What’s Happening: July 2023

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Despite two versions going out to consultation in 2019 and 2020, the Department of Education’s guidance on Relationships and Sex Educations (RSE) is due to be revised again, following claims of ‘inappropriate’ material being taught to children. The panel will produce a report that will inform a public consultation, which the Trans Learning Partnership, alongside many other organisations in the sector, will have the opportunity to provide expert feedback to.

It has now been announced that a panel will work on the review and that their work will be available by September to form part of the consultation. This panel will consist of the following, some of whom have positions or connections that raise concerns: 

  • Prof Dame Lesley Regan
    • Regan is a professor of OB/GYN  care, and was the Government’s first women’s health ambassador. Her primary focus has been in pregnancy care, and particularly pregnancy loss. 
    • In an interview with Channel 4 in 2022, Regan spoke about her trans-inclusive approach to her medical practice and strategic work. 
  • Sir Hamid Patel
    • Patel runs an academy trust and has worked in education for many years, with a strong track record of improving school environments. 
  • Helena Brothwell
    • Brothwell has a strong background in education. 
  • Alasdair Henderson
    • Henderson is the Joint Deputy Chair of the EHRC Board, meaning he is second in command to Kishwer Falkner. 
    • He is a barrister, most well-known in our community for defending Kiera Bell in the Bell v Tavistock case regarding puberty delaying treatment. 
    • He has also worked on a number of anti-abortion cases
    • He has stated that terms like misogynist and homophobe are “highly ideological propaganda words”. 
  • Isabelle Trowler
    • Trowler was the Government’s first chief social worker for families, and has been in post since 2013. 
    • She was the creator of the ‘Hackney model’ or ‘Reclaiming Social Work’ model of social care, and has been in this sector for 30 years. 
    • Akua Reindorf, EHRC commissioner and previous lawyer to LGB Alliance has identified Trowler as a ‘family member’ in her declarations of interest to the EHRC Board.

This guidance will be statutory, meaning that schools are legally required to follow it.


Trans Inclusion Guidance

The Government has been promising guidance on supporting trans children and young people in educational settings for around five years, to be prepared and released by the Department of Education. This guidance has seen consistent delays since then. However, regular leaks to the press may have given us an indication of what to expect from this guidance. 

Various leaks have suggested that trans children and young people will largely face a reduction of support and inclusion in schools. We have heard: 

  • Educators may not be expected to use the appropriate pronouns and names for trans students; 
  • Trans students may be excluded from competitive sports, physical education in general, and/or appropriately gendered facilities (it is unclear how this will interact with the exclusion provisions under the Equality Act); 
  • Educators may be expected to encourage a ‘reflection period’ before any social transition is allowed; 
  • Educators may be encouraged to disclose student trans status to parents/guardians (in contradiction to existing safeguarding best practice).

We also understand that there is division in Government between those who want the guidance to include a blanket ban on social transition at school, and those who do not. 

The latest update is that the guidance will be delayed until the autumn, after the Attorney General Victoria Prentis reviewed the draft guidance and advised the Government that as it stands it breaches the Equality Act, and in order to make this guidance lawful, the Government would need to pass new legislation. This is because anyone considering transition is protected by the characteristic of ‘gender reassignment’ under the Equality Act, including children. 

It is vital to remember that this guidance will be non-statutory, meaning that if a school chooses not to follow the guidance, there will be no legal or statutory consequences, such as being marked down by Ofsted. However, the current environment means that schools may feel pressured to follow the guidance against their instincts, for fear of legal repercussions from parents. There is also statutory guidance in place called Keeping Children Safe in Education, which outlines safeguarding requirements: under this document, which currently stands to trump the new guidance, it is stated that a child being LGBTQ+ is not an inherent reason for safeguarding concerns. Many have also noted that outing children to their parents without their consent could put children with unsupportive families at direct risk of harm, which defies all safeguarding best practice. 

Perhaps with the aim of speeding up the introduction, Andrew Bridgen of the Reclaim Party put forward a Private Members’ Bill during his Ten Minute Motion, which proposed the prohibition of promotion of social transition in schools, to out trans kids to their families, and to make ‘provision’ about the teaching of ‘gender identity’ in schools. 

