Government must stand by its decision to scrap gender self-identification

22 January 2021

The Women and Equalities Committee of the House of Commons has published evidence submitted by Christian Concern concerning its inquiry into reform of the Gender Recognition Act, which lays out policy recommendations to help those adversely affected by previous and current transgender policies.

In November 2020, the Women and Equalities Committee of the House of Commons opened a new inquiry challenging the government’s transgender policy. Earlier in September, the government announced that it was scrapping its plans to make changing gender easier, making it clear that the present system in place would remain with minimal changes. This made Britain the first country in the word to scrap plans for self-identification of gender.

However, the committee’s inquiry suggested that the Women and Equalities Department was unwilling to accept the government’s decision, instead focusing on advancing transgender rights rather than safeguarding women’s and girls’ rights.

Christian Concern submitted a response to this inquiry, which the committee has now published.

A ‘kinder and more straight forward’ process?

The inquiry began by asking if the government’s proposed changes – to shelve making changing gender easier – met with its aim of making the process “kinder and more straight forward.” Our evidence laid out why ‘changing gender’ is never a kind or straight forward process and denies real, biological truth:

“Changing gender is not a kind process to the human body or mind. This is exacerbated by the fact that at present there is very little official recognition of the serious health problems that can arise as a result. Lowering the cost of changing gender is a symbolic gesture by the government that suggests it has insufficient regard for the erosion of vulnerable people’s sex-based dignity, needs and rights, as well as their need for competent psychiatric care and psychotherapy.”

It also recommended the need for people suffering from gender dysphoria to have access to medics and psychiatrists “in order to discover whether the gender dysphoria is their main problem.” Many de-transitioners – such as Keira Bell, who recently won a case against the Tavistock Clinic which put a halt on puberty blockers from being prescribed to children and teenagers under 16 – are now speaking out say that gender dysphoria came about as a result of underlying problems, such as anxiety, depression and problems at home.

Our evidence also made a number of other policy recommendations, as follows.

1. Strengthen requirement to live in ‘acquired gender’ for two years

In light of increasing evidence and testimonies that gender dysphoria may present as a result of underlying mental health and psychological issues, the evidence recommended the strengthening of the requirement to live in a person’s ‘acquired gender’ for two years and “put under more rigorous scrutiny.” It stated:

“For example, the NHS should commission independent research on the effect that the two year requirement has on patients’ sense of identity, and treatment of their own bodies. Comparisons could be made between NHS patients and patients attending private gender identity clinics in the UK. Annual official statistics of the number of patients being prescribed cross-sex hormones, and the quarter when they come off those hormones, should be recorded and published according to patients’ biological sex.”

2. Reword the statutory declaration on changing gender

The submission also laid out the problems caused by using the terms ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ interchangeably:

“The law in this area needs further reform in order to be aligned with biological reality. There needs to be a statutory definition of sex as based on chromosomes. Everyone born with a Y chromosome belongs to the male sex, whilst everybody who only has X chromosomes belongs to the female sex.”

The submission recommended that the statutory declaration should be reworded to recognise this:

“The statutory declaration should be reworded so as to acknowledge the impossibility of anyone changing their biological sex. It should also be reworded to acknowledge that some people may regret the decision to change gender in the future, and that they change gender at their own risk. We say this because at present there is no official NHS pathway to help those who later regret gender reassignment and gender recognition.”

3. Draw up official healthcare pathways for de-transitioners

In light of this, our evidence also recommended the need for official pathways for people who decide to de-transition, as there are currently none in place.

“We recommend that the government works with NHS bodies and devolved administrations to draw up proposals for official healthcare pathways and treatment protocols for de-transitioners and those who regret gender reassignment and/or taking cross-sex hormones. If necessary, a new commissioning body should be set up for this purpose.”

4. Consult on a statutory definition of sex

Given that sex is a biological reality, our evidence recommended that this be written into law:

“Self-declaration of gender poses a serious problem for women’s right to single-sex facilities, services and premises. Any situation where it is easy for gender recognition and self-declaration to take place results in increasing numbers of men using female names, regardless of whether or not these men have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, for sexually predatory purposes.”

The submission referenced multiple examples of where biologically male prisoners who self-identified as female had taken advantage of being placed in a women’s prison and attacked or even raped female inmates.

5. Draft new prison policy on transgender prisoners

In light of this, our submission suggested that new legislation be drawn up “requiring all prisoners to be housed in the prison corresponding to their biological sex.”

“We note the massive public concerns arising from successive editions of the Ministry of Justice’ policy on housing transgender prisoners. Where sex was previously paramount in the prison estate this principle has now been eroded. The casualty has been the safety of female prisoners. For example the Times reported that official figures for 2010-2018 show transgender prisoners are five times more likely to perpetrate sex attacks on inmates in women’s prisons than other prisoners are.”

6. Rescind the Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy

As it currently stands, the Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy prohibits psychotherapy and counselling that is deemed to assume that one gender identity is preferable to others. In practice, this means that anyone de-transitioning isn’t able to get the help they might want to live out their life in their biological sex. The submission suggests that this Memorandum should be rescinded in order to help people through the process of de-transitioning:

“The absence of official pathways of assistance for detransitioners necessarily means there are no health and social care services, domestic violence and sexual violence services that are explicitly geared to understanding and meeting their needs. Whilst this situation has existed ever since the first gender identity clinic opened at Charing Cross in the 1960s, it has been made worse by the Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy in the UK. … The government and the mental health professional bodies should rescind the Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy.”

Committee must accept the government’s decision

Finally, our submission raises concern over the purpose of this inquiry, pointing out that it “appears to challenge the government’s recent decision not to make changing gender easier in England and Wales.” It further states how the Women and Equalities Committee is clearly showing bias towards transgender advances:

“The questions are so clearly favourable to those who wanted that to happen that this impression is unavoidable. The public has made its opposition to these proposals very clear over time and many government ministers have taken this seriously. The Committee needs to explain publicly why it has opened this inquiry, especially given women’s opposition to the proposals.”

The need for change

Dr Carys Moseley commented on the publication of Christian Concern’s evidence: “We are grateful to the Women and Equalities Committee of the House of Commons for publishing our written evidence submitted to its inquiry on Reform of the Gender Recognition Act.

“Our policy recommendations to the UK government on sex and gender represent a unique contribution to the public debate. They aim to provide real answers to real problems not only to manage or mitigate the confusion that has arisen in recent years.

“Gender identity clinics have been run by the NHS for over fifty years, yet nothing has been done to help people harmed and hurt by gender reassignment and transition. We recommend the creation of official healthcare pathways for de-transitioners. As far as we know this has never been proposed before. In order for this to succeed we also recommend that the government rescind the Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy. This Memorandum has functioned for too long as a block to reality-based mental healthcare for vulnerable gender-confused children and adults. It must go.

“We also recommend that sex should be defined in law according to the best scientific evidence, as based on chromosomes. It is not enough to talk of distinguishing between sex and gender, or to play the futile game of trying to fix the meaning of gender as biological. Our entire jurisprudence has been corrupted by the Council of Europe and the European Parliament redefining sex to be ‘psychological’ as well as biological. This has resulted in the legal and social incoherence that now harms our society.”

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