Illustrated Witness Statement by Maya Forstater

2014: Starting my relationship with CGD

“CGD does not take institutional positions, and fellows are encouraged to follow their interests and reach their own conclusions — provided they can back these up with evidence and clear argumentation.” [Building a Think and Do Tank]

2015: First contract

2016: Prospective fundraising

“Lets focus on getting funding and on our longer term research. It will take a little while (probably 2–3 months) for the Omidyar and Ford processes to be completed, but I do hope to bring you on as a visiting fellow or something like that for a full year. So focusing on that now.” [455]

“We particularly appreciate the role CGD (and Maya) have played in insisting on an evidence informed approach”.

“The first year would allow you to both test new ideas and ways of working with the others. Should this work and relationship be fruitful, our intention is to consider a larger multi-year renewal.”

“CGD is aiming to develop a significant program of work to strengthen the evidence base on tax and illicit flows…. This one-year project, with seed funding from Ford Foundation, aims [to] build the foundations for CGD to contribute to the debate with careful analysis of options for international business taxation, international financial centers, and the scope and limits of transparency solutions and to foster a more productive ecosystem of relationships between individuals and organizations working on these issues.”

November 2016: Visiting Fellow with a contract

“CGDE has not been successful in recruiting new senior staff. In the meantime, CGDE has tried to spread overheads and create more diversity by: increasing CGDE roster of visiting and non-resident fellows, increasing our intellectual bench and profile”

“Senior fellows, research fellows, senior policy analysts and other senior staff are encouraged to write for the CGD blog. These are people who have earned or who are earning a public reputation in their respective fields. CGD has a strong reputation and we closely guard who has the right to be published by CGD.” [428]

CGD’s culture of open and robust discussion and debate

“Thinking out loud is much easier with a two-way communications platform. Web, e-mail, Twitter, news media, and CGD events are all part of this approach.”

“As an organisation we do not take an institutional position, and although there are many topics on which CGD staff agree, there are also many issues on which views among us differ. We do not collectively promote any ideas: individual scholars and researchers are free to publish their analysis and conclusions, provided that it is of high standard, transparent, and communicated in a way that is respectful of others. Everything I have seen of this work suggests that our standards of rigour, impartiality and courtesy have been met.” [509]

Work and fundraising during 2017

“Currently, CGD has not sought any other funds for this work. We will use the grant from Ford to lay the groundwork for a multi-year project on tax policy and poor countries, with a focus on understanding the scope and impact of illicit financial flows. We aim to begin fundraising for this wider project in June 2017 when we [have] done more exploratory work to determine exactly what the research program will look like.” [497]

“As you know, Vera and Rakesh [project officers at Ford] are very keen to have us submit a bigger proposal for funding starting January 2018. I have discussed this with our front office and we all agree that it makes sense for CGD Europe to host this grant (hopefully with Paddy on board). I want to run this by you before I discuss with Owen. First, do you want to do a grant with CGD/CGDE next year, running for two or three years? Second, OK if I move this to CGDE so you and Paddy would be on the proposal. Let me know your thoughts before I write to Owen.” [542]

“I raised the possibility of hiring you as a Research Associate in the London office. Owen is keen. It would be tied to new funding so we would have to wait till new funding comes through. Is this something you would be interested in?”

Renewal of visiting fellowship

Close of the Ford Foundation grant

“During the one year investment period, Visiting Fellow Maya Forstater (more recently joined by CGD Senior Fellow Paddy Carter) began to build a program of work to produce practical policy proposals in the area of international taxation and illicit financial flows, at the same time building increasingly strong networks and making inroads in enhancing the quality of the conversation between practitioners, researchers, campaigners and policy makers in these fields.” [611]

“During the year Maya has made numerous valuable contributions to the tax debates and produced very well-received papers synthesizing the issues and putting them in perspective.”

“… forms the basis for CGD’s ongoing development of a longer-term program of research to explore the potential and path to policy implementation both revenue collection and the investment environment.”

“… since both Forstater and Carter are based in London it is planned that their future activities on this topic be carried out through CGD Europe, under the overall management of Owen Barder, while maintaining engagement with relevant colleagues in Washington DC.”

Contracts to personally do work in 2018

“I’m writing to ask if you and your team would consider financing our work on illicit financial flows and tax.

My colleague Maya Forstater has been doing some excellent work on this area… Her work is highly respected among many of the experts, and has had significant impact, but unfortunately it is regarded with suspicion by some of the NGOs who campaign on these issues (and, in our view, exaggerate the problem and the opportunities that follow from tackling it)…

But we have had difficulty securing funding for our work. The foundations who are interested in this area are mainly funding the campaigning NGOs, and are not enthusiastic about financing us to take this more nuanced and evidence-led approach…

So I’ve got a great researcher, with an agenda of important work, and at the moment I haven’t been able to finance it. (Maya is currently working on something else for us while we try to get funding for this but that will run out fairly soon.)” [680–681]

“Although it has developed somewhat separately from Mark, Sanjeev and Antoinette in DC they are complementary and elements of both could be combined into a programme of work.” [772]

Discussion of all-male panels

Starting to engage on the gender self-identification debates

“radically expanding the legal definition of ‘women’ so that it can include both males and females makes it a meaningless concept, and will undermine women’s rights & protections for vulnerable women & girls.