Bridgen made deeply transphobic comments while spreading misinformation, speaking about, for example, “the use of body alterations to reflect a transition to the opposite sex, which primarily take the form of surgical castration for boys, double mastectomies for girls, Frankenstein-esque genitalia being created from grafts of skin, and drugs to pause or halt puberty” and “Any who would argue that gender identity is protected by the Equality Act 2010, and can therefore be discussed in schools, would have grossly misinterpreted the Equality Act, as gender identity is not a protected characteristic”. Bridgen was expelled from the Conservative Party in April 2023 after comparing Covid-19 vaccines to the Holocaust, and subsequently joined the Reclaim Party, founded by Lawrence Fox and more overtly right-wing than the Conservative Party, with Fox dubbing the party ‘UKIP for culture’. 

Thankfully, the Bill was voted down (as most Private Members’ Bills are), with 34 MPs voting for the Bill and 40 voting against. MPs Olivia Blake and Stella Creasy, who both voted against the Bill, also took to Twitter to condemn the Bill, and Ben Bradshaw spoke against the Bill in the Ten Minute Motion. 

The day after this Bill was voted down, Caroline Nokes sought the advice of the Speaker in the Chamber, stating that since the Motion, MPs had been accused of being in support of grooming children, and asking what sanctions could be taken for this “unparliamentary behaviour”. Chris Bryant followed this up, stating that this was in reference to a tweet that claimed that Conservative MPs “voted against the motion and in support of the grooming and mutilation of children”. He stated that he considers this incitement of violence against all the MPs who voted against the Bill, and went on to state how worrying this is against the backdrop of a feeling that a “new Section 28 is being introduced by the backdoor for trans people.” 

The moral panic reached a new height in mid-June, when the quickly and consistently-debunked story appeared in the press that a child at a school was identifying as a cat, with teachers supposedly supporting this ‘transition’. This has come from a recording of a teacher scolding two year 8 pupils who had been removed from the classroom for presumably transphobic statements, which they go on to make in the recording. One of the pupils then says ‘how can you identify as a cat when you are a girl’. 

Minister for Women and Equalities Kemi Badenoch wrote to Ofsted requesting a snap inspection of the school as a result. Gillian Keegan, Secretary of State for Education is also understood to have asked officials to look into the school. Ofsted’s inspection of the school confirmed again that there were no children identifying as cats, and that RSE is taught ‘in a sensitive and impartial way’ at the school

Depressingly, the right-wing imagined idea of children identifying as cats has precedence, and has previously popped up in American contexts, as a result of cat litter in some classrooms. As has been clarified, the cat litter in these classrooms is a precaution for active shooter situations. 

Despite this tense ongoing discussion, two teachers’ unions have made their trans-inclusive and trans-supportive stance clear. The National Education Union, which has 500,000 members, published a statement condemning transphobia and vowing to protect and support trans teachers. The University and College Union also passed two motions, one in solidarity with trans communities, and the other in support of the Gender Recognition (Reform) Bill in Scotland.

Legal Cases

In November 2022, an organisation called Public Child Protection Wales (PCPW) launched a judicial review against the Welsh Government claiming that children were being taught inappropriate material in RSE and therefore parents wanted the right to withdraw their children from these classes. The judge rejected their challenge this week, saying that “The applicants’ various challenges to the code and the guidance all proceed on the basis that these documents mandate the teaching and promotion of particular sexual lifestyles in ways which amount to indoctrination. As the respondents point out, however, the fundamental difficulty with these challenges is that the code and guidance do no such thing.”

Another case is that of a Christian woman, whose appeal was upheld on 16 June, agreeing that she was unfairly dismissed on the grounds of religious discrimination. She was dismissed for Facebook posts regarding the teaching of LGBTQ+ RSE in primary schools. The Christian Legal Centre supported her case. 

However, in a similar case, another teacher, who cannot be named, has been told she must remortgage her home in order to pay legal costs after she lost her dispute. She had been suspended for refusing to use the correct name and pronouns for a child in her year 4 class. She launched a judicial review, which was rejected by the High Court, and the court ordered that she pay the council’s legal costs as a result. Once again, she was supported by the Christian Legal Centre.

Conversion Practices

Five years ago, the Conservative government promised to introduce legislation to ban conversion practices. Since then, we have seen a series of delays and U-turns. In mid-June it was reported that a draft bill was sitting on Rishi Sunak’s desk ready for his approval. However, it is understood that this draft bill will include a ‘consent clause,’ meaning that conversion practices will not be illegal if someone ‘consents’ to them. However, as the Ban Conversion Therapy coalition notes, you cannot give true consent to these abusive practices. Furthermore, if the bill includes this clause, it will render the legislation effectively useless. 

The Government has stated that the bill will be published in the fourth Parliamentary session (which is the autumn period of this year) and will undergo pre-legislative scrutiny. However, as of the beginning of the summer recess, this draft legislation still has not been published. Conservative MPs have written to Rishi Sunak condemning the ongoing delay.


On Friday 9 June NHS England released the final version of the specification for Phase 1 services for children and young people experiencing gender incongruence – the service that will replace GIDS. It is anticipated that the first hub will open this Autumn, followed by the second hub in April 2024. 

As a result of the hard work of colleagues across the sector, a number of the original proposals put forward last Autumn have been improved, but the service as a whole will be delivering care that is a long way from where we’d like it to be. 

Some of the more concerning changes that will be part of the new service include: 

  • Prescription of puberty delaying medication will be restricted to those who consent to be part of a research protocol, with exceptional cases only being able to receive this medication outside of the research. We have no issue with further research being undertaken and welcome it – however, mandatory enrolment onto research in order to receive medication is unethical and something we pushed against very strongly during the consultation process. 
  • There will be a number of new gatekeeping mechanisms, such as referral to the service not guaranteeing assessment by the service (instead young people will be screened to decide if they meet criteria to be seen, and will otherwise be referred to alternative local services that do not deal with gender incongruence), and inclusion of neurodisability specialists, with concerns that this will be used to reduce access to gender affirming care for neurodiverse children and young people.

We will continue to engage with NHS England and Specialised Commissioning to fight for the care that our children and young people deserve. 

A new think tank has been launched by Genspect, called The Killarney Group. They intend to publish alternative guidelines for trans youth care that takes a non-medical approach in order to opposed the World Professional Association for Transgender Healthcare’s (WPATH) Standards of Care 8, the international best-practice guidance. The Killarney Group intends to publish this guidance in November 2023. 

The press has reported on a potential judicial review that may be brought forth regarding access to gender affirming care for adults. This case seems to aim to challenge access to care for those under 25, and individuals with autism. It is understood that the case is coming from a detransitioned person, and a parent who does not agree with their 21-year-old autistic child having surgery. The case will be supported by lawyer Paul Conrathe, who may have links to the Christian right, and has previously worked on cases focusing on evangelical and anti-feminist perspectives. 

Finally, on 11 July an appeal was heard in an ongoing case regarding the waiting times for adult Gender Identity Clinics (GICs). Current waiting times for adult clinics range from just under two years up to seven years for a first appointment. Vitally, it is extremely rare to receive any care at a first appointment. However, NHS rules state that patients should be seen by a service they’ve been referred to within 18 weeks. 

The judicial review was first heard in the Royal Courts of Justice in December 2022, and the claimants were four trans individuals, alongside Gendered Intelligence and the Good Law Project: these latter two organisations have now dropped themselves from the claimants, giving more strength to the individual claimants’ cases. Following that hearing, the judge ruled that the NHS was not acting unlawfully in their waiting times, but did make the important ruling that children are indeed protected by the characteristic of ‘gender reassignment’ under the Equality Act, contrary to the NHS’ claims. 

The judge handed down the decision on 31 July, dismissing the appeal. They agreed with the previous court that the 18-week target is just that – a target – rather than a legal duty. This is now the end of the road for this legal case.

Policing and Protesting

We are currently undergoing a period of increased policing: this can be a cause for concern for trans communities.

The Public Order Act has been passed by Parliament and is now in effect. The Act restricts elements of protest by new and expanded stop and search powers, orders that can ban people from protests, and criminalises ‘locking on’ and transport disruption as forms of protest for the first time. Alongside this, it gives police the power to arrest protestors whose actions create ‘serious disruption’, with the threshold for this being notably low. Liberty gives further details about what the Act means for protesters. 

Home Secretary Suella Braverman has also urged police to ramp up stop and searches, writing to all police chiefs that any officer who makes a stop and search will have her full support. She specifically singled out ‘young Black males’ under the guise of saying they are disproportionately affected by knife crime. Regardless of if that is true, Government statistics already suggest that young Black men are seven times more likely to be subject to a stop and search than white people. Furthermore, campaign groups with expertise in the area note that stop and search powers do not have any positive impact on knife crime. 

Following Baroness Casey’s report into the institutional failures of the Metropolitan police – who were found to be institutionally racist, homophobic, and misogynistic – the organisation will be reintroducing LGBTQ+ community liaison officers in an attempt to rebuild trust.


Cycling Time Trials, the National Governing Body for Time Trials, a form of cycling, have released their new ‘Transgender Policy.’ All trans people must compete in an ‘Open’ category: it is unclear what other categories will continue to exist. They will be introducing a ‘gender tribunal’ to handle any issues that arise. 

Meanwhile, rugby star and HIV activist Gareth Thomas has come out in support of trans rights and specifically trans people in sport, saying that taking part is more than about winning or losing. 

The negative impact of this panic around trans people in sport on all people has been demonstrated. Swedish football star Nilla Fischer has revealed in her memoir that in 2011, players had to show their genitalia to a doctor to prove they were women, following accusations of ‘men’ competing on the Equatorial Guinea squad. The request for a genital inspection also included the request that players did not shave their pubic area prior to the inspection, with no clear reason ever understood for this. It is also unclear as to why a genital inspection was chosen when cheek swabs are the usual and accepted method to ascertain this information.

Parliamentary Politics

Early Day Motion

On 7 June, MP Nadia Whittome tabled an Early Day Motion for Pride month. An Early Day Motion is a short proposal submitted by MPs to Parliament to state an opinion, publicise a cause, or call for a position or action. They’re not often debated, but it gives MPs a chance to show their support for the Motion and its contents. 

Whittome’s Pride Month 2023 Early Day Motion states that the House: 

  • Celebrates Pride Month 2023 and the LGBTQ+ community; 
  • Recognises that generations of LGBTQ+ people have had to fight for the rights they have today; 
  • Regrets that this year’s Pride Month is taking place in a climate of heightened hostility, particularly towards trans people; 
  • Is deeply concerned that, in recent years, the UK has slipped from first to seventeenth place in ILGA-Europe’s rankings of LGBTQ+ rights in Europe;  
  • Notes that reported hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people have reached their highest rate in a decade; 
  • Notes that almost one in five LGBTQ+ people in the UK have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives;  
  • Further notes that waiting times for transition-related healthcare exceed four years in some areas;  
  • Calls on the Government to condemn rising hatred towards LGBTQ+ people and the trans community in particular, strengthen LGBTQ+ rights and combat discrimination and inequality; 
  • And urges the Government to implement a trans-inclusive ban on conversion practices, de-medicalise the process of obtaining a gender recognition certificate and reduce waiting times for transition-related healthcare.

The Motion was supported by 36 MPs from six parties: Labour, Conservatives, Green, Liberal Democrats, Scottish National Party (SNP), and Plaid Cymru, as well as a couple of independent MPs.


Sunak’s “Jokes”

Rishi Sunak was caught on tape mocking trans people and their use as a political football, referencing the idea of women having penises as absurd, and mockingly saying that alongside his policy position that the teaching of maths should be compulsory until the age of 18, so too should biology. 

Conservative MP and Chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee (WESC) Caroline Nokes has condemned the transphobic behaviour of Rishi Sunak, calling his “jokes” “unacceptable” and “dangerous”.


Labour’s Position on Trans Rights

Labour has released a statement on their current position on trans rights. Writing in the Guardian, Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities Anneliese Dodds frames the move as a positive one for trans people. However, their proposed reform to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) would still require a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, and states that “there will always be places where it is reasonable for biological women [sic] only to have access”. By requiring a medicalised element of the process, Labour is abandoning their previous pledge to ensure that the GRA would be reformed to a self-declaration system. This follows many months of speculation about the party’s position due to inconsistent and unclear statements, leading many to believe the party was moving towards taking this position.


Scotland’s GRR Bill

The Scottish Government has been granted permission to launch a judicial review against the Westminster Government for their use of Section 35 of the Scotland Act to block the Gender Recognition (Reform) Bill from going to Royal Assent. The judicial review will question whether or not the Westminster Government’s actions were lawful or not, and will not be deciding if reforming the GRA is the right thing to do or not. The case will be heard 19-21 September 2023.


Wales’ LGBT+ Goals

Wales has the goal of becoming the most LGBTQ+-friendly country in Europe, but Welsh politician Sioned Williams, member of Senedd (the Welsh parliament) for Plaid Cymru has criticised the Westminster government for its monopoly on devolved LGBTQ+ rights, saying they have one hand tied behind their back. The LGBTQ+ Action Plan for Wales includes reforming gender recognition, banning conversion practices, and reducing hate crime.


Supportive Politicians

Mike Freer – a Conservative MP who has previously served as a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Equalities and resigned from the role due to Boris Johnson’s Government ‘creating an atmosphere of hostility for LGBT+ people’ – has called for an end to the ‘toxic debates’ on LGBTQ+ people’s lives, as human rights are not debatable. He also drew attention to the similarities between the current trans moral panic and the moral panic of the 1970s and 80s. 

Long-term Labour MP Ben Bradshaw has urged the Labour Party to ‘step up to the plate’ and be strong trans allies, citing the anti-LGBTQ+ surge as part of the ‘“culture war the government’s trying to stoke”, as well as a “war on woke” in which “their target are trans people”.’ 

Speaking to PinkNews at Pride in London, London mayor and Labour member Sadiq Khan expressed his horror at the leaked footage of Rishi Sunak mocking trans people, and said that Sunak should issue a public apology. 

Caroline Lucas, the only MP for the Green Party, has announced that she will be stepping down at the next election. Sian Berry has announced that she will run as the Green candidate in Lucas’ constituency of Brighton Pavillion. In 2021, Berry stepped down as co-leader of the Party after someone who called for the restriction of trans rights was appointed spokesperson for the party, in solidarity with trans people and to protest the decision of the party.

"The Culture War"

The Conservative Party is divided over their election strategy of weaponsing the ‘trans debate’ in an attempt to win voters. 

However, Conservative peer Ian Duncan, Baron Duncon of Springbank, has spoken out against the Tories’ planned election strategy of weaponising the ‘trans debate.’ He has pointed out how horrific and inappropriate it is. Duncan’s brother was a trans man who passed away from ovarian cancer aged 48. 

Sadiq Khan also called out to MPs to not get sucked into the so-called ‘Culture War.’


Proposed Civil Service Guidance

On 12 July, VICE News published a story about leaked guidance on trans inclusion for civil service staff. 500,000 people are employed by the civil service. The guidance is currently only a draft produced by the Cabinet Office and the Government People Group, but could be implemented in a final version in a matter of weeks, according to VICE. 

The document states that ‘gender critical beliefs’ and ‘gender identity beliefs’ must be equally recognised, that trans people without GRCs cannot inherently use the correct bathroom, highlights the protection of gender critical beliefs under the Equality Act (as a result of Forstater v CGD), and defines being trans as ‘holding a “gender identity belief”’. 

It is illegal for anyone to require to see a GRC, including employers. Unless someone is openly trans, transitioning at work, or has chosen to disclose they have a GRC, there is no way employers would be able to reasonably implement this guidance. Furthermore, it has been questioned how lawful this guidance is, as it seems to contradict the Equality Act. 

This is a possible suggestion of the direction the current Government wants to move trans rights in. This is at odds with UK and international law. 

