Sparkle – The National Transgender Charity is disturbed by the recent statement from Liz Truss MP, the current Minister for Women and Equalities, regarding evidence to the Women and Equalities Select Committee, setting out what she sees as priorities for the Government Equalities Office.
Acting Chair of Sparkle, Lee Clatworthy, says; “By highlighting single-sex spaces, “checks and balances” for trans adults, and access to gender affirming healthcare for younger (under-18s) trans people, this statement not only suggests an intention to roll back hard-won rights for the trans and gender non-conforming community, it also looks to incite trans hostile and gender critical groups and individuals who have sought to persecute an already marginalised section of society”.
Benjamin Knight, Head of Crime and Barrister at Central Chambers, Manchester, suggests; “Far from placing this hard-fought right to safe spaces for all women on a firm footing and expanding service access to trans people without GRCs (Gender Recognition Certificates), the Government continues to bow before the pressure of its trans-ignorant core electorate. At least, for now, the Government is unlikely to be able take a backwards step without offending the Human Rights Act 1998,”
“If there are reforms that amount to a change in the minimum rights secured so far, it is hard to see any substantive evidence to support such changes and so there will be inevitable legal challenges. The anecdotes and ‘what-ifs’ that pepper media coverage of this issue will not impress the High Court or the Supreme Court.”
With regard to limiting or removing access to gender affirming healthcare for under-18s, Mark Pritchard, Human Rights Barrister at Central Chambers, says; “At the moment, if there is an issue in relation to consent, the court will assess if the child is “Gillick competent”. This is a legal test established by case law where Lord Scarman observed that, “...as a matter of law, the parental right to determine whether or not their minor child below the age of sixteen will have medical treatment terminates if and when the child achieves sufficient understanding and intelligence to understand fully what is proposed,”and “Any law that prevented a transgender child making treatment decision yet did not affect the rights of cisgender children would also be seen as discriminatory under Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, as it is giving transgender children less right to their Article 8 rights (to identity and autonomy) than cisgender children.”
Lee Clatworthy adds; “Liz Truss purports that she wishes to protect young trans people from “decisions that they could make, that are irreversible in the future”, whilst condemning them to an irreversible puberty, which often intensifies feelings of dysphoria, leading to depression, self-harm and suicidal ideation. Currently, many cisgender children who experience precocious puberty are prescribed GnRH analogs “off-label”, the same medication which is offered to trans children to delay puberty. To deny trans children this treatment would be a clear case of discrimination.”
The Charity is also alarmed by the reporting of Liz Truss’ statement by the media, which has sought to exacerbate current hostility towards trans and gender non-conforming people in its suggestion that under-18s are currently offered gender confirmation surgery, which is false and inflammatory.
“Sparkle – The National Transgender Charity’s Board of Trustees will be relaying their concern regarding Liz Truss’ intentions to the Government Equalities Office, and working with other charities and third-sector organisations who share Sparkle’s mission to advance equal rights for trans, non-binary/genderfluid and intersex people of all ages to fight any proposed prejudicial changes to current legislation,”
YOU CAN READ CENTRAL CHAMBERS’ FULL ANALYSIS OF LIZ TRUSS’ STATEMENT TO THE WOMEN AND EQUALITIES SELECT COMMITTEE HERE