auntysarah: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] auntysarah at 11:23am on 10/04/2014

Originally published at Sarah Brown's Blog. You can comment here or there.

For some reason, this popped into my head.

She who would Valium take ‘gainst all disaster,
Let her, for sanity’s sake, get to sleep faster.
There’s no discouragement shall make her once relent
Her first avowed intent to take the benzos.

Who so beset her round with dismal stories
Do but themselves confound – repeat prescription’s sorted.
And with the SSRIs, though she with gaslighter vies,
She will make good her right to take the benzos.

Block button dost defend her, and raise her spirit.
We know she, at the end, will triumph o’er git.
Then worries flee away! She’ll fear not what TERFs say,
She smiles and at last says, “I’m off the benzos!”

auntysarah: (Default)

Originally published at Sarah Brown's Blog. You can comment here or there.

In the interests of transparency and airing a diversity of views, I publish the following email exchange, with permission. I have changed the name of the person who sent it, referring to them as “Mr W” throughout. His text is otherwise unchanged. This was sent to me shortly after yesterday’s post went live on Pink News, and here. For clarity, I present Mr W’s comments in mauve.

On 27 Jan 2014, at 15:30, Mr W wrote:

I don’t see why you want the support of stonewall for transsexual people.  I am a gay man and stonewall is for gay men, gay women and bisexuals in same sex relationships. I don’t feel that I have anything in anyway as an insight to offer to a transsexual . As far as I am aware from speaking to some of my trans friends, most believe that they are the sex that they wish to be transitioned to and they want usually to date people of the opposite sex. Its rare a man changes to woman and then dates a woman and the same goes for women wishing to do the same. Most trans people do not believe that they are gay and therefor I fail to see what the gay scene can offer them. It is about time some one with your influence created an established advice line for trans people run by trans people, so that the right information can be given and when problems need to be talked over there is an adviser who will understand more closely  what experiences the person have been through.
Stonewall and other gay charities raise most of the money through the gay, lesbian and bi volunteers collecting money and in this austere time it does not go far,  they need that money for its intended purpose i.e to counsel and advise people in same sex relationships and safer sex. Please stop having a go at the gay scene and try to create something  good for the trans community instead.

On Monday, 27 January 2014, 15:34, Sarah Brown wrote:

Dear Mr W,

You have written to me using my council email. Can I ask, are you one of my constituents seeking help on an issue?

Kindest regards,
Sarah

On 27 Jan 2014, at 16:13, Mr W wrote:

no i am just making a general point about your  attack on stonewall  …..

On Monday, 27 January 2014, 16:15, Sarah Brown wrote:

I wasn’t aware I had attacked them. In the interests of transparency and debate, may I publish your comment as a rebuttal of my piece? I won’t use your name.

Kindest regards,
Sarah

Sent from my iPhone

On Tuesday, 28 January 2014, 11:15, Mr W wrote:

you can use it if you wish yes

oh and by the way if you are using your political position to try to pressure gay charities to do more for the trans community  I think that is a form of attack.
Thank you  

auntysarah: (Default)

Originally published at Sarah Brown's Blog. You can comment here or there.

This is a piece I wrote for Pink News, but I’m also publishing it here:

The relationship between Stonewall and the trans community has never been straightforward, to say the least.

Stonewall in England is, and has been, ostensibly an LGB group, campaigning for those involved in same sex relationships, and has taken the position that they are allied with trans campaign groups, but do not involve themselves in trans issues directly.

On paper you can draw nice neat lines separating “gender identity stuff” and “sexuality stuff”, and have everything work out. Sadly, reality is messier and doesn’t much care for attempts to confine things to neat boxes.

Perhaps this was most obviously seen in 2008, when what was reckoned at the time to be the UK’s largest public protest by transgender people and our allies took place; outside the swanky Stonewall Awards ceremony in London. Trans people were hurt and outraged that journalist Julie Bindel, who many trans people saw as openly transphobic, was nominated as a champion of diversity. I was there, waving a banner and shouting, and the crowd was angry over what it saw as Stonewall promoting its own interests by hurting our vulnerable community.

