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.
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 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 butterfly effect describes how the flapping of tiny wings in China may cause a hurricane in the Caribbean a couple of weeks later. The hurricane tearing through social policy in Scotland at the moment also had small beginnings: not in China 14 days ago but in Yogyakarta, Indonesia 14 years ago. This, however, was no accident of chaos — it was deliberate and planned.
Future historians may marvel how that meeting of human rights groups in Yogyakarta established gender identity as an innate human quality and decided that it must be protected in law. At the time, in 2006, political commentators at home were more concerned with the so-called Granita Pact, and whether Tony Blair would ever resign in Gordon Brown’s favour. But Yogyakarta triggered a chain of events that would eventually challenge the use of biological sex to divide humanity. While the definition of gender identity was vague — how can you define what is in essence a feeling in our heads? — the vision was grand.
Este texto es una traducción del artículo publicado por Debbie Hayton en su blog el 29 de noviembre de 2016. Es necesario contextualizar la preocupación de Debbie como presona trans ante la posibilidad de que se modificaran las leyes del Reino Unido para favorecer la llamada “identidad de género” como criterio jurídico suficiente para reconocer a una persona como transexual. Para ello, recomiendo la lectura de la entrada de Wikipedia sobre la situación de los derechos de las personas trans en el Reino Unido.
International Transgender Day of Visibility falls annually on March 31, though even the most casual observer must wonder if we still need a day to mark it. In the three years since Caitlin Jenner transitioned there has been an explosion of transgender visibility. What might be lacking is an International Day of Transgender Understanding. Western society has been keen to affirm trans people, and that is to be welcomed, but it has been slower to think critically about the wider impact of legislative change, and particularly the effect on women and their right to organise and associate as a biological sex.
On 1st December 2016, the House of Commons will debate the motion:
That this House notes the UK’s status as a pioneer in legislating for equality for LGBT people; welcomes the Government’s announcement of a new trans equality action plan; and calls on the Government to review its response to the recommendations of the Women and Equalities Committee’s report on Transgender Equality to ensure that the UK leads the world on trans equality rights, in particular by giving unequivocal commitments to changing the Gender Recognition Act 2004 in line with the principles of gender self-declaration and replacing confusing and inadequate language regarding trans people in the Equality Act 2010 by creating a new protected characteristic of gender identity.
As a transwoman, I am delighted that Parliamentary time is being devoted to trans rights. Trans people continue to face systemic discrimination and bias, so it is timely to review the legislation. However, the more I reflect on the two specific proposals in this motion, the more anxious I become.
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.