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Tory MPs stage trans rights rebellion and demand Boris Johnson ‘keep his promises’ to the community

Patrick Kelleher August 28, 2020
Gender Recognition Act: Disney and Sky urge Tories to honour reform plan

Boris Johnson (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Nine Tory MPs have broken ranks and demanded the government urgently reform the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) and improve lives for trans people in the UK.

Conservative prime minister Theresa May pledged to reform the Gender Recognition Act at the 2017 PinkNews Awards, with the government carrying out a wide-scale public consultation in 2018.

But two years on, the Tories have still not released the results of that consultation – and reform to the outdated legislation has been repeatedly kicked into the long grass.

Now, a group of Conservative MPs have broken ranks and written an article urging the government to throw its weight behind trans rights and reform the regressive Gender Recognition Act.

The article was credited to Nicola Richards, MP for West Bromwich East, and Alicia Kearns, MP for Rutland and Melton, and was co-authored by seven other Conservative MPs.

"The Conservative Party is the party that seeks to protect individual choice. We are the party that ensures people have the freedom to live their lives as they wish. So it was absolutely right in 2017 for the then government to announce plans to improve the legal recognition for trans people in England and Wales," they wrote in the Conservative Home article, published Thursday (August 27).

"Following a lengthy consultation, now is the time for the government to follow through on their promises to the trans community."

The group of nine MPs said that the trans community "faces many challenges" under the Gender Recognition Act in its current form, and said plans to reform the legislation had become mired in "misconceptions".

They noted that the act, in its current form, is "overly bureaucratic, medicalised, and lacking transparency, making it inaccessible to many trans people".

It is our duty to follow through on our pledge to increase the dignity, safety and privacy of transgender members of our society.

The article went on to argue that trans people must have access to legal gender recognition so they can avoid being "outed" or "humiliated" in various settings, including in the workplace.

"Having [a Gender Recognition Certificate] does not add any 'extra' equality rights, impact the inclusion of trans people in single-sex spaces, or the provision of services," the writers added.

"Trans people can already use, and have always been able to use, services matching their gender, regardless of whether they have the certificate."

'No evidence' that self-identification would impact negatively on cis people.

The nine Tories went on to argue that streamlining and simplifying legal gender recognition for trans people could "only be beneficial".

"There is no evidence that improving the process of legal gender recognition for transgender people impacts on non-trans people," they continued.

They also drew attention to the Republic of Ireland's Gender Recognition Act, which allows for self-identification, and said there had been "no negative consequences" as a result of that legislation.

"As Conservatives, we have made it a central tenet that individuals should be free to live their lives as they choose. It is our duty to follow through on our pledge to increase the dignity, safety and privacy of transgender members of our society," they added.

The letter also called for an urgent intervention in the spiralling wait lists for trans healthcare. It comes following months of stalling from the Conservative government on reform to the Gender Recognition Act.

In June, it was reported that the government was planning to ditch considerations for a self-identification system for trans people, and instead roll back trans people's rights to use single-sex spaces, which have nothing to do with the GRA and are enshrined in the Equality Act.

 

More: Boris Johnson, Conservative Party, Trans

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