PM scraps plan to make gender change easier?

The Sunday Times has a front page article headed “PM Scraps plan to make gender change easier”. The article contradicts the headline- it will be easier, just not as much easier as hoped. The article says nothing new, in the most obnoxious way.

The Sunday Times claims to have received leaks about gender recognition in England and Wales. It claims that gender recognition reform has been “scrapped”, or “ditched”. “New protections will be offered to safeguard female-only spaces, including refuges and public lavatories, to stop them being used by those with male anatomy.” The Government Equalities Office has previously said they intend to publish the response before 21 July when Parliament is closed.

“A source”, possibly Dominic Cummings himself, is quoted. “In terms of changing what is on your birth certificate, you will still have to have proper medical approval. And you’re not going to be able to march in and find a hippie quack doctor who is willing to say you’re a woman. That’s not going to happen. The original draft was not what people had in mind so it has been rewritten. There will be big moves on safe spaces and women-only toilets.”

According to the ST, “More than 100,000 responses were received to the consultation. Insiders say about 70% of those backed the idea that anyone should be able to declare that they are a woman or a man. However, officials believe the results were skewed by an avalanche of responses generated by trans rights groups”.

Well, considering the desperation with which anti-trans campaigners begged people to respond, I would say people who cared about the issue one way or the other responded, and (oddly enough) people who didn’t care enough to respond didn’t respond. The Scottish consultation had an overwhelming response in favour of self-declaration.

“Quack” doctors. Well, giving a false assessment would be unethical for a doctor, who might be disciplined. And now there is an official list of specialist psychiatrists: you cannot get a GRC without a letter from someone on that list.

The Times says local authorities are providing gender neutral toilets, but central government guidelines will prevent that.

It says “Safeguards will be put in place to protect ‘safe spaces’ for women, reaffirming provisions in the Equalities (sic) Act…. polls suggest voters are sympathetic to trans rights but do not support transgender women with male anatomy accessing female-only facilities such as prisons and changing rooms.”

Well. At present, the Equality Act has a two stage process. First, spaces can be women only. Then, they can exclude trans women as well as all men if that “is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”. It does not say anything about anatomy, and demanding that we have surgery would infringe our human rights- and demanding to check if we had would infringe our right to privacy. Stopping assaults on women, for example, would be a “legitimate aim”, but excluding trans women would not be a “proportionate means” to achieve that, or any means at all.

As the ST says, this “will fuel the culture war gripping Britain”. That will please Rupert Murdoch and BoJo Johnson.

Liz Truss has already said women’s spaces will be protected. I don’t think The Sunday Times front page splash adds anything. I wrote to my MP, who has a junior position in the government, on 19 May. On 5 June he replied that he would not see me, but that if I wrote to him with my concerns he would put them to the relevant ministers. I wrote back, twice, requesting to see him but have had no reply. The second time, I wrote, “I appreciate that, as Burke said, you give your judgment, not just your voice; I appreciate collective responsibility; but if you think I, or someone indistinguishable from me, is a danger to other women I want to look you in the eye as I hear it from you.”

After the ST leak, we know nothing more than before. The Government Equalities Offices has a list of faqs for correspondence about gender recognition and single sex spaces. It says the gender recognition process will be less bureaucratic but “remain a serious and meaningful undertaking”. So there will be some loosening, just not all we might want. It says Liz Truss’s comments on single sex spaces “were intended to reiterate the importance of maintaining single-sex spaces, as provided for in the Equality Act. If any changes were to be made to the Act – as with all legislation – they would go through the appropriate processes of engagement.” The Equality and Human Rights Commission was asked to produce new guidance, which might make it easier for women’s services to exclude trans women: now there is uncertainty, and they might not want to risk court action. However some women’s services exclude all trans women with impunity.

14 thoughts on “PM scraps plan to make gender change easier?

    • Welcome, Bob. Thank you for commenting.

      It is, and the worst thing about it is that it is a tool for distraction from more important things, like the popular protests against structural and institutional racism, and the mass deaths from Covid. Keeping us in a febrile, spiteful mood, bickering and fighting, is in the interests of some politicians, and the way to resist is to keep calm and truthful.

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        • It is excellent. It starts with solidarity as a survivor, and then goes on to refute her allegations, in greater detail than even I need. It is a resource, and a call for peace:

          “We call for all threats and abuse to end on all sides of this conversation. For our part, all we are asking is that you meet with transgender young people and listen to them with an open mind and an open heart.”

          Liked by 2 people

          • Isn’t that the way to reconcile any negativity: meet, chat, discover for yourself how the stereotype is not as portrayed, discover the truth in person. That’s how came to my realisation, by encountering and engaging.
            I stand with you.

            Liked by 2 people

  1. British TERFs seem very good in using fear to implement their program. Fear is much better than hope or acceptance to move people’s feelings. That’s a shame, but it’s true.

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  2. This is my take on the announcement https://rachbowyer.wordpress.com/2020/06/15/government-reforms-to-legal-rights-of-transgender-people. From the Sunday Times article, the scope of the changes are fairly limited. There is no evidence or factual basis for making these changes – just, as the article explains, public opinion. And public opinon has been driven by a relentlessly hostile media. Cummings has trialled this in the Sunday Times to see what the response is. We must fight back because this is just the start.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Welcome, Rach. Thank you for commenting.

      The trouble is, it isn’t an announcement. It’s an unnamed “source”. It’s the front page of a Murdoch paper, so it’s probably Dominic Cummings, but as the “source” he can get away with abuse like “hippie-quack doctors”.

      My MP is not responding to my emails. I had one back saying if I put my concerns in writing he would put them to Liz Truss, but when I keep asking to see him he ignores it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It does have Dominic Cummings sticky fingers all over it. He is just floating ideas at the moment, before the actual announcement. That way he beta tests the idea. But we can take advantage. Reading between the lines we can have a pretty good guess what’s coming. This allows us to prepare. And we can make sure the idea fails the “beta test”. If we can make a big enough stink, the government will drop the idea. They want an easy win. A bone for their base.

        The more people who can get in touch with their MPs the better. The “gender critical” feminists have been doing this for a few years now.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Totally agree with your analysis.

    My take is that Cummings green-lit Truss’s people to place this in The Sunday Times to judge the public response, prior to launching the proposals at the end of July. He is testing the water. There were reports that he wasn’t keen to go into this space – a distraction – but if it can be done a s a fast, cheap, populist move to delight the base, he will do it (wait, I mean, tell Johnson that Johnson is doing it). It can be a small (for most people), but useful distraction from the disaster of a hard Brexit and the Covid fiasco. There are other bits too – the outlawing of conversion therapy, designed to “placate” the gay community (i.e. split it away from trans people as per right wing/evangelical playbook in the US) is also a nice way of preventing gender-questioning young people from being supported to transition. If it’s constructed in a certain way. TERFs have already aimed at this.

    So far so good for Cummings. The deliberate ‘leak’ has sent the trans community into mass panic (I have hardly slept, but am exhausted), but has barely registered on the wider cisgender world/news cycle. Even the left leaning MSM is only carrying the aspect of the proposals that include ignoring the 70% support for Self-ID in the consultation – not the pernicious plans to hurt trans women.

    I’d add that there are reports that the Tories were doing private research as far back as September last year around culture war issues to see if they could weaponise things like trans rights.

    Liked by 2 people

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