Forstater Employment Appeal

In March 2019 I lost my job at the Centre for Global Development, after I had written and tweeted about my belief and about the UK government’s proposal for gender self ID.  I took them to  Employment Tribunal for discrimination on the grounds of belief.]

You can read my story here: I lost my job for speaking up about women’s rights (written in May 2019)

In December 2019 I lost the preliminary hearing in the Employment Tribunal which concerned the question of whether gender critical beliefs (and lack of belief in gender identity theory) are protected under the Equality Act 2010 protected characteristic of religion or belief.

Unexpectedly, on December 19 JK Rowling tweeted this message with the hashtag #IStandWithMaya

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I appealed this judgement, and the Index on Censorship and Equality and Human Rights Commission also intervened in support of my appeal.

In June 2021 the original judgment was overturned by the Employment Appeal Tribunal. This created a legal precedent that people should not face discrimination or harassment at work or as users of services because of their beliefs about sex and gender identity.

CGD decided not to appeal further against the EAT’s judgment

The next stage of the case is to go back to the Employment Tribunal to hear the rest of the case about my employment status and how I lost my job.

My Statement

“I am delighted that CGD has accepted the ruling of the Employment Appeal Tribunal that gender-critical beliefs are “worthy of respect in a democratic society”. This judgment will protect thousands of women who have been harassed, discriminated against and victimised for standing up for women’s rights, as well as the men who stand up with them. We can all speak up with a bit less fear.”

The Center for Global Development (CGD) and the Center for Global Development Europe (CGDE) have announced their decision not to take the Employment Appeal Tribunal to further appeal. The case will now return to the Employment Tribunal.

“I agree with CGD that workplaces should be welcoming, safe, and inclusive to trans people and any vulnerable minority group. But women are not a minority, and the Equality Act seeks to protect their rights too.

We need to be able to talk about this and about women’s specific needs, and about sex discrimination and the basic facts of material reality. Men cannot become women. 

I do not wish harm on any male or female who doesn’t conform to gender norms,  who suffers from gender dysphoria or changes their appearance and the way they prefer to be referred to. I simply do not believe that this is the same thing as being the opposite sex. 

As Mr Justice Choudhury confirmed, my view of the two sexes is the one that is held by UK law.

CGD has spent the past two years fighting against my ability, and the ability of others in the UK, to articulate the basic definition of male and female for fear of our jobs. Now it says it will “dispute my version of events”. 

I am confident that the full facts, when heard in court, will show that I, like so many other women, have been unfairly treated and branded a “bigot” for speaking up to protect single-sex services, women’s sports, sex-disaggregated data and the ability to speak the truth. 

Since the judgment was first announced I have heard from hundreds of women and men (including lots of lesbian and gay people and some transsexuals) who feel more confident to speak up. 

They are revealing their names and faces on social media. Several who lost  social-media accounts have had them reinstated. I have heard from women who are bringing grievances after being frozen out of meetings and insulted and undermined at work. I know other cases will follow as people challenge the harassment and discrimination they have faced for expressing gender-critical views. 

We have already seen organisations like the Royal Academy and Essex University think again about how they respond to concocted claims of “transphobia”. These ripples will continue to spread. 

None of this means, as Mr Justice Choudhury stated clearly in the judgment, that people protected by the Equality Act characteristic of “gender reassignment” have any less protection than they had before. No one should be harassed at work. 

The next steps for me are to talk to my legal team, Ben Cooper QC, Anya Palmer and Peter Daly, and to begin to prepare the case for the Employment Tribunal. 

I am deeply grateful to them, and to my family and everyone who has supported the case. 

A short video explainer (Daniel Barnett)

Press coverage

Legal analysis and comment

Podcasts and video appearances

Lock down TV: Interview with Freddie Sayers

Documents from the appeal hearing

Skeleton Argument by Ben Cooper QC and Anya Palmer, Old Square Chambers

Documents from the Employment tribunal

My statement on the original judgment

(18 December 2019)

I struggle to express the shock and disbelief I feel at reading this judgment, which I think will be shared by the vast majority of people who are familiar with my case.

My belief as I set out in my witness statement is that sex is a biological fact, and is immutable. There are two sexes, male and female. Men and boys are male. Women and girls are female. It is impossible to change sex. These were until very recently understood as basic facts of life by almost everyone.

 As I said at my tribunal I will as a matter of courtesy use preferred pronouns and I support human rights. Everyone should be free to express themselves, to break free of gender stereotypes and to live free of violence, harassment and discrimination.

But this does not require removing people’s freedom to speak about objective reality, or to discuss proposed changes to law and to  government policies clearly.

Women face discrimination on the basis of our sex. The rights of women to organise, to play a role in public life and to be protected against discrimination have been hard-won in recent generations. Protections against sex discrimination depend on being able to recognise sex. This is why it is a protected characteristic in the Equality Act.

This judgment removes women’s rights and the right to freedom of belief and speech.  It gives judicial licence for women and men who speak up for objective truth and clear debate to be subject to aggression, bullying, no platforming and economic punishment.

 I will consider the judgment closely with my legal team to determine what can be done to challenge it.  I will make a further statement once that task is complete.

I want to express my thanks to my legal team Anya Palmer and Peter Daly for the excellent job they have done, to Kristina Harrison for speaking up as a witness in my tribunal, and to everyone whose careful and compassionate writing on this topic helped me to understand the issues. I am grateful for the outpouring of support I have received from around the world, via social media, on Mumsnet, through feminist networks and in person.

In particular thank you to everyone who has made and continues to make financial donations towards the legal costs through

Most of all I want to thank my husband, my children and my family for their support. I will be forever grateful to everyone who has stood with me.

CGD’s statement (18 December 2019)

It brought my story to international attention, sparking thousands of online, media and kitchen table conversations.

As James Kirkup wrote in the Spectator “In just a few words, JK Rowling has changed the transgender debate”

Analysis of the employment tribunal judgment

Philosophers, lawyers and all sorts of thoughtful people have been looking at the facts, judgement and implications of my case.

Video responses

Media coverage of the employment tribunal

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