The UK government will hold a consultation this autumn on proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act which would give everyone the right to choose their sex, without the need for a formal diagnosis of ‘gender dysphoria.’ Although not explicitly stated, this would obviously mean a change in the protected characteristic from ‘gender reassignment to ‘gender identity.’
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has pledged his full backing to Theresa May’s government to scrap current requirements for a medical diagnosis and the need to live for two years in the ‘preferred gender’ before being able to legally change sex. Ironically, cabinet minister Justine Greening’s comment that changing sex is merely ‘a choice that people are making’ is an idea that transgender activists vehemently deny, while at the same time campaigning for new legislation which will make it just that: a lifestyle choice, just one of the decisions we all have to make.
Given that concerns about such an outcome were reflected in the lukewarm response of the government to the proposals put forward by the Women and Equalities Select Committee following the Transgender Equality Inquiry, it is baffling why there is now a sudden urgency to prioritise these proposals in an autumn consultation. Unless of course all parties are trying to score easy points with an electorate which has been led to believe this is just about protection for a persecuted minority group, rather than a legal redefinition of the words ‘man’ and ‘woman,’ the legal replacement of biological sex with ‘gender identity’ and the erasure of specifically female rights and protections.
The reality of what is actually being proposed does seem to have hit certain sections of the media however. In particular, Tim Shipman, Political Editor of the Sunday Times, wrote an article listing some of the recent news stories which clearly demonstrate the harmful impact on women and girls when men can simply decide they are women, including cases in the areas of sport, schools, prisons, changing-rooms and women’s shelters. (Comments from Transgender Trend were included in articles in the Sunday Times, the Times, the Daily Mail and the Sun and we were interviewed for Channel 4 News and twice on LBC Radio; all media appearances can be seen on this page).
It may be that the announcement of the autumn consultation and the resulting press coverage will wake people up to the reality of new rights which would allow any man to identify as a woman and gain access to women-only spaces, and give women no legal recourse to complain.
The reality of this situation hit home when Fair Play for Women and Girls started this very reasonably worded petition on 38 Degrees:
“We ask the UK Government and the main UK political parties to give full consideration to the implications of the new proposed gender recognition laws on the rights of women and girls.
“Allowing anyone to self identify as a woman, and abolishing the need for a gender recognition certificate, has dangerous implications for the safety of women and girls. It means that anyone who says they identify as female will be able to access women’s shelters, hospital wards, toilets, changing rooms and will be able to compete against women in sport, occupy positions designated for women on boards, and take scholarships intended for women.”
The petition was taken down by 38 Degrees after less than 24 hours with this explanation:
“I’m afraid your petition is inappropriate for this website. The 38 Degrees team have reviewed the petition and whilst we absolutely understand the need to create safe spaces for all genders, we believe that this petition plays a lot on fear and discriminates against trans women and therefore breaks our terms and conditions.”
Proving women’s point about lost rights, even before the new legislation is passed, 38 Degrees do not allow women to campaign for their rights and protections as a sex, but force us into accepting that we are now a ‘gender identity’ which includes males. Just to reinforce the point that the female sex no longer legally exists, 38 Degrees erases the protected characteristic ‘sex’ and replaces it with ‘gender’:
“We reserve the right to remove any petition which we judge to promote illegal acts, hatred, violence, discrimination or stereotypes based on race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, disability, nationality or religion.”
In reality it is irrelevant that there is an existing ‘sex’ protected characteristic; if men are allowed to identify their way into this category, ‘sex’ effectively becomes a second ‘gender identity’ protected characteristic anyway. Legal protection of ‘gender identity’ itself depends on the erasure of biological sex. No-one is legally permitted to identify their way into any of the other protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010 and redefining a category out of existence just makes a mockery of the term ‘protected’ (clearly for women and girls it now means ‘unprotected’).
To protest the silencing and censorship of women by 38 Degrees you can sign this change.org petition. One way of letting the government know your views if you are lesbian, gay or bi-sexual is by filling in their National LGBT survey here.
The government has not yet conducted any impact assessment of the proposed change in legislation on women and girls or on children and adolescents. We have considered what the main effects are likely to be and collated these documents on the page Impact Assessments so they are easy to access and download. Please feel free to use them as you wish. Here’s how to contact your local MP.