June 14th, 2020


The Death Eaters are in the Ministry

Rowling is of course a symptom, not a cause - but she's also a convenient stalking horse, and I'm sure the timing of this announcement is no coincidence.

This really is Clause 28 for trans people. It's stand-up-and-be-counted time: there's no fence left to sit on.

There are many aspects to Johnson's attempt to go full Viktor Orbán. I might mention, for example, that in pursuing this course Johnson (that self-proclaimed democrat) is disregarding 70% of the responses to the public consultation. But life's too short, and "Johnson is hypocrite" ranks with "Dog bites man" in the tally of unsurprising headlines, so let's cut to what, for some reason, has become the most urgent issue of our times: toilets.

For decades, trans men and women have legally used the toilets appropriate to their gender, without incident, here and in many other countries. Somehow, though, the proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act, which were actually about reducing the red tape involved in legally transitioning, became mixed up in the public mind with access to toilets. (Actually, it's no mystery: it was through a concerted campaign of lies, and a public - the very people inclined to nod along to JKR - all too ready to believe them.)

So, the current proposal is a reversal of existing and long-established rights that have been exercised without issue: its only motivation is bigotry. The proposal is that only trans people who have fully transitioned (for which, read "undergone genital surgery") can use the appropriate toilets.

If it passes:

a) any woman, cis or trans, can expect to be challenged about their genitals, any time they go to a toilet - especially if they don't look "sufficiently feminine."
b) people in the process of transition will not be allowed to use a toilet at all, except in private homes. Why? Part of the current requirements for transition is that people live as their required gender for two years before they are able to access medical treatment (this is on top of the two years they probably spent waiting for an appointment in the first place). Under the proposals, these people cannot use a public toilet without breaking either a) the law or b) the terms of their medical regime, which might be seen as disqualifying them for treatment. (That's leaving aside the real physical threat faced by any trans woman using a male toilet - as opposed to the wholly imaginary threat faced by cis women using a women's toilet with a trans woman in a neighbouring cubicle.)
c) access to surgery is not equal - it was far easier to obtain for me (middle-class, steady job, articulate, of a certain age, no pre-existing health conditions) than for many less privileged people - so this is a hugely discriminatory measure.
d) Nonbinary, genderfluid and others will become non-persons.
e) Trans men (some of whom look very conventionally masculine) will presumably be forced to use women's toilets. (I say "presumably" because, as ever, the focus is on trans women.) Talk about unintended consequences!

Oh, and lest you think you can get round the issue by using unisex toilets, they are to be banned.

In a transparent ploy to separate the LGB from the T, gay conversion therapy is also to be banned. (Trans conversion therapy, by contrast, will I imagine be warmly encouraged.) Trans people have always supported LGB rights: I have no doubt that this stinking sop will be seen for what it is, and that the vast majority of LGB people will continue to reciprocate. There is in any case a huge intersection between the groups, and butch lesbians, in particular, are likely to be as adversely affected by the toilet provisions as trans people (see a) above).