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LETTERS – Tory move on the GRA shows the battle is on for trans rights

This article is over 3 years, 8 months old
Issue 2724
A Trans+ pride march in London earlier this month
A Trans+ pride march in London earlier this month (Pic: Guy Smallman)

When it was announced that the Tories would not reform the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) it felt like just another strike in the assault against trans people.

For years the government and press have been ruthlessly demonising trans people.

However the anti-trans message has not had complete sway.

Numerous surveys and studies show that the majority of people are against transphobia.

And even the LGBT+ Conservatives group released a statement expressing frustration at how little has been offered and how much left out.

Yes, the government did say that it would cut the cost of the current method of gaining a GRC (gender recognition certificate). And yes, it did announce that three new gender clinics would open.

But neither of these are really victories. In the initial consultation only a third of people said that cost was the main barrier to gaining a GRC.

And these apparently “new clinics” are actually three pilot schemes that were announced earlier this year and have been running all summer.

However, I think it would be foolish to take this as anything but a response to the recent surge in political action around trans rights. People have been taking to the streets in no small numbers and showing that not only are we not alone but that we will not be silenced. But it does show that we are in the middle of this fight, not the end of it.

We must continue with all the momentum we can gather against what, in reality, is a very weak and divided government.

And lastly, it is not “women’s groups” that are opposing these reforms. It is transphobic hatemongers using women as a smokescreen for their bigotry.

There is no dichotomy between trans people and cis women.

We are all marginalised and will always have far more in common than what divides us. Only by standing together can we achieve equal rights and freedoms.

Pat Clinton, Manchester

QPR knee move is a step back

Taking the knee before sporting events has become a globalised symbol of fighting racism, particularly following the death of George Floyd.

Queens Park Rangers (QPR)’s decision not to take the knee earlier this month came as a shock as the club has an excellent record of combating racism.

It employs more BAME individuals in senior roles than almost any other club.

The club has done great work around Grenfell, refugees, food banks and naming the stadium after a murdered 15 year old black boy as opposed to taking corporate sponsorship.

Les Ferdinand, outspoken on racism as a player and in his role as the only black director of football, subsequently explained the decision.

He said, “The message has been lost. Taking the knee will not bring about change in the game—actions will.”

Ferdinand’s desire for action not symbols may well be well intentioned, but it is a setback for the fight against racism.

With all its limitations, taking the knee is a challenge to racism and raises awareness among fans.

QPR should have put out a statement that they would continue to take the knee and called out the football authorities for their lack of action.

Nothing has been gained by this decision other than giving others the excuse they have been looking for to discontinue this display of global solidarity.

Peter Segal, Hertfordshire

Support miners’ fight with a song for Skinner

Singer/songwriter Robb Johnson has written a song for ex-MP Dennis Skinner—Tony Skinner’s Lad.

It’s currently sitting at number 1 on Amazon download chart and has been pushed by Labour MPs Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Richard Burgon.

All proceeds are going to Orgreave Truth & Justice Campaign.

Robb said, “I have always admired Dennis Skinner’s principled socialist approach to being an MP.

“I have also always liked him as a human being—he’s wickedly funny and he likes a good song too.”

The song can be downloaded from and the official video is at

Alison Carpenter on behalf of Robb Johnson, Irregular Records Media Department

Don’t forget the plight of prisoners

People in prisons are being overlooked while all attention is on coronavirus. But conditions are getting worse.

Last week, an inspection at HMP Erlestoke uncovered a “very troubling” situation.

The report said more staff were using force to get prisoners back into poor-quality cells.

Prisoners had been locked in these cells for most of the day for over five months. The inspection also found more prisoners self-harming since lockdown.

Chief inspector of prisons Peter Clarke said the prison’s response to Covid-19 had created a “less safe, less decent” prison.

A quarter of prisoners said they didn’t feel safe.

Some didn’t have running water or toilets, while other toilets were blocked. There was also racist graffiti found.

A lot of suffering is going on under the radar at the moment.

Please don’t forget this hidden group of people who are in a way also victims of the virus.

Diane Ripon, Southampton

Failure firms should pay up

Private companies should be ashamed over the test and trace fiasco.

But the Tories still believe in outsourcing important jobs like testing for the virus.

It will not matter how much evidence there is to show that this doesn’t work.

Linda Harbold, Sheffield

So can we have our money back from all the Tory donor scammers who failed to provide what they promised?

Jill Chapman, On Facebook

They will tell us it’s not economical—it will cost more to claim back.

Strange they never say that to people on Pip benefits, they chase them to death for tuppence!

Lyn Hurst, On Facebook

Flu jab crisis is a disgrace

Coronavirus tests aren’t the only thing we don’t have enough of.

Britain is also struggling to keep up with demand for flu jabs.

These are basics and it’s a disgrace that the government still can’t manage to provide them.

Will Peace, Birmingham

Starmer is a copy of Blair

Kier Starmers’ behaviour is one of a self-serving Tory (Sacking of MPs shows Keir Starmer is looking to bury anti-war politics, Socialist Worker online, 24 September).

He’s a Tony Blair copy. He says one thing and does another. He can’t be trusted.

How can a government or party say it believes in democracy when it wants to protect war criminals?


Tom Griffiths, On Facebook

Joined to support Jeremy Corbyn. Left when Starmer took over.

Kas Pitt-Simkus, On Facebook

I knew this was on the cards when Corbyn lost. Labour is over.

Caroline Anderson, On Facebook

I’m out of the party.

Katie Todd, On Facebook


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