I am absolutely committed to ensuring trans people can live their lives with equality, dignity and respect and I will resist any attempts to roll back their hard-won rights.
I fully support updating the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) to introduce self-declaration for trans people. I believe this will help improve their lives. I am therefore very disappointed that, in September 2020, the Government announced that the requirements to legally change gender will remain the same, as part of its response to the consultation on reforming the GRA.
I know this decision caused huge hurt to the trans community. I will continue to support calls for the GRA to be updated to introduce self-declaration for trans people.
Everybody should be able to be their true self, and nobody should suffer discrimination, abuse or violence because of who they are. It is deeply concerning that Home Office statistics for England and Wales in 2019/20 said there had been a 16% increase in recorded hate crimes against trans people since the previous year. I know that hate crimes against trans people are significantly under-reported, with research by Stonewall stating that four in five trans people do not report the hate crime they experience. Hate crime has no place in our society.
We need clear, urgent action by the Government to tackle transphobia and hate crime targeted at trans people. I also firmly believe we need the full rollout of LGBTQ+ inclusive education in our schools.
Likewise, I back plans to strengthen and equalise the law so that hate crimes targeted at someone’s sexual identity and transgender identity are treated as aggravated offences, as is currently the case for hate crimes motivated by racial and religious hostility.
I am also concerned that many trans people are having to wait a long time before they get the support they need. According to the national charity LGBT Foundation, the average waiting time for a first appointment at a gender identity clinic is 18 months. The Government has said it is a priority to bring down waiting lists, and I assure you I will hold it to account on this commitment.
Trans rights are human rights. We must ensure trans people can access the support and services they need, and we must do everything we can to tackle discrimination, hatred and bigotry against the trans community.