Some transgender people have cosmetic surgery. But most retain their birth genitals. Everyone’s equality and safety should be protected, but women and girls lose out on privacy, safety and fairness if males are allowed into changing rooms, dormitories, prisons, sports teams.”

Manels discussion on Twitter

“Philip Bunce, who is married with two grow-up children, typically spends half his time as Philip and half as his female alter ego, Pippa. He says he is ‘gender fluid’ and ‘non-binary’.

In previous interviews, Mr Bunce described climbing the career ladder as a man and waiting until he was ‘very established’ and ‘quite senior’ at the investment bank before starting to cross-dress at work four years ago.”

“I’ve got a Q for my male twitter friends who have pledged not to appear on all male panels — if u were invited on a panel w Pip Bunce — one of FT’s top 100 female champions of women in biz & another guy would u say yes or call the organisers & say sorry i don’t do #manels?” [912]

“Yes people should of course be able to define their identity any way they like. But other people are not compelled to accept it as relating to any material reality. It is not possible to identify into the sex: woman. But you can identity your gender as woman (or whatever)….” [921]

Discussions in Washington

“[Complainant 1]
Maya tweets transphobic
Not comfortable exclusive
Gender/ gender identity/ sex
Feels problematic for funders
IA team [Complainant 2] discussed

· EM

· MP

· AG

· Holly

Policy handbook

“[Complainant 2]— [Complainant 3]
→ Twitter says “CGD” and CGD Papers
“Not CGD” also very uncomfortable
Talk to CH?
How can she work on funding that might include MF as consultant?”

“I honestly don’t see the difference between Rachel Dolezal’s internal feeling that she is black and a man’s internal feeling that he is a woman (ie adult human female). Neither has basis in material reality.” [1014]

“Thanks for your thoughtful pause on the Maya issue. I read only about 25% of the tweets before making up my mind they were fairly innocuous but upon closer inspection, prompted by you, I now see they clearly are not. Lesson learned, and my thanks to you.”

Email re: your recent tweets

“The definition of women and the way that sex based rights and protections for women and girls and the rights and protections of gender non-conforming males are both secured is a live policy issue, including for the development sector, and one where clarity and debate is needed. However there has been a strong push for ‘no debate’ with little consultation and the insistence that people pledge to the belief that ‘transwomen are women’.

· Twitter does not allow for very nuanced statements, and discussions move fast. I stand by my statement that a man’s internal feeling that he is a woman has no basis in material reality — i.e. they do not in any way make him a woman. Gender identity and sex are two different things and a person cannot literally change sex. This do not mean that people’s internal feelings are not their real feelings, or that the condition of gender dysphoria is not genuine (similarly an anorexic person’s feeling that they are overweight does not have a basis in the material reality about the state of their body. Anorexia is nevertheless a serious condition).

· The policy question of whether it is right for male people to self-identify into women’s spaces cannot simply be judged on a one-way axis of inclusion, since it also [affects] the safety and inclusion of women and girls. Single sex spaces are critical for women to access education and to be safe in the public sphere. Changing the nature of programmes, clubs and sports from single sex to mixed sex (but single gender) will also negatively [affect] women. The idea that being female relates to having a “feminine personality” or to expressing traditionally feminine styles of dress is something that I find offensive and regressive.”

“I have been told that it is offensive to say ‘transwomen are men’ or that wom[a]n means ‘adult human female’. However since these statements are true I will continue to say them. Yes the definition of females excludes males (but includes women who do not conform with gendered norms). Policy debates where facts are viewed as offensive are dangerous. I would of course respect anyones self-definition of their gender identity in any social and professional context; I have no desire or intention to be rude to people.”

“I have had several informal online and live conversations with individual colleagues in London (including where we have agreed to disagree), and am happy to engage with anyone in DC who is interested in discussing philosophical, empirical or policy questions.”

“It seems clear that woman-only spaces such as changing rooms, hostels, and prisons should be organised according to sex category, not self-assigned gender. Transwomen are biologically male. Studies show that most retain male genitalia. Many have a sexual orientation towards females. If we think there are good reasons to retain same-sex spaces generally, in terms of protecting females from a small number of malfeasant males, these reasons don’t cease to operate when males self-identify as women. Either we keep same-sex spaces, or the result is effectively mixed-sex spaces, to the detriment of females.

Meanwhile, allowing self-identification as the criterion of eligibility into woman-only resources, such as shortlists and prizes, seems to both incentivise unscrupulous cheating, and count as a stunning dismissal of the original reasons such (still scarce) resources were created — to combat the low numbers of females in associated roles. (This was recently starkly illustrated by the inclusion of Philip Bunce, a biologically male ‘non-binary’ Credit Suisse director, in a Financial Times list of 100 top ‘female’ executives).”

“The blog post topic does not appear to relate to global development in any way I understand the debate, so I think we can safely pass.”

“Can you respond to Mark and say that just because Maya is in a grant is no reason to keep affiliating with her” [1062]

“We should be well prepared to discuss the rationale behind a decision to renew because I think they will demand it. I’m not sure I can articulate a good one. My issue is not that she offended staff by expressing an unpopular view (that happens all the time); but that she is standing by her inflammatory rhetoric. If we had a transgender staff member, and chose to hire someone who referred to transgender people as ‘part time cross dressers,’ I would not be able to reasonably defend that decision to the staff.”

Discussing my blog post

“Gender is often used as a synonym for sex. It sounds more polite. But they are quite different concepts. Sex means biology; whether a person is male or female. Gender refers to the culturally constructed characteristics of women and men — stereotypical norms, roles and relationships expected and enforced within societies. Gender is also increasingly used (in the form of ‘gender identity’) to refer to the internal sense that some people have of themselves as masculine or feminine, a blend of both, or neither. It is increasingly recognised that when individuals or groups do not ‘fit’ social gender norms, because of what they wear or how they act, they can face stigma, discriminatory practices, social exclusion and violence.

Protections and policies are needed both for women and girls because of their sex, and for people of either sex who face discrimination because they do not conform to gender norms; no one should be victimised for expressing their identity. Boys and men also have a right to privacy, and to access to services that address their particular health and social needs.”

“People who express concern about women and girls being forced to share intimate spaces with individuals of the opposite sex, or who have concerns [about] safeguarding risks for vulnerable people, or who simply note that it is not possible to change biological sex should not be dismissed as hateful or bigots.”

“I have tried to write it clearly and without seeking to give offence, but it is necessary exclusionary in the sense that the category ‘female’ excludes people in the category ‘male’ (and vice versa).”

“I reassured her that such issues could be discussed calmly and openly and that Twitter discussions weren’t the best way to do this, as people don’t read the full conversation and often misread/misinterpret posts, aren’t carefully reasoned, etc.

“My quick read of the blog is that it is much better but still needs some editing. You can sense emotion trying to seep into the argument but being kept at bay. I will give her my comments when I have a few more minutes to spend with it.

“I am not in a rush to publish this, as I understand there are sensitivities within CGD. It is a live policy issue with development relevance and I hope that CGD can hold open space for respectful, clear, evidence based discussion online and off.”

“It is a shame he didn’t ask you before doing that. He must be feeling insecure if he feels unable to give you his own opinion. But I suppose it is as well to get people’s views and advice before publication. You can then decide what you want to do.”

“I am a bit concerned that, having *not* submitted it for publication at CGD (but to Luke for his personal feedback given that he had written to me, and i understood he had chatted with Owen about the issues) this has now been passed up the chain to I-don’t-know-who and is now being discussed an organisational matter (rather than with me, in the normal CGD ‘about your draft blog post’ manner).

I am keen to get views and advice on the issues from people within CGD, before or as part of publishing an article on the topic. As I say in the draft, raising these issues is difficult, but policy issues should be open for conversation. This is the kind of thing that CGD should hold open space for!”

“I had followed these women for + six months before i felt brave enough to voice a public opinion on sex self-ID. Which is crazy. This is law & policy that will effect women’s rights. We shouldn’t have to feel brave to talk about it.”

October 15

1. COO Amanda Glassman speaks to Maya to say that CGD/ E will not publish her blog or any other content related to this issue on CGD’s platforms.

“Hi all I spoke to Maya and let her know that any blog on the topic should not go on CGD’s site, and she was ok with that. However, she does plan to publish elsewhere, maybe on Medium. I asked her to give Holly a heads up when it will be posted.”

“She also asked about her future affiliation. I just said that the DRM grant was still pending, but that -if it went through- it was up to Mark, as program director and point person for the grant, to decide next steps and present to SPG for decision. We can discuss separately.”

“Thanks. There’s an intermediate decision. Ellen pointed out that her affiliation as visiting fellow expires this month. My inclination is to not call attention to that, let it be in abeyance for a bit (unless things automatically get deleted from websites, etc.) and once we see what the Gates DRM grant looks like (and/or DFID, French) and then make a proposal as to her affiliation. No sense in fighting the same battle twice….” [1177]

Questions about my future at CGD

“Dear Maya,

Now that I have been with you for a month, I am meeting with each CGDE team member individually. I’d like to hear from you how you see yourself fitting into the CGDE team through the work that you do, the best things about working here, and any challenges you face that the operations team could help you with.” [1192]

Meeting with Mark Plant on 21 November

“Maya has asked to talk with me this Wednesday, presumably about the DRM grant, future fund raising prospects and her position at CGD. I need to get my messages straight before we speak. Masood had discussed with Gargee the possibility of redirecting the money in the DRM grant to other ends, but in the end that didn’t happen as best I can tell. I suppose we can still have that conversation, but is it worth it? I don’t know if the two of you have discussed this.

On future fund raising prospects, I will say that management has decided it doesn’t want to pursue this line of work and so, while Maya is welcome to look for funding, we won’t devote any corporate resources to the effort. (Kevin and [Complainant 3] are already apprised of this).

