Socialist Worker

Letters—don’t believe the myth that trans rights threaten women

Issue No. 2686

A trans pride march in 2019

A trans pride march in 2019 (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Socialists should campaign for reform of the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) to allow individuals to self-identify their own gender.

Along with conservatives, some self-avowed feminists and socialists have caricatured this proposal.

They warn that men would simply announce, “I am a woman,” and gain immediate access to single-sex spaces.

It’s a transphobic trope that trans women are men in drag with criminal intent.

The 2010 Equality Act protects trans people. However, changing your birth certificate is a longwinded, medicalised process.

Trans people already face great oppression. Some two in five experienced a hate crime in the last year, according to Stonewall.

Proposed self-identification would make life easier.

But it would still mean affirming you have lived as your gender for several years and intend to do so until death.

It would involve registrars who are specially trained to spot fraudulent applications.

The myth that GRA reform is a threat to women has been sponsored maliciously by conservative-backed groups.

They want to roll back LGBTQ+ rights and are using our trans siblings as a battering ram.

It’s reminiscent of the 1980s when right wing Christian groups accused lesbians and gays of being predatory and a threat to children.

This was done to discredit left wing councils trying to fight discrimination.

Sadly, some who want to fight oppression have been scared into believing the lies.

We have to engage with those who genuinely want to do the right thing, but expose without mercy the forces of reaction.

One trans woman was granted asylum in New Zealand last year, due to transphobia in Britain.

Many other trans people are considering leaving the country because of this hostile environment. It’s got to stop.

Dean Harris and Nicola Field, East London and South London


US system is risking our health

The US medical system is a money-making machine for corporations and the pharmaceutical industry.

Don’t let your NHS be privatised.

I am a 69 year old Peruvian-born retired journalist living in New York City.

I thought I was safe with Medicare, which is funded by workers and companies through social security for your retirement age.

But I was in shock when I had to pay $134 monthly for only 80 percent coverage.

Opioids in the US - a crisis prescribed by profit
Opioids in the US - a crisis prescribed by profit
  Read More

It doesn’t cover dental, glasses, ear care services or prescriptions.

This is a brutal reality when dental cleaning costs $150, an eyeglass prescription $40 and one-month thyroid medication $120.

Buying the 20 percent extra at market rate means I pay $198.25 a month with United Healthcare, plus $20 for prescription insurance.

It all adds up to a monthly cost of $352.25.

Let’s say you opt out of the 20 percent extra insurance coverage.

In case of an accident, the hospital bills are so high you would be forever in debt.

My partner Mike, also 69, has similar basic expenses except he refuses to pay that 20 percent coverage even with heart-related issues.

He currently lives with an expired defibrillator that cost his insurance company $500,000 in 2006. He says he doesn’t want to get in more debt.

Welcome to America!

Carmen V Hulbert, New York City


University strikers can rely on student support

The sense of solidarity between university staff and students during strikes last year was heartening.

Students took action to support strikers through occupations, teachouts and direct actions.

In the lead up to the eight days of strikes, university bosses had portrayed students as disadvantaged by industrial action.

But large numbers of students saw through this attempt to pit students against workers—and instead directed their anger at management.

After all, issues such as casualisation, increased workloads and unequal pay all undermine the ability of staff to support students.

Students played an important part on the picket lines and we won’t hesitate to show our solidarity with staff again in the future.

Nix Herriot, Edinburgh


Unions must fight for nursery schools

The closure of a chain of nursery schools in Great Yarmouth last year left children and families locked out with no alternative childcare. It sent shock waves through the early years sector.

Government policy on provision for under-fives is to let the market deliver with minimum state funding. Great Yarmouth shows that even big chain providers are failing to provide this service.

Tory changes to funding has left the 392 state maintained nursery schools facing the prospect of losing a third of their budgets. In effect it makes them unsustainable.

In my view we need a strategy of national strikes of union members in these settings. It would be even better if this were part of action across all sectors of education.

If we don’t start to agitate for this, councils will hand our schools to private providers or school federations—or close them.

I think there will be many like myself who will not be prepared to let this happen. Our union leaders need to step up.

Paula Champion, NEU rep and early years nursery school teacher, Cambridge


Where next for fightback?

Anyone who is or who works with people who are disabled, mentally unwell, homeless, poor, is an immigrant, LGBTQ+ or a single parent is going to suffer under another five years of Tory austerity.

Let’s stand together. We can’t allow this result to defeat us.

Cherry Belle, on Facebook

It was a democratic vote, we lost. We should only be protesting when they don’t do what they say.

This makes us look like sore losers

Sarah Hay, on Facebook

The campaign was full of lies. We are hardly a democracy.

The government needs to know that there will be resistance to every act of harm.

Allan SJ McLeod, on Facebook

If labour had won I think the attacks on Labour and Jeremy Corbyn would have grown.

Media, senior civil servants, the governor of the Bank of England would all be explaining that Labour policies are impossible and someone would be organising a run against the pound.

So I’m happy protesting this government. And Scotland is a country that hasn’t voted Tory.

Tim Parkin, on Facebook

It is time for a change. Corbyn represents Labour’s past.

Diane Abbott surely represents Labour’s future. She represents an opportunity for history to be made with the first female black prime minister.

David Cook, on Facebook

Corbynism has led to disaster because too many good activists were pulled away from direct action, which builds the working class movement, towards electoralism.

That is a house of cards without a mass movement to provide a solid foundation.

I’m not pointing fingers at the SWP by saying this. But at times the SWP, despite knowing this, bites its tongue far too much.

Jason Pike, on Facebook


Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.