I’ve just been reminded that there’s an Equality Bill group on Facebook (link here).
There’s lots of useful information and in particular you should note the link through to EqualityBill.com, a website recently launched by Lord Waheed Ali to help facilitate people in lobbying their MPs directly. In turn, Lord Ali will present these opinions to the House of Lords later in the year when the Bill is brought up.
At the moment, EqualityBill.com is running a campaign to try and send 100 emails to MPs before the Equality Bill debate on 11 May next week – click here for more information.
Also, no campaigning website would be complete without a presence on Twitter – link here.
And last but by no means least, don’t forget the INequality Bill Facebook group (link here), which has already done sterling work under the administration of Natascha…
ETA: Just found EqualityBill.com’s stance on trans rights – here’s the link:
In a major step forward for the transgender community, the ‘Goods and Services’ equality laws covering Gender Reassignment will be extended to cover ‘Public Functions’. This means, for example, that discrimination provisions in schools will now protect transgender children. At a time when the Equality Duty is being implemented to oblige schools to promote equality (see Homophobic Bullying, above), it is obviously important that gender reassignment is a part of this duty.
Perhaps even more importantly, the laws surrounding discrimination and harrassment will be extended to cover ‘association’ with the transgender community. Given that transphobic discrimination occurs just as much to those who self-identify as transgender as it does to those undergoing any medical procedures, this will be an important part of tackling inequality and levelling-up the law to align with other forms of protection.
UPDATE: There have been some concerns from members of the Trans community that the Equality Bill will only provide protection for those under medical supervision. This is not the case. The explanatory notes to the legislation specifically note that if, for example, an individual who is biologically female is living as a man, then for the purposes of the law, they will be considered to have undergone ‘gender reassignment’. This will not require either medical or legal approval to be considered a valid defence in cases of harrassment, equality of provision of goods and services, implementation of the Equality Duty, and so on.
All well and good – but, as I’ve said before – it’s still not clear how these protections will actually be enforced, or what the penalties will be for those who break the law. I can see no point in having an ineffective law which only pays lip service to trans people’s concerns but makes no practical difference to our everyday lives. But maybe that would be something to lobby my MP about, if I could believe it would make even the slightest difference.
ETA: Been batting it back and forth a little with the Equality Bill rep on Twitter (link here) about what the Bill actually offers, in practical terms, to the proverbial trans woman on the Clapham omnibus. This is the gist of what I was told:
- Partners who are non-trans are protected by association.
This still draws a distinction between trans and cis (non-trans) and therefore doesn’t seem to enable self-identification.
- the trans woman who hasn’t undergone surgery is now protected.
And how will you know? Pantie check, anyone? Or does it require the trans person to out themselves? The use of surgery as a marker implies that, despite assurances to the contrary, our pathology will still be required to be known. The essentialist tendency…
- Equality Duty can affect local support groups, schools bullying policies, health privacy options in wards, and more.
These all relate to various public sector items. My support groups are online, I left school 30+ years ago and I’m unlikely to be able to gain access to hospital wards without a GP – see my earlier post about the difficulties I experienced when trying to register just a couple of years ago (link here)
- private members clubs included in all of the harrassment laws etc.
I’m not a member of any private members club.
Admittedly, that’s a very brief fly-past, but even on that limited information, it really is hard to see just exactly what this law will do for me and my mine if we don’t fall within some strictly defined categories. Categories defined by cis people, of course. Like you even needed to ask.
I can’t say I’m either surprised or disappointed. For a long time my gut feeling has been that government couldn’t give a flying one about trans people and this only confirms it.
It’s all about the cis people, innit. It’s always about the cis people…
Previous related posts on this blog:
- Equality Bill 2008-09 (April 28, 2009)
- ONS to calculate the size of Britain’s GLB population. But apparently not the number of trans people. (December 7, 2008)
- The Queen’s Speech and the Equality Bill (December 3, 2008)
- Equalities Bill announced (June 26, 2008)