Trans people would be robbed of the rights they fought so hard to gain
BY KATE STRONG, IMAGE BY UNSPLASH
Kemi Badenoch, the Equalities Minister, is considering making changes to the Equality act that would redefine sex to specifically mean biological sex – the sex assigned at birth. But what does this mean for people in the trans community? The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) have given their advice in a letter to the government, they have found several areas that they feel bring greater legal clarity, however these areas will bring detrimental effects to the trans community.
The watchdog has been slammed for celebrating trans visibility day, only days before sending their letter which includes “excluding trans women from women’s groups” as a beneficial factor of changing the law.
What a gross joke of an organisation to push for the legal stripping of the lived existence of trans people literally 4 days after posting this. Sickeningly disingenuous, as a gay man I don’t trust the EHRC in the slightest to look out for my community. https://t.co/ODogBwL44B— Ed (@decedant99) April 4, 2023
Here are five damaging results redefining sex would cause…
If the Equality Act was changed in this way, it would allow employers to dismiss trans applications for jobs where sex is a major factor role. The EHRC have used the example of a warden in a women’s hostel. The employer would be able to turn trans women down due to the fact that they weren’t assigned female at birth.
MORE bans on trans people in sport
This change would see further restrictions on trans folk in sport, as if the World Athletics ban on trans women competing wasn’t enough. Even if they hold a Gender Recognition Certificate, organisations could more easily exclude trans people from sports without having to prove it necessary to do so in the interests of health and safety.
Exclusion from gendered spaces
Groups such as lesbian groups or women’s only book clubs could also become limited to only biological women, according to the EHRC. Women feeling threatened by trans people encroaching on their spaces is an all too familiar anti-trans campaign line, however data from the British Social Attitudes survey show that 72% of women were “very” or “quite comfortable” sharing a public bathroom with trans women.
Restrictions on access to gendered hospital wards
If the definition of sex changes, hospitals would be able to restrict trans women from some female wards. Although the EHRC have noted that “A service provider would have to conduct a careful balancing exercise to justify excluding all trans women,” this leaves us to question what would be considered reasonable justification.
Trans women unable to report sexism
Currently, a trans woman with a GRC is able to report if she has been a victim of sexist behaviour as a woman, however if laws are changed, she would be recognised as a man therefore unable to claim sex discrimination. The same goes for equal pay claims. As it stands trans women with a GRC can bring an equal pay claim by citing a male employee who is paid more – this change would also revert that.
This law change proposal has prompted backlash from Stonewall, who believes this will only result in “opening yet another chapter in a manufactured culture war that will see little benefit to women, cis and trans alike.” A spokesperson for the charity has commented that the EHRC are “fundamentally wrong to imply that trans women do not experience sexism, which cuts far beyond biology.” They have also raised concerns about how the rights of intersex people may be impacted by this.
Of course, no official changes have been made yet, but PM Rishi Sunak is committed to his pledge to reinforce the rights of biological sex. The proposed changes would be like a step back in time for the trans community and another thing to throw on the burning pile of anti LGBTQIA rights laws this year. For a moment, the UK felt safe as we looked over the pond to see Americans dealing with bills restricting drag performances and the Don’t Say Gay Bill, it was a rude awakening to be reminded things are just as bad at home.
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