What I want cis allies to do: ignoring the GRA edition
Yesterday I woke up to the headline “PM scraps plan to make gender change easier”. In a week where being trans has been incredibly hard, the horrific news that the UK government plan on ignoring the results of the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) consultation was the cherry on top of a very shitty cake.
Let’s quickly talk about the GRA consultation, so you can understand why the government ignoring the results matters.
For the last two years, the trans and non-binary people in the UK have been subject to awful headlines and transphobic hate as the government undertook a public consultation on how to reform the GRA. Right now, the current systems for trans people to be recognised as our gender are costly, lengthy, humiliating and unnecessary – we want the right to self-identify. The consultation asked for opinions on how to reform the GRA so trans people could self identify.
Yesterday, the Sunday Times published an article saying that while 70% of respondents to the GRA consultation were in favour of the proposed reforms, the government plan on scrapping the reforms.
Yes, you read that right: even though the majority of folks said that they think it should be easier for trans people to have their gender legally recognised, that’s not going to happen. Apparently, this is because they think the consultation was inundated with an “avalanche” of responses from “trans rights groups” – obviously it’s completely unacceptable that we have an opinion on something that affects us!
There’s a dozen more things I could talk about – such as why ‘Women-only facilities will be protected’ implies that trans women aren’t women; why the Minister for Women and Equalities’ statements about “checks and balances” are incredibly worrying; and why trans youth need more support, not less access to healthcare. I am really scared right now – I don’t know any trans or non-binary folks who aren’t.
Even though trans rights are necessary regardless of how many people agree that they are, it’s complete bullshit that the government are ignoring the response to the GRA consultation. It’s complete bullshit that they’re framing trans women – one of the groups in our society who are most likely to be victims of violence – as predators. It’s complete fucking bullshit that the government has put us through this process only to turn around and tell us that they’re rolling back our rights instead.
The onus on speaking out can’t always be on trans people – we need our cis allies to step up and advocate for us. So, now you know why this is an incredibly dangerous first step in the government rolling back rights for trans people, these are some things you can do to help:
- Sign this Change.org petition to Reverse the Decision to Scrap the Gender Recognition Act Consultation Results. It will literally take you sixty seconds.
- Say something when people try policing who uses a certain bathroom. If the tabloids can be believed, the UK government is planning a legally mandated, nationwide, public facilities ban for trans women who have not had vaginoplasty. Denying access to a bathroom based on what someone looks like doesn’t only harm trans people – it harms all women, queer folks, and anyone who doesn’t present their gender the way society wants them too.
- Mermaids, a UK charity supporting transgender children, is asking people to tweet and write to Boris Johnson – at @BorisJohnson and email.number10.gov.uk respectively – and say #NotInMyName. While Mermaids are not a trans-led charity, I think they’re right to be worried that Liz Truss is about to tell the PM that cis women want a roll back of trans rights. You need to tell him that this isn’t true.
- And finally, email your MP. Yes, even if your MP is a Conservative – they’re there to represent your views, so you need to tell them what you want. It’s super easy to do this if you use Write To Them and you can use a template if you’re struggling with what to say. Just make sure that you add your own note or a personalised sentence, so the email won’t get picked up by spam and your MP will actually read it!
This isn’t perfect or exhaustive list, but I hope it will give you a first step. I’d recommend you also check out Reubs J Walsh, Meg-John Barker and Blake. They’re all brilliant trans and non-binary activists who have been talking about all of this far more coherently than I have here.
It’s really hard to be positive right now, but trans and non-binary people are brilliant and resilient and we’re not going stop fighting. Even though we shouldn’t have to be fighting for basic human rights…
Quinn Rhodes (he/him) is a queer, trans, disabled sex writer. He’s a sex nerd with vaginismus who creates educational content about trans inclusivity. Quinn can usually be found wearing stomp-on-the-patriarchy boots and figuring out what it means to be a feminist who’s also a trans guy. For more explicit writing about his adventures in learning to fuck without fucking up, check out onqueerstreet.com.