In June 2018, David Mackereth, a British medical doctor and disability assessor, was effectively forced out of his job for disagreeing with transgender identity. He cited his Christian belief in Genesis 1:27, that God created humans male and female, along with basic genetics. He sued his former employer, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), claiming discrimination for his beliefs. Tragically, the employment tribunal ruled that he was not discriminated against, while actively demonizing — if not outlawing — his beliefs.
In a decision handed down Wednesday, the court ruled that Mackereth’s disagreement with transgender ideology is “incompatible with human dignity.”
“Lack of belief in transgenderism and conscientious objection to transgenderism in our judgment are incompatible with human dignity and conflict with the fundamental rights of others, specifically here, transgender individuals,” the judges wrote. “In our judgment, refusing to refer to a transgender person by his/her/their birth sex, or relevant pronouns, titles or styles would constitute unlawful discrimination or harassment.”
Ironically, the judges claimed to be upholding religious freedom.
Mackereth, 56, condemned the ruling. “Without intellectual and moral integrity, medicine cannot function and my 30 years as a doctor are now considered irrelevant compared to the risk that someone else might be offended,” he said, according to the BBC. “I believe that I have to appeal in order to fight for the freedom of Christians to speak the truth.”
“If they cannot, then freedom of speech has died in this country, with serious ramifications for the practise of medicine in the UK,” Mackereth added.
Andrea Williams, CEO of the Christian Legal Centre, which represents Mackereth, called the ruling “deeply disturbing.”
“It is deeply disturbing that this is the first time in the history of English law that a judge has ruled that free citizens must engage in compelled speech,” she said. Williams also warned that if the decision is upheld in an appeal, it will have “seismic consequences” for anyone in the workplace “who is prepared to believe and say that we are created male and female.”
A DWP spokeswoman celebrated the ruling, however. “We acted to protect claimants from behaviour that would have failed to treat them with dignity, so we welcome this ruling,” she said. “We expect all assessors to approach their work sensitively.”
In a hearing on the case, Mackereth said he would refuse to refer to “any 6ft-tall bearded man” as “madam.”
British law has much weaker protections for free speech than U.S. law does, but this ruling does not just attack free speech by compelling this doctor to use biologically incorrect pronouns.
The claim that “lack of belief in transgenderism” is “incompatible with human dignity” should set off 1984 alarm bells. It is one thing for governments to mandate that individuals treat one another with respect, referring to each other by their chosen names. It is more egregious for the government to mandate the use of male pronouns for a female or female pronouns for a male. This is compelled speech, and should be condemned as tyrannical.
Attempts to control belief open the floodgates to a whole new universe in tyranny, however. Government has no say over what anyone believes, and attempts to force a version of orthodoxy at the business end of a rifle never end well.
In this case, the government is threatening to force people to believe a biological absurdity. Genetically, human beings are either male or female. A vanishing minority are intersex, but that is a tragic disorder that proves the rule. People who identify as transgender, by definition, are healthy males or females who wish to present themselves as women or men, the gender opposite their birth sex. Gender confusion is real, and those who suffer with it deserve pity, not mockery. However, no amount of identity will turn a male into a female or vice versa.
There are myriad problems with policy changes involving transgenderism. Opening women’s restrooms and changing rooms to gender-confused biological males may sound magnanimous, but in practice it enables perverts to spy on women in various states of undress. Men and women have a human right to privacy in sex-segregated spaces where they might be vulnerable to members of the opposite sex. Transgender activism threatens that right.
But even this dangerous policy is nothing like mandating a belief.
Human dignity is a fundamental principle of Western freedom and law. Believing that a man can become a woman if he tries hard enough has nothing to do with the legal stance that all human beings are equal in rights and dignity.
The traditional Christian belief — backed up by genetics and the biological sex binary in reproduction — that men and women cannot change their sex is not dangerous for the principle of human dignity. It is dangerous to those who would remake society in the name of supporting the “oppressed” and destroying the “oppressor.”
Wherever people stand on this issue, everyone should condemn the British government’s decision to mandate the “belief in transgenderism.” If that’s not beyond the pale, what is?
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.