This Saturday 18th July there will be a socially distanced demonstration on College Green in Bristol, with several hundred protesters expected, including local Green Party politicians.
The event was called in response to a Government statement about their plans for reform of the Gender Recognition Act (GRA).
Green Party campaigner Jenny Bartle (pictured below), who is nonbinary, reveals why they will be attending the protest:
“I am taking part in this weekend’s protest because I am afraid that the Government will introduce harmful changes to the GRA, and more broadly may roll back trans rights.
“We need to apply pressure to them at this crucial stage, before the final decision on GRA reform is announced.
“It remains a fact of life that modern Britain is not welcoming to trans people, and does not afford us our human rights. In such an environment, protest is our only option.”
Currently, a trans person must spend two years living in their self-identified gender before they may legally change their sex. Following this period, evidence must be provided to a committee which makes the decision about this person’s life. This is a lengthy, risky, and disempowering process, which costs several hundred pounds.
In 2018 the Government consulted on proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act which could have addressed these challenges faced by the trans community.
“The Government statement says that the “current checks and balances” (which likely refers to the unnecessary committee approval), are to be preserved. I believe this is the wrong decision. We can see other countries like Norway, which consistently leads the world in women’s rights, have updated laws to protect the human rights of trans people, and that is what we need in the UK.”
Access to healthcare is another major problem the trans community faces. Bristol’s nearest Gender Identity Clinic has a 4-year waiting list for a first appointment. Many trans and non-binary people find the requirement to be “diagnosed” by a doctor a harmful part of the journey to accessing transition.
A leaked copy of Government plans shows that transgender women may not be permitted to use women’s toilet facilities unless they have had surgery. This would leave certain trans women unable to use any public toilets at all.
Green Party councillor and MP candidate Carla Denyer also backs the protest:
“The threatened roll-back of basic human rights for trans and nonbinary people is scary. The discussion has been framed as the protection of single-sex spaces, which is extremely important for protecting women’s rights. But speaking personally and as a woman I strongly refute the implication that women’s rights and trans rights are somehow in conflict. In fact, as has been shown in countries like Norway and Sweden, in reality they are not just compatible but complementary.
“As a Green Party member I am proud that our policy unequivocally supports trans rights. I will keep doing all I can to speak up for LGBTIQA+ people, not least because of the discrimination, abuse and hatred that many face in their daily lives.”
More details of protest available from Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/3222372491117681/
A guide on sexuality and gender terminology: https://www.stonewall.org.uk/help-advice/faqs-and-glossary/glossary-terms
Header photo: Carla at South West Trans Pride 2019