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No Excuses: Inclusion and Equality for all; a critique of the government’s response to the #TransInquiry report.

The Women and Equalities Committee undertook an inquiry into equality for transgender people, which the government issued a formal response to on Thursday. The original report can be viewed as archived by UK Trans Info, as can the government’s response; further information and media can be tracked on Twitter by following the #TransInquiry hashtag.

Teaming up with UK Trans Info, and our new offshoot organisation, Specific Detriment, we have prepared a critique of the government’s response titled “No Excuses: Inclusion and Equality for all”.

You can view this document here.

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Right to Recognition: Leaving Nobody Behind, a response to the #TransInquiry report.

The Women and Equalities Committee has undertaken an inquiry into equality for transgender people. The consultation process for this involved seeking written and oral evidence from the public, to help form the direction of the report, which makes recommendations about furthering equality for transgender and nonbinary people.

The report can be viewed as archived by UK Trans Info and further information and media can be tracked on Twitter by following the #TransInquiry hashtag.

We have prepared a breakdown of the report from the perspective of the aims of the Nonbinary Inclusion Project, with detailed discussion of how best to support nonbinary people through this process, as well as analysis of several other issues that could effectively leave others (including but not limited to nonbinary people) behind.

You can view our statement here.

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UK Trans Info’s Non-binary Election Campaign

The Nonbinary Inclusion Project is supporting a campaign by UK Trans Info, along with several other groups, which is asking all general election candidates to pledge support for non-binary rights.

We’re asking them to:

– to support expanding the definitions in Equality Act 2010 to ensure all non-binary people are protected.
– to support reviewing the Gender Recognition Act, with a view to bringing the UK in line with the statement on Identity Recognition issued by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) in January 2015.
– to support the introduction of non gender-specific X passports, and removing the requirement for a doctors letter when changing the gender marker on a passport.

Candidates can make their pledge by sending a tweet to @UKTransInfo or directly on the campaign’s website at http://ppc.uktrans.info. The website also allows members of the public to see who has pledged support, access contact details of candidates in their area in order and help with asking them to make the pledge.

Please contact your candidates and ask them to pledge their support for this. You can find more information, as well as the details of your local candidates, at http://ppc.uktrans.info

(Posted by Kat)

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NHS consultation on GICs (England)

About the consultation

NHS England have a consultation on their draft service specification and commissioning policy for Gender Identity Services. This will affect how all gender identity services (Gender Clinics, etc) are provided in England and what services you can get.

The consultation is open for 30 days (until 23 April) and we want to get as many replies in as possible.

The details are here – note there are 2 documents for Gender Identity Services – a service specification and a commissioning policy.

The response page is here – you need to reply separately for each document.

Here are some of our ideas – you might want to add your own:

Suggested responses

The improvement in the treatment of nonbinary people compared to the previous (Interim) version is huge. We weren’t mentioned before, now it specifically mentions us under most (but not all) sections and generally says we should be treated and have our dignity respected. But there is still some lack of equity of treatment with binary-gendered trans men and women:

  • Nonbinary people are mentioned as eligible for some treatments but not others (Genital surgeries, hair removal).
  • The policy requires specialists to look for consistency of identity – we would like them to explicitly recognise that someone can be ‘consistently’ gender fluid, bigender etc and qualify for treatment.
  • Treatments for nonbinary people are described as more of a “complex clinical judgment” involving a greater number of gender specialists – this is discriminatory.
  • We would like them to clearly allow different pathways of treatments for nonbinary people – some nonbinary people might need a combination of treatments that might not usually be expected to go together in a binary trans person’s care plan.
  • We are concerned that the policy treats nonbinary and non-gendered/agender people as two separate categories with fewer treatments (only ‘gender neutralising’ treatments) recommended for ‘agendered’ people – All trans people should have access to whichever treatments they need regardless of how they identify.

Overall the policy aims to relieve the gender dysphoria of and increase the quality of life of nonbinary people. Their efforts to recognise and include nonbinary people and respect our dignity are a positive step, but they have left areas of ambiguity and omission that threaten those aims.

