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.
Stereotypes don’t define women
Rox Middleton, Liam Shaw and Joel Hellewell were right to identify “human sexual biology” as an “important feature of our species” in their contribution to the sex and gender debate (Morning Star October 27, 2021). But they failed to persuade me that gender theory was the route to liberation.
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.
Unions: not them; us.
“Think not what your union can do for you but what you can do for your union.” Actually when I went through gender reassignment, my thoughts were very much with what my union could do for me. I am a secondary school teacher, so my journey from he to she happened in front of hundreds of people. I’m grateful for the support of many people at work, but my union were superb. I knew that they were on my side because they were my union. That is what unions do, and their advice about the law and the various practical issues that I had to navigate was second to none.
The Government has finally responded to the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee Report on Transgender Equality that was published in January 2016. This wide ranging report recognised that, despite welcome progress in recent years, our society is still failing to support the rights and interests of trans people. The Committee noted that the earlier 2011 Advancing Transgender Equality action plan remained largely unimplemented, and they required the Government to agree a new strategy, which it can deliver with full cross-departmental support, within six months.