Harassment

If at a swimming pool, you are bullied by other swimmers, shouting “It’s a bloke!” or other such abuse, do you have any legal rights to stop that? Possibly.

I never dealt with discrimination by services, and only had one case of discrimination by a club. It was a working men’s club, where women could go generally, but on Sunday mornings there was a men only Bingo session. I did a questionnaire to the club committee, as a shot across their bows, and then the client told me to stop, saying she did not want to fall out with people.

So I looked it up. If a business owner harasses you, you have a complaint under the Equality Act. The business owner must take precautions that their employees don’t harass you either. The law does not state what they should do, but the more they do the more they are covered. The Equality and Human Rights Commission suggests that they publish their equality policy and details of their equality training. So if you complain about a worker, the employer is warned, and should take action: if the worker harasses you again, you should have a claim against the employer.

But what about other people using the service? In a pub, say, when someone comes up and asks if you are a man or a woman. The Citizens Advice site says that there is a right against employees, but does not say explicitly whether there is a right against other users. This is what it has to say:

You’re a woman. Whenever you work out at your local gym the other male gym users tease you and make insulting comments– for example, that it’s better not talk to you right now as it must be your time of the month again. You could have a claim for harassment related to sex.

“Could” is useless. It means “might or might not”. You need the detail in the EHRC guidance (pdf): Usually a service provider will not be responsible for discrimination, harassment or victimisation by someone other than their employee or agent, however, case law indicates that it is possible that they could be found to be legally responsible for failing to take action where they have some degree of control over a situation where there is a continuing course of offensive conduct, but they do not take action to prevent its recurrence even though they are aware of it happening.

How could that be? The business is permitting the harassment, so is responsible for it. So, you could complain to a worker. In the pub, tell bar staff that this other person is harassing you, and you want them to deal with him. Suggest that they tell him to leave you alone or he will be thrown out. Explain that the law says they should support you against the harasser.

I have no idea how to find relevant case law, but refusing to protect you against the harasser is direct discrimination. Other people can drink there in peace, but because you are a trans woman you are harassed. The business is giving you the service on worse terms than it is other people, who are not harassed.

You might not want to complain like that. It is a matter of human relations: you might prefer just to leave and not cause a scene. Personally I would not threaten court action immediately, but might be prepared to if the worker refused. Pubs want their clientele to be happy. They don’t want problems, and should be able to see the person causing the problem is the harasser and not you. You have a right to be in that pub, or any other business, without anyone abusing you.

A right to use a bathroom

“Women’s rights and trans rights should not be mutually exclusive. Yet they are, according to trans activists. Why is this?” Do our rights conflict, and if so is it anyone’s fault?

I would say they don’t. A few thousand trans women use women’s services and spaces, and while a few thousand women object strenuously and loudly, we can’t know what proportion of the female population don’t care, or have not thought about it. So I go to the loo or the changing room, just like anyone else. No-one’s rights are infringed.

If a woman was frightened or made uncomfortable because she saw a trans woman in a loo, I would regret that, but using that possible fear to forbid trans women to use women’s loos seems to be asserting some nebulous right to not be distressed when out in public, or not be distressed by trans women, or define who is entitled to use women’s services.

Who decides who is entitled? Society as a whole. It’s not just government: when North Carolina had its “bathroom bill”, businesses boycotted the State, and the Governor lost his re-election. Some people care a lot, and gain some influence. It’s not a matter of strict logic, making a definition of “woman” including women with a disorder of sexual development but not trans women entitled to separate spaces, but agreement. I tend to hope that many people’s view of themselves as liberal, tolerant, decent people is enhanced by their acceptance that trans women are women. We are mostly harmless, and if they get a warm glow of satisfaction that makes them feel benevolent towards us, Hooray.

No, seriously. Hooray. It’s a total pain that my right to exist depends on the good will of society, but that is the human condition. No-one can survive alone.

