US Progresses on Trans Rights While the UK Falls Behind

11/05/2016 10:57

In the same week, the UK Government delays it's response to the Trans Equality Report, whilst in the US, the Department of Justice takes a big step forward for trans rights.

Nicky Morgan has announced that the Government is postponing it's response to the report into Trans Equality that was produced by the Commons Women and Equalities Select Committee in February. The report warned that the NHS is currently in violation of the law due to the extensive waiting times for Gender Identity services, and also found that the Gender Recognition Act, which is now over a decade old, is no longer fit for purpose.

In a letter to the Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, Nicky Morgan writes;
"Your report called for very significant changes to the legislative framework around gender recognition, as well as significant reforms of NHS and other public service processes, covering around a dozen different public bodies in total. We are looking through these carefully, but we are not yet in a position to issue a substantive response on all of them."

But why is it taking our government so long? Everyday the trans community continues to face discrimination and violence. As a society and in our communities we need to work much harder to welcome and accept people's life choices and self-determined identities.
It's not like Governments can't react quickly. We're seeing now in America the Department of Justice filing a lawsuit against North Carolina and standing up for trans rights.
The lawsuit is in itself ground breaking, we have the US Government saying "For individuals who have aspects of their sex that are not in alignment, the person's gender identity is the primary factor in terms of establishing that person's sex." and "A transgender man's sex is male and a transgender woman's sex is female." this is groundbreaking because we now have it from the US Department of Justice that a person's Gender Identity is the foremost identifier of that person's sex.

However the lawsuit isn't all joyous, it is very reinforcing of Binary Gender, there is not a single mention of non-binary people (people who don't identify as either male or female), so we cannot be sure about what protections non-binary people have when using the toilet.
The Trans Inquiry Report did make specific recommendations for non-binary people, and so non-binary people in the UK can have some small hope that rights could be forthcoming, the same for trans people under the age of 18.

In short, the report was a crucial first step forward for Trans Rights in the UK, however with the recent delay from the Government, there are now fears that any response will be kicked into long-grass and not be published. I hope that Nicky Morgan will publish the Government's response soon, Transphobia is not inevitable, nor is it unbeatable, we need our legal rights. We need to continue working with trans activists and allies to continue the fight for real equality.

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