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De-Banking/The Latest Weapon In The Corporate Bid To Normalize Gender Ideology


By Alan Neale


The world’s largest financial institutions, in alliance with Big Pharma, have embarked on a global campaign to normalize body dissociation and the deconstruction of human sexual reproduction.


Two asset management firms - BlackRock and Vanguard - are at the apex of this push. Jennifer Bilek has analyzed, here, how these two corporations use the leverage of their investments to push the ideology of ‘gender identity’. This is an ideology that denies material reality but creates numerous new profit opportunities. Firstly by constructing artificial ‘identities’ that segment the market into new (and highly profitable) sales opportunities. And secondly by encouraging the body dissociation that enables the commodification of our sexed bodies and allows the highly exploitative and profitable surrogacy industry to flourish.


BlackRock and Vanguard are based in the USA, but their reach is global. In the UK they manage 8-9% of the shares in three of the four main high street banks - Barclays, Lloyds, and HSBC. They are not passive shareholders. Larry Fink, BlackRock CEO, made it clear in his 2022 Letter to CEOs that “Capitalism has the power to shape society and act as a powerful catalyst for change.” Promoting gender ideology is one of the ways Fink uses that power. I first came across BlackRock when I was researching Just Like Us, an LGBT+ charity that promotes body dissociation to primary school children in the UK. I was intrigued by the fact that BlackRock was a major corporate supporter of Just Like Us, and surprised to learn not only that BlackRock is a major investor in AbbVie, the supplier of puberty-blocking drug Lupron, but that its CEO, Larry Fink, is co-chair of the trustees of a New York hospital heavily involved in what it calls ‘gender-affirming medical interventions’ (newspeak for chemical and surgical construction of synthetic sex identities) for young people.


Policy initiatives from asset managers like BlackRock and Vanguard in the US cascade down to retail banks in Europe. Here, recent policy development is de-banking - denying opponents of the gender industry access to money transfer services.


‘Doing the right thing’ (Netherlands 2021)


Back in November 2021, I learned on Twitter that a bank had closed the account of a Dutch feminist organization Voorzij (For Her) because its activities “do not match what we stand for as a company.” The bank, bunq (‘Bank of the Free’) made its position clear in a Twitter thread and press release, translated here , including “The bank believes that the foundation (Voorzij) discriminates against trans women by not standing up for their interests.”


bunq, like many banks, disguises its support for the gender industry by pretending that what it is promoting is social responsibility and human rights. Its 2022 Managing Board Report claims that “our users rely on us to continue enabling them to grow, contribute and make life easy ….. as always, doing the right thing is the one simple compass we’ve relied on since our very beginning.” It is a sign of the times that “doing the right thing”, for a supposedly ‘progressive’ institution, is understood to include an attempt to shut down a feminist organization, in a country where women have only been allowed to have a bank account since 1956.


Realizing how easy it was for a bank to use its power to take away the financial independence that women had so recently acquired came as a shock. I hoped, naively, that this was just one ‘challenger’ bank, in one country, and that there were many retail banks that don’t act in this way. I underestimated the global ambitions of the 10-year-old bunq - it operates not just in the Netherlands but in a number of other EU countries, and this year it has applied for banking licenses in both the US and the UK. I also underestimated the extent to which other banks would adopt similar exclusionary policies.


‘Doing what’s right’ (UK 2022-3)


In June 2022, the UK’s Halifax Bank (a brand of Lloyd’s Bank) posted a tweet saying simply ‘Pronouns matter, #ItsAPeopleThing’, with a photo of a name badge, ‘Gemma (she/her/hers)’.


A number of people replied, questioning the bank’s priorities.


From time to time over the course of a day, Halifax employees would issue one or other of the following explanations:


“We want to create a safe and accepting environment that opens the conversation about gender identity. We care about our customers and colleagues' individual preferences. For us, it’s a very simple solution to accidental misgendering.”


“Wearing pronouns is completely optional. We’re offering our colleagues the choice because we understand how important it is to create a safe and welcoming environment that normalizes the conversation around gender identity.”


As the day wore on, more and more customers questioned why the bank was so keen to normalize ‘the conversation around gender identity’. Eventually, when a customer simply asked “Why are you trying to alienate people?”, the Halifax response became more hostile:


“We strive for inclusion, equality, and quite simply, in doing what’s right. If you disagree with our values, you’re welcome to close your account.”