So, rights do not conflict. But even if they did, it would not be my fault. Since the 1960s, the British government has treated trans women as women. When I transitioned, there was a well-worn path for it. Clever lawyers had carved out rights against discrimination from the Sex Discrimination Act, and they were later entrenched in a statutory instrument specifically about trans people. I went to the GP, who referred me to a local psychiatrist, who sent me to a gender identity clinic. I arranged a date that I would transition at work, and then got my bank account, passport and driving licence in my female name. A few years later, after the Gender Recognition Act was passed, I got a gender recognition certificate.

Brave women pioneered that pathway, asserting their right to be seen as women. Doctors, seeing what their patients wanted, gave it to them, so the women went to those doctors. Trans women use women’s loos, and have done since before I was born. I would not have transitioned if no-one had gone before. Finding people who had made a go of transition gave me the courage to attempt it.

Some trans-critical feminists don’t want intact penises in women’s loos, but could tolerate post-operative trans women. But that is not good enough- before I transitioned at work, I was going about socially expressing myself female, and using loos. I had to do that, because I could not have transitioned without some experience of what it was like. And I got a bank card in my female name six months before I transitioned.

I did not do it as of right. I felt the need, so I did it. No-one told me they objected. It is not a matter of rights, logic, or strict definitions, it is a matter of rubbing along together.

Transition is a path open to us. It’s been open for decades, with tolerance from government, and few people caring enough to object.  Those TERFs seeking to exclude us from women’s spaces are trying to close off that path. They are making the change.

A Woman’s Place

Woman’s Place UK is a transphobic organisation, hosting public meetings where transphobic speakers are cheered on by transphobes. It is also highly confused, misunderstanding or wilfully misrepresenting the current law and the proposed changes. It is transphobic because it peddles falsehoods about trans women and trans rights with the purpose of inciting fear, and mocks trans women with the purpose of dehumanising us and fomenting hatred.

A room full of women cheering and applauding when Pilgrim Tucker says, around ten minutes into this video, if you have a dick you are not a woman, are being incited against us whether or not you agree with the sentiment. The vast majority of transgender male to female trans women don’t have what are called bottom surgery, she says. By no means all of us have it, but it is not “the vast majority”. I have heard over 40% have it, though many of us are on waiting lists.

The whole speech sets us out as potentially violent abusers, and the audience as our victims. It is a single argument. First, she defines self-ID: at 4.40, Any man can be a woman just because they say they are one… just literally a signature on a form. This is inaccurate.

5.00 She deals with the Equality Act. Trans women can be excluded from certain spaces for women only. Even though those men [trans women] are legally seen as women. Exclusion is important, she says, 6.00 because men are much more violent compared with women, much more sexually intrusive and predatory towards women. She calls us violent and predatory. 9.00 Trans women have a conviction rate for sex offences that is very much higher than for biological women.

She denies she is calling us all violent- 9.30, Now of course as with men we are not saying by any means that all trans women are rapists or sex offenders. Then she says women should be frightened of us anyway: Just the fact that they are much more likely to be than we are.

She claims the Equality Act exemptions are not being used, not because they are unnecessary in most cases, not because rape crisis centres and shelters want to help people in need and can cope with trans women, but because of 12.00 pressure from the Trans lobby. Would that we were so powerful! We can’t achieve that without the support of those services.

12.50 And there are predatory men who will use any means to gain … access  to women’s spaces when they are vulnerable -yes, she means trans women- and all they have to do is sign a piece of paper -misrepresent the proposed change again.

Then, referring to the debate AWP has manufactured about this small administrative change, she claims to be the victim: but we are not being allowed to talk about these facts… 13.25 Trans Rights Activists are lobbying campaigning bullying threatening manipulating.

Frightening men. Women as victims. She attempts to stoke fear and anger against trans women, who are mostly harmless. That is simple transphobia. In a loo, theft is more of a risk than assault, and a man wanting to commit a sexual assault in a loo would hardly bother dressing as a woman first.

