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Why should I tell my MP that I’m afraid?

There are times to sit back and relax and there are times to step up and do something. And we’re most effective when we work together.

by Chay Brown (he/him), Director of Operations at TransActual

It’s hard to know what to do or how to respond when you learn that the government plans to take your rights away. Rights that have been enshrined in law since 2010.

But do something we must. There are already 100,000 signatures on a petition asking the government to commit to not amending the Equality Act (2010). Sign it if you haven’t already, but don’t make that the only thing you do.

Not sure what I’m talking about? Read this piece from Jess O’Thomson from Trans Safety Network to get up to speed on the situation.

Over the last few days, our directors have…

  • Met the EHRC (read this piece for an account of what happened in the meeting)
  • Written to the UN
  • Started work to identify what actions are needed now and in the near future to protect our rights under the Equality Act (2010)
  • Been working with our partners in the trans and LGBTQ+ sector to identify how we will work together to prevent the law from being changed in such a regressive manner.

There are times to sit back and relax and there are times to step up and do something. And we’re most effective when we work together. Over the next couple of weeks and over the course of the year, TransActual are going to be calling on everyone to do what they can to protect trans people and our rights under the Equality Act (2010). Keep an eye on our social media channels and sign up for our newsletter to keep up to date with that.

In the meantime, what can you do?

  1. Let people know (especially trans people and especially your employer) that a letter from the EHRC does not change the law. Trans people remain protected under the Equality Act (2010) in the way that we have been since 2010. Read about the Equality Act.
  2. Write to your MP and ask them to oppose amendments to the Equality Act. If you’re trans: tell them how the threat to the Equality Act protections has made you feel. Tell them how the changes would impact your life. If you’re cis: tell them how the threat to the Equality Act has impacted the trans people you know and how the changes would impact them.

So, how do you tell your MP you’re terrified?

But this morning when I got up, I felt compelled to contact my MP. Here’s what I said to him (key info redacted for reasons of personal safety):

Good morning (MP name),

I’m getting in touch following the news about potential changes to the Equality Act earlier this week.

As a trans person in the UK, the Equality Act currently protects me from workplace discrimination and discrimination when accessing healthcare and other public services. It also means that I can’t be discriminated against when seeking to use the men’s toilets when I’m out and about, or the men’s changing rooms when I go to my taekwondo class.

The government’s proposals, which terrify me, would put a stop to that. They would act to exacerbate the inequalities that I and other trans people already experience. Not being able to use the men’s toilets would mean a dramatic lifestyle change as I, like most people, cannot hold my bladder for more than a couple of hours.

In reality this would mean no more going to the cinema or the theatre, no more holidays (because I wouldn’t be able to use the toilet on the way to the airport or whilst at the UK airport), no more taekwondo. For people with less inclusive employers, it could mean that they are unable to go to work.

I do have a Gender Recognition Certificate and am legally male (although I’m no more male than I was 2 years ago, prior to applying for one). I have now completed gender affirming surgery and do have a penis (again, I’m no more of a man than I was prior to lower surgery). But the government proposes treating me and other trans men like me as if we’re women under the law. And they propose treating trans women, like my friend (name redacted), as if they’re men under the law.

I was devastated to find that Kier Starmer appears to support the government’s plans. I am struggling to see who I can possibly vote for in the 2024 General Election.

I’d like to ask three things of you:

1. Share this email with Kier Starmer and his team, and implore him to revisit his policy stance. Trans people are people’s neighbours, their work colleagues, their siblings, grandchildren, children, uncles and aunties. We’re teachers, doctors, train drivers and shop assistants – but we might not be if the law changes. We’re also people’s constituents.

2. Write to the Prime Minister asking him to drop the plans. You might wish to ask him what evidence there is that the act, which has stood since 2010, is not working as it is. Or how proposals would be implemented – how is one to tell whether someone is a “biological woman” or “biological man”? Will there be mandatory chromosome testing, will there be genital checks?

3. Speak out against any proposed changes and vote against them in Parliament.

As always, I’m always happy to answer any questions or have a chat – my number is (redacted) and I would also be happy to come to meet you at your office.

Kindest of regards,

Chay Brown

He/him

(address)

Everyone will have something different to say to their MP, so make your letter your own and write from the heart. I’m represented by a Labour MP, so I wrote my letter to reflect that. Make sure your letter reflects the stance of the party that your MP represents. You’ll more info about writing to your MP, and other actions you can take (in general) to create a better world for trans people, in our Community Action Pack.