The UK Trans Rights Roll-Backs: An Explainer For Allies

Hi! I am Michelle, I am one of the people who does a podcast called What The Trans!?

“What’s going on Michelle?”

Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss has told the Women and Equalities Select Committee that she intends to “protect single-sex spaces.” This has become something of a slogan amongst British transphobes, who believe that trans people should be forced to use services based on their designated gender at birth. This means trans women are forced into men’s facilities and, conversely, trans men being forced into facilities intended for women (public toilets, changing rooms etc).

More alarmingly, she signaled that she intends to restrict or possibly even ban access to trans healthcare for under-18’s, arguing that “…the under 18s are protected from decisions that they could make, that are irreversible in the future.” This is also a go-to and misrepresentative talking point amongst UK transphobes.

Here is a full explanation as to what just happened.

“Is she right?”


Trans people (thanks to both the Gender Recognition Act of 2003 and the Equality Act of 2010 have had formal legal recognition and protections for the past 17 years (and in practice, for decades before). This means that discrimination against trans people is illegal. There are exemptions built into the Act which means that trans people can be discriminated against if there is a good reason (but only as a last resort). According to a report by Stonewall, these exemptions have never been used in crisis refuges and trans women have been accepted into women’s refuges for decades with no significant problems.

Single-sex spaces don’t need protection from trans people.

The results of a study from the University of Washington confirmed what trans people have been saying for decades, that trans children are as sure of their gender as cisgender children are. This coupled with the fact that the UK’s only NHS Gender Clinic for under 18’s has a two and a half year waiting list (and involves a series of jumping through very small hoops to get treatment) shows that there are already significant barriers to accessing vital health care. According to a survey by the European Professional Association for Transgender Health only 1% of people who receive specialist support relating to their gender identity go on to stop living as trans persons, and where they do it’s mostly due to fear of being rejected by their loved ones

The facts are out, but Liz Truss is working under the assumption that terrible mistakes are being made instead of the real problem: that current provisions for transgender children are inadequate for dealing with the demand. She appears to want to enact policies that will make this worse.


Without this healthcare many young people would be forced to endure puberty before being able to access healthcare in adulthood. This can result in depression, anxiety, self-harm, and suicide attempts. Trans-positive treatments can stop this from happening

Sounds super bad, how can we help?

Thanks! For now there is a petition you can sign that will raise awareness of the issue as well as sharing this article as far and wide as you can.

You can also write to your MP!

Here is where you can find your MP’s address.

Here are some templates you can use to craft your letter!

The government’s specific plans will be released in the summer, so until then you can keep your ear on the ground by following these organizations and responding to their calls for action as soon as the details are released.

Stonewall (TwitterFacebook)

Teli (TwitterFacebook)

Mermaids (TwitterFacebook)

Gendered Intelligence (TwitterFacebook)

Trans Media Watch (Twitter)

What The Trans!? (Twitter)

We need help. This could be the start of some very serious roll-backs of trans equality. Thank you for reading!