A Beaumont Society Response to Statement by Liz Truss

On the 22nd April Liz Truss, Minister for Women and Equalities, stated at a meeting of the House of Commons Women and Equalities Select Committee:

“The final point I’d like to make, Madam Chairman, in this initial part, is on the issue of the Gender Recognition Act. We’ve been doing a lot of work internally, making sure we’re in a position to respond to that consultation and launch what we propose to do on the future of the Gender Recognition Act. We will be in a position to do that by the summer, and there are three very important principles that I will be putting place.

First of all, the protection of single-sex spaces, which is extremely important.

Secondly making sure that transgender adults are free to live their lives as they wish without fear of persecution, whilst maintaining the proper checks and balances in the system.

Finally, which is not a direct issue concerning the Gender Recognition Act, but is relevant, making sure that the under 18s are protected from decisions that they could make, that are irreversible in the future. I believe strongly that adults should have the freedom to lead their lives as they see fit, but I think it’s very important that while people are still developing their decision-making capabilities that we protect them from making those irreversible decisions.”

The Beaumont Society would like clarification on the Minister’s statement:

  1. What exactly does the Minister mean when she refers to “single sex” spaces? Is there a widely accepted understanding as to the spaces to which she is referring? We would be happy if these “single-sex” spaces were to include trans people in their acquired gender. E.g. trans-women in women-only wards in hospitals; trans women who have suffered domestic violence being accepted in Women’s Refuges; trans women who have been raped being accepted into Women’s Rape Crisis Centres. The Minister states that continued protection is extremely important, but fails to clarify exactly what she means by this.
  2. What are the “proper checks and balances” she refers to? Could she be more specific so that we can be reassured that the hard-won rights of trans people will continue to be upheld, and can she reassure us that the prejudices of some vociferous minorities will be resisted?
  3. Young trans people need to be able to access advice and support from suitably qualified and experienced professionals and, if deemed appropriate on a case-by-case basis, access to puberty-blocking medication. Decision makers must take into account the high rate of self-harm among teenagers forced to wait years for treatment.

Coronavirus Briefing for LGBT+ people

The LGBT Foundation has issued their Essential Briefing on the Impact of Covid-19 on LGBT Communities in the UK

You can download it here: https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/lgbt-media/Files/237f78f1-e06c-46d7-ae08-1c9d5f9ca0bc/The%2520Essential%2520Briefing%2520on%2520the%2520Impact%2520of%2520COVID-19%2520on%2520LGBT%2520Communities%2520in%2520the%2520UK%2520%2520-%25208%2520April%25202020.pdf

NHS Guidance on Delivering Same-Sex Accommodation

The National Health Service has published new guidance on how providers of NHS-funded care are expected to prioritise the safety, privacy and dignity of all patients whilst conforming to the regulations relating to same-sex accommodation. The general key points are that:

  • Trans people should be accommodated according to their presentation: the way they dress, and the name and pronouns they currently use.
  • This may not always accord with the physical sex appearance of the chest or genitalia.
  • It does not depend on their having a gender recognition certificate (GRC) or legal name change.
  • It applies to toilet and bathing facilities (except, for instance, that pre-operative trans people should not share open shower facilities).
  • Views of family members may not accord with the trans person’s wishes, in which case, the trans person’s view takes priority.

This has clearly been thought through very carefully and is sensible and encouraging. It does NOT “drive a wrecking ball through hard-fought-for rules and rights” as claimed by Conservative MP for Monmouth, David Davies, in the Daily Telegraph on 2nd October.

The guidance recognises that the Equality Act (2010) protects trans people from discrimination and it confirms that the best person to consult over a patient’s gender identity is the patient themself. The importance of preserving privacy and dignity for patients is underlined and reiterates the tenet that ‘good practice requires that clinical responses be patient-centred.’ Unfortunately, because of the binary nature of the provision it is difficult to meet adequately the needs of non-binary patients, but at least they have identified appropriate recommendations on how staff members should address this.
Just as in any other situation, if a patient behaves in a way that is inappropriate and puts other patients at risk, then special arrangements may need to be made.
To read the full guidance click on the link:

