Write to your MP – House of Commons debate on transgender equality

On Thursday 1st December 2016, The House of Commons will debate a motion on Transgender Equality.

Maria Miller’s Committee has called for the removal of qualifying requirements for gender change, so that anyone could easily become legally a member of the opposite sex, without the need for any form of social or medical transition.

We’re asking everyone worried about the implications of this move to contact their MP.

 

You can also find your MP by putting your postcode in the green box in the envelope and clicking the arrow.



WriteToThem.com

Our letter is below.

Write To Them blocks copied letters, so please use your own words!

You’re very welcome to include selections from our letter, though.

 

 

Dear [MP] …

On Thursday 1st December MPs will take part in a debate in the House of Commons Chamber on a motion on transgender equality. While I welcome a discussion on the challenges faced by transgender people in today’s society, I am concerned that the interests of women and girls are not being represented in this ongoing debate and I would like you, as my MP to stand up for your female constituents.

In January the Women and Equalities Committee produced a report calling for a self-declaration system for legally changing ones gender. Currently if a person wishes to change their legal gender they must be over 18, be diagnosed with gender dysphoria and have been living in their desired gender role for at least two years, and intend to do so for the rest of their life.

The Committee’s report called for the removal of all three of these criteria, so that anyone could easily become legally a member of the opposite sex, without the need for any form of social or medical transition. Effectively, any man could claim transgender status to gain access to sex-specific spaces and services whether he genuinely thinks of himself as a woman or not and no matter how he dresses, and questioning his motives would be classed as a hate crime under the Equalities Act 2010.

In most areas of life, I support transgender people to live as they wish. However, in certain situations we distinguish between biological men and biological women for reasons of safety, dignity, privacy and fairness. Often this debate is characterised as being about public toilets, but other examples include prisons, communal changing facilities, intimate care for the disabled and the elderly, hospital wards and competitive sport.

Maria Miller has consistently denied any clash of rights here, but there are already numerous examples of violent males being housed in female prisons (eg. Lauren Jeska), males competing against females in sport (eg. Fallon Fox) and men taking accolades from women (eg. Chloe Allen).

I am also concerned about the effect this push towards the concept of ‘gender identity’ will have on children. There has been a huge increase in children seeking treatment for gender dysphoria, often based simply on a preference for toys and clothes usually associated with members of the opposite sex.

Studies show, if left to grow up without medical intervention, 80% of gender-questioning children grow into healthy adults content in their bodies. If children are started on puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, the desistance rate is close to zero, leading to a lifetime of medication and surgery.

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For an even more detailed argument, take a look at the second comment below. A FPFW reader allowed us to copy the letter she wrote to her MP; it’s brilliant.

More background:

The Need for Safeguards

Unintended Consequences

 

Penny

campaigning for women and girls

2 comments on “Write to your MP – House of Commons debate on transgender equality

  • 21st November 2016 at 14:57
    Permalink

    >> I’ve had a reply from my MP:

    Thank you for your email.

    I fully appreciate your concerns and I will do my best to attend the debate on 1 December should my Parliamentary schedule allow it.

    I have written to the Government to ensure the Minister is aware of your concerns and to invite her comments on the points you raise.

    As soon as I have more information I will be in touch.

    >> My answer:

    Thank you.

    The transgender movement’s demands bring terrifying implications for women and children. I’ve no wish to impede the rights of gender-non-conforming individuals; indeed I’m no fan of gender as a social system. But when one group’s rights require the removal of those same rights from another group, one must ask why.

    In Canada and California, where the laws are somewhat ahead of ours (from a transactivist’s point of view) there have already been many violent sexual assaults and murders by transgender women abusing their status, as well as myriad incidents of sexual harassment. Several transgenderist leaders have turned out to have a history of sexual assault, including child abuse. The implications are worrying. I sincerely hope the UK will apply intelligent nuance to our legal handling of the issues.

    Should you or your team require more background, I will try to provide reliable sources.




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  • 23rd November 2016 at 19:47
    Permalink

    >> A reader has written this fantastically clear-cut, detailed letter to her MP:

    On Thursday 1st December MPs will take part in a debate in the House of Commons Chamber on a motion on transgender equality. While I welcome a discussion on the challenges faced by transgender people in today’s society, I am concerned that the interests of women and girls are not being represented in this ongoing debate and I would like you, as my MP, to stand up for your female constituents.

    In January the Women and Equalities Committee produced a report calling for a self-declaration system for legally changing ones gender. Currently if a person wishes to change their legal gender they must be over 18, be diagnosed with gender dysphoria and have been living in their desired gender role for at least two years, and intend to do so for the rest of their life.
    The Committee’s report called for the removal of all three of these criteria, so that anyone could easily become legally a member of the opposite sex, without the need for any form of social or medical transition. Effectively, any man could claim transgender status to gain access to sex-specific spaces and services whether he genuinely thinks of himself as a woman or not and no matter how he dresses. Questioning his motives would be classed as a hate crime under the Equalities Act 2010.