She wants women, stoked with this transphobia, to view themselves as righteous, justified and heroic: 16.00 for every single time each one of us is speaking up, even with shaky voices, even in fear we see more and more women speaking up and standing up.

The enemy are coming for you. You  are righteous: defend yourselves (I paraphrase). It is clear rabble-rousing to hatred and fear. It is transphobia.

There’s a shocking transphobic article in The Guardian. Under the headline “Violent misogyny is unfortunately not confined to the internet’s incels,” Catherine Bennett writes, a red bespattered T-shirt reading: “I punch terfs!” (trans-exclusionary radical feminists/women who disagree with me), may have struck a chord with anyone following the current UK debate about the government’s self-ID proposals. To date, threats, from one side, which echo, inescapably, some of those in the pro-Rodger playbook (“die in a fire terf scum”) have yet to generate comparably widespread concern, even after a woman was punched. Her assailant had earlier expressed the wish to “fuck up some terfs”. Tara Wolf did us great harm; but it is not “one side” of the debate, it is a few violent angry people. To link that to murderers is fomenting anger and fear against us.

Ain’t I a woman?

We say we are women and have always been women, even before transition. Don’t deadname me. Apart from a vociferous minority, most on the Left, or anyone with respect for human rights or common politeness, will call us “women”. What does the law say?

In Corbett v Corbett, a case for nullity of marriage where a cis man married a trans woman, Mr Justice Ormrod said to establish whether someone was a man or a woman you should consider psychological factors as well as chromosomes, gonads and sex organs. A doctor said, We do not determine sex- in medicine we determine the sex in which it is best for the individual to live. Doctors are not concerned only with objective facts, but helping people to function as best we can. However the judge was deciding the case in a marriage, which he said required straight sex, and there can be no straight sex with a woman whose chromosomes and pre-operative gonads and sex organs were male. I am not concerned to determine the ’legal sex’ of the respondent at large, said the judge. April Ashley was paying national insurance, then different for men and women, as a woman. The judge saw no objection to that. So we could not marry, but we could be treated as women for all other purposes.

Then came the Gender Recognition Act, in 2004. At the time there were Civil Partnerships for gay people, which were not called “marriage” but were more or less similar. Equal marriage came in 2013. The GRA provided that a marriage must end before a gender recognition certificate was granted, which implies that was because two people of the same sex cannot be married. Now, a civil partnership must be converted into a marriage before a GRC is issued, apparently because two people of the opposite sex cannot be in a civil partnership.

Before the GRA, we could get our passports changed, to indicate we were female. Even married people could. We can get that change before getting a GRC. When a full GRC is issued, (s.9) the person’s gender becomes for all purposes the acquired gender (so that, if the acquired gender… is the female gender, the person’s sex becomes that of a woman). My sex is female. My gender is female. Sex offences legislation in Scotland says that it is rape if a penis enters a vagina without consent, whether those are surgically created or not. But the GRA says a GRC does not prevent a woman with an unreconstructed penis from being found guilty of rape.

Before my GRC I was treated as a woman, with the clear exception of marriage and possibly other exceptions. After my GRC I am a woman for all legal purposes; but the father of a child is still the “father”.

We need to be treated as women when dressed as women, even when for most of the time we are still presenting male. My psychiatrist gave me a card to show people if I were challenged in a woman’s loo. The Equality Act protects us from the moment we propose to undergo… a process (or part of a process) for the purpose of reassigning the person’s sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex. Physiological is clear- hormones and surgery. Other attributes include social relations: if I intend without hormones or surgery to express myself female, then I seek to be reassigned.

I am protected from being treated less favourably because I am seeking gender reassignment- in employment, services, public services, premises, education, and clubs and associations. I would be treated less favourably if I were made to use a man’s loo. There is no law preventing people being treated less favourably because they are cis.

There is an exception (sch. 9, para 1(3)(a)) if it is shown to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim to require a worker not to be a “transsexual person”. That applies whether or not I have a GRC.

