Tonia Antoniazzi MP and transgender crime statistics

Tonia Antoniazzi MP is a transphobe, who uses her voice in parliament to attack trans rights and attempt to make trans people look bad.

On 17 May 2021, in a debate on the Queens Speech on violent crime, where Labour MPs should have been pointing out the many failures of the Tory government, Antoniazzi chose to make a misleading case against trans people, in order to smear us as sex offenders.

How does recording sex by gender identity affect the profile of sex offenders? Does it matter?

Most victims of sexual offences do not report them, so the number of crimes in crime surveys is far higher than the number of charges or arrests. About 3% of women were estimated as having been sexually assaulted in 2017, from a survey of a representative sample, and 1% of men. In 2016 there were 53m UK adults, so that is around 800,000 women sexually assaulted, and around 200,000 men.

However only 6960 offenders were found guilty of sexual offences in all courts in England and Wales in 2017. The conviction rate was 62%, but there is a time lag between charge and conviction or acquittal. So say 11,000 people were charged in court.

Women make up 2% of prosecutions for sexual offences, says Antoniazzi. You can download a spreadsheet. In 2017/18, 28,589 males were arrested for sexual offences, and 628 females.

Say 0.1% of women are trans women who have taken some step towards transition. So, say 25,000. Say they have “male patterns of offending” as anti-trans campaigners claim, though this is not backed up by evidence. If the proportion of trans women was 46 times the proportion of cis women who were arrested for sex crimes, 26 might be arrested for sexual offences, and six convicted. If they are counted as women, then the number of women arrested has gone up by 4%.

But if there were 26 trans women who were counted, or not, as women, the proportion of arrestees who were women would go up from 2.15% to 2.24%. That is, a tiny percentage of arrestees are women, whether trans women are included as women or not.

That statistic, that 0.1% of women are trans women, is my best estimate, but it is not clear how many people identify as trans, ever express themselves in public as their true gender, or take steps towards transition. The census, which starts to be published next year, may start to give us a better idea.

A tiny proportion of those arrested for sexual offences are female, and that proportion is not changed beyond a rounding error whether trans women are included as women or not.

Antoniazzi says, “We need to count sex”. She objects to police forces counting suspects’ sex on the basis of gender identity. She wants trans women counted as men.

Even if trans women offend 45 times as much as other women, the increase from 2.15% to 2.24% of offenders is tiny. There would be no change in conclusions drawn about the need to protect women and girls from male violence, or the relative threat from women or men. Trans women need protection just as cis women do.

Whether we need as a society to take violence against women, or men, more seriously is shown by the proportion of offences resulting in arrests. Of about a million sexual offences, there are 6960 convictions. Most victims do not report the offence.

Recording trans women as men does not make any change to the lessons we learn. Women are vulnerable and need more protection than we have. Such protection might be improved by greater resources for police, and greater cultural condemnation of male sexual violence. The culture still makes excuses for men, and even glorifies male sexual aggression. Complaining that trans women criminals should be called “men” actually reduces the effort to protect women, because it diverts campaigning energy from a real threat to a harmless minority.

And, it would make life harder for vulnerable trans women in the justice system. If we are recorded as men, we have yet more evidence that the system is against us for who we are, rather than what we have done.

It would probably backfire on the anti-trans campaigners, showing trans people do not have a high rate of sex offending. They want to say, Look, look, there were six trans women convicted of sexual offences!! Trans is Bad!! They’re all like that!! Of course we are not all like that, and I am not a sex offender, but the extremists use such stories to radicalise each other.

An MP should consider the 800,000 women who suffer sexual assault in a year, and speak up for them, not speak against trans people, a tiny, vilified minority.

The records of “biological sex” of offenders she demands would tell us nothing except that some trans women are criminal. We know that already. If it is ridiculous to say Rosemary West is a murderer therefore cis women cannot be trusted, it is equally ridiculous to say Karen White is a rapist therefore trans women cannot be trusted. Antoniazzi would stir up fear against us.

“We must respect the privacy of transgender people,” she says, but would make an exception when we are arrested.

Then she cites an increase of 84% in reported child sex abuse by female perpetrators between 2015 and 2019. It could mean 2015 had particularly low figures and 2019 particularly high. We can’t establish a trend without more years. We don’t know if this is because of increased reporting, and one expert the BBC quoted thought that explained the whole increase. But the MP called recording trans women as women “data corruption”, and suggested the increase was due to “those identifying as women”. In 2019 there were 1048 more offences reported than in 2015, and to suggest that a significant proportion of those were by trans women is monstrous as well as ridiculous. It is clear hatred.

Antoniazzi then refers to Lauren Jeska. Her attempt to murder was a monstrous crime, but to use it to argue that the justice system must count trans women offenders as men is also monstrous. The number of convictions of women for attempted murder is so small- six in 2017, from Antoniazzi’s figures- that even were it to double it would tell us nothing about female violence. She fulminates that calling Lauren a woman “falsely elevates the number of females convicted”. It does not, because trans women are women.

Antoniazzi has demonstrated a level of prejudice against trans women that should result in withdrawing the whip. Statistical arguments by other transphobes and haters are no more robust than hers. She met with anti-trans hate groups as long ago as 2018, and asked questions about trans women sex offenders in prison in July 2021. It is a good job she left the Women and Equalities Committee in November 2019.

Pride Month in Parliament

“I am a proud lesbian, a proud feminist and a trans ally, and I see absolutely no contradiction between any of these values.” I find Angela Eagle’s words moving, and wish they did not need to be said. The House of Commons debated Pride, and stood up for trans rights, and other MPs had similar thoughts: Alyn Smith, SNP, said “Women have nothing to fear from trans equality.” Kirsten Oswald, SNP, said “Trans people should feel safe, secure and welcome”. They need to say it because we don’t feel that.

Mhairi Black, SNP, gave a powerful speech which is worth watching. She starts with the British Empire exporting homophobia round the world. We LGBT people are more likely to self-harm or be suicidal, or the victim of a crime, but less likely to report it to the police. It is worse for trans people. She spoke of the “organised and concerted international campaign against the trans community”. An International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation report found “Transphobia has long been one of the most major and ubiquitous narratives around which the far right mobilises… Transphobia should be recognised as a security concern.” She connects the US right-wing to campaigns in Britain “purporting to speak for LGB people”, though in reality LGB people support us.

The Values Voters Summit speaker claimed “women, sexual assault survivors…ethnic minorities who…value modesty, economically challenged children…and…children with anxiety disorders” might be drawn in as allies against trans, by preying on their fears. In reality,

We are battling the same problems and the same patriarchal beast.

