Hannah Bardell, MP

Women MPs in a debate in Parliament stood to defend trans women. Women MPs from the Labour, SNP and Liberal Democrat parties spoke in favour of trans rights after one male Tory tried to spread unfounded fearmongering. Hannah Bardell in particular spoke of how homophobia had scarred her life, and how LGBT people should support the rights of all LGBT.

Don’t spend too much time on the Tory. He’s an idiot, and it’s a car-crash. I glanced at a sentence, and read on open-mouthed at such incredible lying stupidity. A 15-stone bearded man could simply define themselves as female and… suddenly gain access to women’s toilets, hospital wards, changing rooms, refuges and prisons. They would have the right to [act as]… nurses or carers conducting intimate procedures. The hatred and desire to inflame fear is horrible. Thank God the women stood up to him. He was stupid enough to ask Layla Moran MP if she would be happy to share a changing room with someone who “had a male body”. “If that person was a trans woman, I absolutely would,” she said. “I just do not see the issue.” “If the hon. Gentleman is so concerned about violence against women, that is what he should focus on,” said Danielle Rowley MP- actual violence by men, not imaginary threats from trans women.

Layla Moran MP explained why no-one will get a gender recognition certificate in order to assault women in women’s spaces. It’s a made-up threat: Let us assume that someone wants to go into a women-only space for nefarious purposes. That [gender recognition] would be quite a stupid thing to do because, apart from anything else, if an offence was committed it would show evidence of premeditation, which would increase the person’s sentence. Also, had the certificate been gained for the sole purpose of entering such a space to commit a crime, that would be a separate crime under ​the Fraud Act 2006. If someone was intent on harming women, that would be one of the stupider ways of doing it. People can be trusted to state our own gender identity. It affects no-one else.

Hannah Bardell MP quoted Women’s Aid. Any service has the potential to be abused, and they would deal with that case by case, not restrict the rights of a particular group. This is obvious to all but those wilfully blind to it. Born in 1983, she started school when Section 28 came into force, preventing teachers from talking to gay pupils about their sexuality. It was not repealed until 2003, when she was at university. She said, I grew up believing that, if I came out, I could not live a normal life and I would not have equal rights. I am an ardent feminist and an openly gay MP. I am not about to shut the door on the equality of trans people just because people like me now have greater equality. Those of us in the LGBTI+ community, and all of us who believe in equality and enjoy greater equality, must do all that we can to support others who are marginalised and discriminated against. Scotland now has inclusive education, with sex education for gay as well as straight, but she did not come out as lesbian until she was 32. She called the challenges her trans constituents have faced “heartbreaking”. Not having equal rights is “corrosive to the soul”.

I do not think it helps when the media sensationalise… we must not make policy based on a few individuals who seek to abuse the system. Of course- and certainly not based on unfounded fears. 84% of trans people have had suicidal thoughts, and 50% have attempted suicide. “It is a stain on our society,” she said.

She quoted, The chief executive of Rape Crisis Scotland, Sandy Brindley, said that the most important thing to say was that the proposed legal changes “should make no difference to the provision of women-only services – that’s where some confusion has arisen. There isn’t any Rape Crisis which would ask to see documentation of gender.” She said trans young people, like all young people, will get on better if supported to be themselves. 41% of trans people have experienced a hate crime in the past year. As Lilian Greenwood MP says, trans women need precisely the same protection from male violence and access to safe spaces that other women need.

Here is Ms Bardell’s peroration: I hope the hon. Member for Monmouth and others who have concerns will be reassured by the fact that women’s groups such as Rape Crisis Scotland, Scottish Women’s Aid, Zero Tolerance, Engender, Equate Scotland, Close the Gap and the Women 50:50 campaign have come out in support of the proposed changes in Scotland, as have their equivalent organisations in the UK. We must recognise that there are concerns and we must address them, but we absolutely must hold a mirror up to those who are marginalising and attacking trans people and their rights. There is a groundswell of support for equality and for a change in the law to ensure that gender identification and the processes that trans people have to go through are not discriminatory at their core. We absolutely must change the law to ensure that they are properly supported, that the law reflects that and that our society reflects that.

That idiot Tory was repeatedly owned. Unfortunately the Tory minister said “We have no intention of lowering the age [limit]”; they are considering how management of trans prisoners might prevent crimes like Karen White’s in prison; and will consider whether single sex services need “further action” to confirm their right to exclude trans people. Gender Recognition reform is not safe with this Tory government. But all the arguments go our way. The transcript of the debate is here.

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