How ‘Independent’ is the LGBTQ+ Action Plan for Wales Independent Expert Panel?

by The Welsh Resistance

The Welsh Government (WG) recently published its LGBTQ+ Action Plan; a document which the WG and its “independent Expert Panel” authors appear to be very proud of. In the preamble to the Action Plan, they boast of their “unprecedented focus on intersectionality” and “multidimensional” issues the LGBTQ+ community face, citing a “wide range of representatives from LGBTQ+ communities”.

This all sounds impressive, but note their mention of ‘reducing inequality’ with regards to “gender, disability, faith, age and race”. Where is ‘sex’? Bearing in mind this is a plan to help LGBTQ+ people, the overwhelming majority of whom are ‘same-sex’ attracted, surely ‘sex’ should be listed as a priority?  Furthermore, organisations like LGB Alliance Cymru and Merched Cymru had repeatedly asked the WG to be involved in drafting this plan, but it seems their requests were ignored. This last point is striking, not least, because both those groups very much support sex-based rights and would have brought balance to an otherwise gender-trender heavy-panel.

A simple search for the number of times certain terms were referenced in the document (visualised below) shows where the panel’s biases lay, despite the assurances given in the introduction to the Action Plan.  The actions being put forward will affect the lives of many thousands of Welsh people; in particular, lesbians, gay men and bisexuals; women; children and young people and vulnerable groups, such as autistic people, so it is imperative the WG gets the plan and recommendations right.

So, how did we end up with this? 

Let’s meet the panel!

Panel Lead, Lu Thomas, has longstanding and well-known links to the WG.  Here she is back in 2017, with fellow activist Lisa Power and the now-Minister for Education in Wales, Jeremy Miles:

With such high-level connections in the WG, it’s perhaps not surprising that Thomas’s own company, Re:cognition (previously Cognition Associates), was awarded the contract to carry out some work on the recent Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) consultation.  According to its website, “Re:cognition is working closely with the Welsh Government to carry out the public engagement process for their proposed curriculum reform on Relationship and Sexuality Education”.  On the website’s page titled ‘What We Do’, it lists “campaigning, public affiars (sic) and lobbying” as some of their services, even saying it is their “bread and butter”.

The consultation phase for the proposed RSE curriculum took place between 21/05/2021 and 16/07/2021, yet here is Thomas’s business partner and Re:cognition co-founder, Jon Luxton, working for Deputy Minister Jane Hutt’s office as a ‘Special Advisor’ in July 2020. 

Did Luxton secure work for his and Thomas’s own company, working on supposedly independent projects? If so, that would surely constitute a conflict of interest while also prejudicing the independence of those projects.  Could it really be fair and impartial, for the WG to allow lobbyists into the heart of government and let them write policies?

Let’s look more closely at the panel with regards to opinions and positions on LGBTQ+ issues.

Lu Thomas – panel lead:

Examples of a supposedly ‘independent’ expert, publicly volleying abusive and expletive-filled comments at people, some of whom are her political peers?  Maybe we will see more balanced opinions from another panel member…

Kate Hutchinson – Pride Cymru

…it seems not. Calling anyone who has a differing approach to caring for gender dysphoric people, ‘bigots’ and a ‘hate group’ or accusing them of producing a ‘false resource’ is hardly diplomatic. Hutchinson really seems to be intolerant of gender critical views.

Hutchinson states that blockers are “not permanent” and do “nothing more” than “put a pause” on puberty, using the hashtags, #TransKids and #KidsKnowBest. A study has shown that of the dysphoric children who are supported through puberty without blockers, 90% resolve their dysphoria by accepting they are gay or lesbian.  With this in mind, do kids really ‘know best’ at such a young age?  Will placing them on puberty blockers (statistics show, blockers almost inevitably lead to the use of cross-sex hormones, persistence with transition and sterility) mean they are living their ‘true and authentic self’?  Or, are we witnessing the mass conversion of children into being ‘transgender’, who would have otherwise grown up to be gay or lesbian?

Not the language you would expect from an expert.

In these statements, Hutchinson demonstrates biased support for a charity which coaches children and parents to get the medical treatment they want from the NHS, plugs the services of disgraced GP Helen Webberley and does not adequately safeguard children on their message boards.

Here, Hutchinson demands lesbians be removed from the Pride parade in London.

Rania Vamvaka – Glitter Cymru

Rania Vamvaka calls feminists ‘pieces of shit’ and opposes the right of lesbians, gay men and bisexuals to create a charity promoting their own interests.  The notion of democracy in the appointment of this panel is looking shakier and shakier.

Vamvaka is under the impression that gender-critical views, which are worthy of respect in a democratic society, are somehow “lethal”.  This is quite a problem, considering the Welsh Government’s commitment to a ‘wide range’ of voices from the LGBTQ+ community.  What does the complete absence of gender-critical LGB views on this panel mean in terms of the Welsh Government’s idea of democracy?  Do they only believe in democracy when it suits them?

What does Vamvaka think of JK Rowling? 

Pink News were so obsessed with JK, they published an astonishing 42 negative articles about her in just one week, so perhaps it was the confused misogynists and homophobes at that publication who needed to shut up?

Lisa Cordery-Bruce – NHS Wales

Lisa Cordery-Bruce quotes inaccurate figures regarding suicide figures for children suffering with gender dysphoria to bolster her arguments and publicly supports medicalising children who are unlikely to understand the long-term ramifications of puberty-blockers and cross-sex hormones. AFTER the Tavistock v. Bell ruling. 

Yet more aggression aimed at gender critical women.  People who sit on panels should have a variety of opinions and views. Coming from different angles, they nonetheless work together tobring about a certain level of consensus.  But with this panel – there appears to be nothing but animosity shown towards feminists.

Anyone who relegates herself to a subcategory of her own sex by using the word ‘cis’ is no feminist.

Dr Sophie Quinney – Trans Health Services

Sophie Quinney seems remarkably uninterested in scientific research (such as Lisa Littman’s paper on Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria) … for a doctor.

The good doctor here, ‘standing’ with Mermaids in a tweet so dubious that even they deleted it.

Catherine Burton – Race Equality First

Catherine Burton, who is white and chair of Race Equality First, and a trustee of Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES), which suggested autistic children might be cured of their autistic behaviours by transitioning.

Burton was apparently one of the first female airline pilots for British Airways, a feat achieved by disguising himself as a man for forty-four years.

Burton also thinks that Pink News actually reports news.

EJ Renold – Cardiff University

Married heterosexual EJ Renold writes much about the ‘sexuality’ of children. She has been heavily involved in the creation of the proposed new Welsh schools Relationships and Sexuality Education curriculum and is very into her queer theory.

Crash Wigley

“They/Them/She/Her” Crash Wigley (a male) joined the Twitter assault on Plaid Cymru’s Helen Mary Jones, who had the temerity to suggest that sex should not be conflated with gender.

Despite protests by a variety of women’s groups and organisations across the UK at the replacement of female-only, single-sex toilets with mixed sex toilets, Crash doesn’t appear to think it’s at all controversial. 

On Linkedin, Crash is listed as an ‘Ambassador’ for ‘Welsh Women’s Aid and apparently has manned their phones, responding to women’s calls about domestic abuse and sexual violence. I wonder how that played out for the women who were met with a male voice at the end of the line.

And so, this is the panel advising the Welsh Government. A panel that speaks with one, abusive, queer theory-addled voice. Wales deserves much better than what these extremists are selling.