We are all still reeling from the news that the Government decided to block the GRA ReformGRA Reform Gender Recognition Reform Bill - Scotland https://www.gov.scot/news/gender-recognition-reform-bill/ Published 03 March 2022 09:34 Part of Equality and rights Simplifying how trans people apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate. See Also https://mermaidsuk.org.uk/mermaids-manifesto-for-gra-reform/ https://www.stonewall.org.uk/what-does-uk-government-announcement-gender-recognition-act-mean Bill in Scotland. So it is important to take a look at exactly what GRA Reform means plus what it actually allows to understand the level of misinformation that has been maliciously spread regarding the TRUE impact of the Bill.
So let’s begin by acknowledging that none of the objections raised in Scotland claim to be about Trans Women, but rather the opportunity for ‘predatory cisgender men’ to abuse the process and increasing the danger to cisgender women, plus endless talk about how this would impact on England.
For many claiming to show ‘concerns’ about how this can be abused, there is also a disturbing pattern of linking male violence to their narrative, which is intentionally used to set a perception that trans women are not really women but rather male predators. In my opinion, JK Rowling did precisely this in her controversial essay talking about her own personal suffering of such awful abuse, as did a disgraceful article published only last week by the Jewish Chronicle. All acts of violence committed by men on women are abhorrent and totally unacceptable, but so is any attempt to conflate the vile action of cis men with trans women.
But even then, given this claim that ‘predatory cis men’ could abuse this new process, there was a complete failure to go any further to make clear exactly what the true consequences of this might be and how this abuse could be achieved.
So what is GRA Reform all about – A Birth Certificate – by obtaining a GRC it means that the ‘Sex’ marker on a Birth Certificate can be changed, and that is it’s only impact.
Now let’s just imagine that I, as a Cisgender Man, have undergone this process of having lived as female for 3 months and made the required statutory declaration so I’m now holding a Female Birth Certificate – so what can I actually do with it? If I was to go out now to any public toilet with my Birth Certificate in hand, I don’t need this to go in – I just choose which one my gender best aligns with and I walk in. We all do.
A Birth Certificate isn’t a recognised ID Document – This is why ID requirements are based around showing a Driving Licence or a Passport, which include our photo and address, and you do not need a GRC to change the ‘sex’ marker on either of these. So that means the ID that is always requested from us whenever we need to prove our identity doesn’t depend on having a GRC to change it from Male to Female or visa-versa.
The fact is that no-one needs any form of ID to gain access to any public toilet, or in fact any other gender appropriate space, such as changing rooms. So if we don’t use a Birth Certificate to gain access, why is anyone claiming GRA Reform makes this more dangerous for Women?
I have heard some claim that it enables a predator to argue they have a right to be there if challenged, but this simply isn’t logical. The provision of ‘Single Sex Spaces’ is covered by the Equality Act; this clearly states that anyone transgender has protection at any stage of transition so the possession of a GRC does not alter this, and anyone questioned simply need claim to be transgender and have protection under the Equality Act. It makes absolutely no sense that they would rely on a document that has no impact on the use of gender appropriate spaces, but regardless, if they were in the act of committing a crime, a GRC isn’t a magic pass – they would still face the full punishment in law for any crime committed. A GRC has no added benefit in entering any gender appropriate space.
Listening to recent TV ‘debates’ regarding this matter, I have also now seen the repetition of another so called ‘serious concern’ due to the minimum age of 16 being adopted under the Scottish Bill, framed as the example of a 16 year old trans kid (let’s call them Child A) who could now obtain a GRC whilst at a single sex school – this being the usual ploy of those seeking to undermine the validity of the entire Bill by digging out a single isolated example where they claim there is an issue, however, what they always fail to do is look at the wider picture. So let’s add to this specific situation the position of a Child B, who is a 14 or 15 year old trans kid at the same single sex school who clearly does not have a GRC; so where do they stand? The simple fact is that the rights of both Child A and Child B are dealt with in exactly the same way under the Equality Act 2010 and it is up to each single sex school to decide whether there is ‘a proportionate means to achieving a legitimate aim’ in refusing to provide a place for a transgender pupil. The GRC makes no difference, so Child A does not have any greater rights or protection in this situation by possessing a GRC.
