As predicted, the UK government has abandoned its plans for gender recognition reform. Not only that, but instead of making life marginally better for trans people it has decided to make life much, much worse.
GRA reform isn’t the story here, although it’s worth noting in passing that, as in Scotland, around 70% of respondents were in favour; the government claims that the result was “skewed” by an “avalanche” of pro-reform submissions while ignoring the fact that every single anti-trans group in the UK, and many other organisations including religious groups and US conservatives, urged people to make anti-reform submissions. Apparently the will of the people only matters if they give you the result you want.
The real story is this. Months after the conservatives were asking focus groups whether trans rights were a culture war hot-button they could weaponise against Labour, they apparently intend to follow in the footsteps of the US and Hungary by attacking trans people’s existing rights.
According to the Sunday Times:
New protections will be offered to safeguard female-only spaces, including refuges and public lavatories, to stop them being used by those with male anatomy.
That’s a bathroom bill straight out of the US Republican playbook.
Trans women who haven’t had surgeries have been using the ladies for decades, as they should: presenting female in the gents is an invitation to get your head kicked in, or worse.
It’s also part of being able to get legal gender recognition. In order to get a Gender Recognition Certificate under the system the government will now not reform, you need to produce evidence that you have lived uninterrupted in your correct gender for at least two years. If you’re applying for a GRC, as I am, the gender recognition panel may ask you to produce evidence that you’ve been using the correct toilets, as the panel did with me.
You do not need to have had surgery to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate, and in fact such a requirement would be illegal under human rights legislation: legal gender recognition can’t be contingent on sterilisation.
I’m sure US-style bathroom bills would ultimately be defeated here, but that doesn’t mean the next few years are going to be easy for trans people and the wider LGBT+ community. The nasty party has taken its mask off.