The Committee's report was highly promising, with a number of well-researched and forward-looking recommendations which would make a real difference to the lives of trans and non-binary people in the UK - but it now seems unlikely that many of these will lead to genuine change.
One positive outcome of the government's response is the announcement of a review of the Gender Recognition Act. This is urgently needed: as the transgender equality report recognised, the medical and 'quasi-judicial' system of gender recognition currently in place is deeply damaging to those seeking to change their legal gender. Instead, we need a system based on self-definition: we alone know our gender, not a doctor or a legal panel, and it's crucial that trans and non-binary individuals are not forced to fight to have their gender recognised.
It's also good news that the government will look into legal recognition for non-binary individuals - but it is crucial that this recognition is granted, and fast. It may be hard for those who do identify simply as 'man' or 'woman' to imagine the torment that being forced to tick 'male' or 'female' on official documents causes to those who don't, but that discomfort is very real and is felt on an almost-daily basis by many. Any action taken by the government to ensure that non-binary identities are recognised as real and valid will, for thousands, be life-changing.
Overall, the government's response to the committee report is at best lukewarm. In far too many places, they have simply agreed to doing the very bare minimum to meet recommendations - or have asked for more evidence, despite the mountains of evidence used and numbers of experts consulted in the creation of the report. Particularly disappointing is the government's lack of support for allowing younger people to define their own gender. It is simply not good enough to equivocate and delay in this way when lives are on the line: a report last year found that almost half of young trans people had attempted suicide, and in May it was found that delays in treatment for trans people are leading to self-harm and suicide.
Far, far more needs to be done. If we are to create a society in which transgender and non-binary people enjoy the same rights as their cisgender friends, a number of changes must urgently take place.
First, trans and non-binary people must be clearly protected under the equalities act. Second, PSCE which includes education on gender identity must be made mandatory. Finally, trans and non-binary people of all ages must be given the right to legal recognition.
This Spring, the Green Party passed motions at our conference strengthening our commitment to trans rights - and we will continue to fight for equality and justice for all LGBTIQA+ people.
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