In general, the policy is still discriminatory for all trans people in terms of the amount of assessment required to access services relative to cis people accessing the same treatments. This could be seen as discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.  For example:

  • The rules for accessing bilateral mastectomy are different for cis women wanting the procedure as Risk Reducing Surgery compared to those for men and nonbinary people wanting the procedure as gender-related surgery. This is direct discrimination.
  • Trans people of all genders can be refused hormone treatments by their GP because they aren’t approved for use as part of gender reassignment, while cis people would not be refused the same medications if they went to their GP with low hormone levels. This is direct discrimination.
  • The rules regarding consent are routinely breached for trans people, who are obliged to undergo psychiatric assessment. This is direct discrimination.

Access to treatment for all trans people should be based on informed consent and not implied gatekeeping. Nonbinary people should not be singled out for extra scrutiny. An informed consent model would remove discrimination towards us.

We would like to thank Zoe Playdon for her suggestions about the equality act.

Also if you have more suggestions for things we should be commenting on please do tell us.

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Elections: Plaid Cymru reply

See here for the background to this post.

update 10/4/15  – also all 3 Plaid MPs signed the early day motion on X passports.

With thanks to volunteer Nick for emailing this party for us.

Hi Nick

Thank you for your email and sorry for not getting back to you until now.

To give you an idea on some of our pledges for the LGBT community:

Plaid Cymru is committed to human rights. We are a party that celebrates diversity and wants to create a fair and equal society in which difference is respected. We believe that everybody, regardless of their characteristics or background, has a place in Wales’ future and should have the opportunity to reach their potential and make their own life choices. We will aim to reduce the gap in terms of equality of opportunity and life-chances that currently exist in Wales.

We will ensure that all schools and local authorities record incidents of homophobic bullying and seek to eradicate it by providing support and training to teachers, building on work that Plaid Cymru has already carried out. This will help them to better identify victims and act appropriately in cases of LGBT bullying in schools.

We will end the twelve month ban on blood donation by gay and bisexual men. We will provide support wherever possible to tackle isolation and provide safe spaces for individuals and groups.

We will toughen sentencing on homo, bi and transphobic hate crime and work closely with police authorities to ensure widespread recording.

We will work towards the implementation of a framework for Primary Care Service for Trans and Intersex people and the development of a Gender Identity Clinic in Wales.

I hope this goes a little way into answering your questions.

Many thanks

Heledd

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Elections: the Green party reply

See here for the background to this post.

26.3.15

The Green Party campaigns against all forms of discrimination, including that based on gender identity. A panel “About trans” at our national party conference this month led to the party passing a new and more detailed set of policies on trans rights.
We are committed to pushing for root and branch effort to address transphobia, starting with reviewing and strengthening anti-discrimination legislation so that it provides protection for all trans individuals. Despite recent modest advances, discrimination remains in areas such as housing, education, employment and health. We would also make sure that hate crimes against trans and gay people have the same legal status as any other type of hate crime.
But anti-discrimination laws are just the beginning. A widespread public education campaign is needed, starting with children and young people. We would make LGBTIQ-inclusive sex and relationships education mandatory in all schools, from primary level onwards, and require every school to have an anti-bullying programme that explicitly combats transphobic, homophobic and biphobic bullying. We would also tackle the sensationalised way in which the media often portrays trans people.
Public services also need to provide better for LGBTIQ people. The Green Party would end cuts to the NHS and ensure adequate funding to increase the provision of gender identity clinics across the country. Green MP Caroline Lucas has pushed for a gender identity clinic to be provided in Brighton and Hove to meet the needs of the city’s large transgender population, and has challenged the Secretary of State for Health over long waiting times for referrals. (See http://gscene.com/news/brighton-pavilion-mp-pushes-for-a-gender-identity-clinic-in-brighton/)
The process of transitioning through the NHS should empower, not demean, trans people, and we would support consultation service users on how better the NHS can include trans people’s own expertise and experience in service provision. We also call for a review of access to health services for trans people with a view to removing barriers to help and treatment, especially for children, young people, and those who have self-prescribed or self-funded gender treatment.
Stonewall put the Green-led Brighton Council in first place in the 2014 Education Equality index and has described the council as ‘leading the way’ in celebrating difference and supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. Brighton also introduced a landmark trans scrutiny panel looking at how to “make things fairer for trans people who live, work, study or socialise in the city”. The council has started to implement its recommendations, including trans awareness training for councillors, police officers and in schools, allowing the use of gender neutral prefixes on council documentation, gender-neutral toilets, and better collection of data on trans people in Brighton so that services can be allocated. See http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/council-and-democracy/councillors-and-committees/trans-equality-scrutiny-panel-2013
The Green Party supports the legal recognition of nonbinary genders. Green MP Caroline Lucas signed Early Day Motion 47 last year calling for legal recognition of those who not associate with a particular gender through non gender-specific passports – see http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2014-15/47. This was debated at our recent conference and a motion to make this official Green Party policy is now being worked on further, to make sure that the views of intersex people are taken more fully into account.
Young LGBTIQ have been disproportionately affected by government cuts in youth, housing and social services, particularly those who are estranged from their families. Homelessness rates among young gay, bisexual and transgender people are an outrage. Cuts to older and disabled services will also have a greater impact on LGBTIQ people who are less likely to have children, and may therefore be more reliant on public services. The Green Party would end austerity and restore funding to vital public services.
There is also a lot of work to be done internationally. It is appalling that twenty countries still criminalise transgender identities, and 78 criminalise homosexuality. In many other countries the rights of transgender people are unrecognised and routinely breached. The Green Party will challenge the criminalisation, discrimination and violence faced by transsexuals and homosexuals abroad, and work in solidarity with campaigners in other countries. We will also press the Commonwealth to grant accredited status to a Commonwealth LGBTIQ Association and urge all member states to protect LGBTIQ citizens against discrimination and violence.
Finally, the Green Party is always working to be more inclusive in its own structures. At party conferences, audience members are always referred to in a non-gender specific fashion, and gender-neutral toilets are provided. Gender quotas used within the party are inclusive of non-binary identified individuals (e.g. referring to ‘non-males’ rather than ‘women’) and gender neutral prefixes available when members register their contact details.

19.3.15 – in the Pink News debate the Green party leader Natalie Bennet said that the green party would do X passports and that this was a ‘very important issue’ http://elancane.livejournal.com/27076.html

Recieved by twitter from LGBTIQGreens 14.3.15

Link to copies of tweets on storify.

–  – – – – – –  – – —

Standard form email which didn’t contain any policy information received 13.3.15 . Now replaced with the response 26.3.15.

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Elections: the Conservatives’ reply

See here for the background to this post.

Note: this was via the main party headquarters. This is a typed transcript of a paper letter. Scanned copy will be uploaded later as evidence.

Dear Mr [second name]

I am writing on behalf of the Party Chairman, The Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP, who has asked me to thank you for your letter,

It is good of you to get in touch and make us aware of your thoughts. All of our policies will be outlined in our 2015 Conservative Manifesto. Unfortunately the release date for this has not yet been announced.

Thank you, once again, for taking the time and trouble to get in touch.

Yours sincerely,

Ruth Barron

Office of the Party Chairmen

Conservative Campaign Headquarters.

* Note: I did not give a title in my original letter but use Mx not Mr.

In the interests of fairness I have now also sent a copy to the LGBT Tory group to see if we get a more detailed response.

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Elections: The Lib Dem’s reply [updated]

See here for the background to this post.

Updated: this reply was recieved 19th April from the main party headquarters

Dear [first name],

Thank you for your email. Please accept my apologies for the delay in replying

The Liberal Democrats have a long and proud history of fighting for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) equality. We strongly believe that trans individuals should enjoy equal rights and equal treatment in every aspect of their lives.

For many years, trans issues were sadly ignored or misunderstood throughout our society. That’s why I’m delighted that the Liberal Democrats are helping to deliver real change. It was in 1998 that our party first supported the right of people to legally change their gender on their birth certificate. In 2011 we set out the first ever Government transgender equality action plan too. This is helping to break down barriers not just in schools and workplaces, but in healthcare and wider society too.

The Liberal Democrats played a crucial role in helping to bring about the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, and we were the first of the three main parties to support equal marriage. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act allows a person who is trans to change their legal gender without this automatically ending their marriage.

Liberal Democrats passed a motion at our Autumn Party Conference in 2014 where we called for further progress. We support reviewing the Gender Recognition Act, which could lead to important changes. For example, trans individuals whose marriages were terminated should have them reinstated if both partners are in favour.

Our 2015 manifesto includes a committment that we will help to stamp out transphobic bullying in schools, which we know can blight the lives of young people. Lib Dems also support the right of trans individuals to have an ‘X’ gender marker in their passport if they wish. And we support the inclusion of positive images of trans individuals in central government publications too, so that trans communities are more visible.

Our party values fairness, celebrates diversity and challenges ignorance and conformity. We believe that every person, regardless of gender, should have the chance to lead a happy and fulfilling life free from prejudice and discrimination. The work of the group Liberal Democrats LGBT+ also helps to inform party policy on transgender issues. As of April 2015, 37 of the Lib Dem candidates standing in this election identify as LGBT – one of whom is trans.

The Liberal Democrats will always campaign tirelessly for the rights of the trans community.

Yours sincerely,

Edward Simpson
Direct Communications Manager
The Liberal Democrats

Earlier reply via the LGBTI Lib Dems – [via email 16 Feb:]

Dear [first name], Thank you for your email. “X” Gender Markers are policy of the entire party (Not just of the LGBT group, as with some other parties) – you can read more at http://lgbt.libdems.org.uk/en/page/x-gender-markers-on-passports. This the main focus of our non-binary work at the moment, as getting the implemented should convince the civil service and others opposed to such changes that it will not suddenly cause the end of the world and make it easier to roll out non-binary ID in other areas. We don’t have full party policy on gender neutral wording in marriage and other legislation because the latest regulations came in too late for inclusion in our latest equalities policy paper – it’s an area we’ll be looking to include when the opportunity for a policy change next arises. LGBT+ Liberal Democrats are working on the mental health motion to be debated at Spring Conference to include better access to gender clinics, with improved funding levels. Non binary inclusion is key to getting equitable treatment for all trans people and we fully recognise this in our policy development. Kind Regards, Zoe O’Connell LGBT+ Liberal Democrats

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UK Election: What are the parties nonbinary-related policies?

Elections are coming up and we’re asking political parties what they’re planning to do on nonbinary inclusion. This is what we sent:

To whom it may concern, I am writing to find out what policies your party has on nonbinary inclusion. Nonbinary is an umbrella term for people who do not identify as entirely male or female, many of whom would consider themselves to be transgender. The Equality and Human Rights Commission figures suggest that 0.4% of people in the UK describe their gender in a way other than male or female, which means roughly 1 in every 250 people is nonbinary. I am part of a group which campaigns for nonbinary rights and we plan on publishing the responses online so our membership can use this to inform their voting decisions in the next general election. Some areas of particular concern for us would be: – legal recognition of nonbinary genders including x passports (eg http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2013-14/907) – equality and protection from discrimination, for example expansion of the Equality Act 2010 to afford protections to a wider array of gender identities – reform of gender identity clinics to allow better access to treatment for nonbinary people including less gatekeeping. – Making laws gender neutral rather than worded in terms of binary gender. For example, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013; in this instance, rather than making the law gender neutral, it instead added a lot of extra clauses about ‘same sex couples’ Thank you for reading and I look forward to receiving your response. Kind Regards, [name & address]

We sent it to the Conservatives, Lib Dems, Greens and Labour.  And volunteers on the facebook page also sent a copy to Plaid, the SNP and Scottish Greens. Results so far (click for full text):

Lib Dems Summary: UPDATED 30.4.15 X passports and better access to GICs, support reviewing the gender recognition act “for example, trans individuals whose marriages were terminated should have them reinstated if both partners are in favour”, stamp out transphobic bullying in schools, inclusion of positive images of trans individuals in central government publications; 37 of the Lib Dem candidates standing in this election identify as LGBT – one of whom is trans; details of general trans and LGBT legislation they have helped with in the past; state they are in favour of diversity and will campaign for trans rights

Conservatives: Summary: Thank you for writing us a letter.

Green Party: Summary: UPDATED: Addressing transphobia, LGBTIQ-inclusive sex and relationship education, anti-bullying in schools, funding for GICs, remove barriers to treatment and improve how GICs work, supporting legal recognition (X passports), end to austerity which they argue disproportionately affects young LGBTIQ people, work against transphobia internationally, nonbinary-inclusive structure for their own members (several things including gender-neutral toilets at conferences and gender neutral titles available on their registration forms).

Plaid CymruUPDATED: all Plaid MPs have signed the early day motion on X passports. Reply gives general support for human rights and celebrating diversity. Details their work on LGBT rights. Nonbinary people not mentionned specifically but tougher sentencing on transphobic hate crime and work on healthcare and development of a gender identity clinic in Wales might be relevant.

You might also be interested in this Pink News Debate where Christe Elan-Cane asks party leaders their policies on X passports (from 1:14.50 in the video)

 

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UCAS Meeting

On Tuesday 21st October, a group of us from the Nonbinary Gender Inclusion Project met Ben Jordan (Senior policy executive) and Andrew Hargreaves (Director of Marketing Communications) from UCAS. We had been invited after our petition about making their application forms more trans friendly.

Overall the meeting was a success, although we could use some responses about whether UCAS should ask for sex/gender or gender (see 1) below).

In the meeting UCAS told us they originally made the changes we’d complained about (to ask for legal sex etc) in an effort to be more inclusive, but were admitting they had got it wrong. They said they were grateful to us for raising the issue, and they were committed to changing things.
They have hundreds of universities and other organisations interacting with the data they collect, so it is difficult for them to make changes quickly. They were going out of their way to make the changes as fast as they could within these constraints.
We’d asked them “to make the application process inclusive of people who are transgender by asking for gender rather than ‘legal sex on your birth certificate’ and offering options for people with nonbinary gender identities.” We’d also expressed concerns about their monitoring question which effectively forced people to out themselves as trans.
They said they had looked at adding extra options this application cycle but it was not possible. They are going to change the wording on their forms (points 1 & 3 below) by the end of December in time for their peak time for applications in January, then they will add additional options for the next cycle (ie add to the form in September 2015 for September 2016 university applications).
1) Ask for gender rather than “legal sex on your birth certificate” (will be changed by end of December 2014 – but see concerns about wording)
They agreed to change this. They wanted the wording to be “what is your sex/gender”, and to add guidance in the notes that you should reply with how you identify. We had a long discussion about this as we felt strongly that they should word the question ‘what is your gender’ not ‘sex/gender’. They were under the impression that sex/gender was more inclusive and that there are people that will be offended by only asking for gender. But they listened to our points and will look at it again. They plan to ask other trans groups and others their opinions to check what we are saying is accurate for the wider trans community. We also discussed compiling a survey ourselves as well and maybe getting other trans groups that we know to contact them about it. You can now find our survey here if you wish to comment on this.

2) Offer options for people with nonbinary gender identities. (will be changed by September 2015)
They had already said by email (and we agreed) that they receive applications from all over the world, and they need to word the application form in a way that includes all gender identities other than male and female not just nonbinary.

As a result of our previous survey asking what people preferred, we recommended the options should be: male, female and:
either
“not listed here” and a blank text box, or
“other” ONLY if accompanied with a blank text box
They agreed to look at whether a blank text box would be possible for them (all text box responses would be coded as the same number on their data). Should this not be possible we recommended the wording “not listed here” or “none of the above”.

3) Monitoring question (will be changed by end of December 2014 – but see concerns about wording)
They were changing their monitoring question to ask “do you identify as transgender” with the question being completely optional and the intention was for for students who want to let their university know they are trans to have the option. No-one will be obliged to answer it and out themselves if they don’t want to. Some people had told us of concerns with the previous UCAS monitoring question that the “prefer not to say” option would not be used by cis people and would effectively be outing people. By making the question entirely optional this is less likely to be a problem.

In addition, UCAS have asked us to return to give their staff training on trans issues, which we agreed to do. We will doing this jointly with some binary-gendered trans men & women so as to represent a wider range of the trans community for the training.

If you want to comment on the sex / gender question as an individual, please use the survey. If you are an organisation please contact us and we can put you in touch with UCAS to comment directly.

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