In some cases, services can be provided only to people of one sex. Women’s refuges might argue that. It is not discrimination on the grounds of gender reassignment (sch 3, para 28) to exclude someone from a single sex service if that is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. So a women’s refuge might treat me as a man even after I get my GRC: they are discriminating on the ground of gender reassignment, but that is lawful.

Law only matters when there is a dispute. A man can go to a woman’s toilet if no-one challenges him, They tend not to, as they anticipate a challenge, fear mockery for lacking manhood or accusations of being a sex predator, or feel it would not be right. So first what matters is what society considers reasonable: if I, before transition, dare go into a woman’s toilet, dare anyone challenge me? If, after transition, I seek help from a women’s refuge, do they think it reasonable to exclude me? If there is an all-woman shortlist, do we go along with it using the normal definition of “woman”, which includes trans women?

Before I went full time, I went into women’s loos when dressed female. The Labour Party can decide that I can join the women’s forum, and if it is not clear from their rules I can go along, and no-one has objected to my face. Many people say that is right. The State has been giving us passports saying F and driving licences saying we are female long before the GRA. Even before I transitioned, I had a credit card with the title “Miss”.

The Scottish parliament has just enacted a “gender representation objective” for a public board [which] is that it has 50% of non-executive members who are women. The Act specifies, that “woman” includes trans women if we are living as a woman. That would apply immediately we went full time. Other matters may be disputed on a case by case basis.

Human rights for LGBT in the EU

The European Parliament received a report on the situation of fundamental rights in the EU. It has beautifully sane objectives, though Brexit may prevent us from benefiting.

Schools should teach tolerance so children can identify discrimination (and, I hope, oppose it). The Commission should share Member States’ best practices for addressing gender stereotypes at school. That those stereotypes are oppressive, and to be opposed, is so obvious that the report does not consider it worth saying.

The Parliament “regrets” that LGBTI people suffer discrimination, harassment and bullying. It condemns all forms of discrimination (does that include harassment and bullying?) and encourages member states to adopt laws and policies against homophobia and transphobia, and to work with organisations working for our rights. I don’t know what more than “encouraging” the Parliament could do, or what such encouragement means in practice. It could just be a pious hope. I am glad such hopes are expressed. It sees no contradiction between opposing gender stereotypes and opposing transphobia: we can look after the people most affected, while working to reduce the effect on everyone.

The Parliament Deplores the fact that transgender people are still considered mentally ill in the majority of Member States and calls on those states to review their national mental health catalogues and to develop alternative stigma-free access models, ensuring that medically necessary treatment remains available for all transpeople; deplores the fact that several Member States today still impose requirements on transgender people such as medical intervention in order to have the changed gender recognised (including in passports and official identity documents) and forced sterilisation as a condition for gender reassignment; notes that such requirements are clearly human rights violations; calls on the Commission to provide guidance to Member States on the best models for legal gender recognition in Europe; calls on Member States to recognise change of gender and to provide access to quick, accessible and transparent legal gender recognition procedures without medical requirements such as surgery or sterilisation or psychiatric consent; Welcomes the initiative shown by the Commission in pushing for the depathologisation of transgender identities in the review of the World Health Organisation’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD); calls on the Commission to intensify efforts to prevent gender variance in childhood from becoming a new ICD diagnosis.

We are not mentally ill. We are trans, and transition is the appropriate course of action for anyone who chooses it freely, though for no-one else. Trans should not be a stigma. We should get surgery and hormones if we want them, but also gender recognition without them if we choose. It’s up to us. I am delighted. If we can choose freely, without social pressure, whether or not to have surgery or hormones we will choose what is best for us.

I am unsure what they mean about preventing gender variance in childhood from becoming a new diagnosis. The DSM model was to depathologise variation, but include diagnoses where variation causes distress to the person or harm to others. TERFs would argue transition causes harm, but I disagree. I see no problem in involving doctors with gender variation. It depends what they do. Making someone happy with their gender variation, along with opposing gender stereotypes, seems good to me.

