Guildford Labour’s statement on the Surrey PCCs recent Daily Mail article:
Guildford Labour was disappointed to see on the 22nd of August the Daily Mail outlining Lisa Townsend, the new Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey’s, views on trans issues. It should be of concern to everyone that Ms Townsends’s comments are being made by someone with a role in enforcing the law.
We would draw the reader’s attention to some facts rather than hyperbolic commentary:
1) The Equality Act is clear that discrimination based on gender reassignment is unlawful. While there may be exceptions, these are to be on a case-by-case basis rather than sweeping bans.
2) Self-ID is the law in countries including Ireland, Norway, Portugal, and Belgium, and has been for several years in most cases. Self-ID is literally a paperwork issue. It gives you a certificate for the purposes of registering marriage etc akin to a replacement birth certificate. It is not some kind of magic bathroom pass for abusive cisgender men.
3) Trans-positive groups in schools are purely concerned with ensuring that people are called by the name they wish to be known as and that young people are aware that it is ok to be whoever they are. As well as the standard efforts to promote equality and reduce bullying that are common across all minority groups providing resources to educational establishments.
4) The article makes a comment about trans women who have taken no “cosmetic, administrative or medical steps” – for medical steps for a first appointment (one of many appointments potentially before treatment may be started) there is currently a waiting list on the NHS of over three years. Private care to speed up the process can run to the tens of thousands of pounds. Administrative procedures I believe refers to a gender recognition certificate (the thing that self-ID would grant via a simple form) – this currently (with the law as it stands – no self-id) requires you live “in your gender” for two years before applying, and then a panel assesses you based only on paperwork you supply them – you don’t even get to meet them to discuss your case.
Ms Townsend’s suggestion that police record both sex and gender is not a terrible idea in principle and could be quite useful (e.g., for recording the extent to which trans and cis people are victims of non-hate crime). This needs to be handled with care, however. Demanding to know someone’s birth sex when they are the victim of a sexual assault could further traumatise both trans and cis women alike if not delicately asked.
We hope our Surrey PCC is coming from a place of concern about the risks to young people and women that have been raised with her, and that is a fantastic thing – far too often elected officials can seem distant and unwilling to engage with their constituents’ concerns. But the arguments made are either hyperbolic, factually inaccurate, or logically inconsistent. They may be based not on the concerns of her constituents but rather a small group of highly motivated online troublemakers wrapped up in the so-called “culture war”.
Guildford Labour hope that Ms Townsend will take the time to look into the matter from all sides and seek advice from relevant expert groups to ensure that Surrey Police are an organisation that looks out for all Surrey residents.