In “unexpected things I learned recently”, the UK’s Gender Recognition Act 2004, which is the legislation under which people are able to legally change their gender (under certain circumstances), has an opt out when it comes to matters concerning the inheritance of titles - dukes, viscounts, barons and that sort of thing.

The fact that a person’s gender has become the acquired gender under this Act…does not affect the descent of any peerage or dignity or title of honour

The relevance of this - if relevance is the right word for a privilege based on your family doing a favour to some king several hundred years ago - is that the vast majority of titles are somehow still inherited via male primogeniture. If you are the first born child of Lord whatever then if you’re male then you’ll get the title upon his death. If you’re female, sorry, it’ll go to your younger brother.

Most titles are only allowed to be inherited by men. I can’t quickly find an up to date figure, but Wikipedia puts the % of hereditary peers that are female at 2.2% as of 1992.

It’s easy to laugh at this weird British silliness, but when the inheritance of titles does make the difference even as to whether or not you’ll directly rule over us mere citizens by virtue of being appointed to the House of Lords, seats basically allocated only to future males is not a good state of affairs. Apparently around 1 in 8 seats in our upper house are de facto permanently reserved for men because of this. Sure enough, in 2020, 99% of hereditary peers in the House of Lords were male in 2020.

In any case, it seems that a real argument concerning the Act with respect to the baroque privilege of inherited titles has come up, with Matilda Simon having successfully claimed her father’s Baronship, by virtue of having been originally deemed first-born male upon birth. She is now female, but as we learned above, that doesn’t make a difference to peerages. Predictably, although this is exactly what the law says should happen, the idea of a trans woman in the House of Lords hasn’t gone down well with certain members of the conservative press.

This might be one of those occasions where rather than debate the fine points of what gender even is we could just remember its 2022 and the idea of being ruled over by any humans based on the fact they inherited titles from some ancient ancestor is quite ridiculous.