A similar problem arose more recently, over the same sex marriage bill. It’s fair to say Stonewall were caught napping a bit when, in autumn 2010, the Liberal Democrats announced our commitment to delivering marriage equality. As momentum built, Stonewall joined enthusiastically and published a draft “same sex marriage bill”. It was, as I recall, less than two pages long and didn’t mention trans people once.

Trans people were treated terribly unjustly by marriage law for a long time, and if ever there was an opportunity to right wrongs, it was with this bill. Since the 70s, our marriages were in legal limbo until 2004, when the then government, finally forced to act by the European Court of Human Rights, grudgingly agreed to recognise our true genders (and thus allow us to be protected at work from sex discrimination and a whole host of other stuff), but at a cost; the government wanted to take our existing marriages away, to erase them from history.

When the actual act came forth, not only did the government not want to right historical wrongs; they also wanted to make a new one, the Spousal Veto. If you wanted your employment non-discrimination rights, and other stuff that came with recognition, you (literally) need a letter from your husband, wife or civil partner saying they consent. If they don’t (and it doesn’t matter if they’re estranged and hate you, or in a coma after an accident and unable to consent), the only way you can end your legal non-personhood is to divorce them.

About a dozen-or-so trans lobbyists, of which I was one, met with civil servants, lobbied parliamentarians, and offered amendments and compromises to try and get our confiscated marriages back, to remove or at least time-limit the veto. Despite parliamentarians like Julian Huppert and Liz Barker passionately taking up our cause in the Commons and Lords respectively, the civil service and government didn’t budge.

The Marriage (same sex couples) Act passed into law with a spousal veto, and with no restitution of the marriages confiscated.

Things could have been so different if our little group of people who didn’t really know what we were doing had a big organisation like Stonewall behind us. In Scotland, after work by the excellent Scottish Transgender Alliance and the Equality Network, and where Stonewall does support trans people, the Scottish Parliament voted unanimously to remove the spousal veto. In England and Wales, we’re stuck with it. At a time when trans people really, really needed the help of a professional LGBT lobbying organisation, Stonewall decided it was nothing to do with them and looked away.

Every time I talked to formed CEO Ben Summerskill about this, he said it went back to the 2004 Gender Recognition Act, when trans groups wanted to do things by ourselves. I can’t help wounding if there were personality politics involved at the time, if bridges were burned. Perhaps that’s why we’re left in the cold. Times change, a new generation of trans activists is around today and we feel like we’re being constrained by deals, and perhaps arguments, that happened behind closed doors ten years ago by people who haven’t been able to move on.

My plea to Stonewall, and to interim CEO Ruth Hunt, is to use this opportunity to sweep away old understandings and misunderstandings, and to see if we can’t build something more inclusive, where trans people can turn to the largest LGBT rights organisation in the country (because that’s what everybody else sees them as, regardless of whether they see themselves that way), ask for help, and get it.

We don’t promise to be uncritical, and not say anything when you get it wrong, but wouldn’t it be great if Stonewall at least tried to be on the same side as trans people, rather than leaving us to fight the same battles, against the same people who hate us for the same reasons, alone?

Editor’s note: This piece originally created the impression that Stonewall Scotland was responsible for the removal of the spousal veto and discounted the hard work of the Equality Network and the Scottish Transgender Alliance. This was a drafting mistake on my part, and I offer my unreserved apologies to both.

auntysarah: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] auntysarah at 11:31am on 07/10/2013

Originally published at Sarah Brown's Blog. You can comment here or there.

Monday October 7th, 2013

00:00 Status nominal, sleeping in standard ambush pose.

03:47:28 PROXIMITY ALERT! – infra red sensors report a MASSIVE HEAT SIGNATURE. Suspect large monkey thing. Looks too big to eat. It’ll probably fold down, or something, though

03:47:29 STRIKE!

03:47:30 Ouch! There’s some sort of invisible force field. My nose hurts and I knocked a tooth out. Vexing.

03:47:35 Status nominal, sleeping in standard ambush pose.

