My Response to the Welsh Governments LGBTQ+ Action Plan
Here it is. I couldn’t have done it without the help of Merched Cymru‘s brilliant cutting through the obfuscation, and it’s by no means a comprehensive criticism, but I’m pleased that I have got across my main reservations in my own words.
I’m happy enough for people to use bits of it for inspiration of course, but try not to lift it direct – this is very me.
Q1. Do you think the Action Plan will increase equality for LGBTQ+ people and what do you think the priorities should be?
No. It’s centred around trans rights, which are sometimes in conflict with LGB rights and womens rights, as is becoming clearer day by day to anyone with an eye on the news.
Some people (agreeing with Stonewall’s view) now define being gay / lesbian as ‘same-gender attracted’ whereas many gay / lesbian people are pretty certain that it actually means ‘same-SEX attracted’.
I don’t dispute that Stonewall’s perspective is valid, but it is not the only one, and it looks to me like you should have a wider panel of ‘experts’ if you really wanted to increase equality for everyone.
As it is, trans people stand to benefit, while anyone who requires single-sex spaces will lose out.
It is particularly poignant that one of those groups is women. The terrible statistics on violent crime and murder against women make it strikingly obvious that they are the most vulnerable group within our society and any rights they currently have should be strengthened, not weakened.
As for LGBTQ+ people, the common priorities remain safety from harassment, fair policing, and ending discrimination in employment, housing and health. Beyond that the priorities to me appear to be different.
LGB is based on sexuality, and the priorities are about retaining sexuality-specific rights and spaces; TQ+ is based on gender identity and the priorities seem to be about recognition and validation.
Perhaps you need two plans?
Q2. Do you agree with the overarching aims?
What would you add or take away in relation the overarching aims?
I am all for ‘advancing equality’, as long as it is not at the expense of others.
I’m not sure about the ‘rights’ bit, that seems very unclear. There’s no mention of exactly what rights need to be ‘recognised and mainstreamed’.
If you are meaning the opportunity to record gender-identity on official forms and such then I have no objection to that as long as there is a ‘none’ option (similar to religion) for those of us who don’t believe that gender identity is a thing, and as long as it is in addition to, and does not replace, biological sex.
If you are meaning ‘Self-ID’ I am very opposed to that, at least until the language and terminology in the whole debate has been clarified. Once we stop conflating sex with gender, then I think we stand a chance of creating policies that respect everyone equally. Until then, you have only to look at events in places such as Ireland, Canada and Norway where Self-ID is law, or here, where Self-ID has already been implemented, to see that it has been abused – the case of Karen White, for example. Very bad news for women!
As mentioned before, you need to widen the expertise and views on your panel. Gender Identity Ideology is just one perspective, and not enough if you truly wish to improve the lives of all people in Wales.
Q3. Do you agree with the proposed actions? What would you add or take away in relation the actions?
I could be here all week, but these are the main points for me:
(9) Seek to devolve powers in relation to Gender Recognition and support our Trans community.
So Self-ID then. Definitely not at the moment. As discussed above. It has already been shown to be abused, both here and in other countries. If the difference between sex and gender is understood and clarified and you retain biological sex-based spaces and laws then no problem.
(10) Use all available powers to ban all aspects of LGBTQ+ conversion therapy and seek the devolution of any necessary additional powers.
‘Conversion therapy’ has also been in the news recently, and I fear that what you’re actually referring to here is an attempt to stop therapists exploring gender dysphoria, as they would any other dysphoria, or psychological discomfort. Therapeutic practise is already well regulated in the UK and therapists by default will neither affirm nor deny someone’s view of themselves, but they will seek to enhance someone’s understanding of that. THis of course could end up clarifying someone’s feelings about, and intentions to, transition – for or against. It might open up other possibilities to less invasive, costly, and risky solutions. That is not conversion, but increasing the persons understanding of themselves and their dysphoria. To me that seems a much more balanced approach, and would help to avoid some of the terrible stories we read about from young people who regret their early transitioning, and feel their gender dysphoria should have been challenged.
I’m pretty sure most abusive techniques that were in the past applied to change peoples sexuality are already illegal.
(11) Explore ways unnecessary personal identifications such as name, age and gender markers can be removed from documentation particularly in recruitment practices.
I thought trans people WANTED to be recognised officially? Maybe I have misunderstood something there – I had thought ADDING a gender identity option would be a good thing for those that want it. If this is about removing ‘SEX’ from forms I disagree strongly – we need that information to understand crime trends, health needs, etc.
(14) Work with Police and Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables, along with other criminal and social justice partners, to review the under-reporting of LGBTQ+ hate crimes with the aim of acting to further improve the levels of reporting.
I’m very worried about the understanding of what ‘hate crimes’ are at the moment, and feel these need much greater clarity. Just questioning Gender Identity Ideology can invite accusations of ‘transphobia’ and ‘hate’ even though many trans people themselves do not go along with it.
