It’s something that most of never even give a thought to – our gender. We just are what we are. But that is not the case for those in the trans community.
Readers of this blog will know – especially those who followed my blogging during the passage of the Equality Bill through its parliamentary stages – that one of the protected characteristics in the Bill was ‘gender reassignment’. (A protected characteristic is a ‘strand’ which receives protection from discrimination under the Equality Act such as sexual orientation, disability, race, religion and so on.)
Gender reassignment as a protected characteristic is there to protect one of the smallest but very vulnerable groups.
I lost my argument in the Equality Bill to have this ‘strand’ termed ‘gender identity’ rather than ‘gender assignement’. I was arguing on the basis that there are many trans people who never live in the other gender let alone make the actual change hormonally or surgically and therefore the term reassignment did not cover those who made no change or who were indeterminate in gender identity. In the course of discussion however, the Solicitor General, who led for the then Government, clarified that it was intended to cover the wider group.
Anyway – I was very pleased to be able to send a message of support this week to the International Congress on Gender Identity and Human Rights. It starts today and is being held in Barcelona and runs until Sunday.
It is the first ever International congress to look at the human rights of transgender people.
The conference, originally proposed by the Human Rights Watch organisation, is supported by several governments (Spain, Netherlands, Norway, Catalonia) along with a coalition of Spanish and international LGB &T groups.
My message of support for the Congress said:
“The UK Government is totally committed to creating a society that is fair for everyone. We are committed to tackling prejudice and discrimination against transgender people at home and around the world.
The Government wishes the International Congress on Gender Identity and Human Rights every success when considering how to improve the rights of transgender individuals around the world and in tackling transphobia.
We need concerted government action to tear down barriers and help to build a fairer society for transgender people.”