PARLIAMENTARY FORUM ON TRANSSEXUALISM - Update

THURSDAY June 5th

Campaigning to take forward the Departmental Working Group Report/Goodwin & I Judgement
- update – PFC/LJ

 

The Government was still indicating that a draft bill would be published before the summer recess.  The Lord Chancellor’s Department, now the Department for Constitutional Affairs has been very good at liaising with the team the Forum appointed to advise them.  Whilst there were likely to be some disappointments, most obviously the pre-existing marriage issue, we need to be careful that we don’t ‘cut off our nose to spite our face’ and that