The anti-trans campaigners target trans inclusive rape crisis centres. The media platform these hateful views uncritically. Trans people contact her, because they are too frightened to contact their own MP. We are living in a moral panic fanned by organised misinformation and radicalisation.

You can also watch Stewart McDonald, SNP. “God is shining on us”, he said. I am glad when Christians speak of their Christianity, in speaking up for LGBT rights. He said, “We do not have a community if we expel one part of it”. He talked of transphobia in the Times and the Herald. If an Imam wrote such things people would “go off their nuts”- good to hear the vernacular in Parliament. He and I find hope in Stonewall and the Equality Network. Martin Docherty-Hughes, SNP, also talked of “non-state actors targeting the most vulnerable, specifically our trans brothers and sisters”. “Diversity is our greatest strength,” he said.

Alistair Carmichael, LD, made the same point: “using defining characteristics for a political purpose is as low as it is possible to go.” As Ian Byrne, Labour, said, “Division of communities leads to a breakdown of cohesion and the opportunity for hate and fear to flourish.”

Sarah Owen, Labour, attacked “so called charities” and MPs pandering to those who call trans dangerous. She said trans people are fearful when the media refers to the “Trans Taliban” to describe “trans people who just want to get on with their lives”. “Those who genuinely believe in human rights do not choose which human’s rights they support and which they do not.” Precisely. If the Government can remove protection from Shamima Begum, it can remove protection from me. She said, “we need to start seriously asking ourselves who these people are coming for next”.

Kim Johnson, Labour, spoke of how the government had disbanded their own LGBT+ advisory panel.

Angela Eagle connected that radicalisation to the Conservative Party, talking of “the Government’s increasing appetite for fomenting divisive culture wars that seek to pit one group in society against another. That emboldens bullies and problematises vulnerable minorities. It generates fear and resentments, which can only do harm.” Homophobic and transphobic hate crimes soar, but prosecutions plummet.

Many MPs spoke of trans health care. Charlotte Nichols, Labour, gave a waiting time of 18 months, which seems low to me. She said, “supporting LGBT rights is political. We are not a colourful add-on to brands that do not challenge ongoing homophobia or transphobia. A rainbow does not mean that every storm has ended.” There is some confusion here. She says, “more than 13,500 transgender and non-binary adults are on the NHS GIDS waiting list in England”, but GIDS is the Gender Identity Development Service, for children and young people. Still, it is a huge statistic. Elliot Colburn, Conservative, said we face “years and years” of waiting lists. Kim Johnson said that even after the Government’s planned new gender clinics, there would still be nearly 10,000 on waiting lists.

I worry that the emphasis on health care pressures trans people into medicalisation we might not choose for ourselves.

Angela Eagle said the Government have reneged on their commitment to reform the GRA. “The current bureaucratic, demeaning and intrusive process, which involves them having to get doctors to agree that they are suffering from a mental illness and to certify that they have lived in their preferred gender for two years, is no longer fit for purpose.” Crispin Blunt, Conservative, mostly praised the government, but alluded delicately to the government’s “misfired response” to the GRA consultation. The speaker rebuked him for taking too long.

The Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville Roberts used GRA reform to call for greater devolution to Wales.

The debate is personal. Peter Gibson, Conservative, who is gay, spoke of his nephew Luke who is trans: “I am reminded of the same journey of fear, acceptance, love and celebration that gay men and women go through”.

Angela Crawley, SNP, spoke of being raised Catholic, a faith she still respects and “to some extent I admire”. It made her feel deep shame and believe she could never have a family. Now “I am incredibly proud of who I am”. She moved me to tears, especially when she congratulated Angela Eagle, “whose very presence, bravery and courage in this Chamber have paved the way for so many of us”.

So did Dan Carden, Labour, also on video, who said how frightening coming out can be- but “hiding who you are into adulthood will cause you far more suffering anyway”. He was traumatised. He suppressed his emotions and became alcoholic. “Drinking was destroying my body.” “For me, it was about losing who I was over a long period of time. It was desperate isolation.” In his third year of recovery he has a loving partner and appreciates everything he has.

I used to live in Newport, and am glad one of its MPs, Jessica Morden, Labour, singled it out: the council flew the Progress flag, to recognise “the breadth of sexual and gender identities that we welcome” in Newport.

Alistair Carmichael, LD, did not speak of trans but spoke of the most northern Pride in the UK, in Kirkwall, and the delight of gay friends who have given blood for the first time. It is a symbol of inclusion.

Wera Hobhouse, LD, spoke of all the Tory promises since 2015 to ban conversion therapy, and their current undated consultation which is only further delay. She said Alan Turing is now on the £50 note. He suffered chemical castration ordered by the State, and the current delay on conversion therapy means his use as a figurehead is hypocrisy.

Bizarrely, the minister Mike Freer claimed the government “are committed to levelling up outcomes for LGBT people”, showing how meaningless that slogan is. He said, “the Government believe that the current provisions of the GRA allow for those who wish to legally change their gender to do so”.

Joanna Cherry, self-proclaimed lesbian campaigner, was too wily or too ashamed to attend with her usual dog-whistles.

MPs also mentioned inclusive education, also a target of the far right; HIV; and international aid, which the government is cutting.

Eddie Izzard and nonbinary

When Izzard was nonbinary, no-one cared. But now, she’s transitioning!?

In 2017 in The Hollywood Reporter she said she identified as transgender but had both “boy and girl mode”. But in 2020, her pronouns were given as she/her, and it was international news. Now, she is recording a drama in a male role, and wanted to go back to he/him, but was told she can’t be both.

She came out as “transvestite” in 1985, and people would stand a foot away and ask “What the fuck is that?” They turn you into an it, she says. “People don’t expect a trans woman to be able to run 130 marathons for charity and it changes their sense of what a trans woman is,” she says. That’s because they expect trans women to be physically inadequate and without any staying-power.

Will she physically transition, asks the journalist. There it is. Are you going to have your balls cut off. What will your genitals look like. Any privacy interviewees might have about medical conditions is denied the trans woman. She has always had breasts envy, and he asks if she is taking hormones. She refuses to say but “smiles”.

She wants to be a Labour candidate. I would love to have her stand here.

Some people are nonbinary, and that matters. They could change pronouns but not presentation, they could present differently on different days like Izzard still does, they could mix it up like his man’s suit and high heeled shoes. But there’s still this idea of proper transition, hormones and surgery. Either medicalised transition is thought of as acceptable, but anything else is still seen as perverted or wrong, or medicalised transition is something the cis have somehow got their heads round but nonbinary is beyond their comprehension. No one should have to undergo surgery to be accepted. No one should have their gender expression restricted.

