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BSA-GENDER-STUDY-GROUP  October 2018

BSA-GENDER-STUDY-GROUP October 2018

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Subject:

FW: Stand up for trans rights - call to action

From:

Surya Monro <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Surya Monro <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 15 Oct 2018 20:36:21 +0000

Content-Type:

multipart/mixed

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (219 lines) , image001.jpg (219 lines)

Dear Rumana,

Sorry you have got caught up in this simply by posting a message. Ruth or one of the others (like myself - all feminists who of course also support all women's safety etc) who are very concerned about the scapegoating of trans people may be in contact but meanwhile I just wanted to say I dont think you should feel obliged to respond.

This message is not meant for general circulation to this list.

Thanks for running the list, it is much appreciated.

Kind wishes
Surya

Surya Monro
Professor of Sociology and Social Policy
Director of the Centre for Citizenship, Conflict, Identity and Diversity
Coordinator: REF UoA 20
http://www.hud.ac.uk/ourstaff/profile/index.php?staffid=710
+44 (0) 1484 471424
School of Human and Health Sciences
University of Huddersfield | Queensgate | Huddersfield | HD1 3DH

Latest report - Intersex, Variations of Sex Characteristics, and DSD: The Need for Change http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/id/eprint/33535/

Latest book - https://www.routledge.com/Queer-in-Africa-LGBTQI-Identities-Citizenship-and-Activism/Matebeni-Monro-Reddy/p/book/9781138222847
________________________________________
From: Announcement list for the BSA Gender Study Group. [[log in to unmask]] on behalf of Dr Sue Robson [[log in to unmask]]
Sent: 15 October 2018 17:38
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Stand up for trans rights - call to action

Hi Rumana

I am very disappointed with this call to action from the British Sociological Association Activism in Sociology Forum.

We are currently in the midst of a Government Consultation on possible changes to the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and I would have expected a much more nuanced and balanced response the British Sociological Association. In particular, one that encourages supports reflective and critical dialogue among academics, practitioners and policy-makers about this issue.

Instead, your email of 14 October 2018 15:25 is littered with terms which at best can only contribute to a polarisation between opposing positions and at worst serve to threaten and silence any form of democratic deliberation about this issue, for example:

“These groups claim to represent feminism”
“a large backlash from people hostile to trans rights”
“Anti-trans groups are extremely biased”
“These groups have a powerful voice in the mainstream media”
“While in that instance most respondents supported extending trans rights, thousands of anti-trans responses were also submitted.”

This communication strongly suggests that anyone who questions or opposes any of the proposals for reforms are “anti-trans”. Surely, within an academic sociological context, there should be recognition that intersectional equality inevitably involves conflict between different social groups? Closing down reflective and critical dialogue by such and eminent academic institution such as the BSA will not make these conflicts and divisions go away, it will help to deepen them.

Do the “numerous single-issue anti-trans groups” that you refer to include feminists like myself who have spent their entire lives struggling for safe women only spaces and consider that aspects of the proposed reforms could be in conflict with those principles by leaving openings for men who simply want to self-identify to abuse women? The same threats do simply not exist for men from these proposed reforms.

Significant institutions, dealing with the most vulnerable in our society such as HMP and the NHS have already incorporated the proposed reforms into policy. The existence of transwomen as sexual predators within our tiny and highly vulnerable women’s prison population is not a myth, it has long been a reality.

As an feminist academic/ practitioner, and indeed a women, does the British Sociological Association no longer allow me space to express those concerns in its forum? Will you declare me “anti-trans” and silence me?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best Wishes


Dr. Sue Robson, PhD, MA, BA
Community Development Practitioner
[drop of water]
Supporting transformation & change
www.suerobson.co.uk<http://www.suerobson.co.uk/>
07813 109 215










From: BSA ACTIVISM IN SOCIOLOGY FORUM <[log in to unmask]> On Behalf Of Rumana Hashem
Sent: 15 October 2018 14:17
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Fw: Stand up for trans rights - call to action

Dear all,

Please see below for your information - thought that some of you may like to respond to the call below.

Sorry about cross-posting!
Rumana
________________________________________
From: Announcement list for the BSA Gender Study Group. <[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>> on behalf of Ruth Pearce <[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>>
Sent: 14 October 2018 15:25
To: [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Stand up for trans rights - call to action

(with apologies for cross-posting)

Dear colleagues,

The UK’s Government Equality Office is consulting on possible changes to the Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA). Anyone can respond. The consultation link is here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/reform-of-the-gender-recognition-act-2004.

The consultation ends at 11pm on 19 October 2018.

There has been a large backlash from people hostile to trans rights. It is important that UK-based academics who support trans rights respond to the consultation, ideally with reference to relevant evidence from scholarly research. I have produced the following advice on doing so.

Background
At present, the GRA enables adults to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) and change the gender on their birth certificate from female to male, or vice-versa.

* This has consequences for the registration of sex/gender upon marriage or civil partnership and affects some insurance and pensions.
* It is of symbolic importance for many trans people.
* Non-binary genders and trans people under the age of 18 are not recognised.
The GRA is not relevant to legal changes of name or sex/gender marker in any other arena.

* Trans people are already able to change their name and sex/gender marker with organisations such as banks, schools, universities, social services, the DVLA and NHS. No medical evidence is required for this process.
* Trans people are already able to change the sex/gender marker on their passport with a letter from a doctor.
Trans people have criticised the GRA for being unnecessarily bureaucratic and intrusive.

* Applicants submit evidence – including medical records, letters from mental health specialists, and proof that they have lived in their ‘acquired’ gender for at least two years – to the Gender Recognition Panel.
* The process costs £140 (plus additional costs) and there is no right to appeal.
* An official list of people who have changed their sex/gender in this way is kept on a ‘gender recognition register’.
Note: I use the term ‘sex/gender’ as current UK law does not distinguish between ‘sex’ and ‘gender’: the two are used interchangeably (I also regard ‘sex’, like ‘gender’ as a social construct, but that’s a conversation for another time and place!)

Backlash

Since the GRA consultation was announced, numerous single-issue anti-trans groups have emerged to oppose amendments to the GRA and argue for a wider push back against the social recognition of trans people’s genders and access to sexed/gendered spaces.

Anti-trans groups have spread misinformation about the GRA.

* e.g. the purpose and function of the GRA has been conflated with the Equality Act 2010, which governs trans people’s access to sexed/gendered public spaces.

These groups have a powerful voice in the mainstream media.

* Factually inaccurate, anti-trans news and opinion pieces<https://www.rewriting-the-rules.com/gender/2017-review-transgender-moral-panic/> are published every week in outlets such as the Times, Guardian, Daily Mail, News Statesman and Spectator.

These groups have access to significant funding that trans groups do not.

* Tens of thousands of pounds have been spent on billboards and newspaper adverts opposing trans rights.
* Anti-abortion American fundamentalist groups such as ‘Hands Across the Aisle<https://nothingiseverlost.wordpress.com/2017/11/19/i-had-no-idea-we-agreed-on-so-much-the-christian-right-makes-new-friends/>’ and far-right publications such as Breitbart and The Federalist have extensively promoted<https://twitter.com/CaseyExplosion/status/1048237057779404800> the work of ‘feminist’ anti-trans groups and shared crowdfunding pages.

These groups claim to represent feminism.

* They wrongly<https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs13178-018-0335-z> argue that gender recognition poses a threat to women’s rights.
* Trans women are often represented as potential or actual sexual predators.
* Trans men and non-binary people often are represented as tragic or deluded.
* By contrast, numerous groups who work with vulnerable women (e.g. Scottish Women’s Aid<https://www.engender.org.uk/content/publications/Scottish-Womens-Sector-response-to-the-consultation-on-proposed-changes-to-the-Gender-Recognition-Act.pdf>) have supported trans affirming reforms to gender recognition.

These groups are encouraging their supporters to respond to the GRA consultation.

* This happened in response to a similar consultation by the Scottish government. While in that instance most respondents supported extending trans rights, thousands of anti-trans responses were also submitted.

Responding to the consultation as academics
As academics, it is important that we support good governance grounded in empirical evidence and the principles of equality and equity for all. As feminists and/or LGBTQ+ people, it is important that we recognise that current attacks on trans rights echo and are linked to similar attacks on women’s and LGBTQ+ rights.
In responding to the consultation:
Concisely reference scholarly evidence where possible.

* Assert your own expertise where relevant.
* In the linked PDF below, I have used in-text citations for brevity. However, Government bodies tend to prefer links or full-reference footnotes, so please bear this in mind.
Ensure your response to each question makes sense as a stand-alone comment.

* Don’t build an argument across the entirety of your consultation response or cross-reference your previous answers.
* Consultation responses will be analysed on a question-by-question basis.
Responses from organisations are given more weight by the government.

* If it is possible to submit a response on behalf of your department, school, centre, professional organisation or academic special interest group, please do so in addition to your personal response.
If you have limited time and energy just responding to the tick-box questions will make a difference.
Please share this information with your colleagues to ensure a large, evidence-based trans-positive response to the consultation.

Resources

Here are two documents I have produced to help you and your colleagues in responding to the consultation.

GRA consultation – suggested starting points for responding to consultation questions<https://transactivist.files.wordpress.com/2018/10/gra-consultation-suggested-starting-point.pdf>
This document includes information on each consultation question, including relevant evidence and citations that you might want to use in your submission.

GRA consultation – a guide for feminist and LGBT+ academics<https://transactivist.files.wordpress.com/2018/10/gra-consultation-a-guide-for-feminist-and-lgbt-academics.pdf>
This document includes the full content of this blog post plus the suggested starting points for responding to consultation questions.

For guides to the consultation from non-academic organisations, see:
Amnesty International<https://www.amnesty.org.uk/have-your-say-gender-recognition-act>
LGBT Foundation<https://lgbt.foundation/gra>
Mermaids<https://www.mermaidsuk.org.uk/assets/media/Mermaids%20Guidance%20Pack_Responding%20to%20the%20GRA%20Consultation.pdf>
Stonewall<https://www.stonewall.org.uk/gender-recognition-act>
National Union of Students<https://nusdigital.s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/document/documents/43614/9d6f51dba8993b819565ea229abf31e5/GRA_consultation_guidance.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAJKEA56ZWKFU6MHNQ&Expires=1539348311&Signature=4c4tnsm2bawgJrw%2FeuqpXqNztGI%3D>

Thank you very much for your time.

In solidarity,

Ruth

Dr Ruth Pearce
Research Fellow
School of Sociology and Social Policy
University of Leeds
http://ruthpearce.net<http://ruthpearce.net/>

My monograph “Understanding Trans Health” is out now:
https://ruthpearce.net/understanding-trans-health/

Read about the Trans Pregnancy Project:
https://transpregnancy.leeds.ac.uk/


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The BSA Gender Study Group mailing list is for the exchange of ideas and information related to any aspect of Gender Studies and scholarship. We do not undertake editorial control of postings; viewpoints and information posted to the list do not necessarily represent the views of the convenors or association. We encourage respectful communication on the list and ask that questions related to specific postings be directed to the appropriate party.

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