Bodies that matter: transgenderism and transhumanism

Battle of Ideas festival 2023, Sunday 29 October, Church House, London


In her recent book, Transgender Body Politics, author and philosopher Heather Brunskell-Evans takes to task the politics of transgenderism. She argues that, for years, Gender Identity Development Theory has become increasingly accepted as a medically ‘progressive’ idea, yet one that bears all the hallmarks of a religion.

According to this modern creed, Brunskell-Evans argues, gender is believed to be independent of the physical body, resembling something akin to a ‘soul’ which should take precedence over biological sex. Centring on values such as equality, gender diversity and inclusion, it is backed by symbols such as chants, flags, parades and ‘holy’ days. There is a belief in secular transubstantiation – that boys can become women and girls can become men. Organisations like Stonewall, Mermaids and Gendered Intelligence act like a secular clergy, giving ‘sermons’ on right-think in training workshops. Critical individuals are denounced as infidels and detransitioners are akin to apostates.

Has the recent closure of the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) at the NHS Tavistock Clinic turned the tide on this development? Has wider society begun to seriously debate the consequences of young people undergoing unnecessary sex-change surgery that could have lifelong implications for them? Or is it simply the first siren call to a much larger cultural phenomenon which reveals a thriving, well-funded and unaccountable transhumanist movement that should be firmly on our radar?

In this special lecture for the Battle of Ideas festival, Heather Brunskell-Evans presents the findings and thoughts contained in her book. Three respondents will then kickstart a discussion aimed at getting to grips with important issues surrounding transgender politics.

Dr Heather Brunskell-Evans
philosopher; co-founder, Women’s Declaration International; author, Transgender Body Politics

Sonia Gallego
senior producer and reporter, Al Jazeera English

Marc Glendening
head of cultural affairs, Institute of Economic Affairs; author, Transgender Ideology: a new threat to liberal values

Rosie Kay
dancer; choreographer; CEO and artistic director, K2CO LTD; founder, Freedom in the Arts

Timandra Harkness
journalist, writer and broadcaster; presenter, Radio 4’s FutureProofing and How to Disagree; author, Big Data: does size matter?