So in the view of this report, it is up to us. Gender stereotypes should be opposed. If someone wants to transition, with or without medical treatment, the member states should facilitate it. They don’t say when children should receive physical treatment, but could be read as encouraging it as soon as parent, child and doctors want, even before age 16. But what if they change their minds?!!! The European Parliament trusts us to make our own decisions.

pdf of the report.

Gender equality

Long before the Equality Act, trans people used the Sex Discrimination Act to argue rights for ourselves. I met an accountant who, fed up with going to work male, went in a skirt suit, and was dismissed and walking home an hour later; but others kept their employment rights. Arguably the statutory instruments drafted to regulate trans rights reduced them.

The Equality Act protects “transsexual persons” who “propose to undergo a process for the purpose of reassigning sex”. The heading is “gender reassignment” so at best the law makes disentangling sex and gender difficult. They are different, but not in law. Medical jargon is the same, referring to the “homosexual transsexual” suffering from “gender dysphoria”.

The Act also protects men and women from discrimination on the grounds of sex, with some exceptions for employers such as women’s refuges. However it only prohibits “less favourable” treatment, not different treatment, which is why arguments that women should not have to wear skirts to the office fail. Making women wear skirts is not less favourable than making men wear jackets and ties. So different treatment is enshrined in law.

That means the law supports the Patriarchy in saying there are two genders, and that generally they are mapped onto the two sexes, though a tiny number of people may swap from one to the other. How may we be liberated? One way is to change the idea of gender so that it is not thought to restrict capacity, such as by the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919, which removed restrictions on women practising as lawyers or civil servants, or on juries. There I go, conflating sex and gender again. There is no reason why women should not be lawyers.

The other is to divorce the concept of gender from that of sex. Men can be feminine, women can be masculine. There is no characteristic, aptitude, quality, virtue or vice peculiar to one sex, or which is not equally good or bad in both. We signal our gender with our clothes and body language.

No-one should be treated badly because another disapproves of their gender presentation or their gendered behaviour. No-one should have the right to enforce gendered behaviour on another.

Arguably, the very concept of gender is oppressive because it is imagined to fit the sexes- man/masculine, woman/feminine. Ideally, society should abandon it; but while it exists people should be protected from discrimination because of perceived gender.

So my Equality scheme would prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sex. Men and women should not be treated more or less favourably, and any necessary exceptions should be specifically defined, such as the genuine occupational requirement for some jobs, or the All-woman shortlist while women are underrepresented.

It would also prohibit discrimination on the ground of actual or perceived gender: the signals we give, the behaviour and the underlying attributes and desires. An employee should be judged on their skills and abilities, not on how they look. This would permit a wider range of gendered behaviour in both sexes, and gradually strip away the link between sex and gender, men and masculinity, women and femininity. Where we generalise and stereotype people because of their sex, and disapprove of those not conforming to our stereotypes, the law could intervene and guide us away from that. The law would be applied in the worst of cases, and would guide society and people’s ideas of what is acceptable so that the stereotypes fell away.

Being trans, in society

Trans folk share something, but we don’t know what that is, because it is distorted by the demands of wider society. How we imagine ourselves is shaped by the stories we tell and that society tells, about what is normal, masculine, feminine, acceptable, shameful. We can’t know how we would be without those ideas, and that shame. In trying to understand, I asked, is it like something else? Is it like an addiction, where if you indulge you become less able to resist? I see others’ paths, and wonder, is that path right for me?

Curtailed by the anger of others, the abuse in the street, the rejection by friends and family, or our own shame inhibiting us out of fear of those things, we don’t know how we would be if merely accepted for whatever harmless thing we did. What we do is harmless, but people feel threatened by what it symbolises.

The abuse is far more significant for me than the acceptance. Abuse re-traumatises me quickly, it takes a great deal of acceptance to heal.