Human Rights


On 3 April 2023, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) responded to a letter from Kemi Badenoch, Minister for Women and Equalities, giving their advice on the supposed benefits of changing the definition of sex in the Equality Act 2010 to mean biological sex. Currently, sex under the Act refers to legal sex: this means that trans people with a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) are recognised as their correct gender under this protected characteristic. The LGBTQ+ sector condemned this letter, acknowledging that it would remove important discrimination protections from trans people. Following his visit to the UK and meeting with the EHRC, UN Independent Expert in Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (IE SOGI), Victor Madrigal-Borloz stated that through this advice, “It then follows that the objective of the EHRC was to offer the Government a formula through which it could carry out discriminatory distinctions currently unlawful under UK law, and that will remain so under international human rights law.” 

Since then, various news outlets have reported that there is increasing division and discontent within the EHRC. A number of staff submitted a complaint against the Chair of the EHRC, Baroness Kishwer Falkner, alleging bullying, harassment, and transphobia. Following this reporting, a group of 54 cross-party peers from the House of Lords complained to Ofcom, claiming that Channel 4’s report on the matter made them ‘complicit’ in attempts to ‘undermine’ Falkner. The investigation in Falkner was then suspended, claiming that this was due to the leaking of confidential information. This investigation has since been reopened. 

On Wednesday 12 July, the EHRC were called before the Women and Equalities Select Committee (WESC) for their regular discussion on the Commission’s work. Baroness Kishwer Falkner, Marcial Boo, and Melanie Field sat before WESC, and other members of the board could be seen behind them. The main two issues discussed were the EHRC’s letter regarding the definition of sex in the Equality Act to the Minister for Women and Equalities, Kemi Badenoch, and the matter of staff retention, which has been an ongoing conversation of concern for WESC Chair Caroline Nokes for a number of months. 

Falkner clarified that the EHRC had already been considering the matter of the definition of sex in the Equality Act prior to Badenoch’s letter. When asked what their definition of biological sex was, Falkner stated that that was for the Government to define, but went on to offer a definition: ‘A woman is a person whose body is designed to produce eggs and a man is a person whose body is designed to produce sperm.’ She framed the move to define sex as biological as beneficial to trans people, claiming it would put trans people with and without GRCs on the same footing. If this were to be the case, it is unclear what the impact or power of a GRC would be in law. 

Nokes and Boo also discussed the matter of staff retention, following reports of 1 in 4 staff members leaving the EHRC in 2022, and higher turnover among LGBTQ+ staff. Boo dismissed that this could be a result of the EHRC’s actions, instead citing ‘The Great Resignation’ following the pandemic, and employment patterns of millennials in junior roles moving roles more often than older generations.


The Equality Act

The definition of sex in the Equality Act has been a topic of discussion beyond the EHRC and Badenoch’s communications: this has been a campaigning point for those who oppose trans rights for a while. 

On Monday 12 June MPs met in Westminster Hall to debate the definition of sex in the Equality Act: whether it should mean legal or biological sex. This was in response to two Parliamentary petitions on the matter. 

14 MPs spoke in favour of changing the definition to biological sex, and seven MPs spoke in favour of keeping the definition as legal sex, with a further three friendly MPs intervening to make supportive statements. However, the tone of the debate was unpleasant. 

Those for legal sex reminded the Hall that the exclusions the opposition claim to be seeking are already legally possible under the Equality Act. They also underlined that this change would be unworkable and impractical, impacting trans and cis people alike: a number of MPs highlighted stories of cis women, including cis lesbians, being forcibly removed from women’s spaces under ‘suspicion’ of being trans. 

Those for biological sex largely relied on common scapegoating arguments, painting trans people, particularly trans women, as violent sexual predators, and painting transition as a dire tragedy. Interestingly, this side adamantly claimed that they were seeking a ‘clarification’ rather than a ‘change’ to the Equality Act: a claim that is demonstrably legally untrue. They also seemed to rely on a narrative around the existence of the protected characteristic of gender reassignment: it is possible they will begin to argue that trans people have ‘more rights’ as a result. 

There was some behaviour from MPs in the Hall that shocked many watchers. Just before the audio cut before a division in the House, Jess Phillips can be heard on mic saying ‘..in a towel with men next to me…’ after a discussion about trans women accessing female changing rooms – it is hard to interpret her reference to ‘a man’ as meaning anything but trans women in the context. 

In her speech, Miriam Cates stated that “ordinary toddlers are used to satisfy the sexual fetish of adult men dressed as eroticised women” – Hannah Bardell intervened to challenge this, but Cates’ response was that “I was making the point that the vast majority of sexual predation is by men on women and children. That is what society has evolved to protect against.” 

Finally, the most shocking example went viral online. While speaking about the distress of one of her trans constituents, Kirsty Blackman quotes them: “What hope is left? Should I just kill myself now and be done with it?” Rosie Duffield, Joanna Cherry, and Neale Hanvey can be sitting behind Blackman: they roll their eyes, put their heads in their hands in exasperation, and Cherry can be seen and heard saying “what rubbish”. 

While the debate itself only increased the toxicity of this debate, the final speeches from the shadow and Government Ministers for Women and Equalities were surprisingly reassuring. Anneliese Dodds for Labour used many of the classic Labour lines we’re used to around protection of women’s spaces alongside treating trans people with dignity and respect. It seems there is little appetite from Labour to make such a significant change to a piece of legislation they take huge amounts of pride in introducing. 

Maria Caulfield, speaking for the Government, highlighted that the Government was considering next steps, stressing that the exclusions desired are possible under the current Equality Act. Her speech gave the impression that there is little, if not mixed appetite within the Government to open up the Act for such a major revision. Given that the Government has somewhere between 12 and 18 months left before the next election, it is unlikely they would begin this process in time for any changes to take effect before the election. 

It is vital to remember that no changes have been made to the Equality Act, and doing so would likely be a lengthy process and almost certainly impossible to achieve before the next general election.



On 28 June, the House of Lords voted for an amendment to the Illegal Migration Bill, which will require that the Bill does not conflict with the UK’s obligations under the UN Refugee Convention and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) among others. Peers also voted for an amendment that excludes victims of modern slavery and trafficking from a new ‘legal duty’ to detain and deport so-called ‘small boat migrants.’ This is a positive move, allowing some asylum seekers some protection from the worst parts of this Bill: as one peer stated “I am seeking to preserve the integrity of the Modern Slavery Act”. 

Meanwhile, it has been reported that Rishi Sunak is considering the inclusion of a referendum on the UK’s membership in the ECHR as part of the Conservative Party’s manifesto in the next election. This seems to just be the latest way in which the Conservative Party is seeking to reduce regulation of, or the existence of human rights in the UK.


The Government’s Unlawful Laws

The Government has introduced a number of pieces of legislation over the last year that have been subject to legal challenge. 

The Illegal Migration Bill, targeting people seeking asylum in the UK and containing the “Rwanda plan”, has been in and out of court. The “Rwanda plan” is the Government’s new policy of deporting those who arrive in the UK without a visa or other permission to enter to Rwanda to have their asylum claim processed and decided there. In December 2022, the High Court ruled this plan to be lawful. However, the judgement was appealed, and on 29 June the Court of Appeal ruled that the plan is unlawful. 

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Home Secretary Suella Braverman made it clear that they fundamentally disagreed with the decision, and the Government has now been granted a Supreme Court challenge. 

The Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill has been passed and received royal assent on 20 July 2023. However, it is not without challenge: on 13 July the High Court ruled that the proposal of using agency workers to ‘strike-break’ was unlawful. 

The Public Order Act is also facing legal challenge. Braverman signed-off on secondary legislation that would give the police near-total discretion over which protests to ban, something Parliament has already rejected. This will give the police the power to shut down any protest they don’t like. Human rights charity Liberty has now issued the Home Secretary with legal action.

Data and Research

Census Data was Accurate

In late April, anti-trans campaigners wrote to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), questioning the validity of the trans census data, as the breakdown demonstrated high rates of trans people in areas where English was spoken as a second language, the argument being that the strangely worded question was confusing for those people and they answered it incorrectly, artificially inflating the number of trans people reported in the census data. There were also higher rates of trans people with Muslim, Sikh, and Hindu backgrounds than those with Christian backgrounds.

ONS has now concluded a review of the data, finding that it was largely accurate and the concerns were unfounded.


Positive Futures

Positive Futures from Just Like Us found that LGBTQ+ adults who were not supported at home and in school when they were younger were less likely to be happy as adults, had less confidence they could find a life partner or have children, had worse mental health outcomes, and felt less confident or hopeful about their future.


British Attitudes to Trans People

LGBT+ Pride 2023 by Ipsos found that of the 30 countries studied, support for trans people was relatively low. 


2 in 5 LGBTQ+ Domestic Abuse Survivors Have No Family Support

“An Isolated Place”: LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Survivors’ Access to Support from Galop lays out the lack of support for many LGBTQ+ survivors of domestic violence and worryingly low rates of awareness for support.


Self-ID Works, Actually

Self-determination Models in Europe: Practical Experiences by TGEU found that in nine European countries with self-declaration models for gender recognition, none of the key fears used to argue against self-declaration happened.


Freedom of Religion and Freedom from Violence

Victor Madrigal-Borloz, Independent Expert for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (IE SOGI) has released his most recent report, this one looking into the balancing of freedom of religion or belief with LGBTQ+ people’s freedom from violence and discrimination. He found that religion and belief are ‘often deliberately placed in antagonistic positions against the human rights of LGBT persons in social and political discourse, feeding the contention that there is an inherent conflict between them.’


Only Half of LGBTQ+ People Feel Comfortable Being Out at Work

LGBT+ Inclusion @ Work by Deloitte found that only 52% of LGBTQ+ Brits polled felt comfortable coming out at work.


Special Issue on Trans Healthcare

The AMA Journal of Ethics has published a special issue on ‘Patient-Centred Transgender Surgical Care’, featuring 18 articles about trans healthcare. These cover the risks of smoking before surgery, the use of BMI in assessing someone for surgery, the legal issues around banning gender affirming care for young people, and uterus transplantation.


ROGD Article Fully Retracted

An article published in March 2023 by known anti-trans academic and campaigner Michael J. Bailey and Suzanna Diaz has now been fully retracted. The article considered parent reports (the only type of reports that exist) for the pseudo-scientific and debunked ‘Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria’ theory, which claims a social contagion concept as an ‘explanation’ for trans identities, based on parents reporting their children coming out to them with ‘no warning’. It is generally understood that these are in fact children who did not feel safe coming out to their parents or sharing their feelings with their parents. 

The article has been withdrawn due to a lack of informed consent and Institutional Board Review, meaning that the publication of this article is considered scientifically unethical research. 


What Is It Like Having a Gender Identity?

In this theoretical article, trans academic Florence Ashley presents a conceptualisation of gender identity that allows for an understanding of how our subjective experiences lead to different formations of gender identities among different people.


Transgender Identity and Suicide Attempts and Mortality in Denmark

Using 40 years of national medical data of all Danish-born individuals over 15 from 1980 to 2021, researchers found a significantly higher rate of suicide attempts, suicide mortality, suicide-unrelated mortality, and all-cause mortality in the trans population than in the cis population. This is one of few studies that use large-scale long-term medical and legal data to analyse a population for the impact on trans health, as opposed to trans people answering surveys at a snapshot in their life. Therefore, some people will see this data as more robust.


Depressive and Anxiety Symptoms Were More Common For Transgender Individuals Whose Gender-Affirming Surgeries Were Cancelled or Delayed Due to Covid-19: A Global Cross-Sectional Study

This is a rare comparative study of trans people who had access to gender affirming surgeries comparing them to trans people whose surgeries were cancelled or delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They found that those whose access was reduced experienced more depressive and anxiety symptoms, giving evidence for the positive mental health impacts of accessing gender affirming care.


Randomized-Controlled Trials are Methodologically Inappropriate in Adolescent Transgender Healthcare

This article argues why Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) are methodologically inappropriate in research into adolescent transgender care. RCTs are trials where the subjects are split into two groups, one who receives the trialled care, and one who receives a placebo. These types of studies are generally considered to be a gold standard of medical research, and the lack of RCT studies is often used as an argument against the use of puberty delaying treatment. However, as this article argues, these studies do not work for a range of reasons in trans populations, and explores how we can approach these studies ethically through alternative methods.

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