[the toilet flushes, which she can't hear, because she's a snake]

03:48:50 PROXIMITY ALERT! – MASSIVE HEAT SIGNATURE! This should be good! Tasty, tasty food!

03:48:51 STRIKE!

03:48:52 Ouch! A completely unexpected thing happened! There’s some sort of weird forcefield in the way! That never happened before. Must check this out when I wake up and it’s light. Maybe next year or something.

03:48:57 status nominal, sleeping in standard ambush pose.

11:57 PROXIMITY ALERT! – MASSIVE HEAT SIGNATURE! It’s one of those great big monkeys. I bet they taste epic!

11:57:30 Tracking, tracking, visual senses operative. Vaguely remember they weren’t previously. Wonder why? Tracking, come closer, monkey, clo…ser…

11:57:34 STRIKE!

11:57:35 Ouch! What the hell just happened there? There’s some sort of weird force field! It really hurts! Deploy tongue…

flick flick flick flick

11:57:36 The force field appears to taste of boa constrictor saliva. Has someone else been messing with my patch? I’ll have them!

11:58 The monkey is coming closer. I love it when they make it easier. Soon it’ll be inside the force field, and then I shall dine!

11:59 SOMETHING HAS GRABBED MY TAIL! HOW DARE IT! Turn round quick, get ready to kill it. No, wait! I’m being pulled backwards by something really huge! Just when I was about to get that monkey too. This is intolerable. It’s going to take me outside! It’s scary out there!

HELP!

Grab everything! Water bowl grabbed, hide grabbed, coil coil coil! It’s got my neck! Oh no, it’s no good. This is all over. I’m going to die now. Outside is deadly. Deadly to Boa constrictors and I hate it. This is the end. LET ME GO!

Oh, it’s you. Did you see a monkey round here? This is nice, can I have a cuddle? Ooh, you’re warm!

Cosy Boa

12:04 Status nominal, sleeping coiled round comfy heat emitting thing, Life is good!

12:25 NO! YOU CAN’T MAKE ME GO INTO THE VIVARIUM! It’s DEATH in there! Dangerous things are in there! It’s horrid! I like it out here! Don’t make me!

12:26 Ooh, this is nice! There’s a hide and a water bowl and stuff, and it’s all small and cosy!

12:27 Status nominal, sleeping in standard ambush pose.

auntysarah: (Default)

Originally published at Sarah Brown's Blog. You can comment here or there.

20130915-170410.jpgPushed by Baroness Benjamin (she of Playschool fame), the Liberal Democrat 2013 Conference debated a motion to require censorship of the Internet by default on all Internet capable devices, with an explicit requirement to opt-out. The filter is supposed to prevent access to porn, but since computers are bad at identifying what is porn, and what is, for example, an LGBT news site, or a breast feeding advocacy site, these things have a tendency to block all sorts of other sites too. They block resource sites, sex education sites, political satire, blogs, equality campaigns and all sorts of things that it is vital to maintain free and open access to.

I put in a card to speak an, for the first time at a federal conference, I was called! Here is what I said:

Conference, I was recently in Plymouth, and being not overly familiar with it, I asked the Siri assistant on my iPhone for driving directions from one side of town to the other.

It tried to send me via Warsaw, in Poland.

Automatic systems behave like this because they don’t know enough to realise when they’re doing something obviously ridiculous. They just do it anyway.

This is the folly of automatic censorship on the Internet. There is so much stuff out there that you can’t possibly do it all by hand; you have to use automated systems and, like my iPhone’s bad driving directions, they get it wrong.

As an equality campaigner I have seen first hand the effects of Internet censorship. I have been frustrated when trying to access LGBT news sites, or reading blogs of people campaigning for quality, sex education, breast feeding, safer working conditions for those involved in sex work, drugs information, and so on.

I have even been disallowed access to my own blog, which, by the way, was shortlisted for a Lib Dem Voice award this year, because, apparently, it contains “adult content”.

Perhaps campaigning for equal rights for vulnerable and abused minorities is “adult content”, but so-called porn filters shouldn’t be blocking it.

