The new British prime minister, Rishi Sunak, is reportedly planning to amend the Equality Act 2010, which governs transgender issues in Britain. He intends to define sex as a matter of biology, not gender, thereby taking an ostensibly conservative line on this controversial issue.
As it stands, the Equality Act—passed in the UK in 2010 under the Labour government—aims to prevent discrimination toward those who suffer from gender dysphoria, especially in terms of ’gender reassignment.’ Transgender people can use the preferred-gender spaces, such as sanitary facilities and shelters, whether or not they have undergone a surgical transition. A simple gender-recognition certificate may suffice.
Prime Minister Sunak intends to end this system which gives legal value to self-identification. As a result, men who self-identify as women without being biologically female, and without having undergone a medical transition, would no longer be able to access places reserved for women.
Transgender rights groups are concerned about this announced legislative change. But Sunak seems determined to go through with it. He denounces the “brainwashing” of transgender activists. The LGBT media source Pink News reported in July his unequivocal words: “We are determined to end the brainwashing, the vandalism, and the finger-pointing.” He energetically denounced what he describes as a “kind of woke nonsense” that has invaded and contaminated the whole of public life.
Sunak also focused on the issue of sex education in schools. In the UK, education in familial and communal relationships has been compulsory in all primary schools since September 2019; sex education, compulsory in secondary school, where external teachers are imported. The use of external speakers for these lessons is all too often an opportunity for abuse. The British Prime Minister wants to strengthen control over these lessons to ensure that the content is really adapted to the age of the children and is not an opportunity for inappropriate militancy. It wants to avoid, at all costs, exposing young children to explicit content and contentious ideas about gender. It intends to give more weight to the opinions of parents on these subjects, who would then have the possibility to consult the material used for teaching, especially material that comes from external associations.
The change in policy, according to The Telegraph, was a response to complaints from parents who felt they had been deliberately excluded from their children’s education by being “denied access to contentious resources in areas such as race, transgender, and sex education.” The Information Commissioner Office, a public body responsible for monitoring access to information for UK citizens, revealed that it had been instructed to explicitly deny parents access to a copy of the content of sex education lessons that urged children to become transgender allies.
The content in question promoted the trans-activist organisation Mermaids, which is under investigation and was recently denounced by the author J. K. Rowling. Keeping the content of the sexuality course confidential (effectively, a parental ban) was justified on the grounds of preserving the intellectual property of The School of Sexuality Education, an organisation that regularly intervenes in schools. Another scandal concerns teaching material distributed to 200 primary schools entitled All about me Syllabus, which promotes masturbation.
Sunak intends to prevent such abuses in the future and justifies his actions as concern for the rights of women and girls.