“Not Again!” declare trans people cheesed off at yet ANOTHER inquiry into their everyday lives
Just as trans people were beginning to get used to NOT being the focus of intense press intrusion, yet another inquiry into the GRA heaves itself over the horizon: and you just know the UK media will misbehave. Again.
I know. I heard the collective groan from the trans community when it was announced. Not another “trans inquiry”! This time, it’s the Women and Equalities Committee picking over the bones of the government decision on Gender Recognition (GRA) Reform. Well-intentioned. Because members of that committee were not impressed by Liz Truss’ damp squib of an announcement in September.
It won’t exactly be a “let’s-pile-in-on-the-tranz” exercise. In fact, we don’t even know if they will call witnesses or merely confine themselves to giving Truss a good grilling. An exhilarating experience, no doubt for so ardent a turophile (that’s cheese-lover, for those who prefer English).
The shit show cometh…
But we know how the media works. If the committee does get round to taking evidence from trans people, expect hours of good, honest, researched presentation to be upstaged by a couple of soundbites about “women’s concerns”.
Tranz women in the changing room? Horrors! Might as well ask a crocodile to drop by. Before you know it, the Times and the Mail will be over-flowing with headlines about evil trans rights activists planning to introduce crocodiles to women-only spaces.
Engaging with this shit show is time-consuming, emotionally draining and at every instant runs the risk of bad faith journos taking a thing out of context, or running with some unfounded sensationalist claim and hey presto! Trans roast.
May I speak with your manager?
Despite this, it is one of those unavoidable ills that are sent to try us. Like Amy Coney Barrett. Or, for my UK readers, Judge Jeffreys. Or perhaps Sheila Jeffreys. The attention-seekers have already cottoned on to the fact that this inquiry is a thing and even now are sharpening their pencils — not to mention teeth and nails — in preparation of what they see as opportunity to eviscerate trans people once more. They’re working themselves into a froth because the GRA is a WOMEN’s issue, doncha know…and making it all about trans people just proves what they’ve said all along about how trans folk are invading women’s spaces.
The attention-seekers have already cottoned on to the fact that this inquiry is a thing and even now are sharpening their pencils — not to mention teeth and nails — in preparation of what they see as opportunity to eviscerate trans people once more.
Besides, they are shocked and horrified by any suggestion that the spousal veto should be removed. They appear to be advocating a lock on one spouse by t’other which, ordinarily, they would be first to condemn. But then: consistency is not in their dictionary, which happily starts and ends with “Wom”: from “woman” to “wombat”, with a minor detour to catch H for hypocrisy.
So, yet again, please take some time out to consider the consultation, or inquiry, and respond. And do not delay. This is intended as a short consult, so deadline for getting written responses back is three weeks hence, on Friday 27 November.
I am not going to tell you how to respond: but a few points are worth bearing in mind. To begin, it comes in two parts. The first is very much geared to what the government has proposed and the detailed working of the GRA right now.
Will the Government’s proposed changes meet its aim of making the process “kinder and more straight forward”? Should they keep the fee? Remove the requirement for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria? What about the stat dec? (My understanding is that the current process effectively includes two: or maybe that was the proposed improved GRA). Spousal consent? Age limits? These are all things on which I suspect people have views and stories to tell. So just take half an hour, an hour tops, to jot your thoughts down and whizz them off.
The second part is trickier, and likely to call for a bit more expert input. Unfortunately, the bigots will have that in plenty, since the right-wing and fundamentalist Christians who bankroll much of their activity seem to have a never-ending supply of lawyers at their beck and call.
The main fault line here is that the committee is looking to explore how the Equality Act and GRA interact. Mostly, it would appear, from a positive point of view. But never under-estimate the capability of the haters to whip up controversy over things that really are not. Controversial, that is.
Just don’t get bogged down in existential nonsense
OK. I said I would not advise HOW to respond, but here are two things I will be doing. Or rather one thing I will be doing and one thing I will not.
Providing some limited legal recognition to trans people does not eliminate or eradicate women, as individuals or as sex category. It just doesn’t. Yet by dint of repeating this fib often enough, the anti-trans have derailed pretty much all discussion of trans people down a dead end of “how does this impact women?”.
I won’t be spending a single moment on obscure existential debate: and I will be using my response to highlight experience. And it would be nice if other folk did the same.
That is a red herring. Yet, the net effect of introducing said herring to the proceedings was twofold. Focus switched to discussing matters of high theory, irrelevant to the lived experience of trans people. Worse, people were not hearing about the real horror stories that some people had negotiating the gender recognition panel.
So I won’t be spending a single moment on obscure existential debate: and I will be using my response to highlight experience. And it would be nice if other folk did the same. There’s a couple of resources here, and here, explaining in greater detail what got missed first time round.
Last up is another skew introduced by the media. All too often, discussion of trans issues has pivoted on an inaccurate and misleading cliché: trans people vs. WOMEN. No! Some women have an ideology that sets them at odds with trans people. But the vast majority are either unconcerned or positive allies.
So if this inquiry can achieve one thing in gathering wider evidence, it would be great if it brought in women who did not have an axe to grind on the trans issue: if it found out what cis women and cis people more generally thought of the recent proposals. It is worth reminding the inquiry of that.
It is also worth chatting to friends and allies and if any of them has time to drop in a response as a non-activist in this area, it would be great to hear from them.