This is yet another case where a triumphant ‘gotcha’ soundbite is being used to make the public believe the Bill is creating an insurmountable problem, when the truth is that the matter for working out the best arrangements for trans kids in single sex schools already exists and the GRA Reform doesn’t change or impact on this in any way. It is also worth noting that under the Self Declaration process introduced in Ireland in 2015, if you are aged 16 or 17 you can ask a parent or guardian to apply on your behalf, so this is already possible in Ireland and yet we hear of no such issues with single sex schools in Ireland.
This is yet another false argument in a desperate attempt to discredit a Bill that has no meaningful impact on day to day life. With any new or amended law there will always be minor issues that will need to find workable solutions; these are inevitable and those involved will find the best way forward, but surely we are not believing that isolated issues that will impact only in specific circumstances affecting just a tiny number of people within an already tiny % of the population impacted by this Bill, should derail the whole process. No laws would ever be passed if this were true.
As already stated, The Equality Act covers all gendered appropriate spaces and services, therefore the Scottish Gender Recognition Reform Bill recognised this and it expressly states that the Equality Act is not affected, which is as follows:
This line was specifically inserted to ensure there was no ambiguity. The fact that some still claim that the Bill impacts on the Equality Act doesn’t mean it actually does and tellingly, those claiming this Reform will impact on the Equality Act still can’t actually explain how it does, they simply say it does, without offering any explanation or evidence.
So in summary, The Equality Act states that protection is at any stage of transition, so having a GRC is never a deciding factor, and the Scottish Bill states it doesn’t change this. So it really couldn’t be much clearer.
So how about any other claims about what a GRC would impact on.
Having a Female Birth Certificate doesn’t give anyone any control over where they are placed in Prison. Authorities may currently start from a position of acknowledging a GRC, but that does not guarantee placement and the Prisons retain full control on the decision on each individual placement. That’s because it’s The Equality Act and the Exemptions that ensures that the likes of Prisons and Refuges can assess each application on a case by case basis and decide the most appropriate place of placement.
We’ve also heard many false claims that the Reform will somehow impact on the integrity of Women’s Sport. But the simple truth is that there is not one single sport where anyone can demand entry simply because they have a Female Birth Certificate – Not one. Each sport sets its own criteria and no sports criteria ever insist on a Female Birth Certificate as the sole requirement for participation. So yet again, the truth is that having a GRC changes nothing in regard to Sport.
It is therefore very clear that having a Female Birth Certificate is of no use whatsoever to ANY cisgender man in accessing ANY Female spaces or services. None.
So what will it do?
Well as it happens, our own Steph recently received the news she has desperately been waiting months to hear – she successfully received her own GRC. So what does this mean that Steph can now do, as so far we’ve only explained what it can’t do?
1) It means that if Steph was to now get married, a GRC means she will have the dignity to be recorded in her correct gender. The last thing anyone transgender wants on their most special day is to be intentionally misgendered and not recognised as their true self. So clearly this is of benefit to anyone transgender, but equally it’s of no benefit to a Male Predator, nor can it increase any perceived danger to cisgender women.
2) Having a GRC also means when you die you will be recorded in your true self. This is of particular benefit for those that come from a family that have refused to accept their transition and will seek to bury them with no recognition of their true identity. Just imagine if you faced the prospect of being buried and recorded as someone else. So again it’s just about treating someone with respect and dignity, even in death, and can this be abused by Predatory Men to cause danger to Women? Of course not.
And 3) there are some tax and pension implication that will require minor administrational procedures.
And that is it.
That is all that a GRC and a changed Birth Certificate can be used for; when you marry or die. And for obvious reasons as detailed above, no one has been able to give any explanation as to how this is considered a genuine or serious danger to cisgender women, nor why it’s been fought against with such ferocity.
I hear claims that there is evidence to show that this Bill causes increased danger. Within the Scottish GRA Reform Stage 1 Report, para 472 stated “Further, the majority recognise that, when asked about evidence of abuse & concerns, no witness was able to provide concrete examples“. Those objecting have had 6 years to find and collate any evidence, yet none were able to produce any.
And it’s not like this is a new law that hasn’t been introduced in other countries. More than 18 countries with a combined population of well over 350 million people have introduced such laws, this includes Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Ecuador, Iceland, Luxembourg, Malta, New Zealand, Portugal, Norway, Pakistan, Switzerland, and even our own neighbouring Ireland in 2015 – in recent months both Germany and Spain have also voted in favour of implementation. Are they all wrong? And don’t forget that it was a Tory Government that first proposed and supported the introduction of GRA Reform in England and Wales in 2018, which was fully supported at that time by the EHRC.