Izzard thinks radical feminists should be our allies. “I’d like to get to the place where we don’t have to have this fight because I’m trying to deal with rightwing fascists.” Of course. My way to make allies would be to talk about common interests rather than women’s spaces.

The House of Lords transphobia increased, using the excuse of international women’s day. Content: transphobia.

Ralph Palmer, a Conservative hereditary peer, said:

Stonewall, please climb out of the hole of misogyny and bullying that you have dug for yourself. The needs of trans people, which are pressing, are not best served by adding to the disadvantages of women.

Tories, of course, want it to be a zero-sum game, a conflict of rights. We have so much in common, especially our interests, with all feminists, and they want to obscure that. It is a shame some self-identified “feminists” go along with them.

Anthony Young, a Labour peer, said “I want to make it clear that I believe in fair rights for transgender people. I am not transphobic, although no doubt I will be accused of it after this contribution”. Not a good line. Why is he transphobic? Well, “Fair rights” to him means exclusion from women’s spaces. I don’t want “fair rights” according to Young’s definition, I want human rights.

He is transphobic because he spoke out against inclusive language for trans men as “nonsense”. Then he said,

I want to conclude on the problem of the increased violence towards women and children taking place during Covid. We need to ensure that we protect safe spaces for women in hostels, refuges, hospitals and prisons. Physical threats to women, including rape, by transgender men are a terrible indictment on our society.

By “transgender men” he means trans women. I had to think about that one, but perhaps we will have to get used to it. The problem of increased violence towards women during covid has nothing to do with trans women. It is cis men. The juxtaposition shows extreme fear or hatred of trans women, and attempts to instil it in others. It is transphobic.

Fortunately Sal Brinton, Liberal Democrat, spoke up for us.

On top of the concerns about the attacks on trans people, there is now a real concern that the equalities rights granted over many years are being rowed back on. Over the last two days, three government advisers have resigned over this issue, the Conservative LGBT+ organisation is demanding an investigation and many Back-Bench MPs are worried.

I was somewhat surprised by the assertion of the noble Lord, Lord Young, that women’s refuges were dangerous places because of the threat of trans women being there. I am not aware of any such cases, and for the Domestic Abuse Bill, a number of women’s refuges and other organisations made it plain that they are trans -inclusive. In fact, a 2017 survey showed that the reality is that one in six trans women experience domestic abuse themselves.

In the House of Commons, the usual transphobes were about: Jackie Doyle-Price claimed to “fight for women’s safe spaces” rather than for trans-exclusion, and praised Keira Bell.

Yet Caroline Nokes MP said,

On this International Women’s Day, let us champion all women—gay women, who do not need conversion therapy; trans women, who want to be treated with respect and fairness. Remember, they are the ones most likely to suffer domestic abuse.

Kirsty Blackman, MP, SNP said,

We must consider this—we must look at stereotypes—and we must always consider intersectionality: we must check our own privilege. Younger women, ethnic minority women, bisexual women, trans women and disabled women are more likely to be domestically abused.

Wendy Chamberlain, MP, LD, referred to single-sex spaces but said they were needed because of “the fear of sexual violence perpetrated by men”. Exactly. Not trans women.

Trans people, standing up for ourselves

Trans people tell our life stories.

After an enquiry by a parliamentary committee in 2016, a consultation, ministerial foot (and knuckle) dragging, we now have another enquiry by the same committee, and trans folk are fed up. In evidence to the committee, Genie put it brilliantly:

You shouldn’t still be asking these questions; please make trans people’s lives easier and do what you said you were going to do, or leave us completely alone. This has become policy theatre to appease bigots, and we know you know that.

Debbie wrote, “We are not what is between our legs. We are not the shape of our chests. We are not our pasts.”

Deborah wrote, “We’ve always been here, we always will be. The government can either treat us as equals, or join the oppressors.”

Emma writes, “You shouldn’t have to pay to be your gender”.

I have not read all the evidence, and brilliant clear exposition of the issues shines out of trans people’s submissions. People told their experiences:

One of my earliest memories is being six years old and crying at a dance competition because I couldn’t wear dresses like the other girls. That was 1975. I very quickly learned that I had to conform, hide who I was. Over the years, this has caused mental issues. When puberty hit, I became a troubled teen, desperate to fit in. I ran away from home and was in trouble with the law, but somehow, I came through that. … At fourteen, a child psychiatrist diagnosed it as disassociate personality disorder, which meant he knew the person he was talking to wasn’t me. I went to university, I fell in love, I married and I had children. Eventually, the façade broke too much to be fixed. It’s hard to maintain. As I approached forty I became anorexic and withdrawn. Eventually, after therapy, I told my wife what the reasons were. I’d finally come to understand myself who I was. Pre-internet I had zero access to information, between 1995 and 2005 I didn’t dare look, for fear of what I’d find. Before 2010, it was still sordid. And then we got the first glimpses of being accepted. I finally could admit to myself first and others after, who and what I was. This wasn’t a perversion. I started the process of transitioning in 2012 and this process turned a dour, dark, depressed individual into somebody who was finally happy inside and out. I’m accepted for who I am at work and with friends. The recent furore over the gender recognition certificate has turned the UK back into a toxic environment for trans people. I can’t go back. I’ve been in the light, a return to darkness would kill me.

“Jane Doe” is a transmedicalist. She writes,

GRC is for those meeting a diagnosis of Transsexual, a permanent desire to make a change. Transgender is a broader term and includes many people who consider their identity fluid. It is to be expected that only a small subset of those identifying as transgender would be eligible for / find it appropriate to acquire a GRD. In essence you are conflating Transsexual and Transgender – they are different.

She is in error. Many people now on the waiting list for gender clinics identify as trans women, but most of them want hormones and surgery.

Opening a tranche of the evidence files, I found eleven trans women and one trans man. The Revd. Alex Clare-Young is a minister in the URC. He had his GRC application rejected because he did not give medical reasons for not having received particular medical treatments. He objects to “discussing one’s genitalia with a panel of strangers”. Bravely, he writes of his experience of assault.

it was extremely difficult for me to access smear tests, despite the fact that I still had a cervix when I reached the eligible age. The system simply didn’t recognise me because in order to change my gender to male, it also changed my sex to male.

Unlike Jane, he stands up for all trans people including gender fluid and nonbinary people.

