A Plea To Trans Activists: We Can Protect Trans Rights Without Denying Biology

Laws that are effective need to be grounded in solid foundations: in science and in society; how we relate to nature and how we relate to each other. These are truths that are real and objective.


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. Continue reading “A Plea To Trans Activists: We Can Protect Trans Rights Without Denying Biology”

We transgender women cannot self identify our sex

The Gender Recognition Act does need to be slimmed down and simplified. But no act of parliament can guarantee acceptance of our identities. That comes down to us: how we live our lives as transgender women.

When Lily Madigan, a 19-year-old transgender woman, was elected as a Labour Party women’s officer and applied for the Jo Cox Women in Leadership Programme, social media squabbles between transgender activists and women’s rights campaigners exploded into the mainstream. Continue reading “We transgender women cannot self identify our sex”

Social acceptance of trans people springs from our relationship with society – and that works both ways

The Gender Recognition Act does need to be slimmed down and streamlined, but we need to consult widely and more carefully before we proceed.

Guardian columnist Owen Jones predicted last week that history will damn anti-trans zealots as it has judged those who resisted gay rights.

I’m a trans woman, so for me this is personal. Transphobic keyboard warriors have called for me to be sacked from my job as a teacher and a supposedly respectable Christian charity misgenders me deliberately on its website. Continue reading “Social acceptance of trans people springs from our relationship with society – and that works both ways”

The Gender Recognition Act needs reform but self-identification is not the answer

The Gender Recognition Act is in desperate need of reform, but self-declaration of gender is not a progressive solution. Indeed, where sex-based protections are concerned, external verification is vital to maintain trust and confidence.

Self-declaration of legal gender is a reckless proposal that would deny trans people the opportunity to have their gender externally verified and force them to rely entirely on their own assertions. While that might work in some parts of society, it could be catastrophic for those living in hostile environments where their motives may be questioned and their claims disbelieved. Continue reading “The Gender Recognition Act needs reform but self-identification is not the answer”

Self-identification & the struggle for equal rights

The left should take care before assuming proposed legal changes will advance the equality agenda

Trans rights were thrust back into mainstream politics this week when Jeremy Corbyn offered Labour Party support to government plans to reform the 2004 Gender Recognition Act.

The law is in desperate need of reform, but introducing gender identity as a protected characteristic and allowing people total freedom to self-identify their gender may not be the best way forward. Continue reading “Self-identification & the struggle for equal rights”

Our Movement Can Defeat Homophobia

Trade unionists must call out discrimination wherever it occurs

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. Continue reading “Our Movement Can Defeat Homophobia”

How to avoid trans stereotyping?

Trans people need to commit to working with other marginalised groups – because when those groups speak with a single voice, their concerns can no longer be dismissed as minority interests.

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? Continue reading “How to avoid trans stereotyping?”