This gender battle is harder to solve than Brexit

Long-promised consultation on trans rights will show how fierce the arguments are and how vulnerable both sides feel

If Brexit is the most divisive issue in British politics, requiring a talent for squaring ideological circles and cajoling compromises from bitter enemies, reform of the 2004 Gender Recognition Act (GRA) runs it a close second. The consultation, long-delayed while three successive ministers for women and equalities scratched their heads, is finally launched on Tuesday.

Although even that isn’t official. Bizarrely the government wouldn’t confirm (or deny) the date. But I’ve seen emails: groups will give evidence in late July, a sleepy summer recess slot calculated, perhaps, to contain the GRA firestorm. Some chance.

Opposing forces are drilled for battle. On one side the trans lobby, including Stonewall and Gendered Intelligence, who claim changes to the process by which a trans person acquires a gender recognition certificate (GRC) are merely a tiny administrative tweak. On the other, feminist activists who fear that a legal redefinition of “woman” from biological sex to the nebulous, inner feeling of “gender identity” threatens female safety and privacy.