Written evidence submitted by Catherine Shorrock [GRA1493]

EVIDENCE TO THE INQUIRY ONTO THE REFORM OF THE GENDER RECOGNITION ACT (GRA)

Firstly, I would like to thank the committee for commissioning this inquiry to hold the government to account for its management of GRA reform and for inviting public evidence.

It cannot be overstated that the handling of GRA reform has been a source of great upset to the transgender community and its allies. Having indicated at the outset that the reforms would herald a strengthening of the acceptance of transgender identity and remove many of the stresses and stigma that add to the excruciating struggle faced by people who or trans and non-binary the change of government ideology and the apparent loss of balance in delivering the reform has been perceived as an attack on the validity and acceptance of trans identity.  There is broad belief that Liz Truss, who is not trusted as being impartial, pandered to the culturally conservative views of her party.  It is notable that the fact that 70% of the respondents to the consultation were supportive to significant GRA reform but were dismissed under the argument that this was a coordinated response.  Of course, the trans community was encouraged and, in some cases, assisted in responding to the consultation but that does not negate the value of the opinions of those who did.

I strongly urge the committee to challenge the minister to answer for her poor handling of the GRA reform.  Many of the attitudes expressed by those who are basically uncomfortable with the concept of transgender and non-binary identity are echoes of the racist attitudes of the 1970s and 80s.  This is wholly unacceptable and singles out the trans community as having the lowest standing and protection of all protected characteristics.  The governments dismissal of GRA reform is a licence for bigots to oppress those of us who are trans.

There needs to be moderation in the debates regarding trans rights.  It is sad and unfortunate that the voices heard tend to be the extremes of those who are pro or anti-trans, neither of which can claim to be balanced or objective. A major challenge is that, as we are believed to make up 0.6% of the population, most people have never knowingly met anyone who is trans and so opinions are developed by what is seen in the media.  This is often skewed and sensationalist which creates an untrue image of who we are.  Trans women are not a threat to women and my overwhelming experience is that women are accepting of me.  This must not be turned into a culture war. Facts must outweigh unsubstantiated fears, and in the words of the late, great, Jan Morris “There needs to be more kindness”.

Below are answers to those questions that you have poised to which I feel able to provide an answer:

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November 2020