March 18, 2011
Student representatives at the annual NUS Women’s Campaign Conference voted overwhelmingly in favour of a motion that condemns transphobia in the Equality Act and within the women’s movement yesterday.
The motion in question – entitled “Transmisogyny in the Equality Act” – addressed the horrific exemption which ensures that:
“A counsellor working with victims of rape might have to be a woman and not a transsexual person, even if she has a gender recognition certificate, in order to avoid causing them further distress.”
The trans community has blogged about this exemption at length, exploring how it could result in trans people being denied access to numerous public services, and how it massively undermines the Gender Recognition Act. We’ve also discovered that the clause in question was pushed by certain individuals representing Rape Crisis Centres.
It’s really positive that a feminist organisation is keen to unite behind trans rights. It should, of course, be a given that this is the case since we fight the same fight against patriarchy and gender essentialism, but the attitude of those who pushed the offensive clause in the Equality Act shows that we cannot take trans-positive feminism for granted. I was therefore really pleased that NUS Women’s Campaign policy now includes a commitment to lobby the government on changing this unfair law alongside the aforementioned condemnation.