I don’t know what we share, precisely, because there are differences too. Some of us are AFAB, some AMAB, and that means entirely different pressures and entirely different desires, despite the similarity of changing gender. I begin to see the attractions of masculinity when I see people who actively choose it, but it is a difficult exercise in empathy.

Of those who are AMAB, some of us are gynephile, some are androphile. The suggestion that the androphiles are true trans and the gynephiles are autogynephiliac perverts is merely silly, because that is a mere play on words: it is a claim about what “trans” means  not an observation about people; it is an attempt to achieve acceptance from wider society by distancing a particular group from some characteristic they would call unacceptable, which can never work. No straight person divided trans people into the disgusting and the normal.

Yet the law decides who will be protected, and the community decides who is acceptable. Someone who intends to change from masculine gender presentation to feminine or vice versa, life long, is protected. Someone who expresses gender differently is not. Now I hear voices saying trans folk should not need to be sterilised to achieve recognition, but when I transitioned trans folk distrusted those who did not want an operation and doubted they were “true trans”, and now I still read of people’s delight at getting an operation or frustration at delays.

There is a strong idea in law and society that there are two genders, masculine and feminine, closely mapped onto men and women. If a man does not fit “masculine” ideals that is shameful. Belief in transition, the concept of the trans woman, closely fits that. Not male is inferior, but being really female is a partial solution. I don’t believe that. There is no gendered behaviour in either sex which the other does not exhibit. Ideas of gender oppress both men and women. Transition is a partial solution for trans people in the world as it is now. Self-conceptualising as non-binary, so permitting onesself to exhibit all gender behaviours, is a better solution.

How would I be without society? I don’t know. Possibly, I can have an idea about how I would be without society’s understanding of a trans person is, from how I was before I read anything much about transvestites and transsexuals. I fantasised about being changed into a woman, physically, in my teens. But I knew then it was OK for women, not OK for men, to show particular gendered traits. If I were a woman, then it would be OK to be me.

Trans would not exist without that falsehood, that there are two genders. There are as many genders as there are human beings; or there is only one.

Given society as it is, with transition recognised in law and having a measure of acceptance, and fitting with the general understanding of what a trans person is, I would like increasing acceptance of alternative ways- we continue to assert trans women are women, and recognise various ways of being non-binary. Law would prohibit employers or service providers from treating people differently on the grounds of gender presentation or behaviour.

All women shortlists

Political parties can decide to attempt to increase the number of women in Parliament, by only selecting women candidates for particular seats. This is the All Women Shortlist (AWS). A bunch of TERFs is trying to get the Labour Party to exclude trans women from all-women shortlists. We believe that the election of self-identifying transwomen as women’s officers and their inclusion on all-women shortlists is reducing and undermining female representation in the Labour party.

We are absolutely committed to trans people, as a marginalised group, living free from discrimination and violence: we need trans representatives, trans councillors and trans MPs in our party. We are socialists and we are egalitarians. However, trans representation must not happen at the expense of female candidates and we are furious that we are having to fight another battle for women’s representation, just 100 years after the suffragette victories.

I would not write off that “absolute commitment” to trans people, they want a place for us and I want to challenge them to state what it should be; I put a message on Jennifer James’ facebook page, and will see if she replies or just deletes it. Now, it is by being accepted in society as women.

The next bit is legal stuff. An all woman shortlist which includes trans women without a gender recognition certificate is open to legal challenge, and I state why.

The Equality Act applies. Normally an AWS would be discrimination against men on the grounds of sex, so s104 gives specific permission while women are underrepresented. If any protected characteristic, such as disabled people, is underrepresented the party can make efforts to encourage potential candidates, but only for sex can the party make a shortlist only of those candidates.

After a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) I am a woman, and if I claim sex discrimination I need to show a man is treated better. I can still claim discrimination on the grounds of “gender reassignment” (not gender identity). A man can claim discrimination because women are favoured, unless an exception applies, but a cis person cannot claim discrimination because trans people are favoured.

