Cool2BTrans - Katie Neeves - Trans Ambassador - Trans Awareness Training | Media Appearances | Public Speaking | Mentoring & Support

I just wrote a little letter to my MP…

I have just written the following email to my MP, Alberto Costa. I will be sending a similar version to Boris Johnson and Liz Truss too. I urge you to please write to your MP too. You can find out who your local MP is and what their email address is here: https://members.parliament.uk/members/Commons . Feel free to copy my email to use as a template.

 
 
Dear Alberto,
 
I am sure you are already aware of a leaked report in the Sunday Times lead article on 14th June about the long-overdue reform of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA) and the government response to the 2018 survey which has yet to be officially made public.
 
The leaked report showed that despite 70% of respondents said they were in favour of making it easier for trans people to self-identify their gender identity, but also that the government plans to ignore the results of this survey, citing that the survey had flawed data.  Please read Stonewall’s excellent article which proves that the survey’s data is accurate: https://www.stonewall.org.uk/about-us/news/data-clear-most-people-are-supportive-trans-rights?fbclid=IwAR2-fIfDUeBpmrvtGeSak-BFKnQ2kIxF9Khx6jkM9o1TOS-wQo7NUePOncM .
 
The current process of gaining a gender recognition certificate is so difficult and expensive that the vast majority of trans people don’t bother applying for one.  A Government Equalities Office 2018 factsheet showed: “Since the Act came into force, 4,910 trans people have been issued a Gender Recognition Certificate. 12% of trans respondents to the National LGBT survey who had started or completed their transition had successfully obtained one, and 7% of those who knew about them but did not have or had not applied for one said they would not be interested in obtaining one.”
 
Applications for a GRC are assessed by a panel of people who we never meet and who we have no right to appeal their decision about our gender.  Gender dysphoria is no longer classed by the World Health Organisation as a mental illness.  It used to be, but so did being homosexual!  The only person who truly knows which gender you are is yourself. Self-determination of gender has proved to be very successful in many countries, but sadly, the UK is lagging behind more enlightened countries yet again.  I feel there is some middle-ground to be had here.  The process of graining a GRC could easily be dependent on one providing proof of being on cross-sex hormone treatment for at least a year as access to such treatment is only granted after being diagnosed for gender dysphoria by a gender psychiatrist anyway, and no cisgender (non-trans) person would stay on cross-sex hormones as the side effects are significant.  For trans women (male-to-female trans people), breasts grow, the size of male genitalia shrinks and very often loses the ability to function sexually, accompanied by a total loss of libido.  For trans men (female-to-male trans people), side-effects include the onset of male-pattern baldness, the growth of facial and body hair and their voice breaking permanently.  No-one who is not genuinely transgender would stay on medication which caused these side effects, so this is a very easy way of differentiating between genuine and bogus applications.
 
The leaked report says that the government plans to announce new protections to “safeguard female-only spaces, including refuges and public lavatories, to stop them being used by those with male anatomy.”  This is an issue that is not covered in the GRA and was not part of the consultation, however it is a myth being spread widely by very vocal anti-trans campaigners.  There has never been any reported cases of abuse by trans women of cisgender (non-trans) women in female-only spaces in the UK, but there have been very many cases of attacks on trans women by cis women in such spaces.
 
I would like to draw your attention to North Carolina in the USA, as a law was introduced in the Republican state in 2016, demanding people only use toilets which correspond to the gender stated on their birth certificates. The new law not only caused a rise in transphobia, it also opened up the possibility of increased harassment of women in public restrooms who weren’t transgender but who didn’t dress or present in a ‘feminine’ way.  It also meant that transgender men were being forced to use women’s toilets. In the end, a federal judge got rid of the dangerous and completely unworkable legislation in 2019. 
 