On her position, I will say that we will continue with her in her current position as visiting senior fellow, but given the shift in corporate priorities we don’t see a possibility for making her full time staff. Note that this is a shift in the message we have given earlier.

Do I have it right? I expect it won’t go down well with her and there will be push back from Owen as well.”

“I had a good talk with Maya today, along the lines that Masood and I discussed. I think she’s understands the message and will work diligently on the Gates grant. I think she was disappointed, but realistic.

I guess we need to put her name forward to the SPG for the renewal of her third year?

Is it worth having Gita [sic] Ravindra engage her and perhaps other CGD staff in DC in a constructive conversation around the sex/gender subject (more on process than content, perhaps) or should we let it go. She is registered to take the diversity training here in London.”

“This is a different outcome than I thought we had agreed to. My last understanding is that we would use her as a consultant for the DRM work, and no CGD email?

Either way it should go to SPG.”

“Yes. That was when we thought she had done the full three years as a Visiting Fellow. Turns out that is not the case. So this is an ok outcome. Let’s discuss at SPG.”

“21 November. Mark’s discussion with Maya, informs her that we will not be bringing her on full-time, but there is a possibility of renewing her a VF for 1 year.” [1426]

Seeking to continue as a visiting fellow with a contract

“Continue Maya’s appointment for a third and last year as a Visiting Fellow and contract with her to do her work on the Gates grant ($85K per year for two years). (Ellen would prefer a contract relation with no email access, but given that Maya has done what we asked of her regarding her twitter feed, it’s hard to justify breaking the relation at this point. She’s also committed to attending the diversity training at CGDE in January and, if desired, to a structured conversation mediated by Geetha Ravindra, with staff who took offense at her tweets.)”

“Mark is going to add Maya’s VF status to the SPG Agenda. I’ve been organizing opposition with Holly and Cindy. We want to try the amplification technique, in case you want to join in :)”

6 December: Rejection by the SPG

“This is excellent! If you care about women & girls AND the human rights of transgender people watch @GoonerProf [Professor Rosa Freedman of Reading University] & Susan Smith @ForwomenScot give evidence to @SP_European Scottish Parliament on how sex & gender identity should be framed in next census

The MSPs are well prepared. Rosa & Susan are utterly sensible & clear, making case that sex & gender ID/reassignment are separate things. The human rights of people with both characteristics can be protected without undermining the other, if not conflated.”

“It has also come to my attention through a conversation with a colleague in the London office that Maya has also been distributing pamphlets at the CGD Europe office that advocate her anti-trans position.

“As mentioned above, this originally came to my attention through another coworker. I have also discussed this with a colleague in the London office and with a couple other colleagues in the DC office. We were all in agreement that this behavior is unacceptable and CGD should terminate affiliation with Maya immediately.”

“Prohibiting the sharing of any message that might be taken as offensive to any group’s religion or belief system seems to be an overly broad prohibition which goes beyond being an inclusive institution, and could have a chilling effect on freedom of enquiry and debate within CGD.

The line between allowing open engagement with ideas and evidence which contradict deeply held belief systems and avoiding an intimidating or hostile environment for people who hold those beliefs is difficult draw clearly since harassment and bullying can take many forms. But failure to share someone’s beliefs is not the same as mockery or disdain for them, and I hope CGDE does not mean to close down any area of robust, serious expression of views because it might be taken as offensive by adherents to any religion or other belief system.”

“As i mentioned I would like to be able to make the case that this is a policy issue around the world that people and institutions should be able to talk about clearly. If women’s rights and transgender people’s rights matter we need to be able to talk about them.

Arguing that it is offensive to talk about women as a sex I think is not a defensible place to draw the line (since this is current law in the UK, US and most other places, and is in CEDAW etc…). It is totalitarian for an ideology to make it impossible for people to discuss the law.” [1667]

“My take is that while the issue is being addressed, we should not take precipitate action that would prejudice the relationship. Worth checking with the lawyer but I’d be concerned if we decided to cut off — and then reinstate — her email or took her name off the grant proposals we have in train.”

Sub Committee

“My advice is to do this as expeditiously as you can. The current unsatisfactory state of the relationship — contractual, professional and personal — is best kept as short as possible.”

“I think its really worrying organisations that should be publishing careful, accessible analysis won’t touch the question, venues won’t host meetings of women that want to talk about it, and academics that write about issues in the law are intimidated and ostracised.”

“She is active on Twitter ( ) both with her CGD-related work, but also on the issue of sex and gender — whether they are the same, whether sex is a mutable condition and where the rights of transgender people might come into conflict with those of women. It’s a live policy issue in the UK, a very controversial one, and one where she takes what appears to be a minority view that raises a visceral reaction in many people. Some of her tweets were disturbing enough for a few CGD employees to complain to our human resources director in Washington. An “investigation” took place. She was informed that her tweets were a cause of discomfort for many, which she regretted. She was also asked to make clear on the masthead of her twitter feed that her views were her own, not those of CGD.

