The latest batch of written responses to the Commons Transgender Equality Inquiry have been released, and there is some interesting data hidden in them, particularly relating to TransDocFail and the Equality Act.

From the General Medical Council:

Of those 98 [TransDocFail cases] we identified 42 cases in which the allegation appeared potentially serious enough and recent enough to engage our processes… Any complaints made as a result of this will have been passed direct to our triage department and so we are unable to track all complaints from this group in isolation from any others we receive. We have however identified three complaints that were submitted to us as a direct result of the survey because the complainants specifically referred to the survey within their complaint. Of these three cases:

  • one was closed as we were not able to identify the doctor involved.
  • one was closed as the allegations related to incidents which had occurred more than five years prior to receipt of the complaint…
  • one was investigated and at the end of that process, two senior GMC staff (one medical and one non-medical) made a decision that the complaint should be closed with no further action because it did not meet our thresholds.

In summary, the GMC are not aware of having taken any action despite nearly 100 complaints of often serious discrimination and maltreatment being bought to their attention.

On the positive side, the response from a Barrister who had been invited to give legal advice to the committee is indicative of where the Inquiry might be headed. Asked about the effects of the Equality Act 2010, it appears that despite a clear intent to strip some rights from trans people it may have been deficiently drafted to our benefit:

The exemption from gender reassignment discrimination in respect of single-sex / separate services in section 35 of Sex Discrimination Act 1975 was not amended by the Gender Recognition Act 2004 to make clear that such an exemption would not be available where the person being discriminated against in respect of single-sex / separate services provision held a GRC.

In conclusion, on this question, whilst decision-making is on a case-by-case basis, if a service-provider sought to rely on the exemption from gender reassignment discrimination in respect of single-sex / separate services in cases where the person holds a GRC, it is likely to be extremely difficult for that service-provider to show that the discrimination is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim

There are some caveats:

Nevertheless, in my view, the gender reassignment exemption in relation to the provision of single-sex / separate services will most likely be upheld by a court in a case of services such as women’s refuges, rape crisis services and other similar services providing facilities or services to victims of violent and/or sexual assault. It is these type of services where the aims of the service might most rationally be connected with the exclusion of trans individuals and so such an exclusion will be most likely to be viewed as proportionate.

The Inquiry asked the effects of amending various laws to reintroduce the “for all purposes” clause in the Gender Recognition Act, which would restore much of the power of a Gender Recognition Certificate if enacted, a very welcome move and hopefully reflective of the mood of the committee as a whole.

There is also a lengthy section on how existing legislation and amendments might help non-binary and intersex people.

Yesterday afternoon, Baroness Liz Barker lead further calls for action on trans prisoners in the House of Lords. For those not following the story, this follows a public outcry over Tara Hudson being placed in a male prison and then, last week, the death of Vicky Thompson in Leeds who had also been placed in a male facility. This is far from a new issue, being one I wrote about back in 2010 and that stretches back to at least 1996, when Press For Change were campaigning about it.

Having had longer to get briefed on the issue, the House of Lords gave the government a much tougher time than in the Commons, although the government still failed to give any substantive answers.

Suggesting that it would be “inappropriate” to place pressure on people to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate when the current policy does exactly that is also a very odd response, and we know that trans communities were not consulted in the creation of the current policy, based on an old Freedom of Information request.

Stripping the extensive parliamentary niceties and paraphrasing heavily, the exchange went much as follows with commentary in italics: (The formal transcript is also available on Parliament’s web site)

