Liz Truss, the U.K.’s secretary of state for international trade, and minister for women and equalities, is facing intense backlash from transgender rights advocates following comments she made during a parliamentary committee meeting on April 22.
During her presentation to the Women and Equalities Select Committee of the House of Commons, Truss outlined her priorities for the country’s Government Equalities Office—one of which is restricting sex reassignment surgeries for minors.
“[I want to make] sure that the under-18s are protected from decisions that they could make, that are irreversible in the future,” she said. “I believe strongly that adults should have the freedom to lead their lives as they see fit, but I think it’s very important that while people are still developing their decision-making capabilities that we protect them from making those irreversible decisions.”
Truss also said that she plans to protect “single-sex spaces,” meaning that she would push to maintain separate, privates spaces for both biological males and biological females, like restrooms, locker rooms and shelters.
“[I will be making] sure that transgender adults are free to live their lives as they wish without fear of persecution, whilst maintaining the proper checks and balances in the system,” Truss said.
The Gender Recognition Act was implemented in the U.K. in 2004, but after more than a decade, trans activists felt that the law needed to be reformed.
In 2018, the government opened a public consultation, seeking people’s views on how best to reform the GRA. And to the surprise of many, over 53,000 people took part.
While the government’s full response regarding changes to the GRA isn’t expected until summer, supporters on both sides of the aisle have expressed concern over Truss’ recent comments.
“Access to health care for young trans people is a matter of bodily autonomy; a basic human right,” said Prishita Maheshwari-Aplin, London organizer of Voices4, an LGBTQ+ activist group.
Ciarán Kelly, deputy director for communications at The Christian Institute, welcomed the minister’s comments on life-altering treatment for minors but said that Truss’ comments still “leaves a number of questions unanswered.”
“Will the restrictions be limited to surgery? Or will they also include other treatments such as puberty blocking drugs and cross-sex hormones?” he asked.
Kelly added: “It is also difficult to see how the minister can reconcile her promise to protect single-sex spaces with her desire for adults to be able to do as they please.
“It’s not just children who regret going down the transgender path, many adults do as well. The fact is that it is not possible to change biological sex, and that needs to be the foundation of the government’s considerations going forward.”
Dr. Carys Moseley of Christian Concern also called for a more comprehensive plan from the minister: “If Liz Truss is serious about freedom, she needs to ensure that people are free to leave a transgender identification behind and get adequate help from the government in that respect. She needs to ensure that doctors and health care professionals are free to help people live as members of their sex, and in no way constrained or intimidated into not doing that.
“Finally, she needs to ensure that there is an end to the current situation where people who tell the truth about who is male or female are hounded out of their jobs and even denied justice in the courts,” Moseley continued. “Only then will we know that this government will have stepped back from harmful transgender politics.”
Above: Liz Truss arrives for a Cabinet meeting on Downing Street in London, England, Jan. 11, 2020.
Photo: Tommy London/Alamy Stock Photo