Katherine disagrees with me. I don’t expect all trans people to have one view. She writes, “I have no personal objection to being transgender being considered through a medical lens, but I know some people do, so I’d just say it’s not a trivial issue.” She too suffered sexual assault, and worries about accessing services.

Nova writes,

I am 22 years old and I’m Transgender. I am currently on the waiting list to see a gender specialist for Hormone replacement therapy and a diagnosis of gender dysphoria. For all my life, I have felt uncomfortable in my skin. I used to dream about being the opposite sex, wearing their clothes, living their life, being regarded as one of them and not what my outer appearance betrays. For in My head, I have a brain that does not match my body. And looking back, all the awkward moments in my childhood make sense, I was being forced to live a lie.

Haters might pick on the mention of clothes, but it’s not about clothes: it’s about expressing our true selves.

She says that GPs should be able to diagnose gender dysphoria and prescribe hormones. The criteria are not difficult. That would get rid of the waiting lists. She dislikes the waiting period: “We are treated like defective machines that must prove they are defective by playing what you believe is “dress up” for two years only to then be assessed by two people just to decide if actually, this is just our natural state of being.”

Alexis makes the obvious point that if the WHO says gender incongruence is not an illness, a diagnosis is otiose. I hope they get that point. She says people don’t get GRCs because it’s expensive and makes no practical difference to our lives. She says how the hate campaign has made trans people afraid. So many of us could make the same points.

Jay is a healthcare professional. She says trans people wait a year even for private treatment. She only legally changed her name one year ago despite transitioning five years ago and using the name informally. She is now concerned she might not be entitled to a GRC because of the delay.

Desirae: “Being trans is not a disease.” She thinks a GRC should be no harder to get than a passport. She has not suffered discrimination, but waited three years to get a first appointment to a GIC.

It is compelling stuff. I assume a researcher will read the evidence, distilling the main points and arguments for the MPs.

Haters

Anti-trans campaigners disregard the humanity of trans people, and are happy to abuse us in the most distressing ways. Content: I will quote them. They think they are the victims, so they feel entitled. When institutions oppose them, they cannot understand why. It’s pitiable really.

I’ve been reading evidence given to the Women and Equalities Committee. I would have thought most people would be aware of the appropriate register to use in Parliament, but one of them swears. How can she not see that this discredits her? The lesson is, these people are like this. Fortunately, it means they will repulse normal, sane people. They cannot persuade anyone, because they cannot understand why people disagree.

many people do not understand the threats to women’s rights. Many otherwise decent people are quick to cancel, doxx and silence women who try to speak up on legislation which affects them because they’ve been convinced that these women are bigots

When someone disagrees with her, she thinks that is because they do not understand. She sees they are decent, but thinks the decent people must have been got at, in some way, as if she were in Invasion of the Body-snatchers, and no-one shares her concern. It is like Jesus said: For her heart has grown dull, and her ears are hard of hearing, and she has shut her eyes.

“There is no evidence they are born this way,” she harrumphs, directly contradicting reality.

It’s not a sexual orientation that they’re born with, it’s something else, and that something varies per individual but it could be any of the following: an identity (a cultural trend, like hipster), a costume, a fetish, an escape, an obsession, a delusion, or even a self diagnosis which holds as much weight as any other medical self diagnosis.

She can imagine delusional or exploitative reasons for us to transition, but not the truth, simply that we are trans.

Among the evidence is the bizarre fulminations of Helen Bunter. She says she used to work for the NHS as an Equalities Manager. She does not say why she ceased to do that job, but it could be because of her views.

Again, she cannot understand why no-one sees what seems obvious to her. “We do not encourage anorexics to have lipo suction.” Well, no, because that would harm them.

She thinks people need to be protected from us. “We should never be in a position where a person finds themselves still in a marriage or civil partnership where their partner has changed sex.” What, not even when they want to remain in the marriage? She can’t conceive that, though.

She abuses us. “Some man who thinks that he’s a woman even though he still has a penis.” Well, she’s just written that the treatment process should take years, so some who want an operation will not have had it yet.

She asserts her right to a women’s space with No Transwomen in unqualified terms. “For instance, at the moment organisations are supposed to consider on a case by case basis whether men who say they are women are allowed to enter women only spaces. ALL males should be banned from women only spaces.” “We’re not allowed to challenging them coming into our toilets or we’re bigots and transphobes.” “Oh FFS. Gender is NOT a protected characteristic. We do not make laws for the feelings that people have in their heads. They can dress how they like but I’m not playing the pronoun game.”

Then there’s a teacher, who asks to remain anonymous because she fears her career could be in jeopardy. She will not teach “wrong science” and she says “gender identity ideology” stops her keeping her students safe. That is, she will refuse on principle to acknowledge a trans pupil’s gender.

She does not understand why anyone would disagree with her. She writes of “legislation and policies that have been passed largely by stealth and institutions being captured by ideology,” as if no-one would pursue inclusive policies as a matter of principle. “Nobody can change sex,” she says.

Another “member of the public” can only imagine trivial reasons to be trans. We’re only transvestites, she thinks. Note her claim of liberal tolerance, but her insistence on her Rights: “Liking opposite sex clothing for example can be caused by a variety of motivations, including sexual fetish, and while I support the rights of individuals to express their sexuality however they see fit, that must include the consent of everybody expected to participate. It is unreasonable to ask other people to accommodate the sex games of strangers in their daily lives.”

“I personally know someone who struggles with their gender identity and lives six months in their acquired gender and then switches back, only to repeat the cycle again,” she says. That could be a way of coping with their unclassified gender in a hostile society.

Maura Maxwell says if gender recognition is reformed, sex offenders will abuse the law. She thinks all the genuine “transsexuals” have GRCs already.

Unfortunately, all these women have their echo chambers, on line, where they can shout their hate and be affirmed for it. In the real world, when they meet people who disagree, they are confused, hurt, and so they deny reality. I have not read all the evidence given, but have quoted all the haters I unearthed. They are all equally deluded.

Fortunately, trans people and allies also gave evidence. I will quote the sane people shortly.

Parliament supports trans rights

Liz Truss spoke to Parliament about her refusal, three years after the announcement, to reform gender recognition after all. MPs eviscerated her, though two other Tories spouted “feminist” anti-trans claptrap, using the same words as any other anti-trans campaigner. Here is the transcript: or view the debate.

