Transgender Women and the Gender Recognition Act

There is a media storm erupting at the moment about the proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act of 2004 – although interestingly, the details of these reforms have not even been published yet. The storm is being created by the anti-trans cabal and is based upon creating scare stories about men dressing up as women in order to prey upon women and children. These scare tactics can be seen in the video below:-

The same scare stories have been used by the collaboration of some trans exclusionary “feminist” groups and the alt-right movement in the USA. Most feminist groups however are transgender inclusive and realise that transgender women face the same threat of male sexual violence as cisgender (i.e. not trans) women and many pre-eminent feminist authors and leaders in gender studies have written extensively about this – e.g. Gloria Steinhem[1], Judith Butler[2], Andrea Dworkin[3], Catharine MacKinnon[4], John Stoltenberg and many more).

Many countries from around the world are now creating models of the UK’s old Gender Recognition Act that do not rely on medicalisation and a panel of unknown people who sit in judgement on every application and which are expensive, time consuming and wholly inappropriate. Instead the new models, from Argentina, Malta, Denmark, Norway and latterly Eire rely on a form of self declaration in order to issue a new birth certificate. Women only spaces in the UK have been used by transgender women for decades with not one single conviction of a transgender woman for any type of assault on any other sort of woman. I myself have been using female only spaces since 1972 when I first started my own transition – without a single problem. Since the introduction of various types of self declaration models of Gender Recognition in other countries, there has been no increase in sexual predation by men dressing as women in order to “invade” women only spaces. Indeed, since Eire introduce its own Gender Recognition Act two years ago, the rush of men taking this opportunity to access female only spaces has not happened, in fact over that two year period, less than 250 applications for a legal change of gender have been applied for – hardly the stampede which the anti-trans cabal are using as a fear-mongering tactic.

Trans man forced to use female only facilities - gender recognitionBy creating this sense of fear ahead of the consultation about the reform of the 2004 Gender Recognition Act, the anti-trans cabal are actually making it more dangerous for women in female only spaces. The reason for this is that by forcing transgender people to use the facilities of their birth assigned gender would mean that trans men would be forced to use women only spaces. This would have the effect of normalising the presence of men (and trans men are men) there – so males who are sexual predators would not have to go to the trouble of dressing up in female clothing to gain access to those spaces.

These so called “Bathroom Bills” in the US have already started to cause problems and huge distress for a number of masculine looking cisgender women as they have been reported to the authorities by members of the public who have been spooked by these scare stories and the masculine looking women were subsequently arrested for using the wrong loos.

The other tactic that the anti-trans cabal are using to create a sense of moral outrage in their campaign to block any reform of the Gender Recognition Act is to appeal to parents’ emotions about protecting young children. They repeatedly lie and distort the facts about transgender children and their parents – accusing the parents of pushing their children into believing they are trans for their own selfish reasons – when it is always child led. You only have to read some of the stories written by the parents of trans children to know that the decision to let their child socially (not medically) transition is only  arrived at after considerable soul searching, doubt, research and time. A couple of these stories can be found on this blog[5,6]

However, transgender people as a community, need to recognise that for some women this fear is real. This is especially true of women who have suffered from sexual abuse or domestic violence at the hands of men. For that reason I do not include them in the generalised term of anti-trans cabal, that is reserved for those people who seek to deny trans people equality purely for their own political agenda. Those women (and some men) who are fearful of this impending reform of the Gender Recognition Act need to be included in the dialogue and listened to about their fears. They need reassurance brought about by quietly and calmly pointing out the lies and distortions of the truth that are being spread by the anti-trans cabal.

Although there is no evidence to suggest that countries which have introduce simple self-identification procedures for allowing changes to birth certificates has resulted in any increase in sexual or other violence to women and children there has been a tremendous amount of damage being done to the lives of transgender people – and transgender women in particular as the anti-trans cabal only seem to be concerned about trans women. In order to mitigate against any further attacks on trans people, maybe there could be an interim act introduced which allows for self-declaration but with safeguards. If, during a trial period it can be shown that there has been no increase in sexual violence against women in female only spaces, then a simple form of self-declaration such as the one used in Eire becomes law.

These safeguards would include

  1.  A person would only be allowed to apply for a self-declaration after a period of 6 months after a deed poll/statutory declaration of name change has been issued.
  2. The person applying for Gender Recognition must provide evidence such as their deed poll/stat dec., a driving licence, new passport, pay slips, JSA/other benefits payments, Inland Revenue documentation etc to show that the person has notified the authorities of their new name and gender – and that this proof has been verified by the solicitor/official of the court issuing the new Gender Recognition Certificate.

If the rhetoric against the reform of the Gender Recognition Act were to continue after this, it would show that the arguments that the anti-trans cabal are currently using to incite opposition to reform are disingenuous.

Below is an audio recording taken from the series of talks entitled “Reasons to be Cheerful” between Ed Milliband and Geoff Lloyd. This episode is entitled “Transgender Rights Are Human Rights” and features interviews with a parent of a young trans girl (@DadTrans from the blog “Growing Up Transgender“), a GP who also runs a private gender clinic Dr. Helen Webberley and award winning journalist Paris Lees.

[1] Gloria Steinhem on transgender people
[2] Interview with Judith Butler
[3] Andrea Dworkin’s views on transgender people
[4] An interview with Catharine McKinnon
[5] Being the Parent of a Transgender Child
[6] Media Hate

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