Transgender Equality Debate In Parliament

Next Thursday (December 1st) the Women and Equalities Select Committee will host a debate on transgender equality in the House of Commons. Their goal is to amend the 2004 Gender Recognition Act and update the Equality Act – with “utmost urgency”- to create new primary legislation. There are two proposed changes to legislation which are very concerning for both women and children and which also raise questions about the legal position of parents.

  • The first is the move to self-declaration in order to change legal sex

Currently if a person wishes to change their legal sex they must be over 18, be diagnosed with gender dysphoria and have been living in their desired gender role for at least two years, and intend to do so for the rest of their life. The Committee’s report called for the removal of all three of these criteria, so that anyone could easily become legally a member of the opposite sex, without the need for any form of social or medical transition.

This would mean that any man would be able to declare himself “female” in order to gain access to facilities where privacy is crucial to the dignity, comfort and safety of women and girls, such as toilets, changing-rooms, women’s refuges, single-sex hospital wards, prisons, rape crisis centres and women’s support services. The obvious consequence would be that women would not feel safe to access the services and facilities intended for them. Any man declaring himself to be a woman would also be eligible to win awards previously restricted to women and girls specifically to advance women and level the playing field with men, for example in sports, prizes and awards, shortlists and quotas.

  • The second is proposed legislation to amend the name of the protected category from “gender reassignment” to “gender identity”

This may look like just a change in words, but the implications are huge. “Gender reassignment” suggests a change, a process of moving from one thing to another. “Gender identity” legally enshrines the concept of an innate fixed identity which overrides biological sex as the distinction between boys and girls, men and women. In other words, there would no longer be any way of legally differentiating between the sexes, it would become a matter of personal unverifiable feelings. “Gender identity” would effectively replace the protected category “sex” which is the only protection women and girls currently have.

These two proposals combined would effectively mean that in legal terms everyone would have the right to “choose” their sex, for whatever reason, and would have a legal right to be affirmed as that sex by everyone else. A girl who named someone exposing himself to her in a changing-room as a man, for example, would be open to the charge of a transphobic hate crime, whereas the crimes of voyeurism and indecent exposure would cease to exist for any man who declares himself to be a woman.

It would also enshrine in law the discredited myth of  “pink” and “blue” brains; the very stereotypes that hold back and disadvantage girls in society would be reinforced as the true distinction between boys and girls in place of biological sex.

For sex to be determined by self-declared “identity” takes away all protections for the children and adolescents who are included in the protected category, even though their identities are not fixed, but unformed, developing and changing. Even without the change in legislation, we are seeing how this lays children open to abuse when social services and child protection agencies accept a child’s cross-sex “identity” without question and dare not look further for the causes of it. It is also already very hard for a parent to find a counselor or therapist prepared to do anything other than “affirm” a young person’s “gender identity.” What will new legislation mean for the parents of a child who identifies as the opposite sex? Will they be bound by law to affirm their child’s identity or face the charge of transphobic hate crime?

We urge everyone to write to their local MP asking them to attend this debate and to speak on behalf of them as constituents (which is their job). Rather than using a template letter, please write your concerns in your own words and include personal examples where possible, for example:

  • Local knowledge (such as a cluster of teenage girls “transitioning” together in a local school)
  • Your experience with your own child or adolescent
  • A story in the news which has concerned you
  • What your child is being taught at school
  • Your own or your friends’ experiences of situations in toilets/changing rooms etc
  • Why you think the proposed legislation would further disadvantage your own daughter
  • Examples from your own profession or workplace, for example, having to replace the word “women” with “people” if you work in the area of women’s health

 

Ask your MP to:

  • oppose the proposed legislation on the grounds of loss of the established sex-based rights and protections for women and girls and the effective erasure of the “sex” protected category
  • Demand a full equality impact assessment on the rights and protections of women and girls
  • Demand a full child-protection assessment of proposed legislation, including protection from unnecessary sterilisation and invasive medical treatment, protection from adult ideology and discrimination (eg. homophobic or lesbophobic parents or community), and protection from the teaching of gender and sex-role stereotypes in school
  • Question the committee on the definition of “transgender” eg. if a girl is faced with a person with penis on display in a communal public changing-room, how does she know if this person is a “man” or a “woman” based on the person’s internal feelings of “gender identity” and how should she respond in a way that doesn’t put her at risk of being charged with a transphobic hate crime?

We are grateful to friend and colleague Josephine Bartosch, a researcher and campaigner for equality for lesbian & bisexual women, who wrote this excellent synopsis “Implications of Current Transgender Theory on Children and Young People” which you can download and send to your MP as supporting evidence.

You can also find further ideas for letters on the site Fair Play For Women and a briefing on the unintended consequences of proposed legislation from Women Analysing Policy on Women here.