The next day, a tweet from rival bank HSBC weighed in with support, not for the questioning customers, but for Halifax:


“We stand with and support any bank that joins us in taking this positive step forward for equality and inclusion. It’s vital that everyone can be themselves in the workplace.”


Care about customers’ individual preferences clearly doesn’t extend to customer preferences for banking services that allow them not to lie about an employee’s sex. Again, as with bunq in the Netherlands, the fact that they are protecting the interests of the gender industry is disguised by pretending that its policies are based on a concern for human rights.


Bribery and corruption


It was not long before UK banks moved on from inviting customers to close their accounts if they disliked the bank’s values, to closing customer accounts if the bank disliked the customer’s values. Except it’s not really about values. It’s about silencing critics.


Bank account closures hit the headlines in June 2023, when ex-UKIP leader and ex-MEP Nigel Farage revealed that his bank accounts had been closed. He acknowledged that he may have been identified as a PEP (a Politically Exposed Person, a high-profile politician deemed to be at risk of bribery or corruption). He suggested, though, that it was possible that his account was closed because banks disliked Brexit and blamed him for it.


Coutts, Farage’s bank, initially claimed that the accounts had been closed because it required a minimum balance of £3 million in savings, or £1 million in borrowing, and Farage’s balance had fallen below it. But Farage obtained a document from Coutts which stated that his views “don’t align with our values”, and suggested that his having an account with them “presents a material and ongoing reputational risk to the bank. His publicly-stated views were at odds with our position as an inclusive organization”. It became clear that having a balance below the required minimum was not the only reason Farage’s accounts were closed.


In the wake of the massive publicity that Farage generated about his bank accounts, evidence emerged that banks were closing the accounts of a number of individuals and organizations who are not in Farage’s league financially, but are opposed to gender ideology.


Silencing critics


One bank account that was abruptly closed, without notice, was that of Wings Over Scotland founder Stuart Campbell. Wings Over Scotland have consistently exposed the capture by the gender industry of political institutions in Scotland, and Campbell believes that this was the reason for the closure without warning of his personal accounts by First Direct, a division of HSBC.


Similar cases followed in quick succession.


Our Duty is a support group for parents concerned that their children have been persuaded to embark on puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones. Their application for a business account was blocked by Metro Bank, a month after the bank joined the Stonewall Diversity Champion scheme. A bank manager explained that the Our Duty website “conflicts with the ideas and culture we are pushing.”


Yorkshire Building Society closed the account of a vicar, Richard Fothergill, days after he posted a comment on their portal that he disagreed with their promotion of gender ideology, and which linked to a news report that was critical of Drag Queen Story Hour. YBS claimed that their banking relationship with Fothergill had broken down beyond repair as a result of his comment.


Professor Lesley Sawers, the Equalities and Human Rights Commissioner for Scotland was told by the Royal Bank of Scotland (a brand of the NatWest Group) that her joint bank account with her husband would be closed, with no explanation given. When she approached another bank to transfer their joint account she was told this would not be possible as there was a mark against her name.


‘Investigative Reporting Optimisation’


UK banks are not called upon to justify account closures. If necessary, they could quote their terms and conditions, which allow the closure of an account where the customer has ‘behaved in a threatening or abusive manner to our staff’. Presumably, a bank that is aiming to become a Stonewall Diversity Champion (as so many of them are) could interpret a customer’s unwillingness to use a staff member’s preferred pronouns, or a statement of disbelief in gender ideology, as abusive. They could then quote this to Stonewall as evidence of their ‘inclusivity’, and be rewarded for it.


First Direct and its parent company, HSBC, have added terms and conditions which give them even more leeway than those of other banks - they justify account closure where ‘You’ve misbehaved either to us or when using our services,’ or if ‘you’re involved in any criminal activity. It doesn’t matter whether or not this is linked to banking with us.’


Far more revealing than banks’ terms and conditions is who they appoint to key positions. HSBC (First Direct’s parent company) is particularly interesting. Its ‘Head of Investigative Reporting Optimization’ is Hannah Graf, who describes the role as “working to prevent global financial crime.” This seems strange, as his previous job was as an engineering manager and Captain in the British Army. Not so strange, though, when you learn that he was awarded an MBE for ‘work updating LGBTQ policy in the British Army’, was Stonewall’s ‘Trans Role Model of the Year’ in 2019, and is a patron of Mermaids, the disgraced UK charity that promotes the medicalized transition of children.