Truss claimed there are “proper checks and balances”- the humiliations the consultation overwhelmingly opposed- and that it is “important that we protect single-sex spaces”. Note she does not use the term “women’s space”, having learned to avoid it from the haters. When she says “It is also important that under-18s are properly supported in line with their age and decision-making capabilities” she means she wants to restrict treatment for trans children. Even after three years she could give no date when her paltry improvements will come into force. The Tory transphobe MPs echoed her language: Felicity Buchan said retaining “single-sex spaces” in women’s refuges would “protect vulnerable women”, though many women’s refuges welcome trans women, and Jackie Doyle-Price asked her to “reconfirm her support for single-sex spaces”. Previously, Doyle-Price has voted against gay rights, against equal marriage, against retaining EU human rights, for repealing the Human Rights Act, and to repeal the EHRC’s duty to work for a society without unjust discrimination. Felicity Buchan normally tamely follows her whip, but has spoken out in hate of trans women. They are just the kind of allies trans-excluders would have.

Even other Tories supported trans rights. Crispin Blunt said the trade minister should not have the Equalities brief as well. He asked if Truss understood the “crushing disappointment” trans people felt at her announcement, made without good reason. He talks of trans-excluders’ fears, “void of evidence”. “Younger people in particular are more starkly intolerant of the cruelty of wider society’s inhumanity towards trans people. The vast, vast majority of lesbian, gay and bisexual people will stand in solidarity with trans people.” Shaun Bailey spoke of how trans people feel “locked out” of health care by waiting lists. Sara Britcliffe wanted “to find a way to make the path to self-determination not only cheaper but easier”. Nicola Richards spoke of trans people’s frustration with the “lack of substance” in Truss’s response. Elliot Colburn, who is gay, said “I stand by the trans community”, and asked “that we will make those changes that cost so little but mean so much to trans people”. David Mundell wondered if the new clinics were sufficient. Peter Gibson said the business community supported trans people- 200 company leaders wrote in support of trans rights. Christian Wakeford wanted more than the government promised.

Opposition MPs revealed the full hypocrisy and nastiness of the Tory government. Marsha de Cordova, shadow Secretary for Women and Equalities, said the delay was unacceptable, the debate was toxic, and the Government have let trans people down. She spoke of “the rise in transphobia and misogyny”- the two are linked. Labour will continue to support self-declaration.

Anne McLaughlin of the SNP said there was need for education to show trans rights do not encroach on others’ rights: “The Minister has failed on that front”. She pointed to the Scottish government’s better record on reform. She asked, does Truss “recognise the need to comply with international human rights law?” Truss said she did, just after making a statement indicating she doesn’t. Stuart McDonald for the SNP said Truss’s position was “a breach of human rights”.

James Murray, Labour, spoke of the consultation’s overwhelming support for trans rights, and asked, “Why have the Government taken so long to respond, only to ignore the wishes and destroy the hopes of so many in the trans community?” Truss said she was against self-ID. Lloyd Russell-Moyle said the World Health Organisation obliged us to remove trans as a medical classification, but Truss still wants doctors involved, claiming “the specific diagnosis is a matter for clinicians.” Would those clinicians be able to diagnose someone as gay, too?

Stephen Doughty, Labour, asked, “Does she understand the hurt to our fellow human beings, who are feeling deep distress and are deeply let down and deeply concerned about the direction in which this Government are going? And will she stop the off-the-record briefings to newspapers, whipping up hatred against the trans and non-binary community?” Truss denied personal responsibility for such briefings, and ignored the point about our distress.

Wera Hobhouse, LD, asked if Truss had met trans organisations, and Truss did not say she had. Cat Smith, Labour, said trans people were among her most vulnerable constituents, and Truss had let us down. Andrew Gwynne, Labour, said anti-trans hate crime had nearly trebled in five years.

Even Truss, while using policy to foment culture war and increase hate, spoke of making the gender recognition process “kinder”. The British people are mostly tolerant, and in favour of trans rights. Our hard-Right government is fomenting hate, with its allies in the trans-excluder movement and the press, but it has a hard job at the moment. Theresa May wanted self-declaration for trans people. It would have been the decent thing to do, and even Truss sees that at some level.

In the House of Lords, Ray Collins said other jurisdictions demedicalised trans recognition- what evidence is there from them that medicalising it is necessary? Transphobe Elizabeth Berridge could not answer. Elizabeth Barker called the government position “callous and cynical”. Michael Cashman called the government position “woefully inadequate…at a time when gross defamation and misrepresentation of trans people, particularly trans women, has been whipped up by the media and some Members of your Lordships’ House.” Again he asked for evidence of any abuse of gender recognition. Berridge had none.

Gender Recognition and the Rights of Transgender People

MPs and others knowing little about trans people, but wanting an in depth briefing, might turn to the House of Commons Briefing paper. It gives undue weight to transphobic falsehoods. It follows a previous paper on gender recognition.

It quotes “Fair Play for Women”, a transphobic, trans-excluding and anti-trans campaigning organisation, as saying “ordinary, everyday women. Any woman.” can be attacked as transphobic for “asking questions or voicing concerns”. This is a direct echo of Enoch Powell‘s “decent, ordinary working man”. It then quotes the Westminster Hall debate. At the end, it quotes the Minister:

Domestic abuse services, including refuges, have robust risk assessment procedures and may exclude anyone who might threaten a safe environment for victims and their children, as well as signposting sources of support for those people whose needs they might not be able to meet.

This is clear and obvious. Even if there were no specific rule for excluding trans women, they could exclude anyone dangerous. So why quote David Davies’ fearmongering?

It gives links to articles about the issues. Some attempt to appear balanced, some are for trans rights, but some are ridiculously phobic. After Rachel Bowyer refutes Rosa Freedman, why link to Freedman’s discredited blog post?

Many readers may not get beyond the summary, which says,

Those against self-identification are concerned, for example, about creating a system which might be abused, and about the potentially negative impact for safe single-sex spaces.

That is refuted in the paper itself, but the summary leaves it there.

I don’t have the law memorised, and could not fault the account of it, but was surprised to see a reference to “Genuine occupational requirements” in Equality law. That’s outdated by more than ten years. The word “genuine” is superfluous, and no longer used.

The summary defines gender dysphoria as “a sense of unease”. That minimises our distress, and the relief transition brings.

The results of the Scottish consultation have been published, but they have not even been summarised in the paper. They would show that people who took the time to respond were strongly pro-trans, despite the desperate campaigning of transphobes to get people to answer. Many of the responders were in England.

The summary says trans people object to the requirement for a diagnosis, as being trans is not an illness. However “the removal of the requirement for a medical diagnosis was one option on which views were sought,” rather than a recommendation. The section on the Equality Act clarifies that there is no need for us to undergo a medical process to be protected: that should have been made clear in the summary. We have our rights, and gender recognition will not affect them: it is only a symbolic legal acknowledgment of our value- or something to campaign against or withhold, to show we are despised.

The account of the background starts with useful quotes. “Being trans is not a mental illness. Despite this, and despite the progress that we have made in recent years, trans people continue to face significant barriers to full participation in society,” said the 2018 consultation paper. Exactly.

I learned useful things about hate crime, which is

Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice, based on a person’s … transgender identity or perceived transgender identity.

This means a stronger punishment. However hate crime based on race or religion is an aggravated offence: that is the offence, not just the penalty, is greater. And stirring up hatred based on race, religion or sexual orientation is a crime, but not hatred based on gender identity, or some of those “everyday women” might be liable to prosecution.

The paper then covers the background, including Christine Goodwin’s case, and the Joint Committee on Human Rights considering the Gender Recognition Bill in 2003: “They advance the aims of certainty and help to ensure that the Government’s flexible approach to the stage at which an acquired gender should be recognized will not degenerate into giving legal recognition to lifestyle changes.” We know that a change of name and gender expression is a huge change, whether or not you have diagnosis or medical treatment, and deserves gender recognition. The committee was concerned about effects on other people. Our rights come last.

The section headed “Gender Dysphoria” goes into detail on NHS treatment of children and adults, but not diagnostic criteria, which reveal we have self-declaration already.

The section on the Equality Act quotes a legal textbook, saying the guidance on the Act makes it appear too easy to exclude trans women from women’s spaces:

It would be inadequate for a provider of services to assume female victims of sexual assault would necessarily object to a trans-woman attending group counselling sessions. A degree of canvassing of opinion would surely be required… There are very real concerns that such guidance is too categorical and fails to emphasize the lengths an employer … would need to go to in order to demonstrate proportionality as an adequate defence to discrimination.

The chapter on young people says the government did not plan to reduce the age below 18, though as the minister said,

Social transition, such as changing the name you are known by, and the pronouns you use, can be done by anyone at any age, and is often subject to a discussion between a child and their parents if it happens before age 18.

Legal gender recognition is the icing on the cake, with only symbolic significance. My bank card establishes I am female, and I have only shown my GRC to friends. I am glad I have it, but I don’t use it.

Chapter 6 at last addresses gender recognition reform. The criticisms of the current regime are listed: it is medicalised, intrusive, burdensome and expensive. There is the spousal veto: there are things I had not considered, such as “Spousal consent may not be possible, for example if the spouse cannot be contacted or lacks mental capacity”.

In Scotland, a married person applies to the Sheriff Court for gender recognition, and gets a GRC, but the court informs the spouse, and “That gives the spouse the grounds, at any time in the future, to seek a divorce.” Though, no-fault divorce will start in England in Autumn 2021. In Scotland, parties have to be separated for two years before one can get a divorce without the other’s consent.

Most people who take an interest in gender recognition reform will pick up things they did not know from this briefing paper. It has a dry style, and attempts to appear dispassionate. However it gives far too much weight and prominence to the anti-trans campaigners, and is not appropriate to inform anyone who does not know about the issues.

Liz Truss Speaks

In a time of Brexit madness, a Tory government considered whether making recognition of trans people’s true genders easier would advance equality of opportunity, and decided it would. Today, Liz Truss answered questions to the Minister for Women and Equalities in the House of Commons after “a government source” was given the platform of the front page of The Sunday Times to threaten, obscurely, “big moves on safe spaces”, but state, clearly, plans for gender recognition reform had been “scrapped”. So, while waiting for Liz Truss’s slot to come on the BBC Parliament channel, which I was obsessing about all morning, I went back to the Pre-Consultation Equality Impact Assessment for the Gender Recognition Act 2004.

By law, Ministers should seek to eliminate unlawful discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations, in this case between trans and non-trans people. The Government Equalities Office (GEO) thought their consultation would achieve these aims.

They said 4910 GRCs had been issued by 31 March 2018, but the “trans population” is estimated at 200,000-500,000. They made no estimate of the number of people who had actually transitioned. As 12% of trans people had applied for a GRC, most of that “trans population” would never seriously consider transitioning, or needing another gender recognised.

Trans people in the government’s LGBT survey said the GRC process was bureaucratic, too expensive, and intrusive. If the government made it simpler, the GEO said that would reduce discrimination, reduce the barriers we face, help improve our mental health and wellbeing, “reduce the stigma attached to being trans” and publicise that we are not mentally ill.

The GEO said that there would be a positive impact on relations between trans and non-trans people, increasing knowledge and understanding of the issues we face, and reduce misunderstanding and misconceptions. They said that in the 2017 National LGBT Survey in which 108,000 people participated, 39 had claimed that self-declaration of trans people would “threaten women-only spaces”. But then, the transphobic campaign to foment anger, fear and “concern” had hardly got started. The GEO pointed out,

again,

that the Equality Act would not be amended.

The GEO promised, “We will use any insight gained from the consultation exercise to help foster good relations [between trans and women’s groups].” As I write, it seems likely that promise is being broken.

In the LGBT survey, 53% of trans men respondents and 15% of trans women respondents had begun transition before the age of 18. In Norway, children aged 6 can change gender, with parental consent. In the Netherlands, 126 people aged 16-18 applied for gender recognition in 2016. The government thought it would not reduce the age limit of 18, but welcomed responses.

“The Government does consider being trans to be a disability”- I am not sure if that is a misprint. They don’t consider gender dysphoria to be a mental illness. Some consider it a mental health problem. The GEO referred to another report saying isolation, discrimination and transphobia contributed to “88 per cent of [trans] respondents had suffered from depression, 80 per cent from stress and 75 per cent from anxiety at some time,” but that does not mean that being trans is an illness in itself. The GEO said “40% of trans men, 30% of trans women, and 37% of non-binary people had tried to access mental health services in the last 12 months.” Streamlining gender recognition “may have a positive impact on their wellbeing and mental health”.

In a time of Brexit and Covid madness, after that anonymous source spoke to the Sunday Times, I awaited Liz Truss answering Parliamentary questions hardly able to think about anything else. Kemi Badenoch and Liz Truss answered questions. There were questions on payments for self-employed people during covid, BAME people suffering disproportionately from covid, hospitality and leisure workers, the closure of child care facilities, and other matters relating to equality and women’s issues. Many of the questions were from Tories, to give the impression that the government were doing something useful. They have suspended face to face assessments for disability benefits, which they usually use to take away benefit. There were warm words about addressing unconscious bias.

