Officer 'forced out of the Army' for sharing 'men can't be women' statement


An Army commanding officer with 14 years of distinguished service says he has been forced to leave the service for saying that men cannot be women.

The colonel came under fire when a complaint of transphobia was made against him. Dr Kelvin Wright, 54, had been a military Reservist officer with a record that included two tours in Afghanistan. However, he said he felt his “honour" had come under attack during a "hellish" investigation.

It started last month, when he shared a post on his private Facebook account from a campaign group that works with organisations which aim to keep women’s sport for those born female. The group, Fair Play for Women, contained a quote from Helen Joyce, a feminist campaigner backed by the author JK Rowling, who herself has been targeted for much abuse online over the issue.

The Telegraph reported that the quote Dr Wright shared without making any additional comment, stated: “If women cannot stand in a public place and say ‘men cannot be women’, then we do not have women’s rights at all.”

The post prompted a junior officer to warn him that this "gender-critical view" may conflict with Ministry of Defence transgender policies. What ensued, according to Dr Wright, was an investigation, including the compiling of a seven-page dossier he was barred from accessing, about his "substandard behaviour". He claimed the dossier had been drawn up by Army "LGBT champions".

The newspaper said that a formal Army investigation was opened in May that could have led to him being formally dismissed or censured under the Major Administrative Action process, through which he had been asked to make a statement.

But Dr Wright, who led a team of 60 troops in 306 Hospital Support Regiment as well as working as an NHS intensive care consultant, said he felt compelled to step down from the Army six years earlier than he had planned, a move that will adversely affect his Army pension.

Now the Free Speech Union has stepped in to support him, and has appointed an employment barrister to represent him during the ongoing investigation. Dr Wright told the Telegraph: “This attack on my honour made my position completely untenable. I could no longer remain in an Army which treated its officers with such disrespect.

“What message does it send to women in the Army, that merely for noting the existence of women and women’s rights even a colonel can be placed under investigation? I therefore feel there is no other choice but to make this matter public. It makes you wonder who is running the Army: the Chief of the Defence Staff or Stonewall?”

He claimed many Armed Forces personnel seemed to “love the idea of getting on to Stonewall’s list of top employers” and accused the force's "LGBT champions" of being unable to “see two sides to an argument”.

He told the paper: “I want my name cleared, my honour cleared. This is about freedom of speech and protection of women – there is nothing that ever says I have been anti-trans or anti-LGBT at all... I have never let any of my beliefs interfere with my command.

“As a commanding officer, I annually teach my soldiers about moral courage, doing the right thing and treating others with respect. Someone with a bit of moral courage could have said this is absolutely trivial, this should be dismissed early on and we should get on with the business of war-fighting, should it ever happen.”

General secretary of the Free Speech Union, Toby Young, said: “The way in which Dr Wright has been treated is absolutely disgraceful. The freedom to express your views in the public square is a fundamental human right that the British Army is supposed to be defending, not attacking.

“Continuing to hound him following his resignation just adds insult to injury. The Army should apologise, thank him for his service and close the case.”

During his reservist career, Dr Wright served twice in Afghanistan at the height of British combat operations there. He was often on board medical evacuation helicopters and was head of a military emergency department.

It is the latest diversity row to hit the Armed Forces. The RAF recently ordered staff to stop choosing “useless white male pilots” and the Navy announced it was considering issuing "multiple ID cards" for those claiming gender-fluidity.

A spokesman for the Army told the Telegraph: “We are aware of a post shared by a service person to their own personal social media account which may have caused offence. We are not prepared to comment further as this is an ongoing internal matter.”

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