Suella Braverman has come under heavy criticism from the transgender community for a series of comments regarding trans youth; with the most recent being by far the worst. Owen Hurcum, who has an amazing thread on Braverman’s comments, writes;
It can be tempting to paint those that so publicly oppose our rights as cartoonish stage villains, bumbling about to a chorus of boos by an audience who can recognize evil for what it is. However, this could not be further from the truth. As not only do anti-trans activists often receive widespread support for their views, rather than condemnation. What they say can be so damaging.
Suella Braverman is one such person – and as the Attorney General, her attacks hold a lot more weight. She is no pantomime villain, instead Suella Braverman poses a threat to our community which we must challenge.
Trans people like myself have been saying for a while now that this current Tory government is gearing up to introduce a Section 28 type law with a specific focus on trans people. I mean, this government hasn’t exactly been the most pro-trans has it? It willfully disregards facts and evidence as it makes sweeping attacks towards our community.
Further, attacking Trans people was, and continues to be, the backbone of many a leadership bid, including that of the Attorney General for England and Wales; Suella Braverman. Yesterday’s speech by Braverman however showed that we might have been a little wrong – the Tories may not be rushing to introduce new section 28 laws any time soon. But only because for them, as the Attorney General believes, such a law is already on the books.
Her speech did what you would expect of an anti-trans Tory, it attacked our entire community, denied we are deserving of equality, called us a ‘social contagion’ and so on and so forth. But what made this speech so sickening was she argued that under the current law direct discrimination against trans people can be permissible, giving a string of examples as to how, why and when.
It is fair to say I am no legal expert; I understand the law and have read the Equality Act (2010) a number of times during various research projects. Though its clear that the interpretation of that law the Suella Braverman is advocating as correct is certainly not how I (or really anyone) has read it before. Yet for as much as we could sit here, lawyer hat on, arguing the ins and outs of interpretation this article isn’t going to do that.
AG Suella Braverman delivers…a master class in how to misinterpret Equality Law. Truly dreadful stuff in her speech today. No understanding of ‘a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim’. It will be a busy autumn if she is still in place after the reshuffle. pic.twitter.com/5OSnQtMsJV
— Robin Moira White (she/her) (@moira_robin) August 10, 2022
Instead, this article is going to discuss what Suella Braverman said and why institutions, particularly schools, must not use her interpretation of the law. For if they were to do so, it would be extremely damaging for trans people and has the potential to cause great harm. In my view, the blood will be on the hands of any organization that goes along with it.
So why did Suella Braverman go on this anti-trans tirade other than the fact she is a Tory and it is currently the vogue thing for those people to do? Well she made two things abundantly clear in her speech; for a start she doesn’t think trans women are women – under any circumstance. Throughout her speech she would call them “biological males” or “XY chromosome havers” and stated that even with a gender recognition certificate they should be excluded from women’s single sex spaces for “Gender recognition certificates can’t change biological reality”.
Secondly, on trans children where she focused most of her energy; she says the rise in children coming out as trans is not a reflection of young people knowing themselves being more confident and because they are more likely to get support now than in past generations. But rather as a ‘social contagion’ using numerous dog whistles to make her point. She even had the gall to say “people get labelled transphobic” for no reason – yeah I wonder why you get labelled transphobic Suella…?
From this starting point of complete and utter ignorance she went on to outline how she thinks, and I have to stress this, the current law should be read to enable direct discrimination of trans people. Again, the Attorney General – meant to be one of the highest authorities on the law – said this on how she wants current law to be implemented.
First and foremost she stated that it is legal to deny a trans woman access to a rape crisis center for women. Rape Crisis centers are hugely important for everyone who needs them and can and do provide a life saving service for victims – but according to Braverman that isn’t something a woman should be entitled to if she just so happens to be trans.
The majority of Braverman’s speech, as mentioned before, however was in regard to children, specifically the schooling of trans children. Again, she focused mostly on trans girls in her speech, but her reading of the law would have implications for trans people of all and no genders.
Suella Braverman is now encouraging children to misgender their trans peers and undermining schools who wish to treat them with respect. Quite, quite wicked. pic.twitter.com/BdH94RoUIL
— Jo Maugham (@JolyonMaugham) August 10, 2022
She began her spiel on the school system by saying she believes teachers “incorrectly” think they should be supportive of trans students and that her reading of the law doesn’t require them to be – in fact it requires the opposite.
Indeed, she would later go on to say that any teacher that supports trans children could be seen as “socially transitioning” them – which is a not so veiled way of saying that supportive teachers are grooming children to be trans. I don’t think a full explanation of why such a dog whistle is dangerous rhetoric that can and will lead to teachers getting attacked if it is believed by people is really needed – it’s self-explanatory.
After telling teachers not to safeguard their pupils she listed a series of examples how, under her reading of current law, it is perfectly legal, and indeed right, to discriminate against trans pupils. For a start she said it would be right for a girl’s school to refuse entry to a trans girl, that mixed schools should not allow a trans girl to use the girls facilities and that actually allowing this should be seen as illegal and that it “can be lawful for a school to refuse to use the preferred opposite sex pronouns of a trans child”.
What this amounts to is saying that discriminating against trans children at school is right and proper – she is giving the green light under law to this evil. This will kill trans children.
Suella Braverman's "schools should bully trans kids" guidance isn't just cruel it's actually unlawful, going directly against the Equality Act because "trans girls (or cis boys for that matter!) not being allowed to wear a skirt" is hardly considered a proportionate exemption.
— Elaine Scattermoon (@scattermoon) August 10, 2022
Trans children are already the subject of bullying at schools and to encourage the schools to actively take part in that bullying and discrimination as Suella Braverman is advocating for will unfortunately lead to an increase in suicide rates amongst a demographic that is already most at risk for taking their own lives.
Equally Braverman views it as the school’s duty to inform parents if a child comes out as trans at the school. Not only does this risk the safety of that child if they don’t have supportive parents at home but it equally risks outing them to wider a network of people than they may feel comfortable being out to. Suella Braverman wants schools to punish trans children just for existing. There is no other way of putting that.
As I stated near the beginning, I’m no legal expert and whilst we can (and legal experts should) tackle the legality of Suella Braverman’s interpretation of the law the far more important thing to do – and the point of this article – is to plead with schools and other institutions to ignore the Attorney General’s ignorant and bigoted reading of the Equalities Act (2010).
Any organization that implements what she is advocating for because they now think that is what they legally have to do will be contributing to the ongoing assault on trans rights and people happening in the UK. They will be directly harming numerous trans people, and indirectly hurting every other person, and they will have blood on their hands.
‘Cruella’ Braverman is no pantomime villain, she is cold, clinical and hateful. She understands exactly the power she has, the power her words have when it comes to matters of law and she is using that to assault an already marginalized community of people so she can be a little bit more popular with backers of The Tory party and because she – and I stress this – thinks us undeserving of equal human rights.
Her speech was a dark day for sure – but if there is one thing I know best it is the power and love of the trans community and we will not let this defeat us, we will not let our trans children come to harm. Her speech shall be our rallying cry in our renewed and ongoing fight for equality.