  • Liz Barker: (LibDem) In light of the death of Vicky Thompson, will the Government review the Prison Services’ treatment of trans prisoners?
  • Edward Faulks: (Conservative Minister) We can’t comment on Miss Thompson’s death while investigations are ongoing, and the policy is currently under review.
  • Liz Barker: (LibDem) Recent events have shown that placing trans women in male estates is dangerous. Does the Minister agree that trans prisoners should be housed in the estate of their acquired gender in the first instance and moved to another estate only following a thorough investigation that rules out all other safe alternatives?
  • Minister: The National Offender Management Service policy suggests people are housed according to their legal gender under the Gender Recognition Act, but a degree of discretion is allowed to the Prison Service.
  • Michael Cashman: (Labour) What urgent steps will the Minister take to review the location of all trans people in prison and to move them to appropriate prisons according to their acquired gender, to avoid a repeat of the tragedy that befell Vicky Thompson?
  • Minister: The important thing is that there is no generalisation here. Individual assessment is carried out by the Prison Service. It is after that assessment that they should be assigned an appropriate part of a prison.
  • James Hope: (Crossbench) Does this policy also apply in Young Offender Institutions?
  • Minister: The policy applies throughout the prison estate, including the youth estate.
  • Paul Scriven: (LibDem) There has been an eight-month gap when the current guidelines are no longer applicable because they are past their expiry date. If those guidelines are being updated, what open invitation has been given to trans support groups to help the Government update the guidelines?
  • Minister: The noble Lord makes what he may think is a clever point, but the policy remains current until cancelled. We take account of trans communities view when drafting policy. (The accusation from the minister that Lord Scriven’s point is “clever” is rather ill-judged, given that the question follows a death and that evidence to the commons Trans Equality Inquiry includes a submission from someone in prison specifically stating that the expiry of the old policy has caused problems. We also know that trans communities were not widely consulted in the creation of the current policy, based on an a parliamentary question from Caroline Lucas and a Freedom of Information request.)
  • Jeremy Beecham: (Labour) will the Government’s review extend to the size of the prison population, and will the training of prison staff be extended in time and depth?
  • Minister: Prison officer training has been extended to include equalities provisions, including trans issues. The original prison service policy is an impressive document, but there is room for continual improvement.
  • Jonathan Marks: (LibDem) One difficulty under the existing system, with giving priority to legal gender, is that trans people who turn out to be offenders may be the least likely to apply for gender recognition certificates (GRCs) under the 2004 Act. Will the government review take that into account?
  • Minister: The decision to apply for a GRC is an intensely personal one. It would be entirely inappropriate to in any way place pressure on somebody to go through that process. (Suggesting that it would be “inappropriate” to place pressure on people to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate when the current policy does exactly that is a very odd response)

Liz Barker has also written about the issue for the Huffington Post.

The full exchange is worth watching and is below and also on the Parliament Live web site.

The latest news on sex-by-deception cases yesterdays sentencing of Newland to eight years on three counts of sexual assault. There are a few points worth addressing, which I’ll go through one by one:

  • Firstly, while the case might persuade future judges it does not set much of a precedent. There are caveats and it does depend who you ask, but in general any case initially heard by the Crown Court is not considered binding in future court cases. This means that yesterday’s judgement is relevant only as far as it relates to thought processes that the judge will go through when sentencing.
  • The extent to which trans issues are directly involved is limited. The courts tend to play this down as not relevant even when there is strong evidence to the contrary, although the judge does state “the close link with your troubling issues of sexuality…and blurred gender lines is important“. There is perhaps more here to concern gender-queer and non-binary folk who may be “mistaken” (Or correctly read!) as the “wrong” binary gender rather than binary-identified fully transitioned trans people.
  • Unlike convictions in earlier cases, this was specifically “Assault by penetration”, which we can be sure of as the judges sentencing remarks have been reported in full – the relevant part being the reference to “section 2“. Previous cases have not involved penetration, so this is slightly different and creates a little confusion. We know the issue of deception was key, as the sentencing statement also go on at length about it and this theme is repeated in the judge’s directions to the jury during the main trial: If you are not sure there was any operating deception at all, then there is no question of a conviction.”. There are two ways deception that was legally relevant can involved:
    • Identity: Someone can lie about who they are, with failing to mention that you are an undercover police officer as the canonical example. Lies about being married, wealthy and so on and not mentioning HIV or some other STD are acceptable, legally. Identity only becomes a legal issue if someone is fooled into having sex with someone they think is spouse/partner or (After the McNally judgement) there is “deception” about gender. The

