Maya Forstater is a British woman who lost her job after questioning the UK government’s plan to allow people to choose their gender. Forstater had been issuing her opinions against the Gender Recognition Act on Twitter.
The case has gained attention across the world after “Harry Potter” author JK Rowling tweeted her support for Forstater, 45. Rowling tweeted, “Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill.” Rowling has 14.6 million followers on Twitter. At the time of writing, Rowling’s tweet has been liked close 40,000 times.
Rowling’s tweet came just after a judge in London found in favor of Forstater’s former employer in a tribunal over the dismissal. You can read the full ruling in the case here.
Here’s what you need to know about Maya Forstater:
1. A Court in London Found Forstater’s Opinions to Be ‘Absolutist’
Forstater tweeted on December 18 that she was struggling “to express the shock and disbelief I feel at reading this judgment.” According to case documents, the employment tribunal found that Forstater’s opinions were “absolutist.”
Forstater had been employed as a tax expert and visiting fellow at the Center for Global Development, a think-tank that is headquartered in Washington D.C. and London. The Guardian reports that Forstater’s contract was not renewed in March 2019.
The newspaper quoted one of Forstater’s supporters, Index on Censorship’s Jodie Ginsberg, as saying of the case, “From what I have read of [Forstater’s] writing, I cannot see that Maya has done anything wrong other than express an opinion that many feminists share – that there should be a public and open debate about the distinction between sex and gender.”
Forstater’s legal case was crowdfunded by CrowdJustice. One of Forstater’s attorneys, Peter Daly, told the Guardian, “The significance of this judgment should not be downplayed. Had our client been successful, she would have established in law protection for people – on any side of this debate – to express their beliefs without fear of being discriminated against.” Forstater’s legal team had argued that her opinions were protected under the Equality Act of 2010.
2. Forstater Argues on Her Website That the Theory of a ‘Woman Is Anyone Who Identifies as a Woman’ Is ‘Regressive’
Forstater writes on her website about her opinions on transgender rights, “I started out, thinking that inclusion must mean being open to people redefining gender and sex. But talking to many people and reading around, I have changed my mind and I think that the idea that a woman is ‘anyone who identifies as a woman’ is regressive, incoherent risks undermining women’s rights.”
Forstater goes on to write, “Everyone’s human rights should be protected, but there are real legal, policy and equity questions about whether male-bodied people should have access to women’s single-sex services and women’s sports, and I believe that people should be able to talk about the issue.”
3. Forstater Says Her Career Goals Is to ‘Unpick the Issues & Misunderstandings’ in Corporate Tax Issues
On Forstater’s website, she identifies herself as “an independent researcher, writer and advisor working on the business of sustainable development.” Forstater says that she works on “financial regulation and green investment.” Forstater writes about why she focuses on taxes, “I have ended up writing a number of blog posts here on the topic to try to unpick some of the issues, and frequent misunderstandings which contribute to a fairly dysfunctional debate on the morality, ethics and development impacts of corporate tax issues.”
According to Forstater’s LinkedIn page, she has worked for a large variety of non-profit organizations over the years. Forstater is a graduate of the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where she studied agriculture, graduating in 1996.
Forstater has been active as a scout leader with The Scout Association since September 2014. In an interview, Forstater said, “I’m a scout leader, but I am not all that good at knots or navigation.”
4. Forstater’s Employers Are Funded by Virgin Founder Richard Branson
On her resume, Forstater says that she began working at the Center for Global Development in November 2016. Prior to that, Forstater had worked for the United Nations.
At the Center for Global Development, Forstater told the International Tax Review that she worked in bringing together “global leaders from business, civil society and government” to create sustainable business opportunities. The group is funded by Richard Branson.
5. Forstater’s Writings on Tax Issues Have Been Published by the Guardian Among Others
Forstater’s writings on the illicit of money has been published by the Guardian among others.
In January 2019, Forstater made news when she openly disagreed with an Oxfam campaign that included a statistic saying, “The 26 richest people on earth in 2018 had the same net worth as the poorest half of the world’s population, some 3.8 billion people.” Forstater argued that the statistic takes into account the income of those “rich world” but doesn’t take into account their debt.