While I do not doubt the intentions of those behind this motion, and the amendment, I do doubt the technical literacy they represent, or rather the lack of it. In seeking to “protect children from porn”, automated filters will block political campaigns, satire, support sites for victims of homophobic bullying, sexual abuse, eating disorders, breast feeding campaigners and the blogs of members of this party.

This motion, amended or not, is unfit for purpose. Conference, send it back so that it can be reexamined with the full participation of minority groups and young people, those affected by it. If you don’t send it back, then please vote it down. It’s profoundly illiberal and it will cause real harm to the things we value.

auntysarah: (Default)

Originally published at Sarah Brown's Blog. You can comment here or there.

I have been given to understand that the issue of the spousal veto in the Same Sex Marriage Bill is confusing to those not immersed in trans issues. I appreciate that, because if you don’t understand the processes we have to go through, then it’s not clear what is being vetoed and under what circumstances. I’ll attempt to explain. It’s long, but if you scroll to the bottom there is an executive summary.

Part 1: Corbett v Corbett

In 1970, the divorce of trans woman model, April Ashley and Arthur Corbett, later the 3rd Baron Rowallan, came before the court. In order to avoid giving up part of his substantial estate, Corbett’s team advanced the argument that the marriage was never valid in the first place, because April Ashley was really a man.

The judge agreed and thus set a precedent that meant that trans people were, from that point on, treated by the government as their birth sex forever for all sorts of legal reasons. This didn’t just affect marriage: it also affected stuff like employment protections, what prison you would be sent to if you were found guilty of an offence, and so on.

Prior to this, trans people had been applying for corrected birth certificates and getting them, effectively being recognised in their new gender. This practice ceased completely, and trans rights in the UK entered a dark age.

Part 2: The Gender Recognition Act

Fast forward 3 decades. The European Court of Human Rights had ruled that the government had to legislate to fix the unfairness inflicted upon trans people by the Corbett v Corbett ruling. The government kept dragging its heels, but in 2004 eventually passed the Gender Recognition Act. In a nutshell, the act did the following:

  • It created a thing called a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC).

  • Upon issue of a GRC, you would be issued a new birth certificate, and gain the other protections in law that you lost by transitioning (e.g. employment nondiscrimination rights).
  • You could only apply for a GRC if you’d been transitioned 2 years and had a report from your GP and the doctor who originally diagnosed your gender dysphoria.
  • There was a time-limited “fast track” for people transitioned more than 6 years: you didn’t need the original diagnosis (because your doctor may have retired or lost your notes).
  • You didn’t need to have had surgery, but if you hadn’t you had to justify why not.

    Never wanting anything to be simple, and demonstrating an enduring instinct for screwing trans people over, the civil service (via the government of the day) included a nasty little gotcha: you weren’t eligible for a GRC if you were married.

    Of course, you didn’t have to apply for one, but if you didn’t, you didn’t get your rights back. To deal with this, the act created something called an “interim gender recognition certificate” (IGRC). The name is entirely misleading: it’s not a GRC, it doesn’t grant the same rights or anything. All it does is give you a cast-iron reason to initiate marriage annulment proceedings within the next 6 months, at which point the IGRC expires and you go back to stage 1.

    If you complete annulment proceedings with an IGRC, you automatically get a GRC and new birth certificate. Anticipating the 2005 Civil Partnership Act, the Gender Recognition Act then allowed you to enter a civil partnership with your former spouse. 151 couples have since done this (I am part of one of them).

    If you’ve seen trans people talking about the “confiscated marriages”, it’s those 151 marriages we are talking about, where we were essentially coerced into giving up our marriages to restore our rights.

    Interlude: The Equality Act, 2010

    In 2010, a year after my marriage was annulled, the Equality Act 2010 passed. This revoked the employment nondiscrimination protections granted by a Gender Recognition Certificate. Thanks guys, appreciate that.

    Part 3: Same Sex Marriage Bill

    The advent of same sex marriage brings an end to this coerced divorce, or rather it should, but the government and civil service have cocked it up.

    Firstly, you still have to end your relationship if you are in a civil partnership, although you can convert it to a marriage first to avoid that.

    Secondly, and more offensively, rather than just ending the requirement to be unmarried when you have a GRC awarded, the Same Sex Marriage Bill requires your spouse to consent to the granting of a GRC. This is significant because, despite being gutted somewhat by the 2010 Equality Act, GRCs still restore some rights (the ones we lost in 2010 we just stay without for good). If your spouse doesn’t consent, you get an IGRC instead, on the same terms as before: start to annul within 6 months of return to square one.

    So basically, if your spouse can’t, or won’t sign the consent form, you have to divorce them to get your rights. This creates what is possibly the most passive-aggressive legally sanctioned way to initiate a divorce ever, i.e. “I don’t want to divorce you, but I’m going to veto your human rights until you divorce me”.

    The government call this “both parties having a say in the future of their marriage”. What trans people call it isn’t actually printable, but in polite company we call it, “the Spousal Veto”.

    Part 4: Lobbying

    We don’t like the spousal veto. We really, really, don’t like it. Your spouse doesn’t get to veto your transition, your surgery, or anything else. They get to veto this though. In 2013, we are passing a law in the name of equality that makes the human rights of one party to a marriage the “gift” of the other.

    So a bunch of us tried to get it changed. Much of the work around this has been done by a dozen-or-so people, including me. We wrote some amendments, which were submitted by my MP, Julian Huppert, aimed at restoring the stolen marriages and ending the spousal veto, amongst a couple of other things (one being that if your spouse discovers you’re trans and you can’t prove they knew before you married, they can have the marriage declared invalid. We aren’t all that keen on this either).

    The amendments were rejected by the government at committee stage, so Julian put them again at Commons Report Stage, and gave what must rank amongst the best transgender-related speeches ever on the floor of the Commons.

    And then an interesting thing happened: the minister in the Commons, Helen Grant, rejected the amendments using the exact same words that the civil servant responsible for drafting these bits of the bill had used when talking to our little bunch a few days earlier, when we met them in London.

    It also became apparent to us that the veto had arisen on the basis of what sounded, when described, like the civil servants pretending they were married to trans people and writing into law what they would want for themselves.

    The bill passed onto the Lords, with the veto intact. By now it had become apparent that the government would die in a ditch over not restoring the lost marriages, and I reluctantly gave up campaigning for their restoration to concentrate on the veto – the thing that we all agreed was the single most offensively transphobic provision in the Bill.

    Part 5: Lords amendments

    A number of us started talking to various Lib Dem and Labour peers, and it came to pass that while the government was adamant the veto needed to stay, they might be minded to give a bit of ground, and could we draft two amendments: what we wanted, and a compromise for if we couldn’t get it. This we did. The first amendment was no veto. The second was a veto, but if annulment proceedings hadn’t commenced (at the behest of either party) within 6 months, or a decree nisi hadn’t been issued within 12, the spouse lost the veto and gender recognition could go ahead.

    Our compromise amendment was debated on the floor of the Lords, with brilliant speeches in support by Baroness Barker of the Lib Dems and Baroness Gould of Labour. The amendment was rejected.

    This brings us close to the present day. There followed a flurry of desperate emails to try to salvage something. In the end, this week the government published an amendment. They were going to reintroduce the “Fast Track” for getting a GRC, but only for people who have been transitioned 6 years at the point the same sex marriage bill passes, and only if they’re married. The rationale is that some have waited, refusing to divorce, without their rights, and they might not be able to get the original diagnosis any more. These are couples who have put their commitment to their marriage over and above the human rights of one partner, in what must count as one of the strongest testaments to love that there is.

    Oh, and by the way, there’s a spousal veto on this as well. Given what these marriages represent, the government could not have been more crassly offensive if they’d tried.

    And that was the end of the battle, or so we believed, until out of the blue came the promise of another amendment, specifically to address the veto!

    Part 6: The veto amendment

    Here is what the government are proposing to do. Instead of saying you need signed spousal consent to get a GRC, otherwise you get an IGRC, they want to say that you need signed spousal consent for the marriage to continue.

