The LGBTQ pride flag flies outside of the Long Beach civic center. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
La Cañada High School

As LGBTQ protections progress in the US, rights are being rolled back in the UK

Boris Johnson’s plans to scrap reforms allowing transgender people to legalize their gender through self-identification were leaked in what could be a major setback for transgender rights in the UK, according to the Sunday Times. 

Boris Johnson’s leaked report indicates plans to “ditch” reforms to the Gender Recognition Act developed under Theresa May’s leadership, according to the Independent. In 2018, Theresa May pledged to a 16-week consultation looking into reforming the GRA, according to the Independent. These reforms were intended to ease barriers to self-identification, allowing the rights of transgender and non-binary people to be protected by legal documentation, according to the Human Rights Watch. 

“In terms of changing what is on your birth certificate, you will still need to have proper medical approval. And you’re not going to be able to march in and find a hippie quack doctor who is willing to say you’re a woman. That’s not going to happen,” according to the leaked paper who quoted a source describing Boris Johnson’s plan in the Independent. 

The government is set to publish its response to the consultation on the Gender Recognition Act in further detail this summer, according to the BBC. 

The current Gender Recognition Act allows for transgender people to receive legal recognition of their gender but has resulted in very few trans people legally declaring their gender because the process is reportedly “bureaucratic, expensive and intrusive,” according to the Government Equalities Office.

In the national LGBT survey conducted by the Government Equalities Office, 44% of transgender people reported the GRA as a barrier to legal identification. Medical and other barriers to legal recognition of transgender people could reportedly affect their physical and mental health, according to the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. 

“It is a disgrace that we have waited two years for the government to announce long-promised changes to the Gender Recognition Act only for them to go back on their word,” Melantha Chittenden and Heather Peto, co-chairs of LGBT+ Labour, told the BBC.

The leaked paper also revealed Boris Johnson’s further plans to ban gay conversion therapies and strengthen enforcement of cis-gendered-women-only bathrooms under the Equality Act, according to the Independent. 

The inclusion of bathroom protections is apart of a larger push in the UK by trans-exclusionary radical feminists, who oppose legal protections for transgender people, according to Vox. 

This political move by Boris Johnson’s government was described as contributing to a “toxic atmosphere” where transgender people are ostracized and fear retaliation, Colm Howard Lloyd, chair of LGBT+ Conservatives told the BBC.