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Boris Johnson, will you keep your promises to trans people?

Emma Powys Maurice July 13, 2020
Boris Johnson, will you keep your promises to trans people?

Prime minister Boris Johnson must stand by his election promises to protect trans rights (Dan Kitwood/Getty)

PinkNews is calling on Boris Johnson to stand by his promises to protect the transgender community as his government reportedly prepares a shocking U-turn on trans equality.

The prime minister is being addressed in an open letter via PinkNews Action, a new advocacy platform to inspire action and help bring about change. The letter reminds Johnson of previous commitments made in the government’s LGBT Action Plan, which he confirmed he supported in a PinkNews interview  when seeking re-election last year.

Read our open letter to Boris Johnson here.

"We will ensure transgender people are treated with dignity and respect," the LGBT Action Plan vows.

"Our survey showed dissatisfaction with the gender recognition process. We will immediately consult on reforming the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and consider how best to make the gender recognition process less bureaucratic and intrusive."

The LGBT Action Plan was introduced by former prime minister Theresa May in 2018, when Boris Johnson served in her government as foreign secretary.

Speaking at the PinkNews Awards in 2017, May recognised the "indignities and prejudice" that trans people face. "We’ve set out plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act, streamlining and de-medicalising the process for changing gender, because being trans is not an illness and it shouldn’t be treated as such," she said.

Johnson himself reaffirmed May's pledges in December 2019, telling PinkNews: "We remain committed to the LGBT Action Plan."

He continued: "My message to the transgender community is that I want them to feel no less safe in their neighbourhood than anyone else – they have as much right to live their lives freely as anyone else, and I will support them to do that."

Despite his words, Boris Johnson has made no moves to further trans equality in his time as prime minister and has allegedly abandoned all efforts to do so.

In April, Johnson's equalities chief Liz Truss set out her plans to remove gender-affirming healthcare for trans youth and protect "single-sex spaces", with the implicit understanding that trans women would be barred from using them.

These worrying policies were also referenced in a leaked report seen by The Sunday Times, which stated that Truss and Johnson are allegedly planning to ignore the results of a public forum, scrap the long-delayed GRA reforms and instead bring in "new protections" for women’s spaces.

Liz Truss just wished everyone a happy Pride – 17 days in
Backlash to Liz Truss' alleged attack on trans rights has come from across the UK political spectrum. (WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto/Getty)

The government has not confirmed or denied these reports, but they are bolstered by further sources claiming that ministers are considering a ban on conversion therapy as a way to "placate" the LGBT+ community in the face of a rollback on trans rights.

These alleged attacks on trans equality have sparked serious concern from activists across the country, and LGBT+ groups of every major UK political party – including Johnson's own – have roundly condemned the government's "cruel" plans.

Now the public are invited to join them by signing an open letter urging the prime minister to show some integrity and stand by his earlier promises in support of the transgender community.

More: Boris Johnson, conservatives, gender recognition act, LGBT action plan, liz truss, Theresa May, trans healthcare

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