What the mainstream press doesn't want to tell you about Alex Greenwich's so-called 'Equality Bill'

A guide to doublespeak in the premier state

                                © Emeritus Professor Bronwyn Winter, 17 November 2023

           This commentary piece was submitted to both The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian, without response from either.

It is rumoured that the NSW parliament will be giving some time before the end of the year to a debate on Independent MLA Alex Greenwich’s “Equality Bill”, which purports to guarantee equality and inclusion for all regardless of sexuality or gender identity.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? After all, everybody wants equality, and nobody wants anyone to feel excluded or erased.

Except that’s not what this bill is really about. The warm fuzzy language of equality, protection and validation is in fact a form of doublespeak. It covers up the wrecking ball that is being aimed squarely at the rights of women and the mental and physical health of children.

Mr Greenwich’s bill proposes to amend twenty different pieces of NSW legislation. It would render meaningless concepts such as sex (which is also “gender” but sometimes isn’t), homosexuality (the very term is to be deleted), sexual orientation (now simply a sign of “diversity”, whatever one’s actual sexual orientation may be) and indeed sexuality per se (“asexuality” is now included: a “sexuality” that is in fact defined by its own absence).

Humans, being mammals, are sexually dimorphic. The infinitesimally small number of individuals who present with unusual variations in sex characteristics (while still being chromosomally male or female) does not change that fact.

If Mr Greenwich gets his way, however, terms such as “genderqueer”, “nonbinary” and even “agender” will become sex descriptors, and individuals may freely choose to “identify” into a sex class, their “former sex” becoming part of their “gender history”. We would thus be left with a series of legal fictions where not only would the material category of “sex” become conflated with the social fiction of “gender”, but the answer to the simple question “what is a person’s sex” could potentially become “anything you like”.

Absurd vocabulary contortions aside, the more serious issue that emerges from this so-called Equality Bill concerns the implications of transforming “sex” into a matter of individual choice, a social category that one can identify into (and presumably out of) at will. Yet the very concept of “gender identity” is regressive.

The internationally-used diagnostic tool for so-called “gender dysphoria”, the US Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (5th edition, text revision), bases the idea of “gender identity” on sex role stereotypes that most of us would have assumed got left behind in the 1950s, “Barbie” notwithstanding. But now they are back—with a vengeance. Except that the Barbi-est of Barbies can apparently now also have a penis, and Mr Greenwich and his supporters would like all women to subscribe to the fiction that it is a “female” organ.

Feminists fought long and hard—and are still fighting—to level the unequal playing field that persists in much of public life, from education to the workplace to politics to sport. Yet now men with a “woman” gender identity can take affirmative action places and win awards and sporting titles reserved for women. Not to mention injuring women in team sports. All these things have already happened in Australia.

Far more worrying again is the fact that, if males with a “woman” gender identity are recognised as women, they can be housed in women’s hospital wards, women’s prisons, even women’s refuges. Women have already been sexually assaulted by males transferred
into their prisons or hospital wards. And we know that even if not all men bash and rape women, the overwhelming majority of those who do bash and rape women (and indeed men) are males. Whether or not they wear a dress and makeup.

We have laws against rape and against domestic violence for a reason. We have women’s refuges, women’s prisons, and women’s changerooms and hospital wards for a reason. As long as any man, whatever his personal “identity”, feels he has licence to stalk, harass, and assault women, women are not safe. This is why we continue to need women-only spaces and protections of women’s sex-based rights.

Yet Mr Greenwich’s bill would make it an offence to “out” as male an individual who has claimed a “woman” gender identity. Women could thus not legally require or even request that males not enter women’s protected spaces and could even be prosecuted for correctly identifying the persons in question as male.

However, Mr Greenwich’s bill does not only concern adults. If it is adopted, children under 16 could apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal to have to have their sex recordchanged and to undergo any medical treatment of their choosing. They could even request that their parents not be notified of their  application if they feel they would be “adversely affected”. In other words, immature persons, who are not considered old enough to drive, vote, get married or even get a tattoo, would be considered under this law potentially mature enough to make fundamentally life-changing decisions about their bodies and health.

In recent years, we have seen a sudden and astronomically large increase in young people—and particularly girls—presenting with so-called “gender dysphoria”. Many of these young people, if left alone to mature naturally, would turn out to be gay or lesbian. Yet now they are being told that if they do not conform to regressive and restrictive sex-role stereotypes, they are transgender and need to modify their bodies accordingly. In short, they are being encouraged to trans the gay away.

This is the doublespeak we are faced with. Sex is gender. Inequality is equality. Transgender is the new homosexuality. Children are adults (well, adult enough). And women no longer exist as a protected category. Unless they’re men. 

Orwell couldn’t have done it better.