Lower-surgery is not always a goal or a possibility for all trans people as all transitions are unique to the individual (and there is so much more to transition than just surgery), but pre-op trans people are still protected under the Equality Act 2010 as being a trans person undergoing gender reassignment.  If a law is to be introduced stipulating that the use of gendered spaces is purely dependent on one’s physical anatomy, it raises the following questions:
(1) Would the majority of cis women be comfortable if pre-op trans men (female-to-male trans people) are now forced to use female only spaces? They present outwardly as entirely male, but because they have a vagina they would be bound by law to use female-only spaces. Think about it.
(2) Who would safeguard the welfare of trans men while using female-only spaces as physical and verbal attacks are likely to be significant in number?
(3) Would the majority of cis (non-trans) men be comfortable if pre-op trans women (male-to-female trans people) are now forced to use male-only spaces?
(4) Who would safeguard the welfare of trans women while using male-only spaces as physical and verbal attacks are likely to be significant in number?
(5) Who would police this new law?
(6) How would this new law be policed? Would EVERYONE be forced to flash their bits to an attendant on entry to gendered spaces?
(7) If one is not required to show one’s genitals to gain access to gendered spaces, would entry be judged on how typically masculine or typically feminine one looks? I know quite a few typically masculine-looking cis women who would not be too happy at being forced to use the gents loos just because had short hair or wore more typically masculine clothing.
(8) If entry to gendered spaces is to be based purely on genitals, how will typically masculine looking cis women and masculine looking post-op trans women be safeguarded from attacks in female-only spaces as attacks on these people will increase significantly?
(9) Where are non-binary or intersex people supposed to go?
(10) If the GRA still requires trans people to live full-time for two years in their desired gender as part of the requirements to gain a gender recognition certificate, how can they live full-time in their desired gender if they are barred from using gendered spaces which match our gender identity?
 
I would be very grateful if you could please ask both Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Equalities Minister Liz Truss the above questions and I would also be grateful if you could please tell me if you support the government’s position on this leaked report?
 
I would be more than happy to talk to you about this issue further if you would like to arrange a video call.  Also, I would also be very happy to help educate any of your fellow MPs on trans issues as there is clearly a need.
 
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
 
Best wishes,
 
Katie Neeves
I received the following reply from Alberto Costa MP on 29th June 2020:

Dear Ms Neeves,

 

Thank you very much for your email – I hope this finds you well.

 

In the first instance, I should like to reassure you that I do very much understand the sensitive and complex nature of the proposed reform to the Gender Recognition Act.

 

While I must admit to not being fully aware of the deeply personal journey that many transgender people have to take, I am aware that the journey is a very sensitive one and one that requires a large degree of support.

 

The rationale behind the Government’s thinking on these reforms is that they do not wish for young people to make any decisions, which may have irreparable effects, that they may come to regret. On this I can see the Government’s position, however I can also see that those wishing to transition are not taking this as rash option, there has clearly been considerable thought placed in their decision, and so I think it’s important to strike a balance between these two sides of the argument; one that protects people from making a decision they may regret, but also one that respects a young person’s choices.

 

These are just my initial thoughts on this matter, however I do look forward to discussing this matter further in the House of Commons Chamber and to hear other views on this subject – and in this regard, I should like to reassure you that no quick decisions will be made on this matter, it is one that needs requires careful scrutiny and measured discussion with those directly affected by these proposals and those charities and organisations who do so much to support young transgender and non-binary people.

 

Thank you very much again for taking the time to write to me on this most important matter.

 

Yours,

 

Alberto

 

 

I then sent this reply on 30th June 2020:

Dear Alberto,

I am well, thanks.  I hope you are too.
Thank you for your response.  However, I am somewhat confused by your reply.
I was writing to you about the review of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA).  The GRA is the legislation which sets out how trans people legally change gender, in the form of a gender recognition certificate (GRC).  The GRC allows us to change our birth certificate, marry in our true gender and it ensures that if we are naughty enough, that we are sent to a prison that reflects our true gender.  We can already change the gender on our NHS medical record, passport and driving licence without the need for a GRC, so the GRC is just the final bit of paperwork which ties everything together for us.  The granting of a GRC affects only the person who applies for it.  No one else.
The GRA has nothing to do with the criteria required for young people to access trans medical healthcare, so I am confused why you referred to this in your reply.  Are you telling me that this is now under review too?
Additionally, the GRA has nothing to do with trans women accessing female-only spaces (although Liz Truss appears to have added this to the conversation), when this is already adequately covered by the Equality Act 2010.  Is this act now under review too?  I fully support the protection of female-only spaces as long as that includes access for trans women and for non-binary people too.  Anything less than that is in contravention of the Equality Act 2020.
You may be interested to read this excellent article on the subject by Mermaids charity:  https://mermaidsuk.org.uk/news/safety-and-dignity/
I am concerned that you may be required to debate the revision of the GRA in the House of Commons chamber, without being fully informed of the facts, so I would love to be able to talk to you about this hugely important matter in a Zoom call.  Please let me know if you are in agreement, so we can find a mutually convenient time.  I appreciate that this may seem overly complicated for a cisgender (non-trans) person, so I am very keen to help you gain some more understanding of the subject.  I am here to help!

Best wishes,

Katie

 

I will let you know if he takes me up on my offer of a Zoom chat.

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