If you don’t have much time, please do send an email  just to express the fact that you have concerns and ask your MP to attend. The more MPs who receive letters from constituents, the more the government will take our concerns seriously. You can find your local MP here.

Thank you!

8 Comments

  • Cecille Santos Reply

    Wow now I’m pleased I live in USA due to that possible legislation passing. Really a terrible mistake and a lot of possible confused mutilated generations of children in the future. Very irresponsible decision.Good luck I hope you can sway your MPS not yo pass this.

  • Erin Reeves McMillan Reply

    I feel that Josephine Bartosch’s summary would be stronger if she gave source citations instead of saying things like “a recent study”. I am very wary of written articles that include numbers, percentages and statistics along with confident statements of “fact”, but give no reference on where to find the original source. I will look her up online to see if I can find some of her sources. Thanks for keeping us updated.

  • nel Reply

    Done. Ive written to my MP about mine and my daughters personal experiences of autogynephile predatory behaviors and abuse and why women in our situation could never and will never, acknowledge that these people are anything but male. we KNOW they are men and now our own government wants to gaslight us and coerce us into accepting lies and untruths and leave us unable to seek safe spaces to be.
    As victims of sexual violations by this man, we would be left not only without proper support from womens organisations, but those organisations would not be able to legally help us without exposing themselves to possible legal repercussions.
    my youngest daughter and her friends were exposed to a male paedophile in the womens changing rooms at the swimming baths this year and have been involved in the police inquiry into this man, if this had happened after this legislation has been passed, they would have been left unprotected by law and potentially open to accusations of ‘transphobic hate-crime’ had they dared to complain about the man openly exposing himself to children in the womens changing room had he declared himself a woman.

  • atranswidow Reply

    The debate has been archived in the House of Commons Hansard Online, Volume 617, 01 December 2016. It can be found here…….https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2016-12-01/debates/D4F283FB-2C02-4C8C-8C7E-BEAB889D1425/TransgenderEquality

    I haven’t found any reporting in the UK press. In fact the emptiness of the press gallery is noted by one of the MPs during the debate. Pink News does report that Caroline Flint, MP for Don Valley, asks a question about protecting women from male violence in gender-neutral areas, with the mis-leading headline ”Labour MP Caroline Flint claims trans-friendly toilets are dangerous for women” and then noting that she is not wearing a World Aids Day ribbon. What she actually says is ”I welcome the debate, because it is vital for us to consider the issue of transgender rights, but should we not also be wary of creating gender-neutral environments that may prove more of a risk to women themselves?”

    However, this is the only note of caution on behalf of women in the whole 4 hour long ”debate”. One MP after another unquestionably supports the concept of ”gender identity” as if it were a reality.

    Hannah Bardell, SNP member for Livingston, Scotland prepared for the debate by reading one of Jack Monroe’s interviews and declares that Fox Fisher is a fantastic role model. (The same Fox Fisher who retweeted the alleged trans teen suicides following Trump’s election https://gendertrender.wordpress.com/2016/11/10/trans-community-response-to-trump-election-child-suicides/ and who accused Family Court Judge, Mr. Justice Hayden, of child abuse following his ruling in a recent ”trans child” case where the social services were criticized by him for their mishandling of the case https://gendertrender.wordpress.com/page/2/)

    For myself I think it is important that the medical profession (yes, I do mean Polly Carmichael) is given a greater opportunity to voice an opinion before the whole trans debate is led by activist groups such as Mermaids and Gires. We haven’t even begun to address what it really means to be ”trans”, ”non-binary”, gender-fluid etc etc. Does it really mean anything, when male and female no longer will mean anything except a choice to be made in childhood, depending on whether you prefer pink or blue? But seriously, just how do you legislate for ”gender identity”; at what age is it fixed or can it be changed a myriad times in a lifetime?

    Finally, as the ex-wife of a late transitioning man who now declares himself to be a woman, what redress do I have for the abuse that I endured whilst struggling to come to terms with what had happened to my life-partner. Where is the mention of autogynephilia as a motivating factor for transition? I recognise that my ex should not be discriminated against in terms of healthcare, education and employment. However, no one should be obligated to refer to him as a she. Young teens struggling to come to terms with their sexuality or non-conformity to ever more rigid gender roles should not feel that their only route to happiness is medicalisation for the rest of their lives.

    The debate needs to be made much wider. At every stage of this enquiry trans or gender critical comments have been actively excluded. None were invited to give oral evidence, even though many submitted written evidence.

    I am no longer resident in the UK, but still a UK citizen, so don’t have an MP. Maybe I should try emailing Maria Miller directly?

