The Yogyakarta Principles: A Global Driving Force Behind Gender Self-ID
An updated primer on one of gender ideology's foundational texts
The Yogyakarta Principles are often alluded to in the fight against gender identity ideology, but many people only have a passing familiarity with this important document. In essence, the Yogyakarta Principles provide the international human rights underpinning for gender self-ID.
At first glance, the document seems to merely be reaffirming the human rights of sexual minorities and people who identify as transgender. However, woven into the Principles is unconditional support for the privilege—not the right, the privilege—to identify as a sex that one is not.
Self-ID is at the tip of the fight against gender identity ideology, as it provides the unfettered means for men to gain access to women’s spaces, sports, and prisons.
The original Yogyakarta Principles document was released in 2007. It was the result of a November 2006 meeting at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia attended by “29 distinguished experts from 25 countries with diverse backgrounds and expertise relevant to issues of human rights law.”
The document calls out Professor Michael O’Flaherty as a key contributor to the drafting and revision process. O’Flaherty currently serves as Director of the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency.
The glaring problems with the Yogyakarta Principles begin right off the bat, with a convoluted definition of gender identity that gives you an idea of the ideologically captured mindset we are dealing with:
Gender identity is understood to refer to each person’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth, including the personal sense of the body (which may involve, if freely chosen, modification of bodily appearance or function by medical, surgical or other means) and other expressions of gender, including dress, speech and mannerisms.
Somehow, these 29 distinguished experts couldn’t come up with anything better than a circular definition (“gender identity” is the deeply felt experience of “gender”) that relies on nothing more than stereotypes (“dress, speech, and mannerisms”).
Note, also, that body modifications via medical, surgical, or other means are here considered integral to one’s sense of self, as well as the adherence to the idea that sex is “assigned” at birth.
Unsurprisingly, the document’s definition of sexual orientation is based on gender, not sex:
Sexual orientation is understood to refer to each person’s capacity for profound emotional, affectional and sexual attraction to, and intimate and sexual relations with, individuals of a different gender or the same gender or more than one gender.
This definition makes it clear that the Yogyakarta Principles is not a document for same-sex attracted people. It is meant to cater primarily to one group of people, and that group of people is men who wish to self-identify as women.
The bulk of this goal is summed up in Principle 3: The Right to Recognition Before the Law. The principle states that “no one shall be forced to undergo medical procedures, including sex reassignment surgery, sterilisation or hormonal therapy, as a requirement for legal recognition of their gender identity.”
The principle further directs states to “take all necessary legislative, administrative and other measures to fully respect and legally recognise each person’s self-defined gender identity.”
In other words, sex markers on identity documents should be based on nothing other than self-declaration.
Principle 9 extends this self-declaration even as far as prisons, directing states to “ensure, to the extent possible, that all prisoners participate in decisions regarding the place of detention appropriate to their sexual orientation and gender identity.”
While the document relentlessly force-teams gender identity with sexual orientation, we know that prisons are not divided by sexual orientation. What this principle means is that men should be housed in women’s prisons if they declare a female gender identity.
Of course, this is exactly what is happening across the Western world in countries that have adopted self-ID.
Not satisfied that they were destroying women’s rights fast enough, a committee of “human rights experts” got together again in 2017 to create the Yogyakarta Principles plus 10 (The YP +10), which introduced new principles and state obligations to the original document.
The YP +10 reaffirms and expands on the original document’s commitment to self-ID right away, in Principle 31:
Everyone has the right to legal recognition without reference to, or requiring assignment or disclosure of, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics. Everyone has the right to obtain identity documents, including birth certificates, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics. Everyone has the right to change gendered information in such documents while gendered information is included in them.
Note a particular phrase in the last sentence: “while gendered information is included in them.” The same “experts” who push the Yogyakarta Principles are preparing to remove sex from identity documents altogether.
The YP +10 also expands self-ID into the realm of sports. In additional state obligations for Principle 2, the Principles direct states to “ensure that all individuals can participate in sport in line with the gender with which they identify.” This is further expounded on in a later section directed at sporting organizations to do the same.
The Yogyakarta Principles have been instrumental in the development of gender self-ID laws around the world. In fact, there is even a handy Activist’s Guide to The Yogyakarta Principles for those looking to “create change” in local neighborhoods and international organizations.
In 2016, O’Flaherty noted the influence of the Yogyakarta Principles at regional levels, national levels, and within the UN.
One recent example of the influence of these principles and the ideas behind them is in Scotland’s newly passed Gender Recognition Reform Bill, which grants gender recognition certificates on the basis of self-identification.
Among the most vocal advocates of the bill was Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the UN Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity and one of the signatories of the YP +10.
Madrigal-Borloz penned a column for The Scotsman and directly addressed the Scottish Parliament Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee to argue that self-ID was imperative to ensure the human rights of trans-identified people and that women’s concerns about this kind of legislation are entirely unjustified.
Thankfully, at least one other signatory has not found it so easy to brush off the potential harms of self-ID. Professor Robert Wintemute, one of the original Yogyakarta Principles signatories, has since become critical of Principles 3 and 31.
Today, Wintemute is a Trustee of the LGB Alliance. He gave a speech at the LGB Alliance Conference 2021 explaining his change of views, stating:
“The transgender rights movement has gone well beyond seeking equal rights. It seeks to liberate women without their consent from the legal protections associated with birth sex and even from the recording of birth sex… I have changed my mind with regard to certain transgender demands, including access to women-only spaces, after listening to women. Men are rarely, if ever, affected by transgender demands, so it is easy to say ‘yes.’ We must always try to imagine ourselves in the changing rooms, hospital wards, and prisons of lesbian, bisexual and heterosexual women.”
We can only hope that more signatories and more law- and policy-makers decide to listen to women and realize what it is they are doing by allowing men to self-ID as female or by doing away with legal sex entirely. Either way, women lose and children are harmed—all at the expense of a few men who want to play make-believe.
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