Labour: Speak up for trans rights

The reported news on the Gender Recognition Act reform represents exactly what many trans people have been fearing; a massive assault by this government on trans rights and trans lives. Not only will self-identification not be implemented, but the Equality Act’s protection of trans people’s access to life-saving spaces and services could be rolled back. Trans people’s ability to transition, already mired in bureaucracy and endless waiting lists, could be made even more difficult, as the government plans a crackdown on doctors who support trans patients. There is even the suggestion of government regulation of bathroom access, amounting to a conservative, US-style “Bathroom Bill” that would further regulate, and even criminalise, trans people’s ability to exist and live in public.

All of this comes after a speech by Liz Truss almost two months ago, where she suggested further, un-evidenced restrictions on any kind of medical transition for trans young people, an exceptional restriction on our human right to healthcare.

Whilst the government is yet to announce the measures in full, we now know that they are continuing the steady march towards aggressive transphobic policy. These policies may only be the start; for trans people, this country is an increasingly scary place to live.

If we are to stop the advance of transphobia and protect trans lives, then we all need to stand up, and speak loudly, clearly, in defence of our rights. Both trans people and allies need to make a stand. Moreover, we need the country’s opposition – the socialist labour movement – to fight hard to oppose this attack. These leaks come alongside the government’s increasingly racist rhetoric and policy in response to the international Black Lives Matter movement. The Tories are going to war against not only trans people, but all those who are most heavily impacted by the unjust and unequal society they maintain. They want to divide us. But Labour can and must fight division with unity by bringing together all those who need change and refusing to abandon any part of the working class and the oppressed.

Unfortunately, so far, the party and its leadership has remained shamefully silent. What little has been said to fight back against these government proposals has been muted, equivocal and unclear. This cannot continue. By not standing up firmly for trans rights, the Labour Party is letting down our community. Silence is complicity, and a weak voice is no voice; not when the government is threatening to shred our rights and force trans people back into the darkness. We call on the leadership to speak out for trans people before it is too late. Keir Starmer has pledged that he will support self-identification and the rights of the LGBT+ community – he can make good on that pledge now. Scrutiny is not enough; we need action.

Marsha de Cordova, our Shadow Women and Equalities Minister, must also speak out on behalf of those she is responsible for supporting. Those MPs including our Deputy Leader, who signed our pledges, now need to follow through and speak up in parliament and out.

But much more than this, we need the whole of the labour movement to stand up and speak with one voice: We will not abandon the trans community. We call on all those who signed our pledges – be they councillors, trade unionists, representatives, and especially the regular members who are the backbone of the party, to make that voice heard. These are just some of the things we ask the party and it’s leadership to do so that it can truly stand with us:

  • Make a clear and unequivocal defense of trans rights, totally opposing these proposals in parliament and out.
  • Defend not only the principle of self-identification, but also oppose further regressive measures like bathroom bills, crackdowns on transitioning and the further exclusion of trans people from single and separate sex space.
  • End the misleading and dehumanizing rhetoric of trans people’s existence and rights as a “debate”; there can be no debate on our lives.
  • Allow and encourage MPs, especially those in the shadow cabinet, to speak out loudly in support of trans people.
  • Reach out to our community and listen to our concerns; we would welcome any opportunity to engage with the party leadership on how best to fight for our rights.

We also encourage all who can to support the petitions and letters below, each of which serves to show the opposition to these reactionary government proposals.

Speak up. This time will not come again; we must not let it pass in silence.

Gendered Intelligence – write to the PM:

LGBT+ Labour – petition for progressive GRA reform:

Mermaids – write to your MP:

Keir Starmer and Marsha de Cordova, end the silence on trans rights: