Fighting for legal and social recognition outside the societal gender system
GOVERNMENT ACTION PLAN ON TRANSGENDER EQUALITY
With the Coalition’s programme to address some of the major inequalities faced by LGB and T already underway, the government recognises transpeople as a separate group that face additional prejudice and discrimination often distinct and entirely separate from LGB, and whereas issues of inequalities that affect all the groups are often put together under one wing it is appropriate that there should be additional resource given to the particular difficulties transpeople face.
Therefore the government intends to extend the programme and develop an additional and specific plan of action to “improve the lives of transgender people”.
As part of the first Government Action Plan on transgender equality to be published next year, the Government Equalities Office are planning to undertake a consultation that should begin in early 2011 and they want to hear directly from transpeople across the whole spectrum.
In other words, if you are non-gendered the GEO will want to hear from YOU.
You are probably already thinking “no, not more pointless consultation” and after having watched with my nose pressed against the window as the Gender Recognition Act became law and then gaining no benefit at all from any of the myriad of more recent ‘equalities’ legislation that came out of the previous administration over the last decade, I am very aware there is every reason to feel suspicious and highly sceptical. It is understandable.
I will always remain outraged that the needs and most extraordinary difficulties faced by non-gendered human beings were ignored in previous equalities initiatives with the inevitable outcome that the benefits and “rights” that others fought for and managed to achieve for themselves in recent years has only served to further marginalise the socially invisible and more disadvantaged within the ‘trans community’ who were left behind.
But, and as I have said before in my earlier posting on August 10 2010, there is indeed a sense of change in the air and things are starting to roll. I can’t quite believe it myself but it is now becoming clear that now we have people in authority in this country with power to legislate who actually WANT to readdress the situation and they want to know more about us in order to understand our specific needs. There is every reason to believe that much of the dogma that has blighted our lives to date could be swept aside by a seismic shift in political thinking.
But this will not happen if we do not make our voices heard loud and clear.
They want to know about us and if we are to achieve the equality that has for so long been denied then we need to tell ‘em.
The reasons why persons of non-gendered identity have gained nothing from new legislation to date are obvious. The legislative system within the UK (not unlike the rest of western culture) is bound within gendered terminology. Legally we do not exist at all because the existence of human life outside the gendered societal structure was not recognised at such time when the basis of our current legislation was drafted. It is now time for society to move on and in a painstaking way there are signs this is indeed beginning to happen. The absolute status of the gendered societal structure is starting to creak.
Yesterday I attended a meeting with a GEO policy manager and was able to identify many of the problems faced on a daily basis due to lack of awareness, lack of recognition and ultimately lack of provision for people of non-gendered identity (and also many problems that I do not face because I have learned to avoid certain situations where access is taken for granted by the gendered majority).
Particular issues that were addressed at the meeting include the following (I am aware this is not a conclusive list):
Enforced gendered categorisation through lack of provision. The necessity to deny ones identity (and become an unwilling colluder in own social invisibility) when applying/registering for anything that demands a gendered role in the application/registration process and does not offer a non gender-specific option alongside gendered options of male and female.
Public bathroom facilities and the fact that the only facilities not routinely gender segregated are the disabled facilities (although I did learn that the disabled bathroom facility is not for the exclusive use of disabled people and the wheelchair symbol actually means the facility is accessible. Nonetheless I explained I do not feel comfortable using a facility that most people assume is reserved for the disabled and there needs to be a more public clarification, but it would nonetheless be preferable that more non gender-segregated standard sized public facilities were provided)
Other public facilities within public and private sector that are often gender segregated (sporting facilities, clubs, gymnasia etc.) that non-gendered people cannot use
Healthcare and the NHS model of gendered categorisation that can result in non-gendered people receiving inadequate access to healthcare
Categorisation in accordance to gendered role in most public services including the tax office and pension provision (I understand that measures are already being considered to align M/F wherever possible in accordance with existing legislation and I would welcome the removal of the inappropriate and offensive requirement to state a gendered role wherever possible, but I felt the necessity to point out, that whereas the complete removal of sex/gender question would offer some degree of benefit to non-gendered, the social invisibility of human existence outside the gendered societal structure would remain and there needs to be education and basic awareness rather than just assume the whole problem can be resolved by straightforward removal of sex/gender indicators from forms)
A basic assumption of gender when one person addresses another person that is down to lack of societal provision and lack of education and awareness
Discrimination in the workplace that makes it almost impossible for an individual to function and hold down a job without denying or compromising a non-gendered identity (and the unlikelihood of being offered salaried employment in the first instance)
There was even discussion of Civil Partnerships – an area that has until now been completely off the radar for non-gendered people.
For the first time non-gendered people within the UK will finally be given an opportunity to make our voices heard, our opinions listened to and our specific needs taken into account by the government and I most strongly urge EVERY non-gendered person to take part in the consultation.
This IS an opportunity and it should not be allowed to slip from our grasp. We must NOT ever again allow a situation where policy that has a detrimental effect on our lives as a socially invisible minority within a broader transpopulation can be determined by others while our specific needs are swept aside.
The project is at an early stage and I have been advised the consultation document should be available to download in early 2011 and there will be a consultation period of approximately three months.
This is all the information I have to date and I will give further detail as soon as such detail becomes available.
The denial of existence is the worst act of discrimination by the gendered majority against the non-gendered.