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LGBTQ+

How many debates do you need?

Yes, another trans post. I’m as bored as you are, believe me. What many people call trans activism is just trans people being pissed off with constant attacks on their right to a quiet life, and with just days left in the UK government’s gender recognition consultation the attacks are getting pretty intense on social media (and the usual offenders in the mainstream too).

One of the things we keep hearing about from anti-trans groups is that we need a “debate”, a debate that they claim is being “silenced” by trans people. They’re currently lobbying MPs to demand that debate (which naturally requires a suspension of any proposed reform, and ideally a roll-back of existing equality legislation).

Christine Burns MBE knows a thing or two about trans history and legislation; she’s been involved in a lot of it. She posted this on Twitter today.

The European Court of Human Rights has debated trans rights four times: in 1987, 1990, 1997 and 2002. Their conclusions underpin the reasons why we have a Gender Recognition Act.

The European Court of Justice deliberated over the position of trans people once — in 1995/96 — that’s why Britain first legislated for trans employment rights nearly 20 years ago in 1999.

The High Court and Court of Appeal had a right old debate about trans people in 1997/8. That’s why trans people have the confirmed right to receive fair treatment from the National Health Service.

Parliament debated the rights of trans people to legal recognition in 2004, after lengthy consultations with affected bodies such as sports and insurance. That’s why the Gender Recognition Act was overwhelmingly passed in a free ‘conscience’ vote.

Countless organisations have looked at trans people and how to fairly include them in corporate and social policies in the intervening years. Trans people, who first united to provide mutual support over 50 years ago, have been debated almost constantly for generations.

Generations isn’t an understatement. Most of the current “talking points” and “legitimate concerns” have been kicking about since the early 1970s. They were debunked back then too.

Maybe, just maybe, it isn’t really about informed debate.

We’ve been debated into an exhausted mush, until the repeated calls start looking like cynical bullying rather than honest enquiry.