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The STA’s submission to the Women & Equalities Committee Inquiry into Trans Equality

On Friday 21st August 2015, we submitted evidence to the Women and Equalities Commons Select Committee in response to their Inquiry into Transgender Equality. The inquiry was formed to consider how far, and in what ways, trans people still have yet to achieve full equality; and how the outstanding issues can most effectively be addressed, and was announced on 27th July 2015. This inquiry is part of a larger piece of work by the committee looking at how the UK Government Equalities Office (GEO) and other associated bodies spend money, how they operate and the areas of work they focus on.

Deciding what to include in the STA/EN submission

On Wednesday 29th July 2015, the Scottish Transgender Alliance Manager, James Morton, travelled to London to discuss coordination of organisational responses with GIRES, Gender Trust, Trans Media Watch, UK Trans Info, Transgender Wales, Mermaids, Trans Bare All, Trans London, Gender Agenda, CliniQ and the LGBT Consortium.

The committee were interested in hearing about a huge range of topics relating to trans equality in the UK, a full list of which can be read on their website. Because of this, we needed to think carefully about which areas were the most important to focus on when writing our evidence. We made the decision based on 4 main criteria:

  • Existing knowledge and evidence we had about trans inequalities, based on the views of trans people in Scotland which we had gathered through online surveys and face-to-face STA forums and conferences over the last few years
  • Consideration of which topics were reserved matters, and which topics were devolved. As this inquiry was happening at the UK Parliament, it made sense to only focus on those topics reserved to Westminster. This is why, for example, issues around healthcare were not included in our submission, as the NHS is devolved and run by the Scottish government
  • We held a STA forum in Perth on 8th August with 13 trans people from across Scotland. We talked in-depth about some of the ideas we already had for what might be included in our submission, and discussed other topics that people felt were important and needed to be included
  • We put a call out for anyone to get in touch with us via phone or email to let us know if there was something in particular they felt had to be addressed in our evidence

What was included

In the end, our submission was focused around 7 different topics. Some of the sections had significantly more detail than others – and this was all decided based on how important we felt each area was, after going through the above process. The topics included were:

  • Terminology and definitions
  • Data collection and evidence
  • Gender Recognition Act 2004
  • Equality Act 2010
  • Employment tribunal fees
  • Department of Work and Pensions
  • Asylum and Immigration

Our Recommendations

Our recommendations to the government based on these categories were summarised into the below bullet points at the start of our submission:

  • The Committee should hold an inquiry into intersex equality
  • The Yogyakarta Principles definition of gender identity should be used in order to be fully inclusive of all transgender people
  • Data collection and analysis should be transgender inclusive and the UK Government should engage with trans organisations and researchers with trans-specific expertise to design research questions
  • The Gender Recognition Act 2004 should be reformed to:
    • Become a simple, cheap administrative procedure based on self-determination of gender and without any requirement for medical or psychiatric evidence
    • Open the standard Gender Recognition Certificate process to 16 and 17 year olds and create a process for those under 16 years old with the additional requirement of parental agreement
    • Allow people to opt out of being legally a man or a woman
    • Provide automatic UK recognition of overseas gender recognition
  • Passports with unspecified gender should be made available
  • The Equality Act 2010 should be amended to:
    • Include gender identity as a protected characteristic
    • Remove the exception that allows single sex services to discriminate against trans people
    • Remove the genuine occupational requirement (GOR) allowing some jobs to require applicants must be cisgender and replace it with a GOR allowing posts delivering trans-specific services to require applicants must be transgender
    • Provide protection from gender identity harassment in school education
    • Restore provisions on third party harassment at work and dual (multiple) discrimination
  • Employment tribunal fees should be reduced for discrimination cases
  • The DWP should review the unintended negative consequences of ‘special customer record’ privacy protections and inform trans people of solutions
  • The DWP should ensure all sub-contractors have specific trans equality training and provide a clear and effective complaints mechanism
  • The UK Government should take measures to improve the safety of trans asylum seekers in the UK and the implementation of Home Office guidance on dealing with gender identity based asylum claims should be improved
  • The UK Government should review the transgender content for all country of origin asylum reports
  • The UK Government should ensure that asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants who lack country of origin identity documents matching their gender identity and current name are not unfairly disadvantaged

You can read the full STA submission, the oral evidence given by STA manager James Morton and the evidence submitted by other organisations and individuals at the Women and Equalities Committee’s website