All AWS must be open to trans women who have gained a GRC. However, a man could argue that an AWS which included a trans woman without a GRC was not entitled to the exception in s104, and so discriminated against him. A woman could argue that an AWS including a trans woman breached Labour Party rules, as the rules should be presumed to comply with discrimination law.

And we’re back. It could mean a legal debate about what “sex” or “woman” means. Emotionally, I like the idea that I have always been a woman. My most important transition moments are, first, changing my name and going to work expressing myself female; then deciding to transition, and having my operation. Gaining my GRC is a long way behind, less significant than getting my bank account, passport and driving licence in my female name. It was done by then.

I think both allies and opponents would agree. Those enthusiastically declaring “Trans women are women” and those who think we are perverts don’t think the moment of acquiring the GRC is particularly important. And yet in law it is.

That is why the consultation is important. We need to be able to get a GRC without a psychiatrist’s say-so. That I have changed my name and intend to live life long as a woman is enough. Now, getting a GRC is expensive and humiliating, but there is different treatment once you get one.

There can be disabled-only shortlists, because it is not unlawful to discriminate in favour of disabled people; but even though we are in the ICD and DSM, few of us would claim disability. A debate on whether trans women without a GRC are women would go back to Corbett v Corbett, orse Ashley. The psychiatrists would not speak for us: why do they call an androphile trans woman a “homosexual transsexual”? The law is confused- the Equality Act refers to “gender reassignment” of “transsexual persons”- but I doubt it would say my sex is female before a GRC, and it may not say so after.

Gender Recognition in Scotland

The Scottish Government proposes that a person should get gender recognition, if they make a formal declaration before a Notary Public that they intend to live in their acquired gender until death. Making a false statutory declaration is a criminal offence, and their research on other countries allowing self-declaration has not found evidence of false or frivolous statements. There is support from women’s rights organisations including Scottish Women’s Aid and Rape Crisis Scotland, whose joint statement says, We do not regard trans equality and women’s equality to be in competition or contradiction with each other. We support the Equal Recognition campaign and welcome the reform of the Gender Recognition Act.

Rape Crisis and Women’s Aid in Scotland provide trans inclusive services on the basis of self identification. We will continue to work collaboratively with Scottish Trans Alliance and other equality organisations with the aim of ensuring that new processes are appropriately designed and without unintended consequences.

Limiting the number of times one can change sex might restrict frivolous applications. Malta requires second and subsequent applications to be considered by a court. However Sam Kane has transitioned three times, male to female to male to female, and I feel each time she did it feeling distress and oppression. She reverted because of sexism and transphobia. These things are not her fault and she should not be penalised for them. Colombia only permits two changes, which must be at least ten years apart. That might make me fear an honest declaration, since I cannot correct it if I am wrong. When I transitioned, I thought it possible that I might be trying to live male five years later. It is an additional difficulty, just one more thing requiring a leap of faith. I consider my real transition to be the day I transitioned at work, or “went full time”, which required enough clarity, determination and trust, as I would have made a fool of myself to revert.

Even the suggestion that men might do this frivolously, or maliciously to get access to women’s space, is repulsive. Even three in a year might be a leap, a bad experience causing reversion, then a second leap of faith which is even more courageous. I do not want someone showing that courage and determination to be investigated in case they were frivolous. Instead, deal with actual wrongs. Women’s space is not a good place for sex crime, as the criminal is outnumbered. Women’s support groups have experience with difficult behaviour and ways of dealing with it.

The Scottish Government proposes that 16 year olds should be able to affirm their gender change, as Scots law generally gives rights as adults to people over 16, and protections as young people until 18. They are consulting on various options for younger children, such as allowing parents to affirm for them. The parent would be trusted to do this in the best interests of the child, and consider the child’s wishes. Alternatively, a child who could show they had sufficient maturity to make the decision could affirm.