    As far as I can tell, this is a bit of legal manoeuvring. It seems that to address our objections that the consent is a veto over the issue of a GRC, the government are explicitly recasting it as permission to stay married.

    Of course, if your spouse doesn’t grant that permission, you don’t get the GRC, just the same as before. It doesn’t actually change anything – the veto remains.

    Summary

    That was long, so I’ll summarise it in a TL;DR version.

    1. 1971 – Corbett v Corbett case removes ability for trans people to get rights associated with new gender, leaving them in limbo where they have neither the rights of the gender they started off with, nor the ones from where they ended up.
    2. 2004 – Gender Recognition Act restores those rights, but you have to have your marriage confiscated first.
    3. 2010 – Equality Act takes some of the rights back
    4. 2013 – Same Sex Marriage Bill proposes an end to confiscated marriages, but your spouse gets to veto your rights while you remain married.
    5. Bill passage – government gets increasingly transphobic while they defend the need to maintain the veto provision.

  • auntysarah: (Default)
    posted by [personal profile] auntysarah at 11:58am on 15/04/2013

    Originally published at Sarah Brown's Blog. You can comment here or there.

    I think I’m noticing a pattern develop in the less than harmonious way social media interfaces with journalism. I’m specifically going to avoid naming names, because I don’t really wish to pour petrol on flames.

    However, it seems that there are a whole bunch of people who exist in a space between “random person on the Internet” and “so famous that someone manages their social media presence for them” who have embraced social media, and particularly Twitter, and possibly see it as a way to build their personal “brand”. Often these people are freelance columnists doing bits and pieces for newspapers and magazines. They perhaps see Twitter as a tool which can help them build their career.

    And all goes well for a while, and they build a few tens of thousands of followers, and presumably think, “this is great! I get to share my thoughtful thoughts with the world and people will retweet them, and comment on them, and further build my presence!”

    And then they say something that’s controversial in a way they weren’t hoping for.

    What happens next is becoming a cliché: people object to a thing that’s been said. The author initially engages a bit. It rapidly becomes a self-sustaining blaze. Their phone starts going berserk with mention notifications, and they feel thoroughly got at. Within a few hours, they tend to shut down their twitter account.

    The next wave will see their friends who also exist in a similar space, and who are using social media in a similar way, complain that they have been “hounded” off Twitter by “bullies”.

    What I have to say next may not be popular, but I think it’s true:

    This is your own fault and you need to take responsibility for your actions

    Seriously, you engaged with something you didn’t fully understand, which worked well for you for a while, which you discovered can actually be really powerful, but which ultimately is not something you personally control. You were happy to use that power while it was working for you, but because you can’t control it there came a time when it did something else. When it did, it did it with all the power and speed that you previously relished, and which is now making you feel like you’re being buried under an avalanche.

    In other words, you played with a powerful tool, the use of which you were not properly trained in, and recklessly concluded that this power was only ever going to work for you.

    What would you think of someone who didn’t know how to drive a car getting in one and bombing down the M1, towards London, at 3 in the morning at 100mph? They’d presumably think they were having great fun as they sailed past town and city on a long, straight, empty road at 100mph.

    And then these yellow lines appeared in front of them, and they have no idea what that means, and suddenly they’re on the North Circular road, still doing 100mph, with no actual idea how to drive.

    That’s not hugely different to someone treating social media as something that will only ever advance their career. Twitter wasn’t built for the sole purpose of making your CV and ego larger and those tens of thousands of followers you were treating as a resource are real people who will just as soon turn on you as retweet your philosophical musings.

    You need to deal with that, and not complain that bad things happen when you drive off the end of the M1 at 100mph.

    auntysarah: (Default)
    posted by [personal profile] auntysarah at 09:51pm on 12/02/2013

    Originally published at Sarah Brown's Blog. You can comment here or there.

    Just a quick update to post the text of my trans marriage restoration amendment which I am now informed has been tabled by my MP, Julian Huppert (many thanks):

    Page 10, line 3 (Section 9), after end insert:
    (8) Where a civil partnership formed under part 1, section 96 of the Civil Partnership Act (Civil Partnership with former spouse) is converted into a marriage under this section —

    (a) the civil partnership ends on the conversion, and
    (b) if both partners so elect,
    (c) the resulting marriage is to be treated as having subsisted since the marriage dissolved under schedule 2 of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 was formed.

