On 15th June 2016, Woodfines Family lawyer, Jackie Jessiman, attended the Westminster Social Policy Forum. The forum provided an opportunity to discuss the next steps for achieving transgender equality and how legislation, including the Gender Recognition Act, the Equality Act 2010 and the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, is working for trans people.
Both speakers and delegates focused on how transgender quality issues are dealt with by Whitehall departments and agencies, as well as how they are treated by schools, the NHS and the criminal justice system following a number of government initiatives to try and advance equality.
Discussions centred around evidence given to the Women and Equalities Commons Select Committees Inquiry, which is seeking to address the obstacles transgender people face in achieving equal rights. Issues relating to Gender Identity Services, improvements to NHS waiting times and appropriate treatment for gender variant children were also addressed. Additionally, tackling hate crime effectively and inclusion of non-gender status in passports with key note speakers from Peter Dawson (Deputy Director, Prison Reform Trust) and Megan Key (Equalities Manager, National Probation Service) describing the impact on transgender people in the criminal justice system.
Reference was made to media coverage and sport – Delia Johnston, Specialist Diversity Consultant Trans in Sport, covered the operation of rules and regulations, and there were speeches from Ade Rawcliffe (Creative Diversity Manager for Channel 4), Dave Frost (Vice Chair of LGBT Committee Equity), and Helen Belcher from Trans Media Watch. A moving account of a day in a young girl’s life, “My Transgender Kid”, previously broadcasted by Channel 4 was shown and discussed as arguably the best portrayal of trans people from a child’s perspective. Workplace equality and discrimination in employment was also addressed.
There were key note addresses from Jackie Driver, Director of Funded Programmes Quality and the Human Rights Commission, dealing with the impact of legislation on gender recognition and identity, and Will Huxter, Regional Director of Specialised Commissioning (London) and Chair Gender Identity Task and Finish Group NHS England, who dealt with key issues for health services and access to treatment from the NHS. Dr Polly Carmichael, a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Director of the Gender Identity Development Service for Children and Adolescents at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation, presented the growing demand for services by transgender people.
Both powerful and moving speeches were made by Dr Debbie Hayton, Head of Physics at King Henry VIII School in Coventry, Susie Green Chief Executive Offices for Mermaids UK, and Steve Mulcahy, Headteacher at the Richard Lander School in Cornwall and author of the Cornwall Schools Transgender Guidance Document which is now used by several local authorities as a foundation for formulating their own policy document.
The meeting was chaired by Baroness Barker, Vice Chair of the all Party Parliamentary Group of Global Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Rights, and Ruth Cadbury MP, who is a Member of the Women and Equalities Committee. They both provided insightful opening remarks about the campaign and steps which are to be focused upon in the coming year, as well as progress already made in achieving visibility for trans people.
This is clearly a group of people committed to change and focused very much on achieving equality for trans people in all age groups. Jackie was pleased to attend, and hopes to continue to participate in such meetings to work towards equality in our communities.