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A response to Suella Braverman’s Telegraph column ‘Schools should know the law on trans rights’

Updated: Apr 4


So another day and another attack on LGBTQ+ and specifically trans and non-binary young people.


Trans/nonbinary young people may be feeling scared/angry/upset and teaching staff uncertain about what support they can offer in school for trans pupils following Suella Braverman’s comments this week (‘Schools should know the law on trans rights’ https://archive.ph/vmqZp#selection-1361.1-1361.44)


Braverman says ‘Schools should know the law on trans rights’ so let’s have a look at what the law actually says…


The Equality Act 2010 refers to any process of reassigning the person’s sex, it doesn’t state that someone must have undergone medical intervention or obtained a GRC, so this could refer to any form of social, medical, or legal transition.



The statutory guidance is also clear that trans people should be treated according to their gender as the default and that while there is provision for exemptions to this, they should “only occur in exceptional circumstances”



Braverman’s suggestions of refusing to allow a young person to socially transition e.g. using new name, wearing different gender uniform, etc. are unlikely to pass the guidance criteria of being ‘proportionate’, ‘legitimate’, ‘applied as restrictively as possible’ etc.


Indeed, under the Gender Recognition Act, there is a requirement to have ‘been living in your affirmed gender for at least two years’ which means not only is social transition something permissible, but under the GRA, it is legally mandated…

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Braverman states that a child may only transition with both medical advice and their parent’s knowledge and consent. The Equality Act detailed above confirms that there is no requirement for any medical process (and there are limited medical options for young people in the UK).


In addition to this Article 16 of the UN Convention on the rights of the child state that every child has a right to privacy, and outing them to parents against their consent would be a breach of this.


Safeguarding and young people’s well-being absolutely needs to be the priority and I reiterate my recent comments around considering the potential risks of outing a young person. https://twitter.com/heatherpaterson/status/1538131645701693440


It is also worth pointing out that the legislation detailed above provides legal minimums. However, there are few areas of our services/businesses where we would do the bare legal minimum to avoid prosecution, we would apply best practice above legal minimums wherever possible.


As I said, the safeguarding and well-being of young people should be paramount. Why would you intentionally cause a young person distress, even if you technically could get away with doing so without facing legal prosecution?


I agree that schools should know the laws on trans rights, and that knowledge is best acquired by reading the actual legislation, not a telegraph article with Braverman’s interpretation of what she wishes the law said.

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