The Liberal Democrats have revised their definition of transphobia in the light of recent legal cases.
The previous policy which drew on the work of “organisations such as Stonewall and TransActual UK”.
But following advice from two KCs (one, from Karon Monaghan KC, has been published), it has now been revised in a way that seeks to ensure it is in line with the law and that it respects other people’s rights.
References to “misgendering” and “deadnaming” have been dropped, and the new policy simply states that trans people should not be discriminated against or harassed for being trans.
It recognises that holding and expressing gender-critical views are protected by law under the Equality Act, and Articles 9 and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, stating that:
“Those who hold such views may express them freely, as long as they do not harass or discriminate against trans people, nor create an environment which is hostile or discriminatory to trans people.”
The previous policy had stated that transphobic behaviour included using phrases such as a “biological man” or “biological woman”; advocating for separate-sex facilities; promoting the idea that gender dysphoria may be related to mental illness; or advocating for changes in medical treatment involving “withdrawal or defunding of access to transition-related medical treatment” or “any kind of therapy that tries to change a person’s gender identity”. It placed these things alongside “calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or physical or mental harming of trans people because of their gender identity”.
The revised definition of transphobia still includes “attempting directly or through advocacy to remove trans people’s rights”, but it also states that “trans people are entitled to the same rights as everyone else”.
Now the key question for the Lib Dems is: “What are trans people’s human rights, and what are incorrect assumptions of rights?”
Sex Matters argues that this human-rights-based approach is the correct way to think about how to accommodate people with diverse interests, while respecting freedom of expression and protecting private life.
The new Lib Dem policy states that: “Where accidental offence or harm has been caused the most appropriate course of action will generally be an apology, retraction or similar.”
We welcome the retraction of the previous policy and ask the Lib Dems to apologise for their incorrect assumption, and promotion of the idea, that mere statements of gender-critical belief are inherently unreasonable and inappropriate. Such an approach has been recognised as discriminatory by the Employment Appeal Tribunal and Employment Tribunal judgments in Forstater v CGD Europe.