My Letter to Boris Johnson over proposed Bathroom Bills

Recently, it’s been “leaked” to the press that the Government will abandon its planned reforms to the Gender Recognition Act. These reforms were aimed at making it easier for trans people to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate.

Currently this is a lengthy and expensive process which requires people to wait for many years to get appointments at one of the UK’s underfunded and oversubscribed Gender Identity Clinics. They must present a conservative, stereotypical expression of their gender for years (no butch trans women or effeminate trans men here!) before they pay to be judged by an anonymous panel, with no right of appeal, to see whether they “pass” enough. A lot of trans people in the UK simply don’t bother with this expense, hassle and bureaucracy.

More civilised countries such as Ireland have replaced this with a process known as “Self-ID” where a trans person can sign a legal affirmation of their gender, on threat of perjury. A consultation by the Government Equalities Office found 70% of respondents in favour of this approach, despite its opponents funding huge press and social media campaigns to encourage people to oppose it.

Not only have the Government decided not to proceed with this, but they’ve also hinted at introducing US-style “bathroom bills” in the UK, where you’re legally required to use the toilet matching the sex recorded on your birth certificate, rather than the one that’s right for you. Bearded, muscular trans men with no GRC would be forced into the ladies. Given literally nobody checks your birth certificate when you go to the toilet, this is unworkable in practice – and we’ve also seen it hurting non-trans people who don’t conform to the stereotypes of their gender.

A “Reform the Gender Recognition Act” banner I designed for LGBT+ Lib Dems, being paraded at Leeds Pride.

Gendered Intelligence have set up a call to action to write to the Prime Minister, calling on him to carry through the GRA reforms and oppose bathroom bills. Here’s my response. Please submit your own!

Hi there,

I’m hoping this is one of many emails you receive about the idea that the UK will have a “bathroom bill” and that trans people will be excluded from more single-sex spaces.

This doesn’t affect me directly – I’m not trans – but it affects my friends, family and loved ones. The campaign of disinformation from people supporting these changes has been effective and well funded, usually centred around access to toilets, prisons and rape crisis centres. Rape crisis centres have been dealing with both trans people, and abusive cis women, for decades.

Forcing trans people to use the bathroom of their birth sex is impossible to enforce in practice, and will put more people at risk, both cis and trans.

Please do not pursue a culture war in a sad attempt to gain votes or distract from your failings over Brexit and the Coronavirus pandemic.

Yours sincerely,
Dave Page

Keep Manchester Pride in the Village

Marching with the Liberal Democrats at Manchester Pride

Every year, Manchester Pride is one of the biggest festivals in support of the LGBT+ communities in the UK and around the globe. It takes place in the Village, at the heart of Manchester City Centre – until now!

The private car park which forms the main stage area for the Big Weekend is now a building site, and Manchester Pride have announced that the stage will instead be at Mayfield, the decommissioned railway terminal just south of Piccadilly Station. This is about half a mile and across some busy roads from the Village, which is quite a lot for out-of-town visitors in a festival mood! 

This is also only a temporary solution – Mayfield itself is scheduled for re-development. Other possible future venues for the Big Weekend include Castlefield Bowl and Heaton Park.

The Village is an important part of Manchester’s history, and LGBT+ history. There are a lot of businesses there who benefit from the Big Weekend and the trade it brings, and moving the main event out of the Village will have a huge impact on an area already hurting from pressure over business rates and Manchester Labour’s betrayal over preserving the LGBT+ character of the area.

It looks like there may be a solution – the land on which Chorlton Street bus station stands is owned by Manchester City Council, and there are plans afoot to redevelop it. Creating a two or three storey high indoor venue, like the Manchester Academy, would allow the Big Weekend to stay in the Village, and keep revellers dry during the wetter August bank holidays.

There’d be space on top for not only offices or flats, but also more accessible LGBT+ venues which could open up the Village to a wider range of clientele who are currently excluded from it.

Let’s keep Manchester Pride in the Village – but make it bigger, better and more inclusive while we do!