UK

Tory ministers slammed for exploiting trans lives as UK lurches closer to Trump’s America

Josh Milton June 8, 2022
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Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson meeting with Donald Trump in September 2019 (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty)

Peter Tatchell has led calls from LGBTQ+ activists for the Conservative Party to stop treating trans rights as a “cynical” distraction from government failings.

In just a single day, two cabinet ministers – health secretary Sajid Javid and equalities minister Liz Truss – both called for the rights of trans people to be restricted – all without even saying the word trans.

Tatchell, a vanguard of British LGBTQ+ activism, said he was unsurprised ministers have taken aim at trans people only days after prime minister Boris Johnson narrowly survived a blistering no-confidence vote.

“It is shameful the way government ministers are attacking NHS trans-inclusive language and supporting the exclusion of trans women from single-sex spaces,” Tatchell told PinkNews.

“This looks like a cynical bid to distract attention from Partygate, the cost of living crisis and Tory moves to ditch Boris Johnson.

“Ministers are seeking to exploit transphobia for political advantage, to win bigoted votes.”

At the Women and Equalities Questions Wednesday morning (8 June), Truss assured MPs the government will “fight” for the right of single-sex services to “restrict” users based on “biological sex”.

“I commend women’s organisations such as Women’s Aid that have come out in recent months to support single-sex services for women who have suffered violence and abuse,” she said in the House of Commons.

Liz Truss leaving 10 Downing Street
Liz Truss has yo-yoed in her support for LGBTQ+ rights. (Rasid Necati Aslim/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

“Service providers know that single-sex spaces are crucial for recovery from abuse and violence for many women and children. The Equality Act recognises this and allows for the restriction of single-sex spaces on the basis of biological sex.

“The law is clear, it’s on their side and we will defend it.”

Only hours before, Javid said trans-inclusive language in healthcare advice is “not right”.

“You won’t be surprised to know as the health secretary I think your sex matters, your biological sex is really important so you get the right treatment, the very best treatment,” he told SkyNews.

In April alone, Javid compared being trans to “child sex abuse“, said trans healthcare “borders on ideological” and said he will launch a chilling “review” into gender-affirming treatments for trans youth.

Boris Johnson’s government are trying to pit trans people against

jane fae, the director of trans campaign group TransActual UK and chair of the monitoring group Trans Media Watch, criticised ministers for spewing “scare stories” about trans people.

“This is disappointing but very much par for the course in a government that has decided that grinding down on minorities and spreading alarmist fictions about us is the way to win back core voters,” she said.

fae echoed what many LGBTQ+ community leaders have said – that Britain is increasingly becoming like “Trump’s America“.

Much like the Republican Party under Donald Trump’s leadership, Johnson’s administration has stoked a culture war around the lives of a deeply marginalised and vulnerable community. Often using trans rights as a way to deflect from issues such as the economy and the government’s law-breaking lockdown parties.

Taking pages from the “far-right” playbook, fae explained, the Tories are trying to paint the world as on “the verge of being overwhelmed by the not-normal” to whip-up hatred – and votes.

The Tories are increasingly referring to former US president Donald Trump’s anti-trans playbook, activists warned. (Chet Strange/Getty Images)

One way the government is doing this, the Trans Legal Project warned, is twisting the law to justify transphobia.

“It remains baffling to us how the government doesn’t seem to understand the actual law,” the research organisation said.

“It is permissible to exclude a trans woman from a single-sex space in exceptional circumstances and as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. There is nothing in the Equality Act 2010 about ‘biological sex’.”

If the government is allowed to continue to incite bigotry, Trans Legal Project added, it could embolden them to bring forward anti-trans laws “of the sort favoured by far-right Republican lawmakers in the US”.

“Our even greater concern is that the government may be looking to change Statutory Guidance and even the law to add unenforceable and ineffective ‘biological’ clauses into legislation,” it said.

“Such a move would produce chaos and could drive trans people out of British society altogether.”

But voters aren’t being swayed by this anytime soon. Tatchell pointed to a Stonewall survey that shows the public feels more sympathy and support towards trans people than any other part of the LGBTQ+ community.

“These are sickening attacks on the already besieged and vulnerable trans community,” he said, “but this tainted vote grabbing tactic won’t work and could backfire.”

More: Boris Johnson, liz truss, Peter Tatchell, Sajid Javid, transphobia

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