MPs from across the political spectrum gathered in Speaker’s House today (Tuesday 15 May 2018) to hear about the importance of trans equality and the need for reform of the Gender Recognition Act.
The panel event was hosted in partnership with Maria Miller MP, Stonewall and PinkNews. It was attended by trans people from across the community, stakeholders and some of Stonewall’s top trans-inclusive employers including Baker McKenzie and Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner.
Since the UK Government’s announcement last summer to launch a public consultation on plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act 2004, there has been a spike in hateful media and opposition towards trans and non-binary people.
Today’s event coincided with the announcement that the UK is now fourth in the European LGBT rights rankings, dropping a place from last year. In the ILGA-Europe Rainbow Europe index report, a surge in transphobic media coverage is cited as part of the reason for the lower ranking.
The discussion in Westminster gave trans people the chance to tell MPs about the marginalisation they face in an increasingly hostile society.
Maria Miller chaired a panel discussion with Bex Stinson, Head of Trans Inclusion at Stonewall, James Morton from the Scottish Trans Alliance, Marai Larasi from Imkaan and Pippa Bunce, from Credit Suisse.
The discussion covered the positive impact reform of the GRA would create. Other recommendations made by the Women and Equalities Select Committee, when it published an inquiry into trans equality, were also discussed including health, criminal justice and education.
There were also repeated calls from MPs and trans people for the Government to launch the consultation into reforms of the Gender Recognition Act.
Labour MP Jess Phillips said: ‘We need to remember who will benefit from the reform of the Gender Recognition Act and that is trans and non-binary people. Of course, there needs to be discussion and that needs to be conducted in a way that is considered and civil. The public conversation we hear today is currently the exact opposite. The longer we wait for the consultation, the more speculation and misinformation will spread.’
Conservative MP Maria Miller, who Chairs the Women’s and Equalities Select Committee that undertook an Inquiry into Trans issues in 2015 said: ‘It’s now three years on from the Select Committee’s initial Inquiry where more than 30 recommendations were made with cross Party support.
‘Today we have heard that our Equality Laws are some of the best in the world but that we have to ensure they work in practice and that where these laws are found to be wanting any necessary changes are made, with full consultation. Trans people already have a clear right in law to be treated equally and have done for almost a decade. Yet the evidence shows that is not the case in practice. This has to change and the Government needs to act on the Select Committee recommendations including updating the Gender Recognition Act.’
The panel, which included Pippa Bunce, from Credit Suisse, highlighted the crucial role business can play in pushing equality forward.
Pippa Bunce, Credit Suisse’s Director and Head of Global Market’s Core Engineering Strategic Programs, said: ‘Businesses play a large part in ensuring that workplaces are fully supportive towards all the various identifies that fall under the trans umbrella. Be they binary, non-binary, gender fluid, transitioning, not transitioning or any of the other identities and journeys that make us all the same yet uniquely different.
‘Building an open and inclusive work environment that is accepting to all is fundamental in progressing trans inclusion. Proudly having Credit Suisse in the Top 100 Stonewall Workplace Equality Index ranking and knowing that trans and non-binary aspects form a key part of this ranking gives me great confidence that things are heading in the right direction. We have all made significant progress but there is still much work to be done to ensure that everyone, wherever they work, has a supportive environment to give them the courage to embrace their true identity.’