Anti-trans voices remain alive and well in the inner-sanctum of the British state

EDITORIAL


An amendment that would have resulted in transgender people being imprisoned according to the gender they were assigned at birth has been rejected by the House of Lords.

Had it been passed, trans women would have been housed in male prisons and trans men in female prisons even if the individual in question had carried a gender identity card as evidence of their transition.

Advocates of the bill cited the fact that incarcerated trans women are already often housed in male prisons as “evidence” that it is safe to do so.

The amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts Bill may have been rejected, but the anti-trans proposal shows that transphobic voices are nonetheless alive and well at the heart of Britain.

Using language common in anti-trans rhetoric, proponents referred to an individual’s “sex” rather than gender, and argued that trans women in particular would pose a threat to other female prisoners if incarcerated in a women’s prison.

This completely bypasses the fact that trans people are far more likely to be the victim of gender-based violence than the perpetrator. It is nothing more than a transparent attempt to vilify trans people as perverts and sexual predators in exactly the same manner that gay and bisexual men have previously been attacked.

The amendment was proposed by unelected Tory peer Lord Blencathra, who framed the amendment as protecting the safety of cisgendered – people who identify as the gender they were assigned at birth – female prisoners.

It was also supported by former Brexit Party supporter Baroness Fox of Buckley, who referred to trans women as “males” throughout her speech, justifying it by saying: “Such is the weight of coercive control and political pressure around identity politics that it can be difficult sometimes to state biological truth – and the biological truth is that sex and gender are distinct.”

Biological essentialism, the idea that a person’s body and their gender are inextricably connected and unchangeable, has been rejected by many psychologists. 

The rejection of this amendment is a relief for anyone who believes that trans people deserve the right to live their lives as they see fit. Nonetheless, the fact that it was proposed at all is a sign of just how far-reaching the hateful ideology of anti-trans campaigners can reach in the UK. 


Featured Image: Ted Eytan @Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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