On Monday 3 April, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) – the UK’s equalities watchdog – issued a letter advising on changing the legal definition of ‘sex’ in the Equality Act 2010 (EA). It was in response to a February letter from notoriously transphobic Women and Equalities minister Kemi Badenoch.
We have provided advice to the Minister for Women and Equalities on the definition of the protected characteristic of 'sex' in the Equality Act 2010.
— EHRC (@EHRC) April 4, 2023
The proposed change would redefine ‘sex’ in the EA as ‘sex assigned at birth’. The EHRC stated that any possible redefinition has:
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advantages and disadvantages for one group or another. There is no straightforward balance, but we have come to the view that if ‘sex’ is defined as biological sex for the purposes of EqA [Equality Act], this would bring greater legal clarity in eight areas.
Trans people across the UK have been understandably fearful. This potential re-definition could have massive detrimental effects on their rights, removing a large portion of protections under the law.
The Canary will publish a more in-depth article next week, after some time to digest this distressing news. However, this is a prudent moment to point out the fact that one genocide-prevention organisation has already named so-called ‘gender critical’ moves – like this one from the EHRC – as acts of genocide.
The Lemkin Institute
The Lemkin Institute grew from the Iraq Project for Genocide Prevention and Accountability. Its intended mission is to “fill a gap in the global prevention protocols”. It was named for Raphael Lemkin, the Polish lawyer who coined the term ‘genocide’ after World War II.
Back in November 2022, the Institute turned its sights to the transphobic ‘gender critical’ movement. It stated that:
The Lemkin Institute believes that the so-called “gender critical movement” that is behind these laws is a fascist movement furthering a specifically genocidal ideology that seeks the complete eradication of trans identity from the world.
Here, the Institute was talking about the recent raft of anti-trans laws in America. However, the same analysis can easily be applied to the rights removal proposed by the EHRC.
‘Centerpiece of right-wing ascendency’
Just as the EHRC letter talked about balancing the rights of women and trans people, the Lemkin Instuitute warned earlier last year that:
Many gender critical ideologues identify themselves as feminists and believe themselves to be protecting women from men. They accuse transgender women of being stealth men and of transgender men of being self-hating women. The movement, a centerpiece of right wing ascendancy in the Western world, calls for discrimination against and harrassment of transgender individuals and the transgender community through laws and policies that criminalize trans identity and trans life.
And, sure enough, the Institute’s statement even foresaw the EHRC’s focus on sex-assigned-at-birth:
The movement alleges that people cannot determine their own sex or gender, and that the genitalia observed by doctors at birth are the final determinants of biological sex as well as the permanent markers of gender belonging.
The gender critical movement is not liberatory anywhere in the world. It does little to protect women or other marginalised people. Instead, as the Institute pointed out, it seeks to have “control over the bodies of marginalized people”.
A dangerous distraction
Finally, the Lemkin Institute chose to leave off with a warning:
The real challenges to human life, to safe and secure families, and to healthy communities are historical injustices and structural inequalities, not people attempting to live full lives in their true identities.
Both main political parties in the UK are waging a culture war against trans people. In doing so, they’re carrying out sustained violent attacks on the very existence of trans people. In reality, there are a whole other set of issues they’re trying to move attention away from. The Tories have no answers to the cost of living crisis. They are exacerbating the climate crisis. Attacking trans people will do nothing to solve the real issues in people’s lives – but it does take attention away from the failings of a useless political class.
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