Women and equalities minister Liz Truss has announced that the Tory government will publish its response to reforming the Gender Recognition Act by the summer.
It’s been over two years since plans to reform the trans rights legislation were announced and nearly a year and half since the government’s GRA consultation closed. Reform could increase trans people’s rights to change their legal gender.
But the government may be backtracking on such commitments.
Truss said there will have to be “checks and balances” in trans people’s right to access some single-sex services. She also raised the separate issue of access to medical care for trans children and young people.
Truss said that she wants to “protect” trans children from making “irreversible decisions”.
But any moves to block often life-saving services for trans 16 and 17 year olds will not protect them.
Gender services are already stretched to breaking point. There are only a small number of gender identity clinics in Britain and it was reported last year that some have year-long waiting lists.
And references to gender identity was scrapped from the school curriculum by the Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition of 2010-2015.
In 2017 LGBT+ charity Stonewall reported that four in five trans young people have self-harmed and two in five have attempted to kill themselves.
After Truss’ statement, Stonewall said the way she spoke about trans people was “concerning”. “It sounds similar to how young lesbian, gay and bi people were spoken about in the 1980s,” it said in a blog post.
“We were often told that young lesbian, gay and bi people are impressionable, vulnerable and don’t understand themselves.
“So we can’t let history repeat itself and a roll back of existing rights happen because the same arguments are now being made about trans people.”
The NHS guidelines say that people over the age of 16 can make decisions about the medication they receive without the consent of a parent.
That should be defended.
This statement by Truss must serve as a reminder that rights still have to be fought for.