The party’s conference, gathered at Bournemouth and meeting for the first time since the General Election, passed the motion which will now form the basis of both the Transgender and Intersex Health Charter and party policy.
Conference accepted that current practices make it difficult for a transgender person to have their gender recorded accurately and agreed to support the introduction of an “X” gender option and the gender-neutral title “Mx”. Conference also voted to remove the binary male/female option on official party documentation, to introduce waiting time standards for the gender healthcare service and to establish a full independent inquiry into “widespread and systematic” abuse of transgender people on the NHS.
The Liberal Democrats also have pledged to establish a gender identity clinic in Wales.
The motion also affirmed the “right of genderqueer, non-binary, and intersex people to access gender identity and reassignment services without discrimination based on their identity”. It also calls for an end to “the practice of unnecessary surgery on children for the purpose of resolving intersex variations of primary sex characteristics”, and for the Royal College of Surgeons to develop standards on that basis.
The party also voted to support the right of transgender and gender-variant children to receive puberty-blocking medications until they are eligible for hormone replacement therapy. The Liberal Democrats also committed themselves to creating more paid roles to help increase transgender and intersex representation, especially in third sector organisations working with LGBT+ or young people.
Meral Hussein-Ece, a Liberal Democrat peer and the party’s health spokesperson, said that this was a fundamental issue of human rights: “No should be left behind or discriminated against – regardless of race, gender, age, creed or sexual orientation.
“We’ve come a long way in this country towards achieving the equality transgender people want and deserve. But so much more needs to be done. That is why we have designed a package of measures to help reduce prejudice against the community.
“Transgender rights are human rights. We need both our health service and our laws to reflect this fundamental fact.”
During the party’s leadership election, Tim Farron argued that for too long the rights of transgender and intersex people had been ignored by mainstream politics. He also cited the lack of protections for trans people as one of his reasons for abstaining at a third reading of the marriage (same-sex couples) bill in May 2013.
Adrian Page, who was the Lib Dem candidate for Sunderland South at the General Election, told KaleidoScot: “This was never going to be an easy conference after the General Election, but it’s vital we get our priorities right. For me, this was one of those priorities. We’ve not done enough for trans and intersex people for years – we’ve finally shown a lead and I believe this charter is genuinely progressive and deals positively with many of the problems trans and intersex people face in their lives.
“There are no easy ways to tackle discrimination and transphobia – I’ve heard some terrible stories this morning, especially in regards some of the abuse many trans people have experienced in accessing health services that show how deep this runs. But we can make a big difference by making it easier for individuals to change their legal gender, and by treating people equally under the law.”
Protections on gender reassignment in equality law to be expanded to also explicitly cover gender identity and expression, and all legal protections on the basis of sexual orientation to be extended to include gender identity and intersex status where appropriate.
Provisions in the Equality Act 2010 that legalise discrimination against transgender people and prevent autonomous organising to be reversed. A streamlined simplification of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 to allow individuals to change their legal gender at will.
The phased removal of gender markers in documentation unless it is absolutely necessary, and the introduction of an ‘X’ gender option and ‘Mx.’ title option on the remainder.
Changes to government-issued documentation on the basis of gender reassignment to be provided free of charge.
The Equalities and Human Rights Commission to develop standards of best practice in which equality and diversity monitoring forms request transgender status separate from gender and sexual orientation, with options for ‘prefer not to say’ and ‘other (please specify)’ for each question.
Transgender status of any kind to be explicitly designated as ‘sensitive personal data’ under the Data Protection Act 1998 and ‘protected information’ under the Gender Recognition Act 2004.
The practice of unnecessary surgery on children for the purpose of resolving intersex variations of primary sex characteristics to be phased out, and for the Royal College of Surgeons to develop standards on that basis.
More paid roles to help increase transgender and intersex representation, especially in third sector organisations working with LGBT+ or young people.
The government to recognise and observe Bisexual Visibility Day (23 September), Intersex Awareness Day (26 October) and Transgender Day of Remembrance (20 November).
The party to continue to make the case for transgender and intersex equality, especially through challenging transphobia in political discourse and encouraging positive depictions in the media. Conference also supports the Welsh Liberal Democrats in campaigning to establish a gender identity clinic in Wales.