If anyone can change their legal sex – just because they want to – then what it means to be a woman becomes no more than a feeling in a man’s head. No wonder that a growing number of women are concerned about the Scottish Government’s proposed reform of the Gender Recognition Act.
The Women and Equalities Select Committee have just published another report into the Reform of the Gender Recognition Act. The inquiry was launched in October 2020, and written submissions were collected over a year ago. Oral evidence was heard in the early part of this year, but the committee waited until four days before Christmas – in the midst of another Covid storm – to share their findings.
Writing was never part of my life plan. I’ve joked that I chose my career in physics to avoid words. But, according to the stats, I’ve written 174,951 of them in 199 posts. To mark number 200, I’ve gone back to when this blog began: the summer of 2016.
Debbie Hayton reports on the endless moves in Parliament to amend the Gender Recognition Act and asks whether MPs are focussed on the wrong target.
The Keira Bell judgment, which said that children are unlikely to be able to give informed consent for taking puberty-blocking drugs, ‘puts trans people everywhere’ at risk. That’s the verdict of Grace Lavery, a professor of English, critical theory, and women’s studies at the University of California, Berkeley. From the other side of the Atlantic, Lavery described the case in an article for Foreign Policy as ‘an unprecedented juridical attack on the LGBT community in the U.K.’ It is, of course, nothing of the sort.
The House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee launched yet another inquiry into Gender Recognition Act reform last week. Either they are gluttons for punishment, or this really matters to someone. This is the third time since 2015 that Westminster has asked the public what they think about gender recognition. When you add this to the two separate Scottish consultations, it becomes apparent that transgender inquiries are now an annual event.
The Liberal Democrats are once again debating transgender rights at their Autumn Conference today [28 Sept 2020]. Motions on topics close to the hearts of the Lib Dems — Human Rights and the Home Office, Fairer Corporate Taxation, even the European Union — were all discarded to make space for Business Motion F32, Supporting Trans and Non-Binary People in the Liberal Democrats.
If Liz Truss made waves in the transgender debate when she said no to ‘self-ID’, then guidance emerging from the Department for Education (DfE) is likely to cause even bigger ructions. An explosive paragraph buried towards the end of the document shows why:
‘We are aware that topics involving gender and biological sex can be complex and sensitive matters to navigate. You should not reinforce harmful stereotypes, for instance by suggesting that children might be a different gender based on their personality and interests or the clothes they prefer to wear. Resources used in teaching about this topic must always be age-appropriate and evidence based. Materials which suggest that non-conformity to gender stereotypes should be seen as synonymous with having a different gender identity should not be used and you should not work with external agencies or organisations that produce such material. While teachers should not suggest to a child that their non-compliance with gender stereotypes means that either their personality or their body is wrong and in need of changing, teachers should always seek to treat individual students with sympathy and support.‘Department for Education
The government’s decision to reject ‘self-ID’ is a victory for this transgender woman. When I transitioned eight years ago, I had two ambitions: to keep my job and to stay out of the press. I achieved the first, but failed the second. However, this week’s announcement vindicates my decision to speak out.