Time to work together for a trans inclusive world

Elaine Duffy
Elaine Duffy

#stuc19 Following a passionate debate, Congress backed a call from the STUC LGBT+ Conference to put pressure on the Scottish Government to implement changes to the 2004 Gender Recognition Act.

There will be joint work between the Women’s Committee and the LGBT+ Committee to promote both trans rights and women’s rights and to reject any attempt to divide the two movements.

Supporting, UNISON’s Elaine Duffy said that over the past few weeks and months we have seen a sustained and misleading campaign by sections of the UK media on trans people and trans equality.

“Conversations about trans rights have got bogged down in a narrow focus on language and terminology.

“The settled consensus for two decades on LGBTI human rights has been breaking down leading to ‘debates’ about trans peoples’ very existence,” warned Elaine. “Not since the days of Section 28 have we seen such a negative campaign against LGBTI equality in the UK.

“But really, it needs to be about how to ensure trans people are treated fairly and equally in society. Fairness and equality have always been at the root of our trade union values. As the motion itself says, “United we are strong, divided we will fall.””

Elaine added that of course biology matters.

“After all, this is at the root of so much of women’s inequality. Furthering trans equality is part of this broader fight. Don’t we all want to reach a point where it is people who matter?” asked Elaine.

She pointed out that trans members have also repeatedly raised concerns about the humiliating, bureaucratic and expensive nature of the current gender recognition process, including the requirement to submit intrusive psychiatric evidence. And they have expressed concerns about the faceless nature of the gender recognition panel and the fact that its decisions are not open to appeal.

“UNISON is fundamentally opposed to the idea that a panel of ‘experts’ can sit in judgement of a person’s gender identity,” said Elaine, calling on the Scottish Government to bring forward legislation to introduce a self-declaration system for legal gender recognition, which has proven to work well in many other countries.

“The process would still be serious, robust and legal requiring the person to sign a statutory declaration – a legal oath – that they are living permanently in their gender identity. Falsely completing this would be a serious crime.”

She added that research into the experience in countries already using self-declaration for legal gender recognition has not identified false or frivolous statements being made by applicants.

“Trans organisations, LGBTI organisations, women’s organisations, and many other supporters are increasingly speaking out publicly for trans equality.”

Social media has seen the popularity of the #LwiththeT campaign, and #GwiththeT, #BwiththeT, #CiswiththeT, & #PridewiththeT campaigns have now followed.

“Congress, it is time for us to work together, to be united. Let’s be on the right side of history and work together to make a trans inclusive world a reality.”

Click here for more information on the STUC website.

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