Liz Truss said that conversion therapy is a vile and abhorrent practice which the Government want to stop. The Government has commissioned research on conversion therapy in the UK- they don’t even know if it is a problem, really. Specifically, they have a concern for under 18 being coerced into conversion therapy. Why the announcement on conversion therapy now? Is it to split LGB people from T people? Does it even relate to some idea that gay people are forced to transition because of homophobia? These concerns are not paranoid. All I can say is we can’t be definite this is action against trans people, yet. Probably, the announcement on conversion therapy is to pretend to advance LGB rights, even if there’s no serious risk of conversion therapy here. All the professional bodies say conversion therapy is unethical.

Truss said the government would work towards global LGBT equality. At least the T remains in LGBT for now. She said it is essential to deliver on 2018 LGBT action plan. Happy Pride, said Liz.

So, there was nothing on trans self-declaration. I will continue badgering my MP.

23 July: In similar questions today, Liz Truss was asked about trans rights. Nadia Whittome, MP, said, “Does the Secretary of State agree that her quibbling on this issue is fanning the flames of populist hate towards an already marginalised group?” Gotcha! Truss did a partial climbdown, though I see no more reason to believe her on this than Government assurances that the NHS will not be sold off. Truss said, “Let me be absolutely clear: we will not be rolling back the rights of transgender people. It is important that transgender people are able to live their lives as they wish, without fear, and we will make sure that that is the case.”

Truss and Johnson want to make us a hate group, but the British people are too canny to fall for that one, and the Labour Party is doing well in damping down any possible culture war.

An open letter to my MP, about the British Government’s threat to trans rights

I write to you because I am extremely concerned about recent ministerial statements about gender recognition. The ministers show a lack of understanding of the law and of medical understanding of gender dysphoria. In particular, gender recognition on the basis of the trans person’s self-declaration will pose no threat to women’s single-sex services, as English law already recognises trans people in our chosen gender for most purposes. I am concerned that the ministers’ misunderstanding threatens a restriction of my rights in law as a trans woman. The ministers propose to restrict medical treatment for trans children, and so do not show proper respect for medical expertise or children’s needs.

On 3 March 2020, in response to a written question, Elizabeth Berridge said in the House of Lords,

Those seeking to rely on the protections and exemptions contained in the Equality Act 2020 [sic] must be able to do so with confidence and clarity. The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s statutory codes of practice on the Equality Act 2010 explain the provisions of the Act and the EHRC is responsible for updating these codes as necessary.

This Government has been clear that we must take the right steps to protect safe single-sex spaces for women and girls; their access should not be jeopardised. Some women’s organisations have expressed concern that predatory men may abuse the gender recognition system, intended to support transgender adults. We have heard these concerns and are considering carefully our next steps.

On 22 April, in a speech to the Women and Equalities Select Committee, Liz Truss said,

The final point I’d like to make, Madam Chairman, in this initial part, is on the issue of the Gender Recognition Act. We’ve been doing a lot of work internally, making sure we’re in a position to respond to that consultation and launch what we propose to do on the future of the Gender Recognition Act. We will be in a position to do that by the summer, and there are three very important principles that I will be putting place.

First of all, the protection of single-sex spaces, which is extremely important.

Secondly making sure that transgender adults are free to live their lives as they wish without fear of persecution, whilst maintaining the proper checks and balances in the system.

Finally, which is not a direct issue concerning the Gender Recognition Act, but is relevant, making sure that the under 18s are protected from decisions that they could make, that are irreversible in the future. I believe strongly that adults should have the freedom to lead their lives as they see fit, but I think it’s very important that while people are still developing their decision-making capabilities that we protect them from making those irreversible decisions. Of course some of these policies have been delayed, Chair, by the specific issues around Covid but I can assure you that alongside the Covid work, our officials continue to do those things to make them happen.

Both ministers refer to the protection of single-sex spaces, and Elizabeth Berridge specifically states “concern that predatory men may abuse the gender recognition system”. This misunderstands the way the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and the Equality Act 2010 work, and how psychiatrists understand gender dysphoria. For almost all purposes, we have self-declaration of trans people already.

The International Classification of Diseases provides a definition of gender identity disorders including transsexualism, which is defined as,

A desire to live and be accepted as a member of the opposite sex, usually accompanied by a sense of discomfort with, or inappropriateness of, one’s anatomic sex, and a wish to have surgery and hormonal treatment to make one’s body as congruent as possible with one’s preferred sex.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association defines gender dysphoria as follows:

A marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender, of at least 6 months duration, as manifested by at least two of the following:

1. a marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and primary and/or secondary sex characteristics (or, in young adolescents, the anticipated secondary sex characteristics).

2. a strong desire to be rid of one’s primary and/or secondary sex characteristics because of a marked incongruence with one’s experienced/expressed gender (or, in young adolescents, a desire to prevent the development of the anticipated secondary sex characteristics).

3. a strong desire for the primary and/or secondary sex characteristics of the other gender.

4. a strong desire to be of the other gender (or some alternative gender different from one’s assigned gender).

5. a strong desire to be treated as the other gender (or some alternative gender different from one’s assigned gender).

6. a strong conviction that one has the typical feelings and reactions of the other gender (or some alternative gender different from one’s assigned gender).

In both definitions, the patient’s desire or belief is paramount. I am a trans woman because I believe I am. There is no other way of diagnosing: only what the person says and does. We transition, because we cannot avoid it, because we want it more than anything else in the world.

In terms of using single sex spaces, the presence of trans women was tolerated long before either Act. When I saw my psychiatrist in 2001, he gave me a card stating that I was undergoing treatment for transsexualism and it was part of the treatment to dress female and use women’s spaces. I never had to show it to someone. Before I saw the psychiatrist I spent a long time preparing to transition, because I was scared, and felt the need to check out whether I could bear the hostility and discrimination. So I expressed myself female and went out- to the supermarket as well as the gay pub, including women’s loos. People tolerated me. I only wanted to pee. I am not sure what law applied, then.

The law now protects people as soon as we decide to transition. It is in the Equality Act 2010 s 7:

A person has the protected characteristic of gender reassignment if the person is proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process (or part of a process) for the purpose of reassigning the person’s sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex.

So as soon as a person decides to transition they are protected, and for purposes of changing rooms and toilets we go to those of the gender we are expressing. We self-declare: I am a trans woman, because I say that I am. I should not be discriminated against as a trans woman, whether or not I have a gender recognition certificate. I express myself as a woman, and so should be treated as a woman.

But we can still be excluded from women’s spaces, under the Equality Act 2010 schedule 3 paragraphs 28-30. We can be excluded if it “is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”.

