James Belchamber

The Left is abandoning Trans Rights - Liberals must not

Let's start with something positive: you can donate to the Legal Defence Fund for Transgender Lives, being held by the Good Law Project, right now. I hope if you're not convinced already, this article will convince you to do something - if you have some cash to spare, donating to the Good Law Project is one thing you can do. Thank you.

Last week, The Scottish National Party voted in a new National Executive Committee. The incoming committee is being celebrated for their more hardline stance on independence - as well as their eagerness to scrap progress on trans rights.

For the "gender critical", this newly elected committee is one of many wins - and represents a wider abandonment of trans rights from the British Left.

Kevin McKenna (a name you might recognise from The Guardian - I'll get to that) erupted in The National:

AWOKE ye starvelings from your slumbers – the occupation of the SNP by counterfeit liberals might just be coming to an end.

(Interesting, that a Scottish Nationalist would perform no true Scotsman on the grounds of Liberal purity)

Make no mistake - this behind-the-scenes takeover is being seen as a win for transphobes in the party, particularly those opposed to the Gender Recognition Reform Bill (which would enable trans people to more easily affirm their gender and update their birth certificate).

For that faction, trans rights have come too far. They have convinced themselves - and now others - that trans rights is an attack on women's rights (and they certainly won't be listening to dissent from Scottish Women's groups). This group may wrap their views in Left-wing, Liberal phrasing about women's rights but they have found welcoming allies on the right - and it's this unholy alliance that now controls the party.

It's tempting to write this off as just the strange coalition the SNP has brought together to push for secession - but it's happening across the UK.

Keir Starmer, who appears to have set himself the one goal of winning back the 'Red Wall' of socially conservative voters in the North and Midlands, has been characteristically silent on the issue - and it's being noticed. He is reportedly seeking to avoid a clash with the Tories over scrapping the equivalent bill in Westminster, side-stepping it entirely. In other places he has weakly re-affirmed his commitment - but in the context of an active "debate" over the validity of transgender people (or their rights as equals) rather than an agreed policy of support.

Traditionally left-wing newspapers have gone further - The Guardian (I said I'd get there) has had a history of running "gender critical" stories and opinion pieces, but gave up the pretence on Sunday when the editorial of the Observer aired their "view":

The court was correct to halt a disturbing trend among clinicians to assume those as young as 10 were fit to make life-altering decisions about gender identity

(The "life-altering decision", by the way, is to use puberty blockers - which they can stop taking, if they change their mind - to stop the onset of puberty until they can make a decision as an adult. This is against a background where almost half of trans people have attempted suicide, making these blockers literally life-saving in many cases.)

Liberals have long stood up for the rights and freedoms of all people, and so I will not be making the Liberal argument for equality for trans people here (many have, including - ironically - this excellent piece in The Guardian). Of course we must be willing to balance freedoms - but trans people aren't asking for anything exceptional. They're asking for what most of us enjoy - what we take for granted - to be authentically able to live as yourself, without fear (or favour), and to enjoy all the freedoms that most other people enjoy.

For some in the SNP, the goal of independence may seem worth an alliance with the anti-human rights brigade on the right. For Labour and its flag-bearer newspapers the goal of power may be worth courting those who would diminish others. There are even some "Liberals" in Britain today that would abandon an issue because it's "not a vote winner."

To those people: I hope they never come for your freedoms - and I wonder who will be there to speak for you when they do.

If Liberals stand for anything, this is our bread-and-butter. Freedom, for everyone - the nucleus of our ideology. Trans rights are human rights, and no person is free until all people share in that freedom.

This is a Liberal cause, and we are Liberals - even when it's hard.

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