds themselves caught short during a shopping trip. A world in which the Sunday Times thinks there is such a thing as a ‘biological name’ which presumably emerges from one’s chromosomes. I was biologically determined as Tabitha from conception. That’s just science.

Meanwhile, in the real world, an entire category of people protected under the Equality Act of 2010 is being called ‘politically controversial’ by the minister responsible for protecting their rights. Meanwhile, in the real world, the government is drafting schools policy that is much, much worse than Section 28. 

Section 28 didn’t say that teachers will be forced to tell parents their child is questioning their sexuality ‘even if the child objects’. It didn’t say that heads must ‘consider the mental effects on other children’ before allowing students to be lesbian, gay or bisexual. It didn’t demand that my parents be consulted if I came to school in trousers – AKA ‘a different gender uniform.’ 

Claims that an epidemic of cat children has been unleashed by the pride flag don’t take place in a vacuum. They are happening in the context of attempts to undo human rights law for all LGBT+ adults. They are happening during what the UN expert on sexual orientation and gender identity calls ‘a rampant surge in hate crimes in the UK’. And our classrooms are the battlefield where this culture war is being fought. Fight back.

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2 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    As you are in favour of self-ID, please can you confirm that you are happy with the following situations:

    A transwoman, who was born male, is placed in a female locked mental health ward.

    A transman, born female, is imprisoned in a male prison.

    A transwoman, who has been convicted of a double rape and has socially but not medically transitioned, is sent to a woman’s prison. (The person involved is now called Isla Bryson.)

    Someone who commits a criminal offence prior to transitioning is supposed to provide their previous name on a DBS check…but no one can confirm or check that.

    Sex has been used to separate services for men and women for generations. If this is now going to change to using (self-described) gender instead, then the public should be given the opportunity to review and potentially challenge this. It is a massive upheaval to our social norms and worthy of respectful debate.

  2. Furries are on the rise statistically and not many parents want their kids to be a furry. The term biological male and female is factual. Happy to refer to anyone by any pronoun they want but not by animal type, yet. I saw yet because culture changes rapidly.