    • “Nature of the act”: There is also a law about “deceiving…as to the nature or purpose of the act” which could apply here as a dildo was used and not a penis. If the case was based entirely on this, it does not entirely stop it being an issue for trans folk as a question of “what is a penis” arises, particularly when it comes to surgery and prosthetics.
      Update: Since first posting, it’s been pointed out that section 79 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 deals with surgically constructed anatomy, presumably with the intention of making it clear that rape of trans women is still rape. It’s not clear on first reading how this clause would apply to “conditional” consent, nor am I aware that the courts have ever had to consider it in this context)
  • Finally, was the the eight year sentence justified? Worryingly for any trans folk who do get caught up in this, according to the sentencing guidelines the answer is “yes”. The courts take assault involving penetration as almost as serious as rape and do not distinguish between lack of consent and withdrawn consent after-the-fact when passing sentence. Both psychological damage on the victim and prolonged deception are regarded as aggravating factors leading to an 8-year starting point. We already know from earlier cases that the courts often consider being trans a “deception”, and consider psychological damage on the victim even if it’s similar to a “gay panic” defence.

Stepping back for a moment and considering if someone engaged in a lengthy deception to engage in a relationship should face criminal sanctions – in an ideal world, possibly, but it’s hard to see how any situation in which consent can be withdrawn after-the-fact could not be used to target minority groups including gender identity, race and religion. The current rules are also inconsistently applied, with far worse deceptions being completely ignored by the law.

The demands of campaigning meant I did not have time to prepare a pre-election post on trans* candidates prior to the election, but now that I am no longer delivering leaflets or knocking on doors, we can have a look at both who was standing and how people fared.

Prior to the elections, there were no full-time openly trans politicians in the UK at a District Council level or higher – May 2014 having been the first time in at least 14 years that this has been the case. We now have (at least) two elected trans politicians, back up to the pre-May-2010 peak.

As with last year, I have not produced a list of Town/Parish council election candidates, nor anyone not “full-time”. This predominantly because at that level, events are hard to track. Parish elections usually receive little media attention, are not well-publicised even on council web sites and are generally run on a non-partisan basis, even if candidates are actually party members.

Parliamentary Candidates – Listed in order of selection, none successful
Charlie Kiss Green Party Charlie Kiss
Islington South and Finsbury
8% – 5th place
Stella Gardiner Green Party Stella Gardiner
Bexleyheath and Crayford
2.2% – 5th place
Labour Emily Brothers
Sutton and Cheam
11.1% – 3rd place
Zoe OConnell Liberal Democrats Zoe O’Connell
4.5% – 5th place
District Council Elections – Successful Candidates
Zoe Kirk-Robinson Conservatives Zoe Kirk-Robinson
Bolton Council – Westhoughton North and Chew Moor.
41.3%, majority 2.7% (Simultaneous by-election)
Zoe OConnell Liberal Democrats Zoe O’Connell
Cambridge City Council – Trumpington Ward
29.9%, majority 2.6%
District Council Election Candidates – Unsuccessful Candidates
Labour Anna Booth
Trafford Council – Davyhulme East Ward
2nd – 41.4%. (Majority of winner: 1.1%)
Alice Chapman Liberal Democrats Alice Chapman
Cheshire West and Chester Council – Winnington and Castle Ward
7th – 4.21% (All-up elections: 2 places)
Anwen Muston Labour Anwen Muston
Wolverhampton City Council – Penn Ward
2nd – 37.6% (Majority of winner: 5.25%)

In some welcome news, it has been announced today that the General Medical Council (GMC) have dismissed a long-running case against Richard Curtis, a London-based doctor specialising in trans healthcare.

The case had been due to be heard next month, but the GMC have decided that it does not even warrant a hearing. The final case, before it was dismissed, had been reduced to two allegations failing to follow an older version of the WPATH Standards of Care that was out of date by the time of the complaint and two of providing “misleading” information when referring for surgery that may have been related to patients giving inaccurate information about when they updated their name.

This hopefully brings to an end a long-running campaign against doctors trying to provide progressive treatment in the best interest of trans people which started with the case against Dr Russell Reid nearly a decade ago.