Ireland and Denmark do not require the consent of a spouse before a married trans person can declare their gender. If the gender change breaks the relationship, the trans person should not have to undergo the expense of divorce before getting their gender recognised. If the relationship remains, the trans person will not make the declaration without their partner’s support. In either case they should not require the partner’s consent. Consent can be used to put improper pressure on a trans person. The other may feel betrayed, and feel that the trans person has broken the relationship, but that does not entitle them to take revenge by refusing consent.

Now, if one partner seeks gender recognition the other can use that as grounds for divorce. This should not be a separate ground for divorce. The usual ground is “unreasonable behaviour”, and a spouse should be able to argue that gender change is unreasonable behaviour. This is such a slight change; it means that gender recognition broke the marriage in the particular circumstances of this couple, rather than normally or generally.

They are also talking of increasing recognition for non-binary people, though this will require action by the UK government and additional rights in Equalities legislation.

They don’t address the question of what it means to “live in your acquired gender”. For me, does it mean always wearing wigs and at least attempting to talk in a feminine register? Does it mean anything else about clothing preferences, or particular behaviours? I think it means what the person believes it to mean. Women can wear what they like and do what they like. I feel most people who change gender will have a particular view about what it means, and attempt to resemble the assigned gender, but that is subjective too.

Consultation document pdf is here. It describes ways to respond to the consultation.

Changing gender

Who would want a gender recognition certificate, anyway?

I did. I was more or less OK with the law calling me a “man”. I had a passport and driving licence which indicated I am a woman. I was not thinking of marriage or civil partnership. But when the law offered the chance to be declared a “woman”, I wanted it. I can’t think of any way it affects my legal rights. It makes me almost certain to go to a women’s prison if imprisoned, but I have not committed that sort of offence.

Should someone with a penis be sent to a women’s prison? It is a grey area. Whichever prison we go to, we are going to have a tough time. In the cause of protecting themselves against us, people are violent towards us. If a trans woman has committed a violent crime, she is capable of violence; and if she has transitioned before she was charged, and wants to go there, I would send her to a women’s prison. If she were violent or threatening there, I would subject her to prison discipline- though that requires a sufficient number of prison officers.

Now, under the gender recognition act, I needed to show I had lived as a woman for two years, which I proved with wage slips, and I needed to show I was likely to live as a woman for the rest of my life. The evidence required for that was letters from two doctors, one on an approved list of specialists. I am not faking this, or trying to prove a point. I am sincere. This is my life.

Under the consultation, which has not yet opened, Proposals to streamline and de-medicalise the process for changing gender will be part of a broad consultation of the legal system that underpins gender transition.

Why should I need a doctor’s diagnosis? Why should I need any written evidence beyond my bare assertion that I am a trans woman, and I intend to live as a woman for the rest of my life? To stop anyone getting a GRC insincerely, and to protect others from us, if we might harm them. Provisions on evidence and length of time have to be justified, but can be if a good case can be made that people would be harmed.

There might be policy on trans women in women’s prisons. Any restriction is subject to Human Rights challenges. I tend to feel we should be placed in women’s prisons and the system should work to prevent violence, by us or against us. That depends on having sufficient prison officers. Perhaps there could be restrictions on getting a GRC, for people who had been in prison or charged with an imprisonable offence. Prisoners seeking gender transition have psychological assessment, and also have hormones. Taking hormones would deter most men.

I feel most men would not like to sign a form saying that they are women. I doubt anyone has had a second GRC for a reversion. I would have heard of it. It would have been reported. Google would find it. People do not transition lightly.

Another suggestion was that men go to great lengths to get into women’s refuges. Well, former partners whom women have fled often try hard to track them down, and sometimes the refuge’s security fails; but I don’t see how a GRC, and the attempt to prove he needs domestic violence services, would help a man find his former partner.

So there are a lot of scare tactics about theoretically possible, highly unlikely scenarios where a determined man might lie to get a GRC then use it to attack women. There are so many other ways men can attack women, without all that effort, why bother? The advantage we gain is that we would no longer have a long drawn out, expensive, intrusive and humiliating procedure in order to get a GRC. There is no real cost to anyone in granting self-certification. None.