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After months of an increasingly difficult lockdown, the media being flooded with scenes of violent racism, transphobic attacks from hugely influential figures – and now leaked reports of the GRA reform being scrapped – we are exhausted.
On Sunday 14th June 2020, a national newspaper reported that reform of the Gender Recognition Act would not be taking place under this government, backpedalling on years of baby-step progress with regards to trans and non-binary rights.
With over 70% of participants of the GRA consultation supporting self-identification (as countries such as Malta and Ireland have done) we have to ask the question – why conduct a public consultation if you are then going to reject the results?
Over 100,000 responses, the vast majority of whom favour the changes proposed, and you just ignore it? After decades of hardship, oppression, violence and attacks, here we are in 2020, still being pushed aside. This is a human rights issue. Simple bureaucratic changes to an out-dated law which would affect no-one other than trans and non-binary people has been turned into a campaign to erase the very rights it sought to improve. Is that why the consultation was held so widely and for so long? To get to this point?
Menacingly, and nothing to do with GRA reform, other intentions may include a ‘toilet bill’, looking to restrict who can use certain public restroom spaces and ‘safe-guarding’ of female-only spaces, as well as tightening up restrictions on treatment for trans teens. These ideas appear to be piggy-backing on the well-funded and well-respected voices of those claiming that trans rights impinge on the rights of women, and that the ‘trans lobby’ is causing children to change gender.
The rhetoric around bathrooms and genitals is especially galling, since trans people have been peacefully using the facilities that feel safest to them for a long time. Reform of the GRA was never going to change what happens in everyday life. Which is that trans people are often very afraid to use public toilets for fear of hate speech or worse. Using the threat of perpetrations of sexual crimes as a reason for excluding trans women from female spaces is blatantly discriminatory, and contravenes the Equalities Act 2010. The rights that the anti-trans activists seek to erode are not the GRA, this was a clever disguise, a platform to stir up hate. They seek to erode our right to a public life, to exist at all. We are simply not seen as equal.
There is no evidence that trans people are a violent threat, this is a below-the-belt blow to some of our most vulnerable community members; trans women, in particular black trans women and non-black trans women of colour, who are far more likely to be victims of sexual violence than many non-trans women. Segregation of minority groups due to twisted and inaccurate scaremongering is inherently wrong. Perpetrators of violence enter spaces regardless of what symbol is on the door or what the sign says.
In addition, the lack of recognition of non-binary and/or gender-variant people continues the erasure of a growing proportion of our community – many of whom identify across the spectrum of gender without fitting into the typical ‘male’ or ‘female’ box. We know that diversity in gender expression has been a feature of many cultures and societies, both past and present, but enforcement of the binary means regular and traumatic decisions that continue to force thousands of people into non-existence, as they can only choose ‘M’ or ‘F’, and not ‘X’.
There are mountainous inaccuracies, loopholes and appropriated considerations that influence these major decisions regarding transgender rights – with every single one being created and manipulated by privileged, white, able-bodied, non-trans (cis) people. By under-representing these intersections, you’re hitting the minority groups within our already struggling community even harder. Anti-blackness, racism, classism, Islamophobia, ableism, and now explicit transphobia.
We have taken part in the GRA reform consultation, we have screamed, shouted and cried, but we still haven’t been heard.
Right now, we need the strength of our allies more than ever. We need you to (safely) take space on our behalf and protect us where asked; write to your MP on how you feel about these proposals/changes; donate your time, money and resources to TNBI folk/groups where they need support. (You can write to your MP here: https://mermaidsuk.org.uk/news/category/write-to-your-mp/)
We expect to see this take some momentum over the coming weeks, and will post any updates from our News page on our website.
The Clare Project and our close friends and partners at QTIPoC Narratives Collective send our love, solidarity and strength to all of our community members and loved ones at this increasingly challenging time.
Please do get in touch via email, or social media if we can support you or someone you know in some way. Details on how you can are below:
or QTIPOC Narratives can be reached by:
If you feel safe to attend, there is a vigil happening in Brighton on 4th July: https://facebook.com/events/s/brighton-trans-rights-vigil/2698865720384257/?ti=icl
The template to help write to your MP can be used here: https://mermaidsuk.org.uk/news/category/write-to-your-mp/