At a recent meeting of the Senior Policy Group of CGD, I proposed that she be renewed for a third year of visiting fellowship and met resistance. It was decided that further investigation and discussion was warranted before making any decisions.

The purpose would be to come up with a plausible way forward to make an informed decision that would respect Maya’s rights and at the same time deal with those who feel aggrieved by her public positions on the sex/gender issue.”

“Maya’s current status with CGD is that the second year (of a possible three years) as visiting fellow expired on October 31, 2018. We have not formally renewed her status as a visiting fellow, nor have we removed her privileges yet: listed as an expert on the CGD website, email address, access to the London office, and the ability to publish materials on our website. She is currently finishing up a contract on commercial confidentiality, which had an end date of this year, but will likely spill into early next year. There is a possible extension of that contract for about another six months, but details have not been signed. She was also included as an expert consultant on a grant from the Gates foundation on domestic revenue mobilization, although no contract has been issued. Finally, the OECD are interested in her doing work as a contractor and they have indicated to her that it would be beneficial to them if that work was run through CGD, rather than done on her own. The discussions on the last contract are in the preliminary stage.”

“in making recommendations to resolve a workplace conflict by helping to set down boundaries that recognize Ms. Maya Forstater’s right to freedom of expression while ensuring that she is conducting herself in a way that she abides by CGDE’s anti-harassment and bullying policy and culture of inclusivity.”

“to ascertain her point of view on her tweets and advocacy, how they have been handled by CGD and CGDE, how she would envisage moving forward as a visiting fellow and/or independent consultant, including, what if any she would be willing to adhere to regarding her non-CGD activities.”

“MF’s conduct involves the general expression of her views on a policy debate, not statements directed at another member of CGD’s staff. That said paragraph 2.6 suggests a person can be harassed even if they were not the intended target if the behaviour of the alleged harasser created a hostile environment for them.”

“As discussed, at CGD there appears to be no written policy or other type of value statement on statements made in public that MF ought to have known and therefore would purportedly have breached.”

“It would also appear from our discussion that there are different opinions on whether MF’s tweets present a legitimate reputational concern and no clear guidance in the Employment Handbook on which behaviours or activities might be considered by CGD as presenting a possible reputational risk to the organisation”

“they may not be aware of MF’s contribution to the wider debate that is currently live in the UK but not in the US”

“Having this thing hanging over me all through Christmas and now into the new year is making me feel anxious, precarious and unable to plan for the year ahead.

I cannot tell people that I am going to continue as a visiting fellow at CGD, or that I won’t, or why i am uncertain about it. I do not know if I will be doing the Gates funded project or if I should be looking for other work. I do not know what has been said about me in Washington. I do not know what the ‘process’ is, or when it will be decided what the process is. I do not know what its aim, scope and subject matter is (is it concerned with specific tweets from October, or other social media posts, or that I continue to hold the view that [there] is a biological class of women, which does not include men with gender dysphoria). I do not know if it is a disciplinary process — to determine whether I have undertaken misconduct prohibited by the policy under harassment “ generating, receiving, or forwarding any message that might be taken as offensive to any protected group” or some other kind of process. I do not know when i might be told the answers to any of these questions.

I do not know whether it is appropriate for me to attend the training session on January 15 to participate a general discussion on the Anti Harassment and Bullying policy, as I am not sure whether the ‘process’ that I am facing is an investigation of misconduct in respect of the policy.

I understand the hiatus over the Christmas break was unavoidable but as it stretches into the new year it leaves me in a state of isolation, uncertainty and stress.”

“As a way forward she suggests that I ask Quantam Impact to updates its earlier report, taking into account new information (recent blog by Maya, outcome of the SPG) and focusing on the points of friction that might have to be resolved if Maya were to continue as a fellow or contractor at CGD. Maya should be allowed to contribute to such a report, read it once it is done, and offer any comments.”

“What is most important is what parameters we set with Maya for going forward.

The Quantum Impact report

“We spent some time reviewing Maya [sic] online presence (mainly Twitter) and the online presence of some of the other individuals she follows/ retweets and conferring with colleagues with more legal expertise in HR issues and with transgender issues overall to make sure we weren’t missing anything (we did this without mentioning CGD or Maya).

Our main finding is that Maya fully knows exactly what her arguments are and her writings is offensive and discriminatory. She has colleagues who have faced reprimands from their employers for saying the exact things she has. She knows exactly what is problematic about what she is saying. In particular there is a letter to the editor that she retweeted as part of a longer thread that covers everything I would have put in a report to Maya outlining what on her posts and blog article are offensive and discriminatory (and does so more eloquently and with more evidence than I am able to do).”

“It is really vague — I did it deliberately because I recommend against getting into a discussion with Maya on topics such as “is saying that trans women aren’t women offensive?” because she knows the whole context of the discussion really, really well and I recommend being really cautious about being pulled into that debate.”

“Maya is arguing that transgender women should be treated differently from cisgender women based on the physical characteristics that they were born with (and may or may not still have).”

“Specifically the Equality Act was updated to include a broader definition to ensure that transgender individuals are included as a protected group, and there are active discussions to broaden that category.”

