Liz Truss is right about sex and gender. But if she is to get the country through the next winter she needs to think again about her ‘bonfire’ of workers’ rights.
Category: Workers’ Rights
Why collective action is key
ABOUT 6.5 per cent of British children are educated privately, and those pupils need teachers.
But without the automatic protection of the National Agreement on Pay and Conditions of Service — the “Burgundy Book” — those teachers can be especially vulnerable.
The LGBT world is not short of acronyms. Today is Idahobit: the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia.
The date is significant. It is now almost 30 years since the World Health Organisation decided to remove homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases on May 17 1990.
Unfortunately, prejudice has not been removed from society, and LGBT people continue to suffer discrimination and harassment at work and elsewhere.
To coincide with Idahobit 2019, the TUC has just published a much-needed report into the sexual harassment of LGBT workers.
Three years after her parliamentary committee reported on transgender rights, Maria Miller this week accused her own government of mishandling trans issues.
When the Tory chair of the House of Commons women and equalities committee announces publicly that her own government’s priorities are wrong, we must surely be in the last days of this shambolic administration.
WHEN the government announced a consultation on changes to the Gender Recognition Act in July last year, trans people expected that by now we might be discussing the outcome.
However, proposals to streamline and demedicalise the process to change our legal gender proved more controversial than the government perhaps anticipated. Repeated delays left a vacuum that spawned polarised and often heated discussions on social media and elsewhere.
LGBT+ rights are enshrined in law. The 2010 Equality Act could not be clearer: discrimination and harassment on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender reassignment are explicitly prohibited.
Prejudice, however, runs deep in our society, and homophobia, biphobia and transphobia remain endemic problems in the workplace and elsewhere. They have a pernicious and destructive impact that can sap the confidence of LGBT+ people, compromise their mental health and destroy their careers.
Following debate at last year’s TUC LGBT conference, the TUC undertook extensive research to identify the extent of the problems and better understand the experiences of LGBT+ workers, both unionised and non-unionised.
How to avoid trans stereotyping?
TRANS issues have become mainstream in recent years and they remain high on the news agenda, even in the midst of austerity, an NHS in crisis and an education system at breaking point.
But while press coverage is generally very positive, some commentators — for example Sarah Ditum and Janice Turner — have raised concerns and questioned the impact of trans rights on women’s rights.
Sadly, but perhaps predictably, the effect has been to further inflame a debate that was already polarised and toxic. Suspicion and mistrust have taken root, playing into the hands of those who oppress both women and trans people alike.
There should not and need not be any conflict between trans rights and women’s rights, so how did we get into this mess and, more importantly, how can we get out of it?
March 31st is the annual International Transgender Day of Visibility. In recent years, even a casual observer may feel that transgender people are already very visible, and query the need for it to be marked by a day in the calendar. Whilst campaigning groups have promoted the message that “Some People are Trans,” the press have published a seemingly endless stream of news reports and feature articles about trans issues. Editorial policy might not always be sympathetic, but the battle for visibility seems to have been won.
On December 1st, Transgender Equality was debated on the Floor of the House of Commons for the very first time. Maria Miller MP moved the motion calling on the Government to review its response to the recommendations of the Women and Equalities Committee report on Transgender Equality, to ensure that the UK leads the world on trans equality rights. Following on in debate, Angela Crawley MP highlighted the shortcomings of current legislation, specifically the uncertainty surrounding the rights of non-gendered and non-binary people. Ruth Cadbury MP acknowledged the cultural shift that is happening in society, especially among young people where there is greater acceptance of gender differences. Whilst that is to be applauded and celebrated, transgender people continue to face widespread prejudice and discrimination.
On Transgender Day of Remembrance we remember trans people who have lost their lives in the face of ignorance, oppression and violence. I remember Lucy Meadows, a teacher who took her own life on 19 March 2013. Three months earlier she had transitioned in the full glare of the media after Richard Littlejohn wrote an infamous article in the Daily Mail: “He’s [sic] not only the wrong body … he’s [sic] in the wrong job”. Coroner Michael Singleton had no doubts about the role of the press in Lucy’s death. “Shame on all of you” he said, as he accused them of ridicule, humiliation, and a character assassination.
Unbeknown to the Mail, another teacher transitioned at exactly the same time. On 20 December 2012, the same day they published Littlejohn’s article, my news was shared with the pupils in my school. Despite months of planning, I was at my most vulnerable. I knew my career hung in the balance; my job would have become untenable had I lost the confidence of my pupils and their parents.