    • Transgender Trend Reply

      Please do email Maria Miller. The “debate” was an exercise in back-slapping from people with no idea of the actual issues, and the dismissal of Caroline Flint’s concerns about women’s safety was shameful. The Tavistock were invited to give oral evidence at the inquiry, but together with Susie Green of Mermaids and Jay Stewart of Gendered Intelligence, so it was an intimidating situation. Maria Miller is trying to push through legislation having only listened to a very powerful special-interest group and without considering any other view from people who will be harmfully impacted by these policies.

    • EndTheHarms Reply

      Thank you for this excellent, thoughtful account and response. (Do other accounts exist? Why do press not bother to attend?)

      Yes please, write to Maria Miller, your thoughtful eloquence is needed, but are there others who might also be approached, who may in a position to have an impact? Who might be aware of the actual issues at hand, less ignorant and prejudiced than Miller?

    • atranswidow Reply

      Caroline Flint made a statement following the debate…….http://www.carolineflint.org/caroline_flint_backs_transgender_and_women_s_rights . She, very reasonably and properly, as was her intervention during the debate, says…“There has to be room for a progressive discussion which addresses transgender discrimination and rights, alongside that of women’s safety.” This is enough to be considered ”transphobic” by some and she has come in for some flack on her twitter account. Pink News felt that it had to write a further article, accusing her of basing her opinions on a second hand report of a man urinating in the sink in a gender-neutral bathroom. The Young Labour Women group has apparently called upon Ms Flint to apologise and withdraw her statement made during the debate.

      In fact Ms Flint felt compelled to speak after reading this excellent article in the New Statesman by Sara Ditum…….http://www.newstatesman.com/2016/11/whats-missing-transgender-debate-any-discussion-male-violence

      The day following the debate Sara Ditum published a piece entitled ”Scapegoating feminists is never the answer” in Progress Online http://www.progressonline.org.uk/2016/12/02/scapegoating-feminists-is-not-the-answer/ . She looks at the effect that the proposals of The Women and Equalities Committee inquiry into trans equality, would have on women if the two main proposals were to be implemented, and has very much the same concerns posted on this blog by Transgender Trend. Sara writes in reply to a piece by Emily Brothers, a transgender, Labour parliamentary candidate in 2015, published in Progress Online in November. http://www.progressonline.org.uk/2016/11/22/trans-respect-not-transphobia/ . It’s a rambling piece full of many of the usual transgender memes and Sara deals with Brothers’ use of the acronym TERF quite brilliantly. (TERFs are apparently a group led by Germaine Greer!) I noticed that Brothers’ gives a figure for attempted suicide in Trans children and young people as 48%. So thank you to your scientist who posts on your blog here http://www.transgendertrend.com/a-scientist-reviews-transgender-suicide-stats/ following this post. This is a clear example of how groups like Mermaids are putting out false results and that they are being taken up by trans campaigners whose only answer to criticism is to declare that the person, criticising, debating or merely questioning trans dogma is a TERF.

      Thank you EndTheHarms for your encouragement. I’m sure it’s not too late to write and the more who do, the better.

      I

  • ScaredMum Reply

    My interest is primarily in the huge increase in teenage girls, often on the autistic spectrum, self-diagnosing as transgender, although I do share the concerns of those wishing to keep biological males out of women’s spaces. I am concerned that there is a “one size fits all” approach to diagnosis (aka you are born in the wrong body) that does not take into account the co-morbid mental health/ differential developmental diagnoses of these vulnerable adolescents. In effect the campaign for transgender rights, which is of course a good thing, is now stifling any objective assessment of whether it is a good thing to affirm gender identity as social transition in children and young people, as it may make the move to lifelong hormones and surgery in evitable. The rights of vulnerable girls, who may be highly suggestible and in a critical time in their psychological development, to be given every opportunity to avoid invasive treatments, are in the process being taken away. I raised this again with my MP, why was not able to attend the debate. He obtained a rather depressing reply on my behalf from Justine Greening, who states: “It is ..important to provide children and young people with the freedom to explore their identity in an environment which is open to diversity…and providing transgender children with a supportive environment”. I can see this being interpreted by school counsellors etc not as “dress how you want, be as non-conforming as you want, but if you possibly can, learn to be comfortable with your biological sex” but “if you do not conform to sex stereotypes, you must be transgender, so we will without question affirm that and help you transition to a lifetime of artificial hormones and surgery. But don’t worry because however difficult this will be, we are changing the world to accommodate you”.
    She also refers to NHS services for young people, and states “The effects of treatment with hormone blockers are considered to be fully reversible”. I am really concerned that the government is simply swallowing whole the information being given to them by well-meaning activists rather than relying on robust scientific evidence (of which there is very little, especially in relation to the girls and young women).

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