UK plans to scrap self-ID in Gender Recognition Act, add measures to protect women's spaces

Stormy clouds surround Big Ben in Westminster, central London, Britain, June 9, 2017.
Stormy clouds surround Big Ben in Westminster, central London, Britain, June 9, 2017. | (Photo: Reuters/Clodagh Kilcoyne)

The United Kingdom is preparing to ditch plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act that would permit individuals to self-identify as male or female without any medical documentation.

Multiplereports indicate that the change is a departure from earlier plans from U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson's predecessor, Theresa May's government, that would have enabled trans-identifying people to alter their birth records with no formal medical diagnosis.

Government ministers are reportedly planning on announcing bans on "gay-cure" therapies to appease those who identify as among the LGBT while also establishing new measures to protect female-only facilities such as public restrooms and domestic violence shelters. 

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Although official plans are not finalized, the new policies are said to be "basically ready" and Equalities Minister Liz Truss is set to publish them at the end of next month. Truss also recently announced that the U.K. would soon prohibit doctors from prescribing experimental drugs like puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones to children who are younger than 18.

The shift comes after years of intensifying debate about the implications of allowing self-identification, particularly the impact on women's rights as feminists and other women's rights campaigners have consistently raised concerns about transgender activism and what it yields.

Women's rights campaigner and host of the Woman, By Definition podcast Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull is welcoming the changes but also says it should go even farther.

"I am delighted that the government realizes that there is no appetite amongst the electorate for Self-ID. However, we now need to work to repeal the GRA completely," Keen-Minshull said in an email to The Christian Post Wednesday.

"A democratic and tolerant society does not need to create legal fictions in order to prevent prejudice and harassment of individuals. The state has no business in telling people what they have to think or what language they must use. These are the first steps in the rebalancing of women's rights, but we have a long way to go," she said.

The pullback from the GRA reform highlights the growing divide in the ranks of LGBT activism. The U.K.'s leading gay rights organization, Stonewall, has been at the forefront in pushing for transgender policies much to the chagrin of dissident LGB-identified men and women who believe "gender identity" ideology undermines the reality of sex and, by extension, same-sex attraction. Last year, such dissidents from across the political spectrum formed the LGB Alliance, an organization whose detractors refer to as "anti-trans."

The development also comes on the heels of Harry Potter series author J.K. Rowling voicing her objections to the demands of trans activists.

In a lengthy essay last week, Rowling spoke specifically about the current policy on gender and how it poses dangers to vulnerable people.

"A man who intends to have no surgery and take no hormones may now secure himself a Gender Recognition Certificate and be a woman in the sight of the law. Many people aren’t aware of this," Rowling wrote.

"I refuse to bow down to a movement that I believe is doing demonstrable harm in seeking to erode ‘woman’ as a political and biological class and offering cover to predators like few before it. I stand alongside the brave women and men, gay, straight and trans, who’re standing up for freedom of speech and thought, and for the rights and safety of some of the most vulnerable in our society: young gay kids, fragile teenagers, and women who’re reliant on and wish to retain their single-sex spaces," she said.

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