Dr. Curtis’s full statement is below.

It is with much relief that I announce the conclusion of the GMC investigation which has now been in process for nearly four years.

In short the GMC have entirely dismissed the case. There was no Fitness to Practice hearing and no sanctions.

The conditions which were imposed over three years ago, as it turns out, inappropriately, will be removed when the process for that to occur is administered by the GMC and should be a formality.

I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude for all those who have given their support during this very difficult time.

Dr Richard James Curtis

In the latest twist in the saga of Inhouse Pharmacy, two of their web sites ( and unexpectedly disappeared from the internet some time in the last 48 hours. Yesterday morning, users started receiving the email reproduced below in which IHP cite “anti-competitive action in the USA” as the reason for the domains being unavailable.

Blocking domain names seems to be a relatively new tactic in the campaign – presumably orchestrated by big pharma – to try to shut down online pharmacies, which are the only source of HRT for many trans women. Previous efforts have concentrated on payment providers instead.

Fortunately, other similar sites appear unaffected.

We have changed our website name

Today due to anti-competitive action in the USA it is necessary for us to become:

We have done this to ensure you can continue to access our affordable medications from us in the same reliable manner you have grown to trust.

Our old domain is no longer operating, but we are, just with our .VU domain name which stands for Vanuatu, the country where we are based in the tropical South Pacific.

Business is normal, the site and prices are just the same. We are the same people you have grown to trust and when you phone us you will be talking to the same customer service team. Please come on over to our new site at Please remember USA shoppers right now get a 10% additional discount if paying by eCheck – give it a try.

10% Special eCheck Discount

Website Login

Unfortunately we were not able to move your old account on over to our site. When you shop on it may not recognise your email address so please kindly complete your purchase and choose the option at the end to save your details for next time.

Once your order is placed, our team will recognise it’s you.

Trans politicians were briefly in the news today, when it was claimed that the Labour candidate for Sutton and Cheam was the “first transgender candidate for Parliament”.

After a short session of fact-checking supplied by twitter, that’s now been reduced to “first openly transgender candidate for Labour” – but as this mistake keeps cropping up it appears that a brief history lesson might be useful.

The first openly trans candidate in current political memory appears to have been Alexandra (Sandra) MacRae, who stood in Glasgow Provan for the SNP back in 1992. Twenty three years isn’t just a long time in politics – it’s a lifetime, meaning the story of her candidature is now unclear. It was certainly known that she was trans by the date of the election, and it seems likely that it was known prior to her selection, as she had previously stood at least once before transitioning (in 1996) and possibly, according to some sources, as many as three times.

Arguably, she remains the best parliamentary record of a trans person to date, securing 21.7% of the vote and coming second to Labour. But don’t expect her to stand again any time soon following her conviction and jail sentence for fraud.

Second, if we are going by coming-out date, would be Stephanie Dearden.

There is a version of events that has Stephanie being “outed” Daily Mail in 2005, but there are earlier Guardian stories which mention her in connection with the July 2004 Leicester South by-election. The attack leaflets distributed at that time, showing the Liberal Democrat candidate shaking Stephanie’s hand, include a quote from her clearly revealing her trans status – suggesting she may have never been stealth.

Either way, she certainly was not stealth by the time of her selection for Tooting constituency for the Liberal Democrats on the 4th November, 2004 and she went on to come third with 19.5% of the vote.

Next up is Nikki Sinclair, who was an MEP until earlier this year and whose background is better known. She has stood four times post-transition and as an open lesbian but before coming out as trans – for UKIP in 2001 and 2005 for Westminster, in 2009 for the European Parliament when she was successfully elected as a UKIP MEP and again for Westminster as an independent in 2010, following her departure from UKIP.

She came out as trans in 2013, but lost her MEP re-election bid as part of the “We Demand a Referendum Party”.

Fourth and fifth are the Green Prospective Parliamentary Candidates Charlie Kiss – the first trans man anyone knows of – and Stella Gardiner, who has been a Green party member since 1993 and who transitioned in 2013.

