Monday, 7 May 2018

The Guardian fails to Stand up in the Battle over Transgender Rights

On Friday 4th May 2018, the Guardian newspaper published this The title above the letter says: 

letter."Standing up for transsexual rights"

And yet, the letter does anything but that. 
The Guardian letter 'Standing up for Trans Rights'Ever since I left home, aged 18 in 1973 I have read the Guardian.  I have come to expect  the Guardian newspaper to show a modicum of intelligence, some historical awareness and to do basic fact checking.  
Why on earth then would the Guardian choose to publish a reactionary and inflammatory letter, under this heading, when in fact the letter's authors want to take away core human rights that the trans community won in 2002 at the European Court of Human Rights.  
The proposal suggested in the letter, which was written by a a tiny group of 'transsexual' women (their word, not mine) who support an even tinier minority of feminist women, would roll back key elements of the Gender Recognition Act 2004. 
Whatever these 'transsexual' women think - and we all accept the Act, being a product of its time, is by no means perfect - it was, and still is, the champion of our existence as a community of people seeking our place and right to participate in the civil and political world. 
As a campaigner, I worked with the UK Government's Department for Constitutional Affairs on the Gender Recognition Act 2004. As a consequence of that Act, in 2005 I was able to marry my partner of 26 years (now 40 years) and I became the legal father to our four children.  Both had previously been impossible.

‘Drop your Knickers’ Test. 

If the legislation was to recognise the prurient and voyeuristic division of the trans community that these women propose; a difference between “US and [those]transgender people who remain physically intact” it would, effectively, mean creating a ‘drop your knickers’ test. 
During the drafting of the Act, it was argued that for trans people to have legal recognition of the gender role in which they permanently live, they should be permanently sterilised - being unfit to raise children -  and then have to undergo major invasive, genital reconstruction surgery, the results of which are rarely satisfactory. Sadly, many countries do still subject trans people to legally prescribed, state-enforced sterilisation and surgery. 
Fifteen years ago, the UK Government recognised such a requirement as not only grossly intrusive, but also cruel, as it would mean many disabled or older trans people risking their lives on the operating table, and most trans men having to forgo a career and family, whilst undergoing six to twelve surgeries over as many years, simply to qualify for their human rights.
In 2017, the European Court of Human Rights confirmed the position that the UK Government took in 2004, when it held that a requirement for these procedures (compulsory sterilisation surgery for legal gender recognition violates Article 8 of the Convention) was a clear contravention of the human rights of France’s trans community.

Gender is to Sex, as Race is to Skin Colour

Most people now understand that gender is to sex, as race is to skin colour; merely a social construction primarily used to  oppress others. 
Along with the UN, numerous governments including Ireland, Denmark, Portugal, Malta, Columbia, Pakistan and Argentina have also acknowledged that as social constructions, gender diversities can take many myriad forms, none of which are of lesser value than any other.
Thankfully, the days when trans people were divided into primary/secondary; post-op/pre-op, passing/non-passing are history.

It is a history these ‘transsexual’ women would do well to read up on. 

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