    If we get mixed sex civil partnership, an equivalent amendment will be needed to restore those as well, but we’ll cross that bridge if we come to it.

    auntysarah: (Default)

    Originally published at Sarah Brown's Blog. You can comment here or there.

    The government has published its long-awaited proposals for same sex marriage. This is a technical blog post, looking at what the implcations for trans people are:

    I have a non-binary identity

    The government’s equal marriage consultation set the tone by starting off talking about “marriage regardless of gender”. This was hopeful in that it suggested that trans issues were being given equal consideration to the comparatively more straightforward issue of same sex marriage in a cisnormative situation.

    Note however that this bill is called the “Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill”. This seems like a retrograde step. We’re back to talking about “same sex” and “opposite sex” rather than “regardless of gender”. Indeed, it goes on, when talkming about how “marriage” is to be interpreted in existing legislation:

    A reference to marriage is to be read as including a reference to marriage of a same sex couple

    Same goes for cohabiting people who aren’t married – extension is to be granted to same sex couples.

    Furthermore:

    (a) “husband” includes a man who is married to another man;
    (b) “wife” includes a woman who is married to another woman

    This is pretty thin for non-binary people. If you’re neither a man nor a woman, or your marriage can’t be described as either “opposite sex” or “same sex”, then you’re not included in any of this. Where the consultation simply avoided this “opposite sex/same sex/man/woman” distinction entirely with “marriage regardless of gender”, what we now have in the bill is “marriage for the genders of male and female”.

    If that’s not you and you want to get married, you’ll likely have to lie about who you are.

    I want a civil partnership

    Nothing has changed – you and your partner have to be the “same sex”, even if that’s a completely nonsensical way to describe your relationship. If the concept of “same sex” doesn’t mean anything in your relationship, you’ll likely have to lie if you want one of these.

    I’m in a civil partnership and I’m transitioning

    If you are in one of these and want a Gender Recognition Certificate, you have a few options:

    • Convert your civil partnership to a marriage before having anything to do with the Gender Recognition Panel.

  • Get an Interim Gender Recognition Certificate and annul your civil partnership. This is the same as at present and there are no proposals to end this barbaric practice.
  • Have your civil partner transition to the same binary gender as you (if one or both of you aren’t binary, lie) and apply for a GRC at the same time. The highly competent and efficient civil servants who administer all this stuff will make sure this works smoothly (warning: sarcasm may apply).
  • Don’t get a gender recognition certificate. This is what lots of people in this situation (both in civil partnerships and marriages) already do, because they regard their relationship as more important than legal recognition as their proper gender. I wish I hadn’t found out I was one of these people until too late.

    If you want to transition into an “opposite sex relationship” in the eyes of the state and retain your civil partnership, you can’t. If you have lots of money you may want to consider speaking to a human rights lawyer at this point.

    I’m already married and I want to stay married and I want a Gender Recognition Certificate

    Congratulations. You fall into the category of “trans people for whom this is actually useful”. You can have one. Your existing relationship will continue to be recognised. It’s not clear if you can get your name fixed on a reissued marriage certificate the way you can on your birth certificate; the bill doesn’t say.

    I was married, I had my marriage annulled, I’m now in a civil partnership, can I have my marriage back?

    I’m in this situation. The answer is no, you can’t. It stinks, doesn’t it? The government screwed us over and it’s not really interested in sorting that out. It’s not that the bill prohibits restoration of our relationships per-se; it just completely ignores the issue. It’s almost as if they’re really embarrassed about what they did to us and hope that by not mentioning it, it’ll just go away.

    Oh, right…

    I’m married, my relationship has turned acrimonious. We have a house/kids/shared stamp collection [delete as applicable], it’s all really toxic, does this affect my rights under this bill?

    I have some bad news for you. You might want to sit down.

