The UK government has launched its first ever action plan to advance trans equality.
The action plan, called Advancing Transgender Equality: A Plan for Action(.pdf), spells out the British government’s pledge to tackle various issues facing the trans community, from anti-trans bullying in schools, to ensuring better medical care, and also amplifying the voice of the trans community in general.
From the Ministerial foreword by Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone and Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities Theresa May:
Transgender people, from transsexual to non-gendered, want to be able to participate in and make their contribution to society and the economy.The Government, employers and public services have a role in enabling this to happen and addressing the barriers that prevent them from doing so.
We are already making progress but we are not stopping there. From barriers to full participation in civil society to tragic incidents of hate crime, we recognise that transgender people can face distinct and specific challenges that sometimes need to be addressed separately.This first ever Government transgender equality action plan forms part of our wider work to build an equal and fair society. It includes firm commitments to improve the lives of transgender people and support businesses and public bodies so they have the right tools to support transgender people.
This document is the culmination of our active engagement with the transgender community, practitioners and the voluntary sector. It lays out our vision and the focus for the Government’s commitment to deliver greater equality for transgender people. We do not underestimate the challenges transgender people face and the actions in this document are just the first steps towards achieving this vision. It will take all of us working together to make this the era where we consign transphobia to the past, and build a strong, modern and fair Britain for all.
The action plan sets out several key goals for the government, among them that the government will publish a concise guide for health practitioners on appropriate care and treatments so as to ensure a more consistent service for those with gender identity-related medical needs.
In terms of combating transphobia, the document also outlines a government commitment to raising the sentences for those who commit transphobic hate crimes. It also outlines plans to introduce the topic of gender identity to children in age-appropriate school lessons so as to try and prevent bullying and help facilitate understanding.
The action plan also reiterates the government’s commitment to a review period regarding gender identity markers on passports and the potential move toward a gender neutral system that has been implemented successfully in other countries.
The plan also outlines a move beginning in January 2012 to update information on the GEO and the Information Commissioner’s Office’s (ICO) websites on preserving transgender people’s privacy in employment and services under the Data Protection Act 1988, the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Gender Recognition Act 2004. This is to be completed by December next year.
The document also makes explicit that the government, while undertaking a consultation on same-sex marriage, will be consulting with the trans community on how to better accommodate gender variance within marriages under the proposed new marriage laws.
In terms of international rights and immigration, the action plan has a number of steps including a promise to improve guidance for immigration caseworkers on handling in-country applications from transsexual applicants, and a commitment to play an active role in the UN to ensure constructive, informed and transparent dialogue on the issue of discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.