Statement on Liz Truss’ speech

LCTR has released a statement in relation to today’s speech by Liz Truss, available in full below:

The Labour Campaign for Trans Rights is alarmed at the programme of work that was laid out today by Liz Truss, the Minister for Women and Equalities, to the Women and Equalities Select Committee. Not only are we seeing the spectre of Section 28 rise again with a Conservative majority, we also see the Government neglecting the LGBT Action Plan as well as disabled people and people of colour. We demand that the Labour leadership take action to defend the rights of oppressed people in the UK, and that Labour MPs hold the Government to account through Parliament. Now more than ever it is also critical that the party steps up its work in our communities, to help support us against these threats.

We are very disappointed that despite the Government committing to a variety of areas of reform in the LGBT Action Plan, we’ve seen yet more stalling over reforms in Westminster to the Gender Recognition Act. This time, it is sad to see that the concerns of a small number of anti-trans reactionaries has convinced the Government that GRA reform threatens single sex spaces, when as established by the Scottish Government Equality Impact Assessment, it would do no such thing. Keir Starmer, the new Labour leader, has pledged to champion GRA reform in this Parliament and we expect to see an intervention from the Labour front bench on this issue.

We are concerned at the lack of emphasis that has been placed on the rights of disabled people and BAME people in the context of ever rising racism and disablism. The Government’s approach of focusing on purely internal reforms as opposed to policy change is insulting to the thousands of disabled and BAME people who have been punished by the Government’s policies. We stand in solidarity with BAME and disabled people in this shameless dereliction of duty on behalf of the Government.

Finally, we are seeing a potential special weakening of Gillick competency, the principle that young people can consent to accessing healthcare on their own terms. That this is a special exception in relation to healthcare for trans people under 17 should scare any proponent of equal rights and bodily autonomy. The rhetoric of a supposed danger that trans rights pose to young people is the same as that which scarred so many LGBT people’s lives under the Tories section 28, of which this is a successor. Moreover, as we have recently seen in Australia, the campaign to limit access to transition-related healthcare for those under-17 is not based on clinical evidence, but on a hostility to trans people’s very existence. To quote the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, “a national inquiry would not increase the scientific evidence available regarding gender dysphoria but would further harm vulnerable patients and their families through increased media and public attention.”

The efforts of David Cameron and Theresa May to detoxify the Conservative Party’s image by pursuing skin-deep “LGBT-friendly” policies have ultimately failed as the Government rejects trans people’s calls for inclusive education, quality healthcare and common-sense legal reform. That the Government is willing to potentially undermine Gillick competency to this end is deeply disturbing.

At the LGBT Labour hustings, every single candidate for leader and deputy leader promised to stand up for the trans community. This is their chance to back up their promises with action.