BASW "dog whistles" blog - EBSWA response
This is a response to a blog by published by SWU, a trade union provided by BASW the professional association for social work. Entitled “Dog whistles in context – transphobia” the blog was written by a trans identified male Jane Fae. Jane Fae, formerly John Ozimek, is an advocate and defender of extreme porn ( https://gendercriticalwoman.blog/2022/11/11/jane-fae-trans-britain-part-13/. Fae's blog describes any reference to the reality of sex, or to women’s rights as “transphobic dog whistles”. The response below has been written by an EBSWA member. EBSWA fully endorses the criticisms made of SWU/BASW by the member and will be pressing BASW for an explanation and the right of reply. We ask: Is Jane Fae a fit person to lecture social workers on how to practice? How can SWU or BASW purport to represent or defend its many members who do not agree with gender identity?
“ I write to express my concerns about the blog “Dog Whistles in Context – Transphobia” which was published by SWU and reproduced on the BASW website.
I am a social worker of almost 34 years of experience across children’s and adults’ services, and a member of BASW.
I find it difficult to believe that anyone in SWU or BASW can be unaware of the long-standing concerns of women across the political spectrum, including both those who would call themselves feminists and those who would not, around the issues that were the subject matter of this blog. Concerns that are shared by many men, and by reputable organisations such as, for example, Sex Matters and Transgender Trend.
There are social workers who share these concerns, too. In this particular context, the concerns are about the implications of gender ideology and self ID in terms of women’s safety, dignity, and privacy, and the appropriate approach to young people questioning their gender. I have spoken to many of these social workers personally, and most have been too afraid to speak out publicly due to the risk to their careers.
The very serious issues that arise from gender ideology have therefore gone largely undebated and unchallenged within social work and it has tended to be presented within the profession and its publications as if it were factual and accepted, rather than debatable and controversial. I have never in my career seen such a stifling of debate to the point where experienced social workers are too afraid to express their views on matters with huge implications for vulnerable people.
However, this is a tide which I believe is now turning, due to the increasing awareness of the general public about these issues, the judgments in the Forstater and Bailey cases, and the recent self ID debacle in Scotland, which has particularly highlighted the issues for women in prisons.
One would think that the time has come for BASW and SWU to think carefully about their position on these matters. In fact, one might even think that this is rather overdue. There is much that we need to be discussing and doing now if we are to address the complex ‘competing rights’ issues that we are presented with, and to avoid losing the confidence of the public and our service-users entirely over this issue.
Instead, you have published a blog in which a set of beliefs is presented as fact. I will not delve into all the ins and outs of the argument here. I am sure you have an acquaintance with them. Suffice is to say that the statement that “women are adult human females” is not, as the blog states a transphobic dog whistle, or a ‘code’, or a term chosen with an eye to plausible deniability, but a statement of biological fact. To argue that sex is ‘assigned’ at birth and self-defined at a later point is a debatable theory, but not an established fact. To express a view about this is simply that; it is not ‘a bullying tactic enabling one group to have a go at another ‘in plain sight’’.
Most particularly, to suggest that sensible, critical questioning of the role of ‘Big Pharma’ in events is in some way an ‘echo’ of antisemitism is quite a leap and it is also outright offensive. Is the author seriously arguing that when I question the role and profiteering of pharmaceutical companies I (to use the blog’s own words) ‘intend’ to ‘convey something altogether nastier’ to ‘a specific subset?’ If so, I strongly refute that statement and I am very angry that it has been made within material published by my professional association.
Moving on, I wonder what due diligence was done in terms of the author of this blog? The author’s views on topics such as pornography and feminism are freely available. You may wish to consult this summary: Jane Fae: Trans Britain (Part 13) – @STILLTish. Gender Abolition (gendercriticalwoman.blog)
You may also be interested to hear that this author is already well-known to the users of Mumsnet. I established this with a 20 second internet search. What this shows is that there is awareness amongst the general public (and, I might add, a great deal of concern) about this author’s views. It will not be long before the users of Mumsnet notice that SWU and BASW have platformed this author, along with the numerous other members of the public who have now seen this blog shared on Twitter (as it was entirely predictable it would be.)
In a spirit of honesty and transparency, I ask you firstly, to consider whether your publication of this author’s words was, with hindsight, the best decision?
Secondly, I would observe that there is in effect no means for anyone to publicly reply to the blog, thus rendering social workers who may have something to say unable to make their point. Since anyone can read it, this does rather come across as if BASW, SWU and the social work profession support its contents uncritically.
Thirdly, I wonder when we are going to see an opportunity for balance within BASW/SWU publications and media? Numerous organisations could put the case for a different perspective, EBSWA being the obvious example. Furthermore, the concerns of, for example, people who are dependent upon services for intimate care, or the accounts of de-transitioners, would all help to bring depth and alternative perspectives to coverage that has become, frankly, one-sided to the point that I am re-considering my ongoing membership of BASW, as are many of my peers.
I hope and expect to receive a full response from you with regard to all of the above.”
We are asking BASW to agree to publish a blog by EBSWA setting out the reasons why sex matters, why there is no such thing as an innate gender identity, that people are not “assigned” a gender at birth and only discover later who their “true” gender is, that children are never born in the wrong body, and that children not be subjected to name and sex changes, puberty blockers, or cross sex hormones. All of these are forms of abuse disproportionately experienced by children who have suffered trauma and abuse, who are in care, children who have autism or children who are just gender non-conforming in a deeply sexist society.