A tax expert who lost her job after tweeting that transgender women should have no legal right to self-identify as women is arguing that her dismissal amounted to discrimination against her beliefs and has taken the case to an employment tribunal.
Forty-five-year-old Maya Forstater, lost her job from charity the Centre for Global Development (CGD) in March this year after she was accused of publishing offensive tweets questioning government proposals to allow people to self-identify as the opposite sex.
The legal dispute, which had its first hearing at court yesterday (13 November) represents a test case on whether having “gender critical” beliefs – the view that one’s sex is a biological fact which cannot be changed – is a protected belief under the Equality Act 2010.
In March, six months after going on Twitter to air her view that “male people are not women” and that sex and gender identity were not the same, her contract at the organisation was not renewed.
She had planned to work at US charity CGD, where she had worked in London since 2015, for the next two years on a project she had helped to develop and raise funds for. “Instead,” she writes on her blog at Medium, “my tweets were investigated and I was told my appointment would not be renewed. This is fundamentally unfair, and it is in the public interest for this decision to be challenged so that people holding these beliefs are protected from discrimination.”
“If we can establish this point in law it would help people who are currently afraid to speak up for fear of losing their jobs or being treated differently by their employer,” Ms Forstater wrote at the Crowdjustice website.
“It would also help people facing discrimination outside of work. For example, political parties and membership organisations that suspend people for expressing such beliefs, venues that refuse to host public meetings and social media platforms that discriminate against gender critical feminists would need to re-think their policies or they too would face claims for discrimination.
Employment Tribunal update posted ?https://t.co/dLgNkjDGj3
(no hearing tomorrow – we are back on Friday)
— Maya Forstater (@MForstater) November 13, 2019
She added: “Like most people I agree that transgender people should not face discrimination and harassment as they live their lives. But I am concerned about the impact of self ID on women and girls, and in particular on single sex spaces and services such as women’s refuges, hostels, prisons, changing rooms and hospital wards, as well as women’s sports.
“I started to tweet about the issue and had polite discussions with people about the definition of ‘woman’. I wrote an article aimed at people working in international development, and shared drafts with my colleagues.
“I never thought I would lose my job over this. But I did.”
Amanda Glassman, the chief executive officer of CGD Europe and executive vice president of CGD, told Personnel Today that the charity prided itself as a workplace that supported and advanced diversity, equity, and inclusion in both policy and practice. She said: “We dispute the claimant’s allegations and look forward to making our case in the Employment Tribunal as the proceedings get under way.”
Ms Forstater is funding the case through a crowdfunding campaign.
The tribunal’s second hearing takes place tomorrow (Friday 15 November).