Both Stella and Charlie have been selected for seats in London in May 2015, with Stella adding that she “took the decision from the start to be out and open about being trans“.

This puts the latest announcement sixth on the list – and with just under six months to run until the general election, I’m expecting that we’ll see at least one more trans candidate announced for May 2015. There were eight openly trans politicians who stood this May, and I would expect the total to be higher in a General Election year.

This post was updated on 10th December 2014 with links showing the date of Stephanie Dearden’s selection. Thanks to Jon Ball for finding this information.

News emerged yesterday* that the Gender Recognition Panel (GRP) is delaying and possibly denying legal gender recognition because a trans person has had children whilst living in their new gender – an act which is completely unjustified, given that the Gender Recognition Act does not require someone who has transitioned to refrain from sex that may get them or their partner pregnant.

At best, this delay is of questionable legality and reveals a dangerous element of (hopefully inadvertent) transphobia in the decision making process of the panel, likely fueled by ill-informed and sensationalist media coverage.

But at worst, the panel are willfully intruding into the area of reproductive justice. Coercive sterilisation of trans people has long been a major concern, but one that was until yesterday limited to countries other than the UK. Questioning the commitment of any trans person who has the audacity to exercise their reproductive rights is simply an attempt to force de-facto sterilisation via the back door, something considered a human rights abuse by the Council of Europe.

What is also of concern is that the panel based the decision to request more information on the publication of a newspaper article. This has the effect of penalising those who engage with the media as part of a campaign for equality. It will also hinder people who, as is often the case with members of the trans community, have been outed without their consent and have had deliberately misleading or inaccurate information about them distributed in order to sensationalise a story.

In an older case, the panel delayed an application because a doctor correctly decided that the information that a trans person had a wife and children was of no relevance and did not include it in their report. Another doctor did mention it, and thus the panel decided it should investigate further to ensure the first doctor was giving his opinion “in light of the correct factual situation”.

It is entirely possible that the Gender Recognition Panel does not realise the gross errors it is making, as having any experience of trans matters is not a requirement to sit on the panel. According to the Gender Recognition Act, “the only persons who may be appointed to the [panel] are persons who have a relevant legal qualification (“legal members”), or are registered medical practitioners or registered psychologists“. There is no further requirement given, beyond specifying exactly what legal qualifications legal members needs.

That means that being a doctor or lawyer in any field whatsoever is a more necessary qualification for determining someone’s gender than having any first hand experience of the topic whatsoever.

PS. If you have had a similar experience with the Gender Recognition Panel delaying an application because you have had a child, UK Trans Info would like to hear from you – email

The original tweet, although anonymous and not made by the original applicant, was removed the following day as the person to whom this happened is worried that publicity may affect their GRC application

Equalities Speech

For the last year I’ve had the good fortune to be able to serve as a member of the Liberal Democrat Equality Policy Working Group, and yesterday conference accepted the motion that came out of that, making it official party policy.

Equalities SpeechThere is lots of good stuff in there, but I did want to highlight the LGBT and marriage sections in particular. We heard much evidence from other groups too, and some of the awful statistics relating to education and stop-and-search for young Afro-Caribbean men in particular stick in my mind – but others deserve the credit for campaigning on those areas, so I’ll let them talk about them.

Remember, these are now official party policy. They are not just policy of the LGBT group or aspirational aims of a subgroup. Actual official party policy. (Some of these items were already party policy, but were restated in the policy document for clarity)

LGB and LGBT issues

  • Review the Blood Ban. We’re currently in the ridiculous situation where a man who has sex with other men, even safe sex, is banned from giving blood for 12 months. However, it doesn’t matter how many unsafe sexual relationships anyone else has as they can still give blood. Even more confusingly, if you are a woman married to (And having sex with) a bisexual man who has ever had sex with another man, you can not give blood ever. Even if your husband can.
  • An evidence-based approach to tackling *phobic bullying in schools. There is an evidence-gathering programme, started by LibDem Equalities Minister Jo Swinson MP, that will report back on how we can bet do this.
  • …mainstream discourses should consider more authentic ‘inclusive sexualities’ in advertising, media, and sport to help break down prejudice. and more specifically later on positive images of transgender individuals in central government publications. Hopefully self-explanatory!

