At this week’s TUC Congress, delegates voted to carry a motion in support of gender self-declaration.
Motion 41 called on the General Council to campaign for a simplified, free, statutory gender-recognition process based on self-declaration and to support rights for gender non-binary people at work and in wider society.
The General Council has since published an explanation of the motion which reads:
“Unions draw our power from our members’ strength in workplaces.
But our members’ lives do not stop at the workplace door.
The campaign for justice in wider society is also at the heart of this movement.
Our responsibility to promote equality is written into the TUC’s rules. That guides everything we do. So we must strive to end all forms of discrimination, bigotry and stereotyping.
This motion, from the TUC’s LGBT+ conference, addresses the government’s consultation on possible changes to the Gender Recognition Act.
The motion sets out the trade union movement’s role as champions of equality, including equality for trans and non-binary people. It recognises the need to change the process for gender recognition, which is often lengthy, humiliating and expensive.
The motion also recognises the absolute right of women to safe spaces and reaffirms the TUC’s support for the Equality Act 2010.
But, as is so often with this government, the handling of this consultation has been one almighty mess. Ministers first announced potential changes to the GRA back in 2017. There was a big media fanfare but precious little detail about the government’s thinking on proposals for change.
Publication of the consultation was delayed until this summer. So, that left a massive vacuum. And during that time, some of the debate around gender recognition, in some quarters, became bitterly divisive.
Our strength as a trade union movement depends on bringing people together to share experiences and to build bridges, rooted in our values of equality and the real experiences of working people’s lives.
And, let me say very clearly, the trade union movement opposes any violence or intimidation, bullying or disrespect, towards any group that faces discrimination, and from whatever quarter.
Trans people face physical and verbal abuse, prejudice and discrimination, marginalisation and misrepresentation. Unions have worked hard in recent years to provide practical support and guidance for reps and trans members, and I know unions’ commitment to this work will continue.
The fight for women’s rights is far from won. For too many women sexual harassment and domestic violence is a daily reality, alongside unequal pay and other forms of discrimination at work and in society. Unions will always campaign to protect the rights of working women.
I’m proud that that ethos of respect has guided our discussions on this issue through our TUC equality structures. I want to record the General Council’s thanks to our advisory committees for their hard work, advice and guidance.
We all agree that reform of the GRA has the potential to make progressive change to benefit all workers. One group’s gain need not be another’s loss. On the contrary, we must resist attempts to turn people against one another, and instead find common cause. I look forward to a debate in that spirit.
The General Council is recommending support for this motion with this explanation.”
For more highlights from the TUC Congress visit https://www.tuc.org.uk/congress2018