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There’s a simple truth trans people everywhere want Liz Truss to know: ‘We simply want to live and exist without being scared’

Vic Parsons May 21, 2020
Trans community tell Liz Truss: 'We want to live without being scared'

Liz Truss gives a speech at think-tank 'Onward' on March 19, 2019 in London. (PLuke Dray/Getty Images)

The trans community in the UK is “under threat” and feels “extremely scared”, according to a letter-writing campaign targeting Conservative equalities minister Liz Truss.

The campaign, ‘Dear Liz’, has been set up in the wake of Truss’ comments on her plans for reforms to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA), which is the law that has, for 16 years, governed the process by which transgender people can update the gender marker on their birth certificates.

In the last month, Truss’ statements on GRA reform have been protested by tens of thousands of people, provoked concern from the official LGBT+ group of every UK political party, and caused alarm among parents of trans youth.

This week, Truss was slammed for comments about the “protection of single-sex spaces for women and girls”, which she said she would say more about when she publishes the government’s plans for GRA reform this summer.

Single-sex spaces are protected under the Equality Act 2010, and the Tories were clear when they set out plans for GRA reform in 2018 that they were “not proposing any amendments to the Equality Act 2010″.

This potential meddling with trans people’s ability to use the single-sex spaces that correspond with their gender identity has meant the trans community is “beyond terrified that our basic rights are about to be removed”, the ‘Dear Liz’ campaign says.

And Labour’s shadow minister for women and equalities, Marsha de Cordova, told PinkNews that the government “must protect the rights of the trans community in its response to its consultation on the Gender Recognition Act”.

“It is important that this government does not interfere with protections under the Equality Act, which ensure that trans people are not wrongfully excluded from single-sex spaces,” Cordova said.

A trans woman created ‘Dear Liz’ so that the trans community and its allies can communicate their concern about the “serious issues that have arisen and potential loss of rights to transgender people” regarding GRA reform.

“We are being constantly attacked and vilified by the media, politicians and members of transphobic hate groups and we need to speak up against this with one voice,” the campaign says.

Hate crimes against transgender people in England and Wales are growing at a faster rate than for any other protected group.

Home Office data published in 2019 showed that reports of transphobic hate crimes have quadrupled since 2014/15.

‘Dear Liz’ provides two templates, one for trans people and one for trans allies, to write an old-fashioned letter to Liz Truss about the GRA.

‘Dear Liz’ letter to Truss emphasises that the trans community is ‘living in fear’.

The template letter for trans people to use to write to Liz Truss begins: “I am writing to you as I am currently very scared and concerned about your planned upcoming changes to the Gender Recognition Act.

“The vast majority of transgender men and women in the UK are currently living with a huge burden of unnecessary stress, worry and fear, that our rights to access public and private facilities may soon be restricted and removed under changes you are proposing to make to the Gender Recognition Act and the Equality Act.

“Currently as a transgender person living in the UK, I have been able to live my life knowing that my right to access facilities such as toilets and changing rooms that match my gender, would never be in doubt and that I would never be challenged by a gate keeper to prove who I am to be able to access them.

“I would never have thought that trans people in the UK would be publicly persecuted and labelled as a danger to children, simply for existing and living our lives.

“I am currently very scared that your plans for updates to the Gender Recognition Act would restrict me from accessing these; and other facilities, and that these changes may soon require me to carry identification that would expose my transgender identity to strangers.

“It would alleviate a huge amount of anxiety for myself and the transgender community as a whole if you could address a few simple questions.

“Whilst I understand you plan on making the details of the new Gender Recognition Act public this summer, I, and the trans community, feel that certain aspects should be addressed with urgency, as to remove the fear we are all currently living with as a result of your recent statements and actions.”

More: dear liz, Equality Act 2010, gender recognition act, GRA Reform, liz truss, Marsha de Cordova

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