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.