“In terms of harassment, staff members from CGD have come forward to officially state they are offended by Maya’s written and spoken words. Staff have also reported that they found Maya’s comments offensive.”

“Based on Maya’s depth of knowledge of this topic we believe it would be highly counter-productive to discuss any specific tweets or comments and engage in discussion of whether, or why or how specific comments are disrespectful, contribute to a hostile work environment or are offensive to co-workers.”

the fact that Maya engaged with this letter demonstrates that she understands the arguments of why her own blog should be considered offensive; and recognizes that fellow academics also see a clear difference between having a discussion of how to protect one group vs making discriminatory statements.”

“Argument itself is offensive. Maya’s main argument that transgender women are not women is baseline offensive because it seeks to eliminate the existence of a group of people.”

“made some specific comments about the sexual orientation and preferences of friends, explicit statements about people’s genitalia, etc. Although Maya may think it is difficult to debate this topic without such conversations, CGD’s policy on sexual harassment is clear — no conversations about your own or someone else’s sex life; nothing explicit or graphic.”

“The thread continues with a strange reference to support for Nazis and someone responding to Maya’s posts with, ‘Well, as they are “comics”, perhaps it is fitting they have made laughing stocks of themselves.’”

Having researchers engage with potential funders poses an organizational risk for CGD. This particular thread happened on 17 November, so after Luke had already spoken to Maya and she was fully aware of the discussion happening internally at CGD.“

“you had three independent people look through her social media posts and other online materials and all three agree that Maya did cross the line into offensive language. You are not interested in dissecting each sentence to point out where things were offensive in the past. You are interested in laying out clear guidelines for moving forward.”

“Complaints — plural — were logged against her. Maya is not entitled to know the names or specifics of those complaints. They were listened to, investigated, and discussed. Leadership discussions on HR are by invitation only and staff are not automatically invited to join.”

· Absolutely no passing out materials in the office.

· No use of “exclusionary language… that denies the existence of a group of people” for example “trans women are not women”, in the office or at work related events.

· “CGD recognizes gender and gender identity. For example, CGD’s policy for panels means that a transgender woman will be recognized as a woman. Please let Maya know that raising this question will not be appreciated or entertained by the leadership.”

· “If a staff member wants to opt out of working with Maya given her views, they should be allowed to do so without repercussion”.

“Per our earlier conversations, please find attached the report by Quantum Impact on your statements and other interventions on gender and sex. As I told you earlier, this is not a formal investigation, but a review of the impact of your statements within CGD. This report has only been seen by the HR teams at CGD and CGDE (Luke and Sara) and by CGD management (Masood, Ellen, Amanda, me). We have not yet taken any action on this report. We ask that you not circulate this report further. The consultants’ final recommendation is that CGD management discuss the situation with you and seek a constructive way forward. Before I have that conversation with you, I would like to give you an opportunity to comment in writing on the review, if you so desire.”

“Although she was not looking to have CGD publish the blog article, she did share the blog article with several colleagues. The article in question also used disrespectful and offensive language including verbiage that suggested that a group of individuals has not existed in history, and language crafted to induce fear against a marginalized community. Such language stands in opposition to CGD’s values of for a non-hostile, fear-free and inclusive workplace.”

My response to the Quantum Impact report

“I suspect the issue is not one of language (which could be rectified by editing, deleting particular tweets and apologising for poor choice of language) but substantive differences in opinion about whether being a woman is a matter of biology or identity, and a reflection of broader pressure across society to shut down debate on this issue. l would hope that the heart of CGD’s culture is a commitment to hold open the space for debate, analysis and evidence on policy relevant issues, rather than to take offence at them. “

Next steps

“Sorry for walking out on you on Wednesday. I was quite upset and needed to gather my thoughts. I appreciate all that you have done to argue for me in the SPG up to this point.

Continuing as a visiting fellow at CGD is important to me, both for external legitimacy and internal belonging. I value being able to introduce myself as [a] visiting fellow at CGD, and also to publish blogposts and papers under the CGD name, as well as being part of the extended team, in London and also engaging with others on the DRM project. Of course legally, in either case I would be a consultant. But it would be a loss to me to fall out of the organisation into a no man’s land position of no affiliation in this way, both for my immediate work with CGD on the tax project, and outreach on commercial confidentiality, and personally for whatever I do next. I am not willing to give up on something which is important to me by walking away from it. If the SPG decide they don’t want me as a visiting fellow that should be their decision.

Happy to talk it through with you — is the downside risk that if I push to stay as a visiting fellow I end up out of the project altogether? Is it worth me talking with you and Masood, since his is the view which ultimate[ly] matters most?”

366. On 15 February Mark emailed Luke reflecting on this discussion [1801], saying: “Maya wants her case to be considered by the SPG for visiting fellow. I’m not inclined to dissuade her. Do you think we could get away without circulating the QI report and Maya’s response?” Luke responded calling the report “somewhat flawed”, but saying to bring Maya forward without the report might seem like withholding information. Luke said he didn’t think I had good prospects to be reappointed as a visiting Fellow, but said: “if this is what she wants best not stick our necks out further by being less than transparent”.

