The Gender Recognition Act (GRA) is changing. People will be able to legally change their gender through self-identification. But what will this lead to? Some say predatory men will change gender to women by the stroke of a pen and threaten women’s rights by being able to go into safe spaces like domestic violence shelters.
Yet what’s being forgotten is that without these changes thousands of transgender people, who are at higher risks of sexual violence and discrimination than the general population, will not have the rights they deserve. They are denied support they need based on a legal technicality. This is why we have to speak up in favour of social change to reflect the 21st century.
Recently four UEA lecturers did just that. They responded to over 50 academics, including a UEA professor, who wrote to The Guardian to claim campus disapproval of voices critical to the GRA changes is an ‘ideologically driven attack’. These four lecturers stood up for the trans community, and they’re right.
Maybe it’s scary. The ideas you’ve held for most of your life about what it is to be a man or woman are being called into question. But the right for an individual to choose their gender most definitely is sacred. Maybe critics should step back and consider that denial of individual choice is an attack in itself. You wouldn’t expect someone to withhold you the privilege of legally validating your existence, right?
The only people who get to decide who trans individuals define as should be those trans individuals, not someone who wants to hinder advances in social policy. This is why we must defend changes to the GRA. People’s lives and wellbeing are at stake, that’s why we need to stand up. It’s not a campus crusade of political correctness.
Trans people in the UK make up less than one percent of the population, but making it easier for transgender individuals to be legally recognised doesn’t threaten the rights of all. No one should have their rights denied. Changes to the GRA are an opportunity for the rights of the whole of the UK’s trans community.