Trans issues

  • ‘X’ (Unspecified) gender markers on passports. A big benefit for the non-binary community if we can make it a reality, but this is good for all trans and intersex people and society in general. There is no particular reason the state needs to concern itself with gender in the vasy majority of situations, especially when it comes to official ID. For example, did you know about the very patriarchal approach of the DVLA, which includes titles on women’s driving licenses but not men’s?
  • Ending the Spousal Veto. If you don’t know what the Spousal Veto is, Sarah Brown has an excellent primer here. In short, the veto was introduced by the Same-Sex Marriage Act and allows a partner to block legal gender recognition of a spouse who has transitioned and prevent them obtaining potection from employment discrimination, even after the two year wait required for the legal process.
  • Restoring stolen trans marriages. Under the pre-same-sex-marriage regime, even if a couple stayed together they were required to have their marriage annulled if one partner wanted to fully transition.
  • Removing the requirement for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria in order to obtain legal gender recognition. This would further reduce unwelcome medical gatekeeping when it comes to people’s identities, and also fix the mess that intersex people find themselves in. Currently, if you have an intersex condition and potentially had your legal gender assigned arbitrarily by a doctor at birth, you are unable to obtain a diagnosis of gender dysphoria (It’s a different diagnosis) and thus can not obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate.

Non-LGBT marriage issues

  • Allow the Church of England to decide itself if it wants to carry out same-sex marriage. At the moment, the Church of England is prohibited by law from carrying out same-sex marriage, but with the way things are going I can well see that changing in the not too distant future.
  • Allow Non-religious (Humanist) marriage ceremonies. Already permitted in Scotland, we would like to see this introduced in the rest of the UK.
  • Include both parent’s names on marriage certificates. Current certificates only list the father, which is a very outdated patriarchal approach.

You can download the full policy paper, in .docx format, here.

Yesterday, Saturday, was the day of the big Stonewall-Trans meeting in London. The briefest bit of background is in order for those who are not engaged in LGBT politics, or who are reading this in ten years time and don’t know what the fuss is about: Stonewall UK are an LGB organisation, not an LGBT organisation.

Historically, this has caused problems.

But Stonewall is under new management in the form of Chief Executive Ruth Hunt, who is keen to work with the trans communities and build bridges. A few of us have worked with Ruth from when she was the number two at Stonewall, and knew her to be approachable and someone we could work with so we were not walking into this completely blind.

What the meeting was not

One point that is quite clear from all that has been said is that the meeting itself is not definitive. It has certainly been influential, not least as a rare gathering of so may trans people who agreed if not on the detail, at least on the general direction we’d like this to go in. But Ruth is keen to hear from as many people as possible and Stonewall are still looking for feedback from trans people. (As an aside, please don’t think Stonewall can solve every niche issue faced by every trans person any more than they can do the same for the LGB community. Such expectations can only lead to disappointment. What working with Stonewall will give is better trans activism overall, not perfection.)

Any closer working with Stonewall is also not about services. Stonewall do not provide individual support and do not pursue legal actions on behalf of individuals, except as part of a more strategic outcome. Stonewall’s modus operandi is strategic, UK-wide lobbying, research and education/training.

Finally, the meeting was not about cis people. The only non-trans people present were Ruth Hunt herself, Stonewall’s chair Jan Gooding and the facilitator, Caroline. A number of cis people who were involved in (LGB)T organisations did ask to turn up but were told this was a meeting for trans folk only.

Concerns have been raised over the inclusivity of the meeting. Whilst no group can ever be perfect, I can certainly say it wasn’t awful: About a two-to-one trans feminine vs masculine split, (Which is roughly representative of the trans communities in the UK) clear non-binary representation, a spread of religious beliefs and not excessively London-centric or exclusively white. There was certainly also some representation from people with disabilities and I believe intersex people, but being invisible traits I can’t say how numerous that representation was.

Stonewall does also intend to hold separate meetings with PoC and other groups.

The options

The day was mostly about the how, rather than the what. What’s needed is something we all had experience of and Ruth outlined three options on the how, which formed the focus of the day. These were:

1. Stonewall becomes fully LGBT. All Stonewall’s output is LGBT-inclusive, as is all their fundraising.

2. Stonewall does “a bit” of LGBT, but also supports the community in setting up a sibling organisation. For the first year or two, this would involve mentoring, initial fundraising and shared back-office (HR, IT) resources.

3. Stonewall does not do T. Instead, they gives grants to trans organisations.

There was also a number 4 on the list, which is simply “Stonewall is a better ally”. This wasn’t discussed because Stonewall have committed to do this anyway, as they feel comfortable that they don’t need a mandate just to Do The Right Thing.

Where the meeting went

I shall skip several hours of discussions, in which many excellent points were raised in the various smaller groups. The quickest one sentence summary is “nobody likes option three”. (The Stonewall-gives-grants option) Many reasons were given for this but it boils down to any attempt by an LGB organisation to give grants appearing paternalistic, as well as the trouble of how LGB folk are supposed to know where money for T issues is best spent.

A number of attendees with experience of small organisations obtaining grants also commented on how taxing navigating grant applications can be for such groups.

Which of option one or two is best is a much harder call, particularly given that is can be viewed more as a range of options rather than strictly either/or.

The positive points about option one, Stonewall becoming entirely LGBT, is that Stonewall tends to be a one-stop-shop, with large organisations focusing on LGB issues for a while before finding some other equalities issues to worry about. Despite such groups being told by Stonewall that T is separate, they don’t quite get around to thinking about gender identity but just tick the “We did LGBT!” box and move on. If Stonewall deliver LGBT rather than LGB training and include the T when lobbying government bodies, that’s immediately a great deal more than we are getting right now.

The obvious drawback on that option is lack of autonomy of the trans community. Work will inevitably be focused on what LGBT needs this year and next year, not what T needs this year and next year, and trans issues can often court controversy which Stonewall is likely to be uncomfortable with. For example, there is not likely to be another LGB-centric bill going through parliament in the next decade or two so Stonewall will be less likely to focus on lobbying, but there are still a significant number of legislative changes being sought by trans people.

Option two, Stonewall having a sibling organisation, gives back that autonomy. What it does lose is the commitment from Stonewall itself to carry on doing the “T” long term once it has spun off such an sibling group. It also results in the loss of the contacts and influence Stonewall has that enables it to go into large organisations via it’s Workplace Equality Index and other initiatives.

The sweet spot appears to be somewhere between option 1¼ and 1¾, with a range of ideas on how that might look. Where we seem to be heading is towards Stonewall starting to do trans-inclusive work now, where “now” in such a complex organisation is more like “over the course of the next year, because lots of staff training needs to happen“. There were no concrete ideas at this stage on how this work would engage with trans people – either as employees or outside advisers, but Ruth was consistently and repeatedly clear that Stonewall will not be attempting anything without trans involvement.

The inclusive work is things like education/training campaigns (e.g. Some People are Gay would have also included “Some People are Trans, Get Over It”) as well as any lobbying work and research.

That leaves the trans-exclusive work which does not overlap with LGB issues: Gender Recognition Act reform, Spousal Veto, Sexual Offenses legislation, Healthcare and so on. Under a pure “Stonewall does LGBT” approach, some of this could be picked up but as it would result in a more major shift in campaigning it would not be quick, would take at least a year to get going and risks diverting some funding that existing T-exclusive organisations are already receiving. However, it looks more likely that Stonewall will help to set up a sibling trans-specific organisation to handle these issues instead.

Where next

As mentioned earlier, there is still more consultation that Stonewall would like to do. They are aiming to produce a summary document in January, which the Stonewall board will look at and trans folk will have the chance to comment on further.

The final report, with a definitive statement on Stonewall’s future intentions, is expected in April.