“The issue at hand is my belief that women exist, as a material reality based on biological sex and that human rights protections for women and girls on the basis of sex need to continue. Protections for women’s equality in policy, law and practice rely on having a clear definition of women as female people. This excludes men from the definition of women, but it does not mean that males, including transgender males are excluded from universal human rights. Specific and separate civil rights protections are needed to protect transgender people from discrimination and harassment.”

“I suspect that at the heart of this is not an issue of specific language or tone, but the substantive difference in opinion that exists about whether it is acceptable to say that the definition of women is based on biology and excludes men (including those who identify as transwomen). Or whether that in itself is seen as an offensive thing to say.”

“This is not just a matter of words. I extend people the courtesy of calling them by whatever name and pronouns they request in most social situations. But there are live policy issues about whether women and girls should be forced to share prison cells and women’s refuges, changing and washing facilities in schools and public places, and women’s sports competitions with male-bodied people. The case may be made in either direction, and arguments should be heard, but language prohibitions prevent these discussions taking place clearly, and prevent women from understanding the rights they currently have, and that they stand to lose if they lose the definition of woman.”

“I have shared drafts of the article with people including Rosa Freedman, Professor of Law Conflict and Global Development at the University of Reading, Kathleen Stock, Professor of Philosophy at Sussex University (who said “I generally think it is excellent” as well as giving specific comments), Karin Christensen from the Open Knowledge Foundation and Caroline Anstey of the InterAmerican Development Bank. Debbie Hayton (a transwoman) said “Clear objective and well structured. You speak a lot of sense and speak it very welI”, Helen Joyce, senior staff journalist at The Economist who has written and commissioned several pieces on transgender issues said “This is a clear, compassionate and balanced exposition of issues that are extremely important to protecting women’s rights. Both transgender people and women deserve laws that protect their privacy and dignity, and it is well past time for a civilised, open debate on how best to achieve both those aims.”

“In any other situation where there was a controversial, policy relevant issue I think we would be inviting Rosa Freedman, Helen Joyce and others who have thought carefully about this topic to sit around our table with interested members of CGD staff and potentially also the wider network of policy makers and people from development organisations that are grappling with the issues and policy questions. Instead the question is being dealt with as a quasi-disciplinary matter about whether one woman is allowed to voice an opinion.”

“I recognise that this issue does not directly relate to my work on tax at CGD, and that colleagues at CGD have their own freedom of belief and speech to choose which issues to talk about. I added a disclaimer to my twitter bio when that was requested of me and have since decided not to tweet very much about this issue on my main twitter account @mforstater, as most of my followers there follow me for content on tax, accountability and sustainable development. Nor will I initiate conversation about it in the office.”

“I will, however, continue to write about it and engage in public debate in my own name outside of these two venues. And I am always willing to talk to anyone, whether on tone and language, substantive issues or on how to take the debate forward. “

“After Maya responded to the Quantam [sic] Impact report, I had two discussions with her. The first one was an extended one where we discussed the report and, while I acknowledged it had some deficiencies, I explained that the basic finding held that she had used language that some found offensive and that the particular policy debate in which she is engaged was not central to CGD work and should be not engaged in unless individuals at CGD/E solicited a discussions, especially as her policy position was at odds with our corporate position on transgender people. She understood this and agreed that materials related to this issue should not be distributed in the office and that she should take care in her engagement on Twitter not to promote hate speech or deny people’s dignity.”

“there is no corporate line on policy issues. But clearly there are some policy positions we would find abhorrent and would want to disassociate ourselves from someone who took them (e.g., at an extreme, racial extremism or apartheid). The question is whether Maya’s position is so extreme that it merits disassociation. I would argue that that it does not.”

“then we are on weak grounds. The reports find that she did not violate our bullying and harassment policies (some of which were articulated after her tweets began). She understands that she may have inadvertently offended people and raised issues that are not appropriate to our workplace and has moderated her behavior. I would note that she has taken all remedial measures we have asked of her to date.”

“Amanda, Ellen and I discussed a way forward different than that I described in my last email on this topic — if the decision is in favor of Maya continuing as a visiting fellow, then it would be brought up at next week’s SPG, but without the background documents and her responses. Instead, Masood and/or I would describe the process we went through and he would put his decision forward. If the decision was against her being a visiting fellow, no SPG action would be needed.”

“Hi Mark — I am scheduling a call for Masood with Maya later this week. Ellen’s asked me to reach out to you to please provide talking points to Masood re: the decision before he speaks with her. Thanks”.

“Has a decision been made then?

I thought the idea was that I was asked to write in my own words, so that the decision would be taken by the SPG?

If a decision has already been made please just let me know.”

“Yes, Masood has decided not to pursue the option of visiting fellow. He does want to explain his reasoning to you.

I’m truly sorry that an email mistake prompted this.”

