Since the planned reform of the Gender Recognition Act was announced a year ago, there have been daily articles and social media threads that question trans people’s right to exist, trying to undermine their ability to go about their daily lives free from fear and abuse. This week, a petition has been launched directly asking Stonewall to reconsider our work on trans equality.
The petition asks us to acknowledge that there are a range of viewpoints around sex and gender. Of course we know that these differing views exist, and have existed for many years. The petition also asks us to acknowledge that there is a conflict between trans rights and ‘sex based women’s rights’. We do not and will not acknowledge this. Doing so would imply that we do not believe that trans people deserve the same rights as others. However, we are unequivocal in our support of trans people’s – and everyone’s – right to equality and will remain so. Our motto is ‘acceptance without exception’.
Frankly, we are not alone in this support for trans people. A recent poll by the Thomson Reuters Foundation asked 1,000 women in Cairo, London, Mexico City, New York and Tokyo: "Should transgender women have the same rights as other women?" Women across the world overwhelmingly agreed, including 87% of women in London (and New York).
The petition also calls for respectful debate on this issue. That is something we can sign up to wholeheartedly: the debate as it stands is not respectful. It has become demonising, divisive and shaming. We will always debate issues that enable us to further equality but what we will not do is debate trans people’s rights to exist. This is not and will not ever be respectful. It is also an issue that is already settled in law: trans people’s right to equality is already clear and has been since 2004. To have similar debates around any other part of a person’s identity protected by law is unimaginable: debating whether gay people exist, or whether people of a certain faith should be able to access services, would rightly not be tolerated. It is the same for trans people.
We will always debate issues that enable us to further equality but what we will not is debate trans people’s rights to exist.
We’re proud of the work we do with trans communities to fight for trans equality. It’s central to our goal for every lesbian, gay, bi and trans person to be accepted without exception. Trans people are currently facing horrific levels of harassment and abuse in their daily lives. It’s a situation none of us should accept.
As part of this debate, we have looked carefully at some of the areas that are causing the most concern in these debates. You can read more on our website.
We know that there is huge support for trans rights from lesbian, gay and bi communities.
The #LWithTheT movement sprang directly, and organically, in opposition to horrible transphobic demonstrations at events this summer, which aimed to make trans people at the events feel intimidated but in the end motivated a whole wave of lesbians and allies to loudly say that those angry voices don’t speak for them. That’s just one example.
Now is the time to make that support even more visible and vocal. Together we are stronger and can raise each other up. That’s as true for trans people today as it has been – and continues to be - for lesbian, gay and bi people through our history.
At Stonewall, we are absolutely committed to continue our work to ensure all trans people, as well as all lesbian, gay and bi people, are accepted for who they are in Britain and around the world.