    The stuff about marriage being no impediment to getting a Gender Recognition Certificate any more … that’s not entirely true.

    When you apply for a GRC, if you’re married, you need your spouse to consent in writing to you getting a GRC.

    That’s right – this person who probably has a restraining order against you, and is threatening to never let you see your children again, and has told all your mutual friends that you’re dead, or have been kidnapped by penguins, or anything to escape the shame of being married to one of them, this person has a veto over your legal gender.

    It’s only a temporary veto. If they don’t sign the form and you apply for a GRC, you get an Interim Gender Recognition Certificate. You then have to go through the annulment process as before. Your partner can stall this for a bit by not responding to court letters and hiring solicitors and stuff. Basically, you have to go through the pain of an acrimonious divorce before you can have a Gender Recognition Certificate, even if you’ve been separated for years, probably on account of the stress your poor ex partner will have to go through if they realise that you have a piece of paper in your desk drawer which makes them officially gay.

    A note on consummation

    It’s not clear what this means for trans people who don’t have the expected genital configuration. If the government don’t tighten this up, expect another hilarious court case along the lines of Corbett v Corbett real soon now.

    Conclusion

    If the government were to publish a bill that provided for marriage for same sex couples, and then noticed that they got the bare minimal bit of Gender Recognition Act reform thrown in for free, but didn’t decide to actually go out of their way to do a single damned thing for trans people, it would would look exactly like this one.

    Shame really – it showed so much promise. We’ve been thrown under the bus again, but it’s what we’re used to, right?

    I’d better stop, as I seem to be getting a bit cross.

  • auntysarah: (Default)
    posted by [personal profile] auntysarah at 11:48am on 15/01/2013

    Originally published at Sarah Brown's Blog. You can comment here or there.

    Last week thousands of transgender people, sick and tired of suffering systemic and chronic abuse at the hands of an institutionally transphobic medical profession, decided we were going to tell the world about it.

    Or at least the bit of it that reads Twitter.

    It was relatively successful. Lots of people looked at the stories of routine and pointless abuse, abuse for its own sake, and were shocked.

    So what did our intrepid press do? Did they decide to run daring exposés of this systemic abuse? Bring justice to a minority denied it for decades? Campaign to stop further abuse from happening?

    No, they didn’t do any of these things. Noticing that it looked like a bit of a laugh, and the the doctors were getting away with it, they apparently decided to join in themselves.

    So far we have the Guardian, Observer, Telegraph and today the Independent joining in (apparently we should be able to take a joke as our “shoulders are broad enough”). Interesting to note that this is mostly the broadsheets too. I await the contributions of the Times and Financial Times with interest. What will it be? A hilarious witty take on how trans women have deep voices, and are ugly, and how we have hairy arms, and smell and are stupid?

    A development I’ve also seen this morning is the Dawkins Brigade joining in. Not just the ones who think rape is funny, but some of the ones who are horrified at the ones who think rape is funny, because while rape is definitely Not Funny, apparently trans people are. They can agree on that: laugh at the trans people, they’re funny. Ha ha!

    Apparently this is about “freedom of speech”. When a newspaper editor publishes something randomly abusing trans people and then thinks better of it, and withdraws the article, this is an attack on Freedom of Speech and it is Censorship, and because trans people had the nerve to complain about being abused in the national press, it is Our Fault and we are The Censors, and Julie Bindel was right all along about a trans cabal.

    The irony of telling a minority to shut up in a forum where we’re mostly being ignored anyway so that the majority can call us bedwetters in a national newspaper without worrying if their editor is going to pull the piece is apparently lost on “freedom of speech” campaigners.

    I think, reflecting on this, I have one point to make: Freedom of speech is many things, but what it is not is the right to a column in the national press, free from editorial constraint, where you get to abuse “the little people”, and have a baying mob telling those same “little people” to keep quiet while our betters tell us how rank we are. In caricaturing it thus, you cheapen it.

    Meanwhile, trans people are increasingly wondering what the hell is happening us and curling up into balls and feeling like begging for the abuse to stop. I know I am.

    Please stop it. Please just stop. Stop.

    Please?

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