It is difficult to make progressive social change under a Conservative government, where their whole ethos is about preserving the status quo. Under Theresa May’s government, this was set to change; plans had been made to allow transgender people to change their gender on their birth certificate without having a medical diagnosis. This would have been a progressive step forward to allow transgender people the right to live freely and authentically.
However, under Boris Johnson’s government, these plans have been scrapped entirely and instead replaced by the “protection” of female-only public spaces which is regressive and harmful to both transgender and non-binary people.
Would this mean that police would stand outside of public toilets judging whether or not a woman was feminine enough?
The reasoning behind the scrapping of these plans is unclear, yet the consequences will be detrimental to the transgender community. Not only this, but the fact that the government plans to make “female-only” public spaces will force transgender women to use the male bathroom in public.
This is extremely derogatory and is a violation of the dignity of transgender women. The youth charity Mermaids stated that, “If we legislate to police gender in toilets, then how and at what point do we decide who is and isn’t a woman?“
Would this mean that police would stand outside of public toilets judging whether or not a woman was feminine enough to use the bathroom facilities?
This would be an uncomfortable experience for all women, but transgender women would suffer the most as a result. What right does anyone have to determine someone else’s gender expression?
Whilst this is a step towards acceptance of the LGBT community, it is not enough to dismantle our heteronormative and homophobic systems
It is invasive and wrong, and this legislation would only increase transphobia within the country, making it a hostile environment that transgender people would be forced to live in.
Why are we going backwards in equality for transgender rights? Especially as Pride month just passed, we should be establishing equality for all genders and sexualities. The government also has decided to ban “gay cure” therapies, which has been described as an attempt to placate the LGBT community.
Whilst this is a step towards acceptance of the LGBT community, it is not enough to dismantle our heteronormative and homophobic systems. It is meant as a distraction to take the focus off the scrapping of the self-identifying gender plans.
The protection of “female-only” spaces will only increase transphobia and hate crimes within the UK. Many transgender people have already begun dreading what these plans will mean for their lives, and are particularly fearing a US-style “bathroom bill” which will be extremely harmful.
Questioning someone’s gender identity every time they use the bathroom in public discriminates against and ostracises transgender people. This could potentially increase the cases of gender dysphoria – a medical condition that some trans people experience which can cause depression, anxiety and suicide.
One of the proposing arguments to securing “female-only” spaces is that it would protect women from male sexual predators pretending to be women.
However, having researched into this, this statement was a myth perpetuated by the former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in the US and has since been used by conservatives as an excuse to uphold their transphobic beliefs.
The discrimination that transgender people face every day is bad enough; let alone adding in further legislation preventing them from using the toilet in public spaces
The organisation Media Matters investigated in 2014 into the number of sexual assault cases across the US, comparing the 12 states who protect trans rights against the rest who don’t. It was found that the states with non-discriminatory laws on the books found no increase in sexual assault cases since the law had passed, and had “zero allegations of bathroom assault”.
Therefore, the argument that allowing transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice would make public toilets unsafe for cis women is not valid and was a myth fabricated to stop the progress of trans rights.
We need to prevent this from happening. The discrimination that transgender people face every day is bad enough; let alone adding in further legislation preventing them from using the toilet in public spaces.
Write to your local MP asking them to prevent the government from scrapping the self-identifying gender plans and to protect trans rights. Sign any petitions that want to protect trans rights.
Petitions that reach 100,000 signatures on the petition.parliament.uk website will be considered for debate by the Petitions Committee of the House of Commons, and will ultimately make more of an impact than the petitions signed on Change.org.
We need to make progress towards achieving equality in a society that celebrates our differences, rather than regressing into oppression that only spreads fear and hate.
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