UK Government debates non-binary legal recognition, sort of

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The majority of the time appears to have been dedicated to transmisogyny and fearmongering over puberty blockers. There were no transgender speakers present.

A petition which reached over 140,000 signatures regarding the legal recognition of non-binary people was ‘debated’ in Parliament. The petition called for non-binary to be legally recognised in the UK, as currently only “male” and “female” can appear on birth certificates and passports.

Debate opened with Nick Fletcher MP calling for ‘respectful debate‘ on the issue while using carefully picked language to avoid acknowledging the legitimacy of non-binary people. Such as referring to people who are non-binary as “people who feel non-binary“, a marked difference.

Fletcher goes on; “I accept that they exist. I see them; I hear them, I feel for them and I want to help them…It does not follow however that the law should be changed to reflect the way that certain individuals feel. No matter where anyone sits on this subject their opinion should be respected.”

Fletcher continues; “we need to look at the impact on and implications for wider society.” Which he clarifies by then going on to say that he doesnt “believe that inclusion of non-binary people would necessarily help with gender dysphoria” and that if non-binary people want legal recognition to not feel ignored and sidelined, we, as a society need to; “convince them differently”.

His second objection to non-binary legal recognition is that he doesn’t agree with the petition that it would reduce “so-called hate crimes”. The language from the petition reads: “it would aid in the protection of Non-binary individuals against transphobic hate crimes” Which I personally read as it would help because we would have data and be able to put in proper guidelines for helping non-binary people who have been victimised, which we don’t currently have.

Then the debate goes entirely over the edge as Fletcher tries to bring in the usual fearmongering around trans youth, single-sex spaces and “of course, sport”. None of which are relevant to legal recognition of non-binary people; the GRA is only accessible to those 18+ and neither single-sex spaces or sports require a certain letter on a birth certificate or passport to enter.

Miriam Cates, MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge, joins in next. Echoing Nick Fletcher’s objections and using her time to give a speech about her beliefs on biology. Her statement right from the get go would undermine the GRA as it is; let alone as people are petitioning it to be updated to.

Press photo of Miriam Cates MP
Press photo of Miriam Cates MP

Her speech even goes as far as claiming trans children are being indoctrinated this after Nick Fletcher was interrupted duiring his speech by Kirsten Oswald MP for East Renfrewshire. Oswald objected to his tone after he suggested people had “put this idea in the minds of children”.

Tim Loughton MP for East Worthing and Shoreham next with more of the same, with the addition of discussion on prisons. The usual transmisogynist fanfare of claiming trans women are sexually assaulting en masse in prison, stats which we’ve seen debunked and put into context to show trans people are usually victims, not victimisers in these situations.

Later attempts are made by the MPs who appear to have actually read the assignment and not just turned up to use the moment as a soapbox for their transphobic rhetoric. Those MPs are Kirsten Oswald and Anneliese Dodds MP for Oxford East. However those attempts are repeatedly interrupted and derailed by the clearly anti-trans side.

So they sort-of debated the idea of non-binary representation, but mostly didn’t. Instead opting to just do fearmongering and spread hateful rhetoric through parliament. Democracy! The whole thing wraps up with them patting themselves on the back for a job well done and deciding not to move forwards with any plans to include non-binary people in our legal system.

It was embarrassing to watch and as much as I wanted this piece to be a straight-up news piece I can’t just sit here and not voice that opinion. But do stay tuned as TransWrites.World is currently looking for a non-binary writer to give their opinions on the whole mess that this debate was!

Gemma Stone
Gemma Stone is a transgender writer who has been covering the rise of transphobic hate campaigning in the UK. She has written hundreds of articles dissecting aspects of transphobia including debunking blatant disinformation. She is very tired and trying her best, and hopefully having a positive impact on such a beautiful community.

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