A ‘blatant attempt to roll back hard-won rights for the trans community.’
Liz Truss, Britain’s shortest-serving prime minister who crashed the economy, put forward a Private Member’s Bill in the House of Commons this week.
Writing for the Daily Mail on the day she presented the Health and Equality Acts (Amendment) Bill to Parliament, the former PM said: “It [the Bill] will protect single-sex spaces by amending the Equality Act to clarify that the protections it affords to ‘sex’ unambiguously refer to biological sex.”
In the article, Truss alluded to ‘extreme ‘woke’ ideology’ and the ‘absence of all common sense,’ as she mapped out her plan to ‘protect women and girls from an increasingly divisive woke agenda.’
Under the new law proposed by Truss, it would be illegal for teachers to use a child’s preferred pronouns. Additionally, giving under 18s puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones would be unlawful. Truss also wants to change the law to clarify that anyone legally defined as a woman cannot have a penis.
The Bill has the backing of around 11 Tory MPs so far, including the former home secretary, Priti Patel, and one DUP MP.
The proposals sparked fury among LGBTQ+ and equal rights charities, which fear the Bill would undermine transgender rights.
A spokesperson for the transgender youth charity, Mermaids, said they were “disgusted by this blatant attempt to roll back hard-won rights for the trans community.”
“We know firsthand from the young people we support how transformative it is to their mental and physical wellbeing, when they are in an environment where their pronouns are respected, and they have the space to explore their identity,” they added.
Stonewall, the LGBTQ+ rights charity, also hit out, saying: “As prejudice and hate crime against trans people rise, it’s important to remember that trans people make up 0.5% of the population, and have been lawfully using the facilities of their acquired gender in Great Britain since the 20th Century.
“Meanwhile a leading paediatrician is conducting a review of how to improve healthcare services for trans and gender questioning young people. This proposed Bill appears to be a knee jerk reaction to a moral panic, rather than something that would benefit the general public in any way.”
A UK Government spokeswoman said: “This government is clear of the fundamental importance of biological sex.
“The Equality Act already allows single-sex spaces to be restricted on the basis of sex where that is justified, and the EHRC (Equality and Human Rights Commission) has published extensive guidance to support providers.”
The EHRC, the UK’s human rights watchdog, is currently under review over its own approach to transgender rights and faces losing its seat on the United Nations council. The watchdog came under fire from LGBTQ+ charities over its lack of political independence from the Conservative government.
After a complaint by Stonewall and 30 other LGBT charities, which accused the EHRC of “actively harming” transgender people in the UK, the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI), launched a special review of the institution.
Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward