Securing women’s rights and transgender people’s rights should not be a party-political football or a culture war. It can be done through discussions which are undertaken with clarity, respect and tolerance. It can be implemented via a simple amendment to the Equality Act 2010, using powers provided for in the Gender Recognition Act 2004.
Five important things
This is about clarifying the meaning of “sex” in the Equality Act. Protection against sex discrimination was first provided for by the Sex Discrimination Act 1975. It meant sex then, and it still does.
Protecting everyone from sex discrimination does not remove discrimination protections from transgender people. The Equality Act protects people against discrimination based on sex (being male or female) and on “gender reassignment” (being trans). This would not be removed.
Clarifying the law would help service providers treat everyone fairly. The law should be clear so that everyone can understand it. The Gender Recognition Act allows people to change their birth certificates; it does not govern access to single-sex services, associations, schools and charities.
Transgender people still need protection against sex discrimination. For example a transman can get pregnant, give birth and breastfeed, and needs protection against sex discrimination as a female person.
It is important to recognise women as a group. When public authorities consider the impact of their policies they should consider the impacts on women (and men). Unless they are able to consider women and transwomen as separate groups they can never consider that women’s interests matter where there is a conflict.
Read our two-page briefing
Read our FAQs on the debate
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What about the counter-arguments?
There is also a counter-petition which will be debated at the same time: to “commit to not amending the Equality Act’s definition of sex”.
This would leave the Equality Act definition ambiguous with the question likely to be left to the courts to try to decide. This uncertainty would increase conflict, fear and misunderstanding on all sides, and especially for service providers and employers who would just like clarity about the law.
The Trans Legal Project together with Stonewall are advocating for the law not to be clarified.