Promise for trans pupils turns out to be less and potentially hollow anyway

Stumbling across the blog ‘UK Equality Bill Excludes Gender Variance‘, via TNUK, their latest post gave me food for thought about reality behind the recent press splurg about an umpteenth promise from Westminster to protect trans school students. The moment friends started telling me the news I was pretty sceptical of it proving to be any good, but following thatlongnamedblog’s go, I thought I’d dissect it myself.

Pulling the source of the story, a question and response in a House of Commons debate on schools, from Hansard* (not the easiest of tasks) we get this;

T9. [261322] Lyn Brown (West Ham) (Lab): I am sure that my [honorable friend] will agree that bullying in schools is insidious in all its many forms. Indeed, it has been reported that nearly half of all trans-gendered pupils attempt suicide before their 18th birthday. Will she tell me what the Government are doing to protect this very vulnerable group of young people?

Sarah McCarthy-Fry**: I certainly agree that this is a very vulnerable group of young people and that any bullying in schools is a cause for great concern. We recently committed to extending guidance on homophobic bullying to include trans-gender pupils. In addition, now that we have considered the many responses we received to consultation on the 2007 discrimination law review, I am happy to announce that we will extend the discrimination provisions to include trans-gender pupils in the forthcoming Equality Bill.

That was on the 9th March. Then on the 10th a (presumably) DCSF spokesperson told Pink News;

“The decision to extend protection in the Equality Bill is therefore a departure from existing policy but a logical one considering the similarity of experience of transgender children and that of lesbian and gay children, and given the decision to extend discrimination protection on grounds of sexual orientation to schools through the 2007 Sexual Orientation Regulations. The intention is to harmonise the protection against discrimination on the grounds of gender reassignment with that of the protection on the ground of sexual orientation in schools.”

So;

  1. ‘It’s alright really there’s no abuse in schools just bullying, and bullying ain’t abusive, right?’
  2. The Govt is *still* treating TG as within ‘homosexual’, i.e. we’re just cross-dressing gay guys >_<
  3. Yet, despite being ‘just tarted up gay guys’, all those trans kids just have to continue to put up with abuse till whenever the “forthcoming Equality Bill” (more on this in a minute) turns up …rather than the government bothering to set up a temporary protection of all TG pupils via a secondary legislation measure extending the Sexual Orientation protections to cover TG. Something that’d take all of a day, and at worst a week, to do (seriously!)
  4. TG apparently = ‘the gender reassigned’. (More on this in a minute.)
  5. “gender reassignment” *vomit!*

TG vs ‘the gender reassigned’:

Despite no less than thrice saying this was going to cover all TG pupils, the DCSF drops in at the last minute that this is covering just “grounds of gender reassignment”. The Govt defined ‘Gender Reassignment’ in 1999 as;

“a process which is undertaken under medical supervision for the purpose of reassigning a person’s sex by changing physiological or other characteristics of sex, and includes any part of such process.”

So that’d be in effect narrow this down to just transsexed pupils who have managed the assault course / lottery of accessing medical care. Which isn’t all TG pupils by a long stretch.

Hollows promises?:

We’re told this’ll come in the “forthcoming Equality Bill”, a.k.a the Single Equality Bill. Now I checked, this hasn’t been introduced to Parliament yet. Now isn’t that an election I see on the horizon? Isn’t that a good chance of a Tory win I see (regretably)? And when was the last time you heard of a party fresh into government resurrecting it’s enemy’s Bills?

The (1st) Equality Bill was originally introduced in the House of Commons in March 2005, and didn’t get passed till Feb 2006. Taking into account the lost month due to the 2005 general election and 2.5 months due to the summer recess, that’s 7.5 months to get it passed.

Lets assume for example the Single Equality Bill is introduced next month, April. 7.5 months of Parliament from then is early January 2010. Now, given past practice, likely dates for the next general election are, in order of likelihood***; a) 4th June 2009, b) 6th May 2010, meaning this Parliamentary term will likely end either early this May, or early April 2010.

If it’s this May, anything could happen really, depending on the election results but prospects don’t look great. While if it’s April 2010, then we have basically have 3 months breathing room. Except this is assuming;

  1. the SEB gets the same priority as the 1stEB (unlikely given the economic fuss), and
  2. doesn’t get a harder ride, (unlikely given it contains the more ‘controversial’ issues they kept out the 1stEB to get that passed), and
  3. is not substantially longer than the 1stEB (no idea given they won’t make their fucking minds up!).

…oh, and that they actually introduce it in fucking time! (early July)

tl;dr – Promise to protect all TG pupils from abuse in schools is a sham – it’s only going to cover TS pupils who have access to medical supervision. Also it’s 50/50 as to if the legislation it’s promised via will come about soon or ever!

* the official record of Parliament

** McCarthy-Fry is Parliamentary Under-Secretary of Children, Schools and Families, i.e. 3rd in rank at the English Dept for Children, Schools and Families.

*** The present parliament will expire at midnight on 10 May 2010 … which would make the absolute last legal date of the next general election 3 June 2010. But Labour has since coming to power preferred to hold general elections around the 4th anniversary of the last, coinciding with local and/or EU elections. This year’s local and EU elections are on 4 June 2009, and 2010’s local ones would fall on 6th May 2010 following the ‘1st Thursday on May’ tradition.

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2 Responses to “Promise for trans pupils turns out to be less and potentially hollow anyway”


  1. 1 Oliver 16 March 2009 at 8:04 pm

    “The Govt is *still* treating TG as within ‘homosexual’, i.e. we’re just cross-dressing gay guys >_<”

    Not that some of us aren’t… and ironically its very hard to get a gender clinic to recognise this. 😛

  2. 2 Dave Page 19 March 2009 at 2:28 pm

    Quick point – Hansard searches on http://www.theyworkforyou.com/ are pretty good and the layout much better than the “real” Hansard.

    http://www.theyworkforyou.com/search/?s=trans+gender+suicide for example pops up the thing you quote as the first hit, and appears to include video of the debate.


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