    In most areas of life, I support the right of transgender people to live as they wish. However, in certain situations we distinguish between biological men and biological women for reasons of safety, dignity, privacy and fairness. Often this debate is characterised as being about public toilets, but other examples include prisons, communal changing facilities, intimate care for the disabled and the elderly, hospital wards and competitive sport to name a few.
    Redefining “sex” (a biological reality) to mean “gender identity” (a self-defined subjective feeling) renders men legally indistinguishable from women and extinguishes the independent legal existence of women. This means that the safety of women and girls is compromised, male violence can be hidden by being attributed to women, and discrimination against women and girls is rendered invisible.

    The prison service is one area where this becomes very apparent. Rape is defined in UK law as penetration with a penis, so all rape has to be committed by a biological male unless a woman is charged with a related inchoate offense. Maria Miller’s recommendations would mean that any man convicted of rape has the right to be housed in a women’s prison just by saying he is a woman. This places women in prison at an intolerable level of risk. It is interesting to note that the recent Review of Care and Management of Transgender Offenders by the Department of Justice listed the following as criteria for consideration when conducting the impact assessment;

    • Race
    • Gender
    • Gender Identity
    • Disability
    • Religion or belief
    • Sexual Orientation
    • Age

    The glaring omission is sex. Neither gender nor gender identity are protected characteristics under the Equalities Act, but sex is. By omitting sex from this impact assessment, the impact on women is completely ignored. It is hard not to be cynical in the face of such a glaring omission, especially when it is obvious the impact on incarcerated women will be so great as to make the suggested change impossible to implement.

    The British Association of Gender Identity Specialists, in their evidence submitted to the Miller enquiry talk of
    “…the ever-increasing tide of referrals of patients in prison serving long or indeterminate sentences for serious sexual offences. These vastly outnumber the number of prisoners incarcerated for more ordinary, non-sexual, offences. It has been rather naïvely suggested that nobody would seek to pretend transsexual status in prison if this were not actually the case. There are, to those of us who actually interview the prisoners, in fact very many reasons why people might pretend this. […] a plethora of prison intelligence information suggesting that the driving force was a desire to make subsequent sexual offending very much easier, females being generally perceived as low risk in this regard.”

    Women are unable to identify their way to safety, we are vulnerable because of our biology not our identity. This is why sex is a protected characteristic under the Equalities Act 2010. The implications of replacing biological sex with self-identified gender are far reaching, and need very careful consideration including a full impact assessment before any change is made. I do not believe this has happened, and I would urge you to take these points into consideration and work to find a solution for trans-gender individuals that does not have such a massive impact on the safety of women and girls.

    I have focused on prisons in the interests of brevity, however some other areas of immediate concern are;

    • Rape crisis centres and refuges where women need to feel safe. Abusers will be able to access these facilities by self-identifying as women. There are already documented cases of this happening in Canada and vulnerable women being assaulted as a consequence

    • Single sex hospital wards which were introduced to protect the privacy and dignity of patients. Women are reporting having biological males in the bed next to them and being told by staff that they are women. Women are not stupid, we know the difference!

    • Communal changing rooms where women will be expected to be naked in front of biological males and unable to express a concern. No woman or girl should be forced to be naked in front of a man no matter how he thinks of himself. This will have an even bigger impact on Muslim women who at present can participate in women only sports sessions.

    • School residential trips where girls and boys are traditionally housed in separate accommodation. This places a lot of pressure on teachers who are responsible to students whilst on such trips.

    • Women’s sports where we are already seeing biological males winning accolades in women’s events. Despite trans-women’s testosterone levels needing to be at the low end of the normal male range, it is still more than 3 times higher than that permissible for women. To say nothing of body composition increased lung capacity etc. There is no longer a level playing field for women in sport.

    • The impact on crime statistics. It has been shown that trans-women retain the same patterns of offending as biological males. Crimes are being reported as being committed by women because police forces are recording them by gender not sex. This not only skews data, but has an impact on funding.

    • The massive impact on lesbian women who are now being told they are transphobic for not wanting sexual relationships with biological males who identify as lesbian. (I kid you not!)

    • Official documents such as passports which record sex (fixed) will now record gender (a set of stereotypes which change over time and across cultures).

    • Women in positions that require them to conduct body searches (prison officers, airport security staff etc) who will be forced to conduct intimate searches of men if the man says he is a woman. We have already seen this method of control and abuse of women taking place in our prisons.

    There are many more, but I hope I have been able to help you understand that women are not being transphobic when they raise concerns about these changes as Maria Miller implied, but have real and valid concerns.

    I would urge you to consider the wider implications of these changes, and look for an alternative solution that meets the needs of the transgender community without having such a massive impact on the safety and well-being of women.




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