Today, the team at Steph's Place sent a letter to Minister Mike Freer, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Equalities) at the Government Equalities Office.
This letter forms part of an attempt to open dialogue with the Government, following somewhat positive noises made during the debate of GRA Reform on Monday 21st Feb 2022.
Should it be successful and if the government is both honest and serious about its claims to support the UK's Transgender community, we have compiled a detailed, prioritised list of actions that we believe constitute a bare minimum move to both stabilise and improve the situation in the UK.
We will release the details of this list in due course, depending on the response from the Government.
We invite fellow LGBTQ+ and Trans specific organisations to sign the open letter alongside us here at Stephs Place, and will will update this post accordingly.
The text of the letter can be found below :
Dear Minister Freer
Steph’s Place is a news and information resource for the UK’s transgender and non-binary community, and alongside the rest of our community we watched the debate on the Gender Recognition Act on the 21st February 2022 with much trepidation.
Despite opposition from a loud, biased and factually incorrect but tiny minority we were heartened to hear that there appears to be clear majority support from within Government and across all parties to begin to address the many issues affecting our community.
We only desire the ability to live our lives in peace and happiness, free from abuse and harassment, and free to be able to pursue our dreams, which the Government claims to support.
Sadly, this is not possible in the current hostile environment which the Government and associated public bodies have actively fostered, and coupled with the complete neglect by the same of the many associated issues which affect our community, this has brought the trans community to and beyond crisis point.
We welcome the comments made by yourself during the debate, indicating that the Government finally appears to be willing to start looking at the issues affecting our community.
But we feel that those comments do not go anywhere near far enough to begin addressing the many, complex issues we face. Issues that are not of our making, but have been long ignored and exacerbated by those in positions of power over our lives.
It is clear the situation needs to change, change that is long overdue and in many areas requires immediate attention. Not empty words and hollow promises of change, but action.
We have therefore compiled this open letter in the spirit of cooperation and a desire to find a way forward out of the toxic ‘culture war’ that we have been made unwilling participants of, simply by existing.
The following are areas where change is needed in the immediate, short and medium terms:
Gender Recognition Act & Legal Recognition
The Equality and Human Rights Commission
Gender Affirming Healthcare
Conversion Therapy Ban
Of particular concern is the publication of so called ‘Single Sex Spaces’ Guidance. We are deeply concerned that despite assurance from the Government that The Equality Act 2010 will not be amended, there are significant fears that guidance in this area will still be ‘reinterpreted’ in such a way as to exclude transgender people from gender appropriate spaces that align with our identities.
We must remember that transgender people have been using such spaces entirely legally for more than 50 years, so any move to change this is a defacto removal of existing rights and freedoms, and that The Equality Act 2010 contains no provision for 'blanket bans', but does allow for individual case-by-case exemptions where legitimate aims exists.
With the eyes of the rest of the world focused firmly on the UK, this represents a starting point for transformative change and an opportunity to introduce positive changes in good faith, backing up your claimed support of transgender people in the UK with long neglected action.
If the Government is serious about it’s support, then we, as members of the UK’s transgender and non-binary community would welcome the opportunity to discuss this with you, to work together to achieve the changes needed to improve the situation in the UK for all transgender people.
Steph’s Place UK - (Steph, Claire, Julie, Paul, Nicola & Vicky)