132 major U.K. companies including Google and Disney, have signed an open pledge to say trans rights are human rights, and highlight their support for trans colleagues, employees and customers.
Aviva, BP, Clifford Chance, Cloudflare, Expedia, Microsoft and Sky join 125 other UK employers, including the British Army, will also be posting messages of solidarity with trans people across their social media platforms throughout the day.
Significantly, a further 70 of them have written directly to the Prime Minister to call on the Government to honour its commitment to protect trans people’s rights. They’ve also asked him to reform the Gender Recognition Act, in a week those reforms are expected to be announced.
The open letter initiative has been organised by a coalition of groups and supported by the U.K.’s biggest LGBTQ charity Stonewall.
“Over the past year, trans people have faced a disturbing rise in hate directed at them in the media and online,” Robbie de Santos, Head of Communications & Campaigns, Stonewall tells me.
“All of these companies were eager to make a stand to show they support their trans family, colleagues, customers and friends and that they are committed to achieving equality.
“The majority of these companies have also taken a step further and written to the Prime Minister asking his Government to protect the rights of trans people and reform the Gender Recognition Act.”
The letter comes at a significant time, just a week after the first update on reform of the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) came last week from Equalities minister Liz Truss. The minor update simply committed the minister to not including under 18’s in any GRA changes, a victory of sorts for trans activists. They set out looking for progressive reform, but following suggestions of a ‘roll back’ of trans rights, this commitment appears to protect the current process for young transgender people.
Reform of the GRA has been long delayed, first being kicked into the long grass on the day U.K Prime Minister Boris Johnson first took power. But updates were promised by the Prime Minister “over the summer.”
He made those comments while re-announcing a two-year-old policy pledge to ban gay conversion therapy after being asked to respond to a leaked document that said plans to reform the GRA had been scrapped.
Sources close to the fight for GRA reform tell me they expect significant reforms to be announced as soon as this week.
Companies urge Government to keep planned Gender Recognition Act Reforms that make transition easier
The pledge signed by the companies, has seen as many as 70 write to the PM to call for progressive transgender rights reforms not to be scrapped, and for plans under Theresa May’s previous Conservative administration to go ahead.
May’s administration was planning to introduce self-identification, which would make the current process of changing your gender shorter. It would remove the current arduous medicalised transition route.
This was among the measures, the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) consultation proposed. It suggested removing the need for a panel of doctors to certify an individual’s transition. Instead, trans people would make a sworn declaration in front of a judge to attest their decision to change gender.
The letter today supported by Stonewall and 132 companies also comes after Trans Pride took place in London this week, calling for the same reforms. The event went ahead despite the risk of arrest given to a protest about GRA reform that cancelled the weekend before after the Met Police changed their advice to the group.
Stonewall’s CEO told me just last weekend that supporting reform of the Gender Recognition Act was one of their new priorities. She was making clear that they’d continue to use their links with their corporate partners to influence progressive changes to the law, which bears true today.
“We’re proud of all the business leaders who today are ‘coming out’ for trans equality. All these companies are sending a powerful message to trans communities that leading businesses have their backs,” Nancy Kelley, Chief Executive, Stonewall says today.
“Across the UK, corporate leaders are speaking up because they care about protecting and supporting their trans colleagues, customers, friends and family.
“At a time when trans rights feel increasingly under threat, the diversity of all these businesses taking part today shows there is a wealth of support for trans people at the most senior levels of British industrial and cultural life.
“But we can’t be complacent. If we want to live in a world where every trans person can be themselves, each of us must use our voice to challenge transphobia and take action to create more inclusive communities.”