Yesterday Liz Truss gave evidence to the Women’s and Equalities Committee. Maybe any expectations of any serious focus on trans rights was unrealistic, and clearly there are a large diversity of groups and issues that her department is responsible for, but given the level of discord and dissatisfaction expressed by former members of the LGBT Advisory Panel it was disappointing that there was very little focus on the issues and clear concerns they had raised. There were many groups that were named and referenced today, but not once could she even bring herself to say the word Transgender.
In brief, when asked to respond to the accusation by the panel members that she had created a hostile environment for LGBT people since her appointment, she stated that the panel had been set up by the previous (Tory) Government (so distanced herself from those views and priorities) and that they had a basic fundamental disagreement, namely the support for Self ID whereas she believes there should be ‘checks and balances’. So according to that statement, because of a differing of opinion on just the one issue, she then failed to engage, discuss, listen, or meet (more than twice) or take any advice from the panel on ANY LGBT issue that her LGBT Advisory Panel was there to provide. Having now disbanded a Panel who clearly wouldn’t give her advice that she wanted to hear, she confirmed she is now putting together a new panel that will ‘support (the Governments) priorities’. So in other words, she just wants to make sure there is a new Panel that will comprises only of members that agree with her.
So let’s just take a moment to stop think about that. Theresa May set up an LGBT Advisory Panel of knowledgeable LGBT stakeholders with a wide range of understanding and experience covering all areas that are key to the LGBT community, offering insight and advice on issues and policies concerning all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. These stakeholders were invited to join for a reason. What Liz Truss has effectively admitted, is that she rejected their specialist understanding, knowledge and advice (the very reason they were appointed), because they advised her that her understanding was incorrect and was not supportive of the people she was appointed to help and ensure were protected.
Did she maybe realise that the format of the panel was incorrect? That the remit of the panel had proved ineffective? No, the panel was simply to be replaced ‘to establish a new panel to support (her) agenda’ – so in other words, a panel that will now agree with me. The previous Panel has been removed because their expertise advice wasn’t what she wanted to hear. The new panel will therefore be just a puppet for her views – but if they do happen to disagree, will she also replace them?
And as for the main priority of choosing the new panel, this she explained was where they are based – so not that their experience, knowledge and understanding are compatible and fully representative of the whole LGBT community – no, just that they be more diversely located geographically.
Liz Truss believes that her commitment to UK Equalities is demonstrated simply by announcing (a delay to) the ban on Conversion Therapy and the hosting of an LGBT Conference under the heading of ‘Safe to be Me’. As if by the hosting of an event that has a ‘caring and inclusive’ title somehow demonstrates to the World what a leader the UK is in promoting and protecting LGBT Rights! Unless there is a genuine change of attitude before the Conference in 2022 this will prove a major embarrassment for the Government, but this is looking highly unlikely if Liz Truss remains in this role.
Liz Truss stated ‘you have to start from the individual point of view of humanity and dignity… every individual has the right to live their life as they see fit as long as they are not harming the rights and abilities of other’ and that we ‘can’t have people being prevented from leading the lives they want to lead’ ….. and yet this is still exactly what she is refusing the trans community.
What dignity is she referring to when she is openly supportive of having the right to misgender trans men and women? How can trans men and women possibly feel it’s ‘Safe to be me’ when Liz Truss openly speaks of protecting ‘the safety of women’ implying that by allowing trans women to use women’s spaces present a threat to that safety? Where is the humanity?
There is so much fear in the trans community because of her views forming Government Policy and because she wouldn’t listened to a panel that did represent and understand it’s needs. Without any change, in June 2022 the whole world will clearly see how it is simply 'Not Safe to be Me in the UK' - and and until Liz Truss starts listening and working with those that actually feel this fear nothing will change.