The government has leaked plans to drop changes to the Gender Recognition Act to the Sunday Times (14 June).
Changes drawn up under Theresa May’s government would have streamlined the legal process of changing a birth certificate by removing some barriers like medical diagnosis and lengthy and intrusive evidence procedure. Consultation on the updated Gender Recognition Act closed in 2018, but the government has since dragged its feet on implementing it following a spectacular and well-organised backlash from opponents.
The Labour leadership seems to be doing its best to avoid taking a position on the issue, raising concern that previous support for changes to the GRA have been dropped. Labour’s shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds’ criticism of the government was to say it was wrong to announce changes to an “extremely sensitive” policy area by leaking them to a newspaper.
This is a terrible failure in solidarity for our trans comrades. We should campaign for changes to the GRA, and we must also go much further.
The labour movement should be looking to integrate fights against oppression and bigotry into the broader class struggle. We should support changes which make it easier, cheaper and less degrading to change our legal gender. Self-declaration helps trans people by removing some difficulties in social recognition of their identities, helping to counteract their marginalisation.
We must challenge misinformation and scaremongering about single-sex spaces. It is austerity and chronic underfunding that endanger domestic violence services and refuges, not trans women. We must campaign for better provision of holistic gender identity services and trans healthcare, which are currently seriously underfunded and inaccessible.
This should be provided in an NHS in public ownership, with adequate funding and under democratic control.
Unions, the Labour Party and the labour movement must organise to tackle transphobia, sexism and harassment at work and in wider society.