Trans Rights: Government U-turn pushes the UK back into the past? – Labour Article
As members of British society, we must take the time to ask ourselves: how does Prime Minister Boris Johnson imagine our future? This question has become even more pressing following the recent leak of the planned reversal on the proposed Gender Recognition Act reforms.
It is estimated there are between 200,000 and 500,000 transgender adults in the UK. However, in recent weeks, the Prime Minister’s archaic gender attitudes have led him to begin targeting this vulnerable population.
Johnson has shelved plans drawn up by his predecessor Theresa May to allow transgender individuals to legally change the gender on their birth certificate without consultation with medical professionals. Johnson’s impending reversal of this progress has been deemed ‘extremely worrying’ by experts.
In the 21st Century, minority groups should not still be battling for basic rights. Yet our politicians still cling to outdated, conservative ideas at the expense of the British people. Therefore, we must take it upon ourselves to call out the legitimacy of our Prime Minister’s values, and their place in contemporary society.
This sudden political backpedalling on transgender rights is no less than a declaration of hostility which further legitimises anti-trans attitudes in Britain. The Republic of Ireland, having introduced self-identification for transgender individuals in 2015, is vastly ahead of Britain in this regard.
Professor Michael O’Flaherty argues that the mandatory inclusion of doctors in the gender identification process classified gender only in biological terms, equating gender to sex. Furthermore, he expressed concern that the attitudes behind obligatory medical consultations may result in the requirement of intrusive physical surgery in order to legally change gender. This attack on trans rights delegitimises our claims of inclusivity, acceptance, and empathy in our ‘advanced’ British society.
Many have broached the issue of a threat to women’s safety through the inclusion of self-identified transgender women with male sex organs in private female spaces. But the data simply does not support this. Whilst studies on trans rights issues are still sadly lacking, a Guardian survey reported no instances of individuals being pressured to pursue reassignment surgery after achieving legal document changes. In addition to this, notably, there are zero cases of fake trans identification as a method of violating female-only spaces.
The recurrence of this debate shows not a genuine concern for the safety of women in society, but rather a systemic, lack of education on the concept of transgender identity. An open letter from LGBTQ+ groups addressed to then Equalities Minister Liz Truss stated that the government had recognised that “trans people faced indignities and prejudice” in a review released over 18 months ago.
Despite vocal opposition from LGBTQ+ groups, the UK government is stalling on these important issues in an effort to eventually pull the plug completely on progressive legislation. This will return the country to a state of unenlightenment, which, while trivial for some, is a matter of life or death for others.
This article has by no means covered all the bases. To this day, those wishing to transition who are in civil partnerships or marriages still need spousal approval – a blatant denial of autonomy in UK law. Political support of Boris Johnson and his government is the denial of many individuals’ basic rights and to condone gender inequality.
While Johnson did not create any of these issues, he fortifies a historic, systemic imbalance which boils down to disproportionate access to opportunity. Isn’t it time we had a leader who reflects the progress and diversity of the UK? One who values the well-being of the powerless over the comfort of the powerful?
Written by Guest Labour Writer, Henry Mckeever
Point of Information
ALL of Parliament should be held accountable, not just Johnson – a Liberal response
Henry writes a long-needed article rebuking Boris Johnson’s shocking transphobia. To re-emphasise, Johnson’s frightening move towards blending sex and gender is an affront to years of scientific research. Johnson’s very poor show on LGBTQ+ legislation speaks for itself.
Yet, Henry places too much stress on Boris alone. If we wish to make progress with trans rights and give trans people the equality they deserve, we need to call out Parliament as a whole.
Unsurprisingly, the Conservatives have had a poor track record, which Henry has done well to mention. For example, their 2019 General Election Manifesto made minimal mention of transgender rights. Only touching briefly on the need for ‘general’ education about LGBTQ+ people in schools, without any real plan of action. Furthermore, Boris’ party is staffed with MPs who have consistently voted against LGBTQ+ equality. Especially by Priti Patel and her counterpart Jacob Rees-Mogg.
Yet, Labour is not in the clear either. As Johnson continues his onslaught on transgender rights, Starmer’s Opposition has been deliberately avoiding any confrontation with the Conservatives. After much prodding, Starmer finally made a statement in defence of trans rights. If this silence is allowed to continue, Boris will succeed in his archaic aims. The Shadow Cabinet should address this quickly.
The Liberal Democrats have continuously stressed their strong commitment to defending trans rights. However, they must guard against complacency. Need we be reminded of Tim Farron’s sketchy voting record?
If we blame Boris alone without calling on the need for Parliament to do better, the Prime Minister will escape with his sinister plans. Transphobia must be addressed in all parties to begin progress. We need a strong Parliamentary opposition, on both sides of the Commons, to unite and defend trans rights.
Written by Guest Liberal Writer, Frank Allen
Trans reforms moving us into the past? No, but not moving into the future either – a Conservative response
While I broadly agree with the article above, I would like to say two minor points. Firstly, that these are only leaked proposals. They are not final, and they are not the official position of the government.
The official response to the consultation on the Gender Recognition Act will be published in the Summer. The changes seen in the leak are not what will happen for definite. It is a shame that the results of this consultation have been delayed this long. But it won’t be much longer until they are released.
Secondly, these changes are not a retreat on current law. Current law allows for the change of gender with the approval of two doctors and if they have lived as their new gender for two years. There are no proposals to retreat these provisions. The leak, however, does note that the government will ban ‘gay cure’ therapy, showing that these reforms will not move the UK completely into the past.
I do agree that self-identification reforms should be implemented. It would allow many people to live their lives more freely and easily. However, the failure to change the law to allow self-identification, if proven to be correct, will not be the U-turn or broken promise that is claimed. The Conservative manifesto in 2019 did not promise that there would be reforms on self-identification. Johnson was voted in on that manifesto, not on what Theresa May said.
The omission of self-identification, if anything, shows that Johnson is still living in the past. However, there is still time for the government to show us that the leaks are wrong. I hope they do.
Written by Guest Conservative Writer, Kieran Burt
I am entering the third year of a BA in History and Ancient History at the University of Exeter. I have a fascination with the past otherwise and you would hope so, otherwise I may have chosen the wrong degree. But, writing for POI gives me the opportunity to talk politics which is something I simply can’t avoid.
Politics was a completely taboo subject for me as a young boy. Having lived almost all my life in Brunei and Qatar – two very strict, theocratic autocracies – I was cautious to keep my opinions well-guarded. The smallest negative remark about either country’s governance, for example, would’ve meant deportation for my family and I. Any non-approved political activity, no matter how naïve, had to be kept a secret. It was best not to question at all.
Hello, my name is Kieran Burt and I am going into second year at Nottingham Trent University studying Politics and International Relations. I first developed an interest in politics through reading the Dictator’s Handbook by Alastair Smith and Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, when I was 16, and have furthered my interest by studying politics at A level and now at university.