As someone who grew up in the 60s and faced ‘homophobia’ I can tell you from personal experience that someone saying ‘I don’t agree with you’ is a hell of a long way from the violence and hatred that we have spent decades moving away from. (And the police were part of that, so no help there.)
(43/44) Commit to review the Gender Identity pathway for children and young people in Wales following the review in NHS England.
Commit to review the Gender Identity pathway for children and young people in Wales following the review in NHS England.
You need to commit to widening the medical treatment pathways for anybody with gender dysphoria, children and adults, so that transitioning, with all its costs and risks, while still an option, is not the PREFERRED option. (To me it seems like it should be a very last resort.)
Q4. What are the key challenges that could stop the aims and actions being achieved?
You need to sort out the definitions, get a wider base of experts and look at the language, some of which many older gay and lesbian people, such as myself, will find offensive.
Q5. What resources (this could include funding, staff time, training, access to support or advocacy services among other things) do you think will be necessary in achieving the aims and actions outlined?
In terms of ‘advancing equality’ I think there is a potentially serious problem brewing in that the activities of trans rights activists across the UK are making non LGBTQ+ people more suspicious and antagonistic towards LGBTQ+ people . I have noticed this in my small rural community, and have felt a need to artifically initiate conversations about trans rights in order to distance myself from the terrible bullying tactics and mystifying language demands that we see on an almost daily basis. Whether this is related to the recent spate of homophobic attacks across the UK (and here in my very local Carmarthen) I don’t know. I want to make clear that I differentiate trans rights activists from trans people themselves, many of whom, I know, just want to get quietly on with their lives. So in short – some resources need to be put into stopping the backslide into more aggressive forms of homophobia and transphobia that had been on the decline.
If that can be dealt with, I think you need to carry on with what was already happening – more varied and less stereotyped exposure on mainstream media, relationship education in schools, etc.
I was not that comfortable in Wales in 2008.
I was VERY comfortable in Wales in 2018.
I’m definitely NOT so comfortable in 2021, and your action plan worries me that I will be LESS so in the future, partly because of what you are proposing, and partly because of what I fear will be the general public’s backlash to it.
You need to put resources into a new panel.
Until Stonewall widen their outlook, you should not waste resources on them. If you don’t understand why, then go listen to the Nolan Investigates podcast on BBC Sounds.
Q6. Do you feel the LGBTQ+ Action Plan adequately covers the intersection of LGBTQ+ with other protected characteristics, such as race, religion or belief, disability, age, sex, and marriage and civil partnership? If not, how can we improve this?
No. How do the sex-based orientations – lesbian, gay bisexual – fit in with the TQ+? You don’t make it clear whether women’s single-sex spaces will be respected as trans rights are opened up, and that to me seems fundamental. Women, not trans people, are the most vulnerable group in our society.
Q7. We would like to know your views on the effects that these proposals would have on the Welsh language, specifically on opportunities for people to use Welsh and on treating the Welsh language no less favourably than English. What effects do you think there would be? How could positive effects be increased, or negative effects be mitigated?
The plan is a messy language muddle in english, in my opinion. I can speak welsh but wouldn’t get very far with this! Much clearer definitions are needed, and only ones that can be AGREED across the whole spectrum of people – not just Stonewall’s Gender Identity Ideology definitions, which most people would question. The english dictionary is a good starting point, before starting on the welsh.
Q8. Please also explain how you believe the proposed policy approach could be formulated or changed so as to have positive effects or increased positive effects on opportunities for people to use the Welsh language and on treating the Welsh language no less favourably than the English language, and no adverse effects on opportunities for people to use the Welsh language and on treating the Welsh language no less favourably than the English language.
Sorry – couldn’t get my head around that one!
Q9. This plan has been developed in co-construction, and discussions around language and identity have shown that the acronym LGBTQ+ should be used. This stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning people, with the + representing other sexual identities. As a result we refer to LGBTQ+ people in the Plan.
What are your views on this term and is there an alternative you would prefer? Welsh speakers may wish to consider suitable terminology in both languages.
I have already expressed that the LGB groups in the acronym have different needs to the TQ+, so I don’t really like the lumping together. Less so, now that trans rights activism is having a detrimental effect across the board.
That said, the much bigger issue is the use of the word ‘queer’. For me this is a deeply offensive word, associated with humiliation, intimidation, verbal abuse and physical violence. It was a word that I internalised for my own intense shame and self-hatred as a child, and which I subsequently spent years trying to break free from. I do remember back in the 80s, during the Section 28 protests we did have a good go at reclaiming it, but it didn’t stick. To have it ‘reclaimed’ here by people using it as an identity, most of whom are too young to have been on the sharp end of homophobia and are not gay anyway, is deeply offensive. I can’t express it enough – absolutely disgusted by this, and it makes me feel that this plan has no respect for people of my generation and of what we lived through. Deeply deeply offensive.
Q10. We have asked a number of specific questions. If you have any related issues which we have not specifically addressed, please use this space to report them:
You have a decent starting point with the trans stuff covered, but this is not balanced with other needs. Please go back and listen to a wider range of voices.