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50 Years of Pride: Disrespect of Humanity

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Sue Pascoe

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Sue Pascoe stood for election for Yorkshire and the Humber in the 2019 European Election, chairs the Conservative Women’s Organisation for North and East Yorkshire, and she is also on the Executive for the Conservative Disability Group.

Sue Pascoe has previously written about the widening trust deficit between the public and the Conservative Party. In an exclusive article for Chamber UK this Pride Month, Sue returns to the growing disrespect being shown towards the humanity of trans people.

As Conservatives, many of us believe in personal freedom and taking responsibility for the consequences of how we exercise that freedom. We also believe that we must look after our families and communities, in addition to protecting and fostering our children’s futures and helping to shape their values of respect and tolerance for the lives of others. We help them to live their lives with the freedom to choose within the normal bounds of a democratic society.

Pride LGBT Levelling Up The Conversation
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When caused by misreporting, it is understandable when fear of difference drives ‘moral panic.’ But it does not have to be this way. A society where each person is safe to be their authentic selves, contributing their whole self and interacting healthily and constructively with others is much better than a repressed society.

Driven by fear mongering, we are currently in a moral panic about transgender children. This acts as clickbait reporting of certain sections of the media and encourages a ramping up of the rhetoric by politicians. It is doing real damage to trans children. Bullying and victimisation is happening right now, and some children have self-harmed with growing cases of suicide and suicidal ideation.

Weaponising trans people

The number of people identifying as LGB in the recent Office for National Statistics (ONS) national estimate stands at 8% for 16-24-year-olds. When you add transgender and intersex people, the number rises to well over 10%, all of whom have friends, allies, parents and grandparents. That is an awful lot of voters to disrespect when they stand in solidarity with transgender people as they have been regularly shown to do. The British Attitudes Survey also shows that over three quarters of the population think it is wrong to show prejudice towards transgender people.

So, in that context why did the Attorney General, Suella Braverman give an interview to the Times showing a lack of humanity for trans children and a lack of understanding of equalities legislation and safeguarding principles?

There is now a pattern of behaviour that is sadly undeniable.

As much as I am a loyal Conservative supporter, I cannot ignore it any longer. Some parts of my party are using trans issues as a political weapon against other political parties, with trans people being used inhumanely as cannon fodder in that battle.

Now the Attorney General is trying to introduce blanket trans segregation bans in schools and if this were imposed by legal sanction, I think it would be fair to call it trans apartheid. Of course, equalities legislation is about inclusion unless there is a proportionate and legitimate aim objectively justified and individually assessed for excluding someone from facilities and activities. So, is she serious, or is her article just another distraction tactic or as some might call it a ‘dead cat’?

Either way, it is inhumane.

What did the Attorney General say?

Firstly, she claimed that “medical professionals and teachers should be taking a much firmer line. They should not take an unquestioning approach; they shouldn’t just take what the child says.” Since when have lawyers started to tell medical people and teachers how to do their job? Since when did we stop listening to what the child has to say about themselves? All the same heteronormative energy of someone who does not wish to see anyone gay or trans.

The medical science is clear – we are born the way we are. Why penalise trans children for being different?

Secondly, she says “Under-18s cannot get a gender recognition certificate, under-eighteens cannot legally change sex. Again, in the context of schools, I think it is even clearer actually. A male child who says in a school that they are a trans girl, that they want to be female, is legally still a boy or a male. And they can be treated as such under the law. And schools have a right to treat them as such under the law. They do not have to say ‘OK, we’re going to let you change your pronoun or let you wear a skirt or call yourself a girl’s name’.”

For the Equality Act to be applied correctly, it is irrelevant what is registered on an individual’s birth certificate, or if you have a gender recognition certificate or not. The words of Robin White, the renowned equalities discrimination barrister, seem most relevant.

This advice was extracted from a briefing note on the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) Single Sex Services guidelines, which are also non-compliant with the Equality Act – “These statements ignore the effect of the well-known cases of Croft v Royal Mail and Chief Constable of West Midlands v A (No.2) and MB v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which considered when a transitioning individual was to be regarded as being of their affirmed sex for Equality Act purposes. It also ignores a number of provisions of the Equality Act itself, like section 7, which refers to ‘physiological and other attributes of sex’ which shows that the drafters of the Act did not regard ‘sex’ as purely biological.”

Department of Education (DfE) guidance

On 6 February 2013, the Department of Education (DfE) issued guidance to all schools that “they must not unlawfully discriminate against pupils by treating them less favourably because they have one or more of the protected characteristics” which includes gender reassignment. Under this characteristic, pupils are protected if they fall under the following definition:

“Gender reassignment is defined in the Equality Act as applying to anyone who is undergoing, has undergone, or is proposing to undergo a process (or part of a process) of reassigning their sex by changing physiological or other attributes. This definition means that in order to be protected under the Act, a pupil will not necessarily have to be undertaking a medical procedure to change their sex but must be taking steps to live in the opposite gender or proposing to do so.”

For those who are diagnosed with gender dysphoria ‘reasonable adjustments’ will also have to be made for some people under the protected characteristic of ‘disability’ as well as gender dysphoria is a ‘recognised’ condition.

Furthermore, Ofsted notes “The Public Sector Equality Duty guidance from the EHRC which states:

“… the general equality duty therefore requires organisations to consider how they could positively contribute to the advancement of equality and good relations. It requires equality considerations to be reflected into the design of policies and the delivery of services, including internal policies, and for these issues to be kept under review.

“‘Public authorities’ include state-funded schools and other education providers, as well as Ofsted. Therefore, our schools’ inspectors assess the extent to which settings take steps to promote equality and diversity as well as to prevent any form of discrimination against those with protected characteristics.”

The NSPCC’s guidelines on “Safeguarding LGBTQ+ children and young people” says “you should consider how you can support transgender and non-binary children and young people to wear the clothes (e.g., uniform or sports kit) and use the bathrooms and changing rooms that they feel comfortable with. Your policies should reflect that decisions need to be made on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration all children’s safety. You should discuss options with the young person and their parents or carers (as long as this does not put the young person at risk of harm).”

Stop tilting windmills

As a practicing Christian ‘love thy neighbour as thy self’ is a guiding principle. I note many in our government and in my Party are people of faith.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby recently said on gender identity, a woman is “someone who is sexually a woman, who is born and identifies as a woman or who has transitioned.” There is, he says, “a difference between how you identify a woman and how you ensure that trans people are valued and cared for in exactly the same way as every other human being.”

Commenting on the Attorney General’s advice to schools, Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said: “Discrimination against transgender pupils is illegal under the 2010 Equality Act. Schools should ignore the misleading advice from the Attorney General and continue to treat their transgender pupils with the dignity and respect they are entitled to.”

My plea: can we stop tilting at windmills or drinking the ‘gender critical Kool-Aid undiluted,’ creating fear, anguish and moral panic and have respectful, sensitive and nuanced dialogue between each other based on mutual respect, evidence, and acknowledgement of the law as it is not how some might like it to be.

Finally, can we treat all people with respect, dignity and basic humanity.

LGBT+ Commission

https://chamberuk.com/lgbt-commission/To find out more about the activities of the LGBT+ Commission, visit Curia.

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