The UK government published its response to the Women and Equalities Committee Transgender Inquiry back in July and we were relieved that the key recommendations were met with caution, although this may change after monitoring and review. You can find the relevant recommendations and responses in full here.
This is an update on trans legislation as it stands now, starting with a synopsis of those key government responses:
On the issue of an easier administrative process to legally change sex, based on self-declaration:
On lowering the age of legal gender recognition from 18 to 16:
On making ‘trans issues’ a statutory part of the PSHE curriculum in schools:
The government has also not agreed to amend the ‘exemption clause’ in the Equality Act 2010, as recommended here:
This last one has a caveat: the government has already produced guidelines for service providers which prioritises the right of everyone to use the facilities matching their ‘gender identity’ over the safety of women and girls. Every parent of a daughter should read this carefully.
The government did not uphold the proposed change in the name of the protected category, from ‘gender reassignment’ to ‘gender identity,’ which may sound like a technical point but ‘reassignment’ at least acknowledges change whereas ‘identity’ just validates the idea of an innate brain difference. In practical legal terms there may be no real difference: this recent news story suggests that ‘gender identity’ has replaced ‘sex’ as the real distinction between the sexes, whatever we call the protected category. Two recent examples of violent males being sent to women’s prisons (here and here) also indicate that in the clash between gender identity-based and sex-based rights, gender identity wins.
The fact that a recent event poster circulated by Brighton & Hove police, “Celebrating Women and Girls,” invites “self-identifying women and girls” is an especially worrying indication that the definition of females has officially changed to an identity.
Children and young people are imbibing this message everywhere, but when an institution like the police officially sanction it, it becomes impossible for young people to challenge. The cultural normalisation of the idea that identity is the definitive marker between the sexes will gradually erode girls’ sense that they are a distinct group with a right to their boundaries.
So although it was heartening to see the government’s cautious response, the battle is far from over. On September 13 the Women and Equalities Committee hosted an event in the Commons called ‘Transgender Equality: What Next?’ at which only transgender people were invited as guest speakers. Those who had made written submissions to the Transgender Inquiry were sent invitations to attend as audience members, so a group of us went along and three of us had the chance to speak.
This was an opportunity to address MPs Maria Miller and Ruth Cadbury directly with our concerns about sterilising and medicalising non-conforming children, the protection of women-only services and facilities and the impact of ‘gender identity’ legislation on equality and the rights of women and girls. If this meeting is anything to go by, we face an uphill struggle. The lack of adequate chairing to prevent hectoring, together with some of the responses from the politicians themselves did not provide reassurance that the rights of women and girls will be seriously taken into account, nor that there is any caution around the ‘transgendering’ of children.
We gave a Transgender Trend flyer to Maria Miller and asked her to look at this site as well as the website youthtranscriticalprofessionals.org and we are currently drawing up an impact assessment on children and adolescents to submit before the next government meeting.
Call to Action
It was clear from this event that the Women and Equalities Committee will continue fighting for changes in legislation, with no indication that they plan to listen to the other side. Transgender organisations are powerful and well-funded so it’s important that we all continue to write to our local MPs to protest the erosion of the rights of women and girls and the harm being caused to children. Many MPs have no idea of the implications of trans legislation and its real-life impact on women and children so please do write to your MP with any personal examples, or use our template. (PDF here). You can find your local MP here.