As of today, I am no longer a woman


As of today, I am no longer a woman.

Today, I can be refused entry to a hospital that only operates single sex wards, despite being at a hugely increased risk of violence.

Today, I can be refused rape counselling, despite being at a hugely increased risk of sexual assault.

Today, I can be refused entry to sheltered accommodation, despite being at a hugely increased risk of domestic violence.

As of today, the Equalities Act comes into force and I am a “transsexual person”, despite holding a full Gender Recognition Certificate.

And if you think this can’t happen to you because you’re not transsexual? You don’t need to be, someone just has to believe you are – or claim to believe – and it’s perfectly legal.

Featured on Liberal Democrat VoiceUpdated 3rd October 2010: For anyone not getting the point of the above, see this clarification post. There is also more background in my original Equalities Act post and the followup post from the same day.

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  1. #1 by harukoraharu on 1 October 2010 - 20:41

    You’re the first person to mention this today when I thought there would be a lot more. I raised it at work in the LGBT group after reading about it on another blog or I might still have been in blissful ignorance :) On our Daily Briefing today there was a piece on the Equality Act, it linking to this http://www.equalities.gov.uk/pdf/401727_GEO_EqualityLaw_PublicSector_acc.pdf which when I first read it sounded okay, but knowing there was more to it tried to find the problem areas to explain it to my more equal than me colleagues. Page 6 – To qualify for protection from discrimination a TS person no longer has to show that they are under medical supervision. Some protection! I dunno how I can fight this though, working in possibly the largest organisation in Cambridge but in a minority of one.

    • #2 by Zoe O'Connell on 3 October 2010 - 09:44

      Fixing it will be down to getting input in to best practice documents, perhaps secondary legislation etc – basically, talking to people in the government Equalities Office and the like to put our point of view across.

      Sadly, there’s little chance of fixing the law in the next couple of years as I understand the parliamentary schedule is already pretty full with other bills!

  2. #3 by Paula on 3 October 2010 - 07:38

    Thus the first part of the GEO Trans Action Plan should state how this State sponsored transphobia will be withdrawn. Alas, all we can expect is the plan to outline a series of studies ‘to gather evidence’…….

    Anybody been consulted on this plan?

    • #4 by Zoe O'Connell on 3 October 2010 - 09:41

      There’s not been any consultation on the plan yet, but I’ve asked if the timetable for it can be released so we know when and what to look out for. At the moment, I have good political contacts within the current government but few civil service ones and I think those are the people we need to be talking to. I definitely feel having an LGBT reception in June that discussed Trans issues with no Trans representation present could be avoided if there were people lower down in the organisation we had a good working relationship with.

      • #5 by Paula on 4 October 2010 - 08:12

        I kicked up a stink about ‘why no trans people present at the No10 LGBT reception’. I was contacted by GEO who told me that No 10 was to blame (?). I am sure that a reception at No 10 for the Caribbean nationals might include at least one black person?!

        The danger with the Action Plan is that it will recommend further studies and yet more delay in addressing the real problems that we face.

        Keep up the good work!

        • #6 by Zoe O'Connell on 4 October 2010 - 14:19

          Hmm, didn’t Number 10 contact the GEO to get a list of appropriate contacts to invite to the reception?

          • #7 by Paula on 4 October 2010 - 17:28

            Yes, apparently so. But if you were GEO, would you want troublesome trans folk telling the PM of the continuing horrors suffered by trans people and their families, despite having a GEO?

            If you have not been invited to the Stephen Alambritis EHRC event 8 Nov, you may wish to. The aim of this meeting is ‘to provide further information on how the Equality Act will simplify, strengthen and harmonise current legislation and to give you the opportunity discuss the new provisions in the Act and raise any issues or concerns’.

            I like you have a few concerns……

            • #8 by Zoe O'Connell on 4 October 2010 - 17:35

              I can’t find any reference to the event online, do you have a link?

              • #9 by Paula on 4 October 2010 - 18:23

                No link – I seem to be on its email list.

                Email sent from

                02031170322

                will also put you in contact with a person concerned with the arrangements.

                • #10 by Paula on 4 October 2010 - 18:25

                  whoops! email address disappeared!

                  Phone number will work.

  3. #11 by Nicola on 4 October 2010 - 14:36

    Whilst many of the things you mentioned are wrong, not sure on the single sex wards although wrong to refuse you entry, there is a question of what you’re sex is?

    Unless there are specific wards for transsexuals then they are probably right to refuse you entry when only single sex wards.

    You maybe a woman on the outside, mentally and recognised by the state as a woman but you still have a y chromosome which means you’ll always be male. Yet society will now never accept you as a male and won’t accept you properly as a female coz your not a biological female but will accept you as a person. Society may accept you to the point of using the pronoun in your acquired gender but because of one chromosome, it will always be argued that you should never be put into a female ward.

    • #12 by Zoe O'Connell on 4 October 2010 - 14:58

      Unless there are specific wards for transsexuals then they are probably right to refuse you entry when only single sex wards.

      Why? Would you suggest they refuse entry to a butch lesbian or someone with an intersex condition that leaves them with visibly ambiguous genital configurations, just because it might make other patients feel uncomfortable? How do you know someone is transsexual anyway, or do you just pick on anyone who might be?

      Or perhaps we should also start ghettoising – because that’s what it is – anyone else that might make people feel uncomfortable. All lesbians for starters. Romany, blacks, anyone with visible disability? (Remember the fuss over the Cbeebies presenter with a disability?)

      Yes, it’s a clichéd argument but that’s because it’s one that works. Society is moving towards the view that it’s those that are uncomfortable with others that need to deal with their prejudices, not those who that prejudice is directed against. We can’t just marginalise smaller and smaller, less and less powerful groups each time.

      You maybe a woman on the outside, mentally and recognised by the state as a woman but you still have a y chromosome which means you’ll always be male. Yet society will now never accept you as a male and won’t accept you properly as a female coz your not a biological female but will accept you as a person. Society may accept you to the point of using the pronoun in your acquired gender but because of one chromosome, it will always be argued that you should never be put into a female ward.

      In common with most Trans people, I have no idea if I have a Y chromosome or not as I’ve never had a DNA test. I could be XX, XY, XXY, XYZZY.

      The International Olympic Committee already ran into this problem back in 2000 – they had to give up on the idea of DNA as an arbiter of someone’s gender and they have significantly more time and resources available to spend on testing each individual than the NHS.

      Right now there is only one possible test we know of that determines someone’s “true” (brain) gender in a useful way – but given that with current technology that involves slicing bits of brain into very thin slices it’s not very useful as an entry test to sporting competitions or hospital wards.

(will not be published)


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