Why I’ve put in an amendment to the Women’s Equality Party Gender Recognition Act motion
Nobody quite knows how many transgender people there are in the U.K. Estimates vary between 65,000 and 650,000. What we can say for sure is that the numbers are increasing dramatically. At Charing Cross clinic in London the number of referrals has almost quadrupled in 10 years, from 498 in 2006–07 to 1,892 in 2015–16.
So transgender men and women as well as non-binary and gender fluid people are here to stay.
The reform of the Gender Recognition Act is part of a trend to take life decisions out of the hands of the medics so that people can make the choices for themselves.
The home birthing movement, reform of the rules governing abortions and the campaign for assisted dying, as well as the GRA, all fit into this pattern of de-medicalisation. If as women we want the right to control our own bodies shouldn’t transgender people have the same right?
I think they should, so I believe in the self-certification of the transgender process. However, there is one major difference between the GRA and the other reforms. Allowing women to access abortions without the permission of a doctor, wanting to give birth at home, and choosing when and where you die — all these decisions have no impact other than on the person making the choice and their nearest and dearest.
The GRA is different. The reforms will affect not just transgender people themselves but all women, and especially those affected by domestic violence or sexual abuse, who have little say in how those changes affect them.
In looking at any changes to gender recognition The Womens Equality Party needs be concerned about the way the GRA may affect women’s equalities.
Under the Gender Recognition Act, the sex based protections for women would be lost. There will no longer be dedicated women-only spaces as transgender women, who are still biologically male, will be able to access them. Transgender women, who have all the advantages of a masculine physique, will be able to compete alongside women in sports competitions. All-women shortlists in political parties will be open to transgender women.
And most importantly, vulnerable women will not be able to access women only services as all organisations will have to open their doors to transgender women, who may still be fully biologically male.
We need to go forward with transgender rights, but these rights should not be at the expense of women’s hard-won legal protections.