For those of you who don’t know, this weekend a Times article (pictured below) shared plans to roll back protections for trans people in the UK. There’s a lot to unpick here. I could talk about how they casually state that feminists oppose trans rights. I could talk about the proposed tightening of rules around medical approval (approval already need to be given by a registered doctor so fuck knows what this means). I could talk about how policing the use of toilets is a ridiculous policy. I could talk about how the government has fully adopted TERF rhetoric that trans women are invasive predators. I could talk about timing this with a ban on gay conversion therapy, trying to divide the LGBT community as they impose a trans Section 28. I could look at the timing of this in relation to VoldeTERFs rant, or the simultaneous rollback of trans rights in the US. But what really hit me hard, what’s really making me angry right now, is the response to the GRA (Gender Recognition Act) consultation.
Back in 2018 the UK government held a public consultation about proposed changes to the GRA. I know so many trans people and allies who worked hard to get people to engage with the GRA consultation. And it paid off, 100,000 people engaged with it and 70% of them were in favour of self-identification. We did exactly what we’re told to do in a democracy, we spoke up, engaged with policy discussions, and made our voices heard. We played by the government rules. And then they decided to ignore this because it was “skewed” by trans groups encouraging people to take part in the consultation.
Honestly it hurts, it shows just how little regard the government has for our lives. To have this thrown back in our faces like this, for the government to say that they’re ignoring the results (because trans people and allies engaged with a consultation about a policy which directly affects our lives?!!!) is such a fuck you. This consultation was never about hearing from the public about trans rights. It was a prop for them to use in their political game, a game played with human life.
This is what happens when we play by their rules. The game is rigged against us, and if it looks like we might win some progress they change the rules. The reason they tell us to use the proper channels because the government controls the proper channels and can use them however they want. So why should we play or by their rules? It wasn’t petitions or polite engagement which kick-started the gay rights movement, it took a riot. These are not incompatible approaches, one makes the argument and the other makes people listen.
It’s worth noting that while this is being done by the Torys, Labour leader Keir Starmer has so far been silent on this harmful policy move. Politicos and newspapers love his respectable air and skills in parliament, but when push comes to shove will he stand with marginalised people or take the path of least resistance? And if he doesn’t fight for our rights then what exactly is the point of him?
What can we do:
- There’s a petition you can sign. But reforming the GRA will require debate anyway, and if they don’t pay attention to their own consultation why would they listen to a petition?
- Write to your MP, make it clear how you feel and pressure them to protect trans rights. There’s a template you can use here.
- Give money to trans organisations such as Gendered Intelligence, or local groups such as Trans Leeds, we’re going to need it.