This week marks 51 years since the Stonewall uprising - a catalyst for positive change for LGBTQ+ people. Led by Marsha P Johnson, a black trans woman and gay activist, the protests led to many changes and this is why Pride is celebrated globally in June every year. Whilst we have come a long way, the rights of LGBTQ+ people are often still under threat around the world.
Back in 2018 Thoughtworks endorsed Stonewall’s position supporting positive reforms for trans and non-binary people in a consultation on reforming the UK’s Gender Recognition Act. There was an acknowledgement that trans people face many inequalities and prejudice in the UK and the consultation aimed to look at what reforms could be brought in to remove the current costly, lengthy and bureaucratic process where trans people have to spend 2 years convincing members of an independent panel that they should be allowed to legally change their gender. The aim was to look at introducing a self-declaration process, already in use without issue in 8 countries around the world, including in the Republic of Ireland for the last 5 years.
There has been no official response from the Government since the consultation. However recent media reports have indicated that they look set to drop plans to make it more straightforward for trans people to get legal recognition of their gender. There have also been rumours that the UK Government Minister for Women and Equalities, Liz Truss, is planning a series of policy changes that could make many LGBTQ+ people’s lives much harder by restricting access to trans healthcare for young people and excluding people from using the bathrooms and other spaces of the gender with which they identify.
If these reports are accurate this would actually roll back some of the rights that trans people are currently entitled to under the 2010 Equalities Act and be a further blow for a community that is already marginalised. These changes would lead to gender ‘policing’ in single-sex spaces such as bathrooms, additional mental health issues and a further polarisation of society’s attitudes towards trans people.
A final decision has not yet been announced so now is the time to act.
Please take action to persuade the UK Government to improve legal recognition for trans people. You can find details of what you can do to help on Stonewall’s site, whether you have 10 minutes, 2 minutes or even just 1 minute to spare.
Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.