I wrote about Hannah Graf and his spouse Jake, and their celebrity role as pioneers of ‘transurrogacy’, on the 11th-hour blog here. Their fame as a ‘trans’ couple was enabled by a surrogate mother who provided them with two children, using eggs from Jake that had, before her ‘sex change’, been fertilized with donated sperm and frozen. (Hannah regrets that he never had his sperm frozen before his ‘sex change’, which deprived him of being genetically related to the children. He advises young men contemplating taking cross-sex hormones to learn from his mistake and make sure they freeze and store their sperm beforehand).


Hannah’s skill set doesn’t seem particularly appropriate for detecting financial crime. Still, one can’t help being aware that his life experience might be useful for a bank wanting to be able to identify critics of the gender industry and deprive them of access to a bank account. Certainly, it would be hard to find anyone more deeply implicated in different aspects of the UK gender industry to appoint to such a strategic role.


Why?


It is often wondered why retail banks, who depend on being able to take deposits from customers and lend money to them, should think it worthwhile alienating the 51% of the adult population who are women, in order to have greater appeal to the 0.5% who claimed in the 2021 Census that they had a ‘gender identity different to their sex registered at birth’.


I suspect that banks imagine that their customers have taken on board the ‘trans’ narrative about being the most oppressed group in society, and will be susceptible to arguments that they should ‘be kind’, respect people’s preferred pronouns, etc. And having ‘trans inclusive’ policies, as advised by Stonewall, will be a low-cost way of scoring well on Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index (Many High Street banks appear in Stonewall’s list of the top 100 UK employers - HSBC came highest in the 2022 Index, at no 12).


To understand why retail banks are so keen to be approved by Stonewall we have, again, to follow the money. As STILLTish uncovered, here, it was a donation from the Arcus Foundation (founder Jon Stryker, heir to the medical corporation of that name) that preceded the transformation of Stonewall from a gay rights organization into one promoting the gender industry. And it’s not just BlackRock and Vanguard who influence the policies of UK retail banks. Many investors who want their money to be employed responsibly rely on ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) ratings to guide which companies to invest in.


ESG ratings are provided by a number of different financial institutions, whose activities are unregulated in the UK, and whose rating criteria are far from transparent. A good score on Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index will almost certainly result in a higher ESG rating. Investors wanting to be socially responsible may be persuaded that their investment is curbing global warming, or promoting gay rights. But by putting their trust in an ESG rating, they may not be aware of how much they are giving support to the gender industry. So ’trans inclusion’ will be a convenient low-cost policy for banks, concerned that a low ESG rating might depress their share price, to adopt.


Following the publicity surrounding the closure of Farage’s accounts, the UK government has indicated that it will strengthen regulatory requirements to make it clear that customers should not have their accounts closed because of their political beliefs. Such a change will protect the accounts of elite politicians like Farage. But this will not deter banks from using account closures to silence critics of the gender industry. It will not be hard for banks to engineer a complaint that an individual or organization has ‘misgendered’ another customer or a member of staff, and to use that complaint as justification for closing their account.


At a time when opposition to the onward march of the gender industry is mobilizing, the willingness of retail banks to deprive activists of the ability to transfer money is a sinister development. In a modern economy, access to a bank account is a basic requirement - for individuals, and especially for organizations. As the Dutch feminist group Voorzij explained in a statement about their bank’s decision to close their account, “As a foundation, a bank account is crucial. After all, we need money to maintain our website and organize activities. So we are not only silenced - it’s impossible for us to function.”


The gender industry is destroying lives, and destroying the language with which we understand our lives. It must be resisted. We need to expose the financial institutions that fund the gender industry, including the rating agencies that measure ESG performance. And expose, too, the retail banks whose accounts we depend on for the financial transactions that are needed for us to resist effectively.

***


Alan Neale is a retired university lecturer and researcher, now a full time carer. He likes to believe that patriarchal capitalism's colonization of our bodies and nature can be halted before it becomes total. He tweets occasionally @canfordheather




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