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Law Press Releases and Statements

Maternity and Other Ministerial Allowances Bill

TransActual UK concerned as Lords debate removing legal protections from trans men and non-binary people

“Why are some unelected sections of parliament now demanding that otherwise progressive legislation exclude minority groups? Have they given even one moment’s thought to the impact this will have not just on the minority excluded, but on all minorities? Because once you start to exclude one group to please Daily Mail readers, where do you stop?” That was the reaction today of Chay Brown, Director of TransActual to a debate in the Lords on Monday, in which a large number of peers argued strenuously to change the language in the Ministerial and other Maternity Allowances Bill from “pregnant person”, which includes trans men and non-binary people, to “pregnant women” which explicitly excludes those groups.

Trans men and non-binary people alarmed

This sentiment was echoed by Freddy McConnell, a trans man who took a case to the High Court seeking to be recognised as the father or parent of his child. He said: “Everyone should be alarmed that unelected peers can propose amending the default language of a law in order to deliberately exclude a vulnerable minority.”

“There are many parents like me out there. For my own part, it was only after transition that I found the inner peace and strength to become a parent. Starting my family does not change the fact that I am a man; I am not defined by giving birth, anymore than a woman is. To hear legislators argue otherwise – to say that calling me ‘woman’ or ‘mother’ is respectful – is deeply distressing and dehumanising.”

Similarly, Dr Ash K Stokoe, a non binary academic, stated: “Non binary people are frequently overlooked and erased in legal formations. In this case, the peers’ emphasis on changing language in a bill which sought to be inclusive appears to be a deliberate attempt to exclude non binary people and trans men from protections created for parents.”

Legislators and academics concerned

Baroness Brinton, who participated in the debate, said “It is alarming that a number of my fellow peers would spend so much time worrying about words while ignoring other, more important and urgent aspects missed by this Bill. We should strive to be inclusive within the Lords, not work to exclude people from rights and protection which would be the consequence of their amendments.”

Professor Sally Hines (University of Sheffield) and Dr Ruth Pearce conducted world-leading research on trans people’s experiences of pregnancy and birth. Dr Pearce noted: 

“It is important that all babies are born as safely as possible. Our research shows that trans birth parents experience dangerous barriers to care when they are not recognised in legislation and policy. It is therefore vital to use language inclusive of trans people, as well as of women and mothers.”

Professor Hines said:  “Our international research shows that it is not only women who experience pregnancy and birth. One of the key findings of our research is the importance of developing inclusive language in law and policy in order to recognise the experiences of  trans masculine and non-binary people who become pregnant and/or give birth. This is central to providing health care that is fit for purpose in modern society.  The Bill’s use of ‘pregnant person’ rather than ‘pregnant women’ is a significant step forward and must be protected.”