We can believe it and maybe we can say it

James Kirkup sees reasons for optimism.

An example of that came at the weekend when Baroness Falkner, the new chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, told the Times that women should not be penalised or abused if they believe that transgender women do not become female by dint of their professed identity.

‘Someone can believe that people who self-identify as a different sex are not the different sex that they self-identify,’ she said. ‘A lot of people would find this an entirely reasonable belief.’

Does that also mean we can say it, write it, tweet it, underline it, campaign for it?

When I started writing about these issues, it was partly because I was worried that politics was failing to facilitate those discussions. In a few months in 2018, I collected dozens of private accounts from serving parliamentarians from several parties, who said they believed that some policies and practices aimed at benefiting trans people could have adverse effects on other people’s rights, status and services, especially women. Yet almost none of those politicians would say so publicly, because they felt the climate around the issue was simply too hostile and toxic.

It still is, but the island inhabited by the non-believers may be getting a little bigger and thus safer and more comfortable.

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