“The mis-sent email at least gave me an honest view into the decision process. If a person needs to be given talking points after the fact in order to explain their reasoning then that suggests it is not their reasoning. I do not want second hand talking points and I do not trust verbal communication anymore. Everything that has been said to me verbally has been later withdrawn: that if CGD got the Gates Foundation grant I would be employed as a staff member to work on the project. Then that offer was rescinded and I was told I could continue as a Visiting Fellow. Then that offer became uncertain and I was told that the decision was in the hands of the SPG and that if I wanted them to consider it I should write to them in my own words explaining how I propose to keep a separation between my work at CGD and my wish to continue to express an opinion on women’s sex based rights. When i did this some other decision making process came into play and the decision was taken out of the hands of the SPG.

This untransparent process has gone on for three months now, with people writing reports about me, and talking about me in meetings to which I have had no input or visibility. I would appreciate a clear response from the decision makers, whoever they are, about the decision that they have made.”

“We have decided not to renew her as a visiting fellow. (No more mention on the website as one of our experts. No CGD email address).

We are willing to offer her a contract to do work on international tax initiatives and corporate confidentiality at the same rate she was being paid before.”

“I think she wants to use her “not doing the work” as leverage over us.
I would put all discussions in writing.
I would offer her a contract but give her a short window to decide. Maybe we have the contract written and email it to her as part of the discussion.
I would be prepared to go back to Gates and ask for this specific deliverable to be redirected.

Separately, this raises concerns for me on our policy on VF’s. I think the line was very blurred with Maya. We should have more guidelines surrounding these appointments.”

Follow up on the call with Masood

“Dear Maya, In follow-up to our phone conversation last Thursday, I wanted to confirm in writing that your appointment as visiting fellow at CGD will not be renewed for a third year with immediate effect. In one week’s time your CGD email account will be closed. Thank you for your contribution to CGD and CGD-Europe’s work over the last two and a half years.”

Leaving CGD

“However in tweeting about the issue I caused offence and complaints were raised to CGD management. Following an investigation it was found that I had not violated CGD’s bullying and harassment policy, but I had nevertheless said things, including in the draft of the article I published today that some people find ‘offensive and disrespectful’. The offer for me to be employed at CGD to work on the DRM project was rescinded. Finally the offer to continue as a visiting fellow was also withdrawn last week.”

“Maya is a friend and colleague to many here, unlike DC where she is only known by a few. To say it was just the end of the contract is a dodge. Everyone here knows there were complaints, a process, etc. as do many in Washington. Management has to own this decision and articulate at some level its reasoning or Maya’s email controls the narrative.

And staff here are asking rightful questions — where is the line that I might step over inadvertently or purposefully? We don’t have a good answer to that. If we don’t acknowledge that and commit to a process to figure out how to articulate a policy, then it perpetuates the observation that it isn’t rules and values that govern how we work together, it is a set of arbitrary decisions made based on who is “in” and who is “out.” And that’s only likely to get worse in the months to come.”

“After several complaints to human resources, we felt it important to address concerns regarding activities that made several colleagues feel uncomfortable. We never tried to convince Maya that her opinions in question were incorrect. Our goal was to set clear guidelines with regard to respectful dialogue in the workplace and set expectations for the future. Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful in our efforts to find a mutual way forward.”

“I respectfully disagree with Ellen. Maya did everything we asked of her and agreed to moderate her behavior and did so. There was no negotiation to find a way forward. Management decided it didn’t want to renew her appointment as a senior fellow. For transparency management should say why. The only thing Maya was intransigent on was her views.”

“We strive for excellence and intellectual rigor.

We believe global prosperity starts with smart policy based on evidence. Our work is non-partisan, and our recommendations are not influenced by our funders. We are willing to challenge powerful institutions and the status quo to promote better, evidence-based practice. We are committed to transparency, diversity, and professional and personal integrity. We value mutual respect, a collegial work place and a healthy sense of humor.” [1984]

“Just to say — maya was offered a follow on contract after her consulting contract expired which she declined. Her affiliations visiting fellow {which is more honorific) expired and we did not renew. She took down tweets which were explicit about people’s genitals and related. They were vulgar and disrespectful. This is just inaccurate.” [1998–1999]

“Jonathan I saw your tweets about Maya Forstater. I wonder if you would consider tweeting a clarification, or if you are interested writing a story about it. Forstater “declined” CGD’s offer of a renewed, paid consultancy contract. The claim that she was sacked or fired is a lie. Her complaint that she is “the breadwinner of her family” is a lie because she declined CGD’s paid offer. Beyond this she was using her work communications to disseminate statements to the *entire office* that the gender of some employees here is imaginary and *does not exist*, a completely inappropriate act in violation of our personnel policy, that CGD could and should be sued for if it allowed that to continue.”

“She is suing CGD, which constrains what I can say publicly, which is why I am communicating to you privately that she is lying. The person whose claims you trusted when writing your own statement on this subject does not deserve your trust. All I can do is let you know the facts of the matter. All my best wishes to you.” [1999]

“I have been contacted by Mark plant, amands g and Micheal Clemens all telling me I’ve got my facts wrong you weren’t fired, your version of events is inaccurate. I’ve told them I don’t want anything to do with it. I’m going to stop tweeting about this (at least until your case is heard). Cowed.” [2008]



This is mainly where I write about sex and gender

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