Acting director of Liberty
Tuesday 16 Oct 2018
Most of us take our gender for granted. We don’t worry about people addressing us with the wrong pronouns or challenging which public toilet we use.
Should we require a service specific to our gender, we never imagine someone questioning our entitlement to it. Being our gender is like breathing the air, a reflex.
Like air, however, gender is a deceptively complex compound.
Our genetic code, our physical bodies, our internal sense of self, our external expressions of identity and the social norms and stereotypes projected upon us – all these factors are implicated in the idea of gender.
Most of the time, they align. When they diverge, we are confronted with the complications of gender, compelled to examine it with our conscious brains and to unpack what the complications mean for our values of equality, fairness and human dignity.
Trans people are those whose internal sense of their gender – what psychologists refer to as ‘gender identity’ – diverges from the sex assigned to them at birth. For anyone who is trans, or who knows a trans person, the urgency of acknowledging their real gender is clear.
As in every movement, we must stand together and be heard.
The cruelty of denying people their basic right to self-determination contributes to the fact that at least 45% of trans people in the UK have attempted suicide, and a similar proportion have experienced at least one hate crime in the last year.
In the 2004 Gender Recognition Act, the Government took an important step forward by enabling trans people to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate, legally recognising their correct gender. This can make a huge difference in applying for jobs and accessing public services.
But the Act needs improvement.
The Government’s public consultation on what this reform should look like closes on 19 October – and it is urgent and critical that everyone who believes in equality uses their voice to support trans rights.