My Dad Marie

My Dad Marie is a short film that tells the story of how Charlie and Marie navigate their Child/ Parent relationship in the early stages of Marie’s transition. Marie is struggling to hold on to those she loves most. It is a story that will strike a chord with many of us.  Filming has begun, but they need a little help for post-production costs. Find out more about it here: https://igg.me/at/MyDadMarie

Vatican document on gender

The Congregation for Catholic Education has published a document titled: Male and Female He Created Them: Towards a path of dialogue on the question of gender theory in education. It is intended to be an instrument to “help guide Catholic contributions to the ongoing debate about human sexuality, and to address the challenges that emerge from gender ideology.” Unfortunately, it seems to have been written by people who know nothing about trans people other than that which they have read in the transphobic tabloid press.

The key claims made in this document are:

that the debate about gender identity aims to “annihilate the concept of nature” and creating an educational crisis and destabilising the family as an institution. However, far from seeking to annihilate the concept of nature I believe that we are expressing and living the reality of gender diversity which exists in nature.

the debate around gender is designed to challenge traditional understandings of family life. “This oscillation between male and female becomes, at the end of the day, only a provocative display against so-called traditional frameworks and one which ignores the suffering of those who have live situations of sexual indeterminacy. I suspect that I would challenge the writers of the document’s traditional understanding of family life. It is up to each family to develop its own notion of family life – which I hope would be based on love and mutual respect, not on any concept imposed by others. Why should any of us be bound to present ourselves in any particular way? I don’t know if those of us who enjoy the ambiguity and freedom to present as male on some occasions, female at others or androgynously would describe themselves as ‘oscillating’. What does it matter to anyone else if they do? The Beaumont Society exists to support those who are suffering because of their sexual or gender ‘indeterminacy’. This is a suffering caused by those who espouse the views within this Vatican document.

those who promote discussion of gender identity are being unquestioning and absolutist. “While the ideologies of gender claim to respond, as Pope Francis has indicated, to what are at times understandable aspirations, they also seek to assert themselves as absolute and unquestionable, even dictating how children should be raised.” I really do not understand where the Vatican gets this idea. At the Beaumont Society we recognise that there are many ways to be trans. We are keen to explore and celebrate the diversity of gender identity. We would certainly not ‘dictate’ how children should be raised – other than with love, respect and encouragement.

post-modern ideology means that human identity “has become the choice of the individual, one which can also change over time”. “This has led to calls for public recognition of the right to choose one’s gender.” Rejecting the notion that gender is a matter of choice, it says “The view of both sexual identity and the family become subject to the same liquidity and fluidity that characterise other aspects of post-modern culture, often founded on nothing more than a confused concept of freedom in the realm of feelings and wants.” I was interviewed by Martin Bashir for Radio 4’s 6 o’clock News on 10th June on this issue and my reply was, “No-one I know chooses to be trans. Why would they. It must be so much easier to be cisgender. The only choice that trans people have is whether to hide it from other people and endure the torments alone, or to talk about it and risk rejection by family and friends.”

gender is not decided upon by individuals but imputed by God. “The Holy Scripture reveals the wisdom of the Creator’s design, which has assigned as a task to man his body, his masculinity and femininity.” “The family is the natural place for the relationship of reciprocity and communion and defines the family as between man and woman.” Actually, I would suggest that if there is a Creator, their design is far more sophisticated than that recognised by the early prophets. We know that there is a great diversity of gender identities and sexualities. Quite clearly that there are many different ways that loving families can be presented.

the church has long tolerated discriminatory conduct. “Indeed it cannot be denied that through the centuries forms of unjust discrimination have been a sad fact of history and have also had an influence within the church.” I cannot argue with this statement. Unfortunately, the writers do not seem to realise that they are continuing in this tradition by advocating that their followers should perpetuate this discrimination in the case of trans people.

Should trans people and trans people’s lives be represented positively in university course materials?

The answer is, of course, “Yes”. Sadly, however, according to an article in the Daily Telegraph on Saturday 8th June some academics feel that this would impede free speech and “create a chilling effect on campus.” Kathleen Stock is a professor at Sussex University who has stated that such a policy is “repressive”. Professor Stock was a vocal opponent to the Government’s proposals to reform the Gender Recognition Act and presumably believes that it is perfectly in order to represent trans people negatively even when highlighting the inappropriate behaviour of just one individual who happens to be trans.

