Nicky Morgan MP: No trans person should live in fear of being outed by an official document
2018 might be the year that the Companies House processes are reviewed to stop someone’s previous gender being outed because of a form they’ve completed in the past says Nicky Morgan MP.
Living in fear because of who you are is unacceptable in the modern United Kingdom. And yet in England and Wales in 2016/17, there were 1,248 transgender hate crimes, up from 858 in 2015/16. This is an increase of over 68%.
In 2017 we marked the 50th anniversary of the partial de-criminalisation of homosexuality. As Lewis Hamilton’s recent remarks show we’ve a long way to go for people to feel free to express themselves as they want and not as others expect.. I hope that 2018 might be the year that the UK leads the way in talking about and advancing trans rights with some empathy and understanding. We led the way with the 2004 Gender Recognition Act and the world’s first Transgender Action Plan in 2011.
In July 2017 the Minister for Women & Equalities, Justine Greening, announced a review of the Gender Recognition Act by setting out proposals to streamline and de-medicalise the process for changing gender a part of a broad consultation of the legal system that underpins gender transition.
Currently individuals need a diagnosis of gender dysphoria and have to provide evidence that they have been in transition for at least two years before they can apply to legally change their gender.
But asking someone to prove a medical condition is very hard and very stressful. I’ve heard enough stories about GPs not understanding why someone needs a referral to a gender identity clinic or the poor mental health caused by having to wait many months for appointments to know that we can do better than this by our fellow citizens. Hopefully we will hear more about the review and its conclusions in 2018.
In Parliament I’m hoping that, after a sympathetic response from the business Minister, Margot James, 2018 might be the year that the Companies House processes are reviewed to stop someone’s history in their previous gender being outed because of a form they’ve completed in the past. Returning to where this article started no one should have to live in fear of violence because of official documents that they have filed in compliance with a particular Act of Parliament.
So, my Bill on this topic, proposed that this loophole could be closed by amending the 2004 Act in a way that would allow transgender persons to apply to Companies House to withhold from public inspection information about a director’s former name and for that information to be treated as protected information under section 22 of the 2004 Act.
The case for this small legislative change is compelling as such a disclosure can have a profound effect on transgender people, particularly as transition and history are very personal and should be something that a person chooses to share, rather than is forced to do so by someone else.
Finally, 2017 seems to be the year that violence, intimidation and threats are no longer confined to the fringes of our politics and politics at the end of 2017 is the poorer for it. Unfortunately this is not new for trans people who live with abuse and worse on a daily basis.
Just because we disagree or don’t understand or have the experience of dealing with an issue does not mean that we cannot discuss it courteously and rationally. So, my final hope for 2018 is that in making progress on trans equality we can do it without any more anti-trans rhetoric and people jumping to instant judgment.
Nicky Morgan is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Loughborough, and is a former Minister for Women and Equalities.