All these countries introduced Self Declaration to replace a Medical Diagnosis, yet no one can produce any evidence to show it has had any negative impact or increased crime – None – And this amendment was introduced 8 years ago in Ireland.
I have also heard it claimed that GRA Reform will somehow have a serious impact on important National Data Statistics. In the recent National census it was revealed there are a minimum of 262,000 people who registered as being transgender – that is just 0.5% of the population, so a level that could not possibly make any meaningful difference to any data analysis figures. The census revealed that 0.1% identifies as trans women and the identical percentage are trans men, so if they all undergo the GRC process, the numbers simply cancel each other out. But just for arguments sake, lets imagine that the transition was only to female, as it is always female issues that are raised in this heated debate. In 2020 the population of the United Kingdom was over 67 million, with 33.94 million females and 33.15 million males, which equates to 50.59% of the population. If every trans women recorded in the census were to obtain a GRC, without any trans men doing the same, the total female stat would increase from 50.59% to 50.64%. Quite clearly this is a totally insignificant increase that could not have any possible or meaningful impact on any Government policy decisions or future planning in relation to the UK’s female population. The numbers involved are so small that data stats cannot be a genuine issue of concern.
So if all I can do is get married or die as a Female, and I can’t use it to access any Female Spaces, or prison, or refuge, or sport, because all these matters are covered by the Equality Act which isn’t affected in any way, we seriously have to ask why this current Tory Government is blocking the legislation in Scotland for no understandable reason or benefit.
And furthermore, why are the Government also seeking to block the validity of a GRC from other Countries from being recognised when this has clearly caused no issue to date and has never been raised before as an issue? All visitors plus those immigrating to the UK have faced no insurmountable problems if they had obtained a GRC from any of the countries on that extensive list. The clear reason for this being a bogus issue being that if overseas GRC’s are not recognised it again simply means that those with one cannot use it if they marry or die in the UK, but in all other aspects of using gender appropriate spaces they will be protected in the same way as all UK citizens under the UK Equality Act. It is very clear that there has been no issue to date with anyone from any country with a GRC obtained by Self Declaration; so yet again this is a manufactured problem this simply doesn’t need addressing.
I ask this question; if invited to visit the UK, does the UK Government really intend to treat the Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium, who is a transgender woman, as if they were a man?
The United Nations were one of the first to publicly congratulate the Scottish Government on Social Media when the Bill was passed – they tweeted:
#Scotland: We welcome adoption by Scottish Parliament of the #Gender Recognition Reform Bill – a significant step forward in respecting the human right of #trans persons to recognition of their gender identity, based on self-identification.
So this action will only further alienate the UK Government from the United Nations and the international community, who will undoubtedly be expecting the UK’s EHRC to be holding the Government accountable for any action that is clearly harmful to the Transgender community and simply not based on reality.
And the fact is that the Government know about everything I have stated. We know this because a Tory Government has publicly published such clarification.
During the 2018 GRA Consultation when a Tory Government under Theresa May was positively seeking and pushing to implement this Reform, the Government published the following clarification on the Reform to state that it will have no impact on the Equality Act:
And the current Tory Government has also published this clarification on precisely what obtaining a GRC will enable the holder to do. This clearly confirms what we have stated in the article:
GRA Reform will have no impact on cisgender women or cause issue with any meaningful aspect of everyday life in the UK, but let’s end by pondering on one final point.
If I was a predatory man intent on obtaining a Female Birth Certificate, purely so I could use it as some kind of proof to gain access to female spaces, would I really be voluntarily offering my name right before the act of committing a violent act, thereby ensuring I was caught? Not only would I face the penalty for committing that crime, but I’d also face a far stiffer penalty for having fraudulently made the legal declaration that I was Transgender.
And consider further; in order to obtain a GRC I will be required, as a condition of qualifying, to have lived as a women for a minimum of 3 months, so that includes using female spaces prior to having a GRC or a female Birth Certificate. That alone shows the madness of any claim of increased danger. As already stated, I would legally be able to use female spaces for those required 3 months without having obtained a GRC because I am covered under the Equality Act at any stage of my transition, so why would I even bother applying for a GRC and commit myself to making a statutory declaration (that would increase any prison sentence if caught) if I’m already accessing female spaces without one? It simply doesn’t make any sense.
And that is the whole issue – none of this manufactured fuss makes any sense if you simply stick to the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and unfortunately truth is such a rare commodity from anyone vehemently opposing this Reform.