I was asked to comment and my reply was quoted:

‘Dr Jane Hamlin, president of The Beaumont Society, a transgender support group, said she did not believe such policies “harm debate or discussion”.

She said: “Even if one is being critical it shouldn’t be about the person being transgender – clearly it depends more on the actions of the individual or the comments they have made.

“Clearly if something is inappropriate that is reasonable to criticise the comment or the action, not the fact that it’s made by a trans person.”’

To read the article click here: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/06/07/universitys-policy-sparks-backlash-saying-transgender-people/

Making immigration records straightforward for trans people

The team responsible for ensuring that government digital services are built and designed to be as user-friendly as possible is inviting members of the public to test these services and provide feedback on their experiences. These services include immigration applications and passport renewals amongst others.

They are currently working on the online process involved in an individual changing their gender identity on their immigration record online. The Beaumont Society has been asked if we could assist in the recruitment drive for those who might be interested in participating and helping to improve the service.

They are seeking 10 – 20 people who:

  • Have been through, or are planning to go through, gender transition.
  • May need to change their gender identity details on formal and legal documents.
  • Are non-UK EU citizens
  • Are over 18 years of age.

They say their priority with the project is to ensure that these online processes work as efficiently and seamlessly as possible for the transgender and non-binary community in our country. The researchers are relatively flexible in travelling domestically or doing remote research, but their main offices are located in London, Corydon, Sheffield and Manchester. They are aiming to begin inviting in participants for research in mid-June. All participant information is treated with strict confidentiality and in line with GDPR. Participating in this research has no influence on a participant’s legal status.

If you would like further information contact Astrid Crowley, Research Operations Officer, Digital Data and Technology, Home Office

astrid.crowley@digital.homeoffice.gov.uk

Are organisations indifferent about mis-gendering people?

Mis-gendering trans people can cause a great deal of distress and embarrassment to all those involved. This can happen in any interaction, but is most likely during telephone conversations because there are no visual clues to assist. How do organisations that conduct at least some of their business by telephone ensure that all their customers are treated with respect and courtesy?

 

Beaumont Society member, Lindsay Dearman, took a great deal of trouble to contact 100 large businesses and public and private bodies – including a number of Members of Parliament – hoping to find examples of good practice of how these organisations train their staff who deal with the public through telephone conversations.  We had hoped that these organisations would be so proud of their progressive and inclusive policies that we would be able to share the best practice with all relevant organisations throughout the country to the benefit of everyone.

 

Sadly, the results of the survey – which are published in the latest issue of the Beaumont Society’s members’ magazine – were a big disappointment. Only 19 of those contacted took the trouble to reply and of those some had not actually made the effort to read the survey – regretting that they were unable to help with our “fund-raising”! We were definitely not fund-raising. All we were trying to find out was whether the staff were given any instructions or guidelines for dealing with voices that did not match the stereotype for the person’s gender, and if so, what training or guidance was provided.We were also interested to know if they received any complaints about mis-gendering and what the policy for dealing with any complaints might be.

 

The Beaumont Society would still love to hear of examples of good practice that we could publicise to everyone’s benefit. If anyone knows of such good practice please contact our President, Jane Hamlin: jane@beaumontsociety.org.uk. Should you know of organisations that are insensitive to these issues, we would also like to hear about them so that we can draw their attention to the good practice.

Trans actor to appear on Neighbours

Georgie Stone, who is a trans actress and advocate for gender diverse youth, will be the first transgender character in Neighbours, the long-running Australian TV soap opera. Georgie, who is 18, suggested the idea for introducing a trans character to the producers of the programme. A great deal of preparation and meetings were involved to ensure that the scripts “accurately integrated parts of her life story” into her character. She has previously starred in other popular Australian programmes.

Welcome to our new-look website

The Beaumont Society is the longest established support group in the United Kingdom for transgender people and their families. The Society is a national mutual-help body run for and by the transgender community. We welcome all transgender people and their partners, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, creed or colour, and from nervous newcomers to those who are experienced and confident in their preferred gender.

Welcome to our new-look website. Please explore all the different pages and if you cannot find what you would like to know, just send us a message on the Contact page.