Update: Trans inclusion in the Equality Bill

// 7 December 2009

trans-inclusion-in-the-equality-bill.jpgFurther to my recent post, an update has now been emailed to members of the Facebook group Trans inclusion in the Equality Bill – ACT NOW.

Subject: What happens next?

Hello everyone,

Thank you very, very much for joining this group, inviting your friends, and participating in the campaign. Amendments for the Equality Bill were discussed on Wednesday 2nd December, so we thought you’d like to know what happened on the day, and what we’re doing next.

Unfortunately – but not paticularly surprisingly – there were only a few hours set aside for debate and voting on amendments for the Equality Bill on Wednesday. This meant that there was very little discussion of the trans amendments, and there was not time for a vote upon them.


At least 65 MPs were contacted about trans inclusion in the Equality Bill. This has meant that trans issues have not only remained “live”, but more politicians are aware of them than ever before, which bodes well for the future. This also demonstrates to the government that we are still concerned about equality for ALL trans people, and about protecting trans children from harassment in schools. It shows that we will not back down on issues such as these.

Speaking on Wednesday in the House of Commons, Lynne Featherstone MP noted that “The government has never fully understood the difference between gender reassignment and gender identity”. Hopefully we’re beginning to change that.

So, what happens next?

The Equality Bill will now move to the House of Lords, and a briefing paper for sympathetic Lords is being prepared. As part of this, there will need to be examples given of real people who will benefit from trans-friendly amendments to the Equality Bill. We will be sending out more information on that campaign soon to keep you up to date with what’s happening, and how you can contribute.

Updates will also be posted on this Facebook group and the blog at http://justfillingintheblanks.blogspot.com/.

Thanks again!


Cross-posted at Bird of Paradox

Comments From You

Ruth Moss // Posted 7 December 2009 at 9:03 pm

Well, looks like there might be some cause for optimism at least? Worth keeping on at MPs do you think?

Helen G // Posted 7 December 2009 at 9:21 pm

Oh yes, definitely – and keep an eye on the Facebook group for further updates.

polly // Posted 8 December 2009 at 6:38 am

The amendments as proposed are these

“”” The protected characteristic of ‘gender reassignment’ is too restrictive and leaves many of my gender variant (transgender) friends without any protection. Please support widening the protected characteristic to ‘gender identity’ to cover all gender variant (transgender) people. Not all gender variant people permanently change the gender in which they live, many find that they have to live their lives somewhere in-between two genders for a variety of reasons. They deserve to be protected from discrimination and harassment. Surely nobody should be able to be sacked just for being too masculine or too feminine, or be refused access to essential public services such as emergency homeless accommodation or health services just because their gender is unclear to the service provider. Yet these are situations where gender variant (transgender) people currently have no protection. Please support amending the Equality Bill to widen the protected characteristic to be ‘gender identity’ which protects all gender variant people rather than just ‘gender reassignment’ which only protects transsexual people.

2. The Equality Bill currently prohibits school education harassment for most protected characteristics but not all. I am very concerned that this sends the message that the harassment of children and young people from some minorities is considered acceptable. Transphobic harassment in school education can and does lead to truancy and academic failure, low self-esteem and mental health problems, and even self-mutilation and suicide. Mental health issues arising from harassment at school are likely to be long term, extending far into later life. It is inhumane for the Equality Bill to exclude such vulnerable children and young people from the harassment protection it provides to others. Please support amending the Equality Bill to protect gender variant young people from harassment in school education.””””

Whilst I don’t disagree that ‘ (undergoing) gender reassignment’ is too narrow a category to protect a lot or people, a characteristic of gender identity would not do so either. There are many gender non conforming people who do not necessarily define this part of themselves as having anything to do with the gender identity. For instance a man who wants to wear a skirt to work could currently legally be dismissed for doing so, but may not identify himself in any way as transgender, he just wants to wear a skirt.

“Gender identity” would still require people to identify themselves as transgender.

The above wording “living their lives in between two genders” also accepts a binary gender system.

Helen G // Posted 8 December 2009 at 9:18 am

Watching the progress of the Equality Bill over the eighteen months since it was introduced, it’s been heartening to see so many cis (non trans) people allying themselves with trans people and expressing their concerns about this (in my opinion) badly flawed legislation.

I can only reiterate Ruth Pearce’s request that interested parties keep an eye on the Facebook group and associated blog for updates on the bill’s progress through the House of Lords, and for further information and suggestions on what we can do to contribute to the campaign to have the bill amended before it becomes law.

Lucy // Posted 8 December 2009 at 8:04 pm


Given that there are people who do not consider themselves transgender who nonetheless are affected by what you’re talking about (eg, butch cis lesbians), I have to agree that it would be nice to see something more to the effect of “gender identity and/or expression” since gender variance can be in either category or both.

The above wording “living their lives in between two genders” also accepts a binary gender system.

Of course it accepts it. That’s the current reality. I suspect those who are attempting to amend the bill do not think they have the votes to eliminate the gender binary. If feminism as a whole hasn’t been able to accomplish this in over 30 years it seems unrealistic to expect the smaller number of people who support these amendments to be able to convince Parliament to do it now.

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