Elizabeth Berridge echoed concerns about predatory men, but Layla Moran MP answered those concerns comprehensively, in 2018. In a debate she said,

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.

Gender recognition does not affect any of these matters. Section 9 of the Gender Recognition Act states the person’s gender becomes the acquired gender, as does the sex, but this is “subject to provision made by this Act or any other enactment or any subordinate legislation”. That includes the Equality Act.

Before the Gender Recognition Act, I got a passport saying that my sex was “F”, and a driving licence indicating in the driver number that I am female. The guidance now on passports is here, and on driving licences here. A transgender person only needs a letter from their doctor to change their passport, and a statutory declaration or deed poll changing their name to change their driving licence. We do not need a GRC.

So, why do people get gender recognition certificates? In 2004, a friend got one because it entitled her to claim her state retirement pension early, and at the time it affected whether people would enter a civil partnership or a marriage, but after the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 that no longer applies. I got my gender recognition certificate because it was there. The law could officially declare that I was a woman, so I wanted that. However the current procedure is generally recognised as intrusive and expensive.

Because the junior minister is echoing groundless fears about “predatory men” and the Secretary of State refers to “checks and balances” I fear that my rights to be treated as a woman may be reduced. The law helps mold society’s response to trans people. Discrimination law protects me, and creates a moral injunction to treat me decently. Talk of how my rights may endanger women reduces that. Because of the campaigns against trans women I have suffered personal abuse and threats on line.

I want you to express these matters to the ministers, explaining that their fears are groundless, and ask them to assure me the rights of trans people will not be curtailed. I would like you to express your personal views to me, and answer these questions: would you oppose any diminution of trans rights under law? Would you support reform of gender recognition, to dispense with the requirement of evidence beyond the trans person’s word, formally sworn or affirmed, as Theresa May promised in 2017?

I am particularly concerned about the Secretary of State’s remarks about the treatment of children. She says that she wants to protect under 18s from irreversible decisions. This shows a fundamental misunderstanding of treatment for trans children and young people.

It should not be for the law or the government to interfere in medical decisions for children. These decisions should be made by doctors, parents and the children themselves according to Gillick competence in the best interests of the children. Irreversible decisions are not made by children. The NHS can treat under 18s with puberty blocking hormones, which are reversible. For evidence of this, for example consider the Australian standards of care and treatment guidelines.

Social transition of transgender children, not necessarily involving any hormone treatment, improves their mental health.

Please may I see you about this. During the lockdown, are you holding surgeries by video conference?

Georgina Beyer

Georgina Beyer was the first trans member of Parliament anywhere in the world, though she says she is the first Out trans person. She started showing transgender behaviour aged four, and transitioned aged 16. She was unemployed, and the benefits office told her she could not get benefit unless she put her trousers back on. So she became a sex worker. She hated it from her first “client” to her last. She had been brought up middle class and wanted to reach her potential, but there was a barrier to trans people. As a sex worker she was in a twilight world, constantly in danger. Clients were often hypocrites pretending to be straight.

She still wanted to be an actor but after five years she escaped, and worked in a drag show in a gay club. “I sold my arse to get my moneymaker.” The New Zealand health service now performs SRS but not enough. In 1979, she was working in a strip club and when it closed she went to Sydney. She worked in a bar, her first legitimate job, and after four months she was gang-raped. The police told the Maori drag queen she asked for it. She thought of suicide.

“Fortunately I got angry. I got a fire in my belly that anybody who had to endure anything like that deserves justice, including a transgender person like me.” She got into TV, and made a film about a TS in a platonic relationship, presenting trans characters in the most realistic way made to that date, but the public censor cancelled the whole series because of her film. Eventually it got her a best actress nomination in the NZ Film and TV Awards. She was recognised as a woman.

She got typecast into trans roles, eg trans rape victim. Being visible, she reduced prejudice. Queers became less threatening. She moved to Carterton north east of Wellington, and started to teach drama on a life skills course: they were unemployed young people, and she got them to create a show to express their view of the world, and gained confidence. Expressing their frustration was fulfilling.

She ran the course from the community centre, and in 1991 the finance minister of the National party cut 25% from state benefits, which was devastating for the most vulnerable in the community, which has caused deprivation and dependency including homelessness even now. They got a caravan which they used to house homeless people. She kept being made the mouthpiece, talking with the local council, and in 1992 she stood for that council. She only ran with the intention of raising the issues, and missed out by 14 votes. Then she stood in a by-election, when she got half the vote.

She took her duties seriously. She was the first Maori on the council, and was the person who was appointed to liaise with the local Maori iwi, though she knew no Maori beyond Kia-ora (“hello”). In 1995 she ran for mayor. She was told she was popular, and she did not know she was being set up. She won with a good majority. She loved it. It’s about being genuine and straight-up. Doing Anzac day, she found her acting experience helped. She had the mana (Maori word- see Barry’s comment below). She engaged people as young as nine in speaking to the council. She got the local school to elect their own council and arrange a meeting. She preferred to lead by consensus without votes.

She was mayor until 1999 when she stood for parliament for the Labour party. Formerly it had been a National party stronghold. She got a 32% swing and a 3000 majority. She suffered impostor syndrome but got on with it. No-one mentored her, she learned for herself. She helped push through the Civil Union Act and prostitution law reform, to provide human rights, health and safety for the sex workers. It was a world leading piece of legislation. The debates were divisive and horrible, across the nation. It was dehumanising. The haters were getting self-righteous, including 8000 Christians who marched on Parliament shouting “Enough is Enough”. Georgina stared them down, holding a rainbow flag. There were a hundred children on that march and she was shouting at them “Why do you hate us so much? What are you teaching your children?”

It is wrong to use children like that, to deny the rights of others.

“I have been very fortunate. I could not be more proud to participate in my country. I thank New Zealand for that. They could look beyond my colourful past.” It inspired other trans people and minorities. After, trans people were elected to the Italian and Polish parliaments. People are afraid of diversity, and she blames religion. Christians quote Leviticus, and that countermands the commands of Christ. If we can be who we are, we can contribute to our society rather than being a burden, but we commit suicide because of the oppression.

Why New Zealand? Our isolation, she says, and people escaping the British class system for an egalitarian society. You can make anything out of nothing. The treaty of Waitangi was very important: Maori were more equal than other indigenous populations. It was hard to build the economy. New Zealand is a caring society. Rural folk can spot a fake, and spotted her talent.

Taken from her speech to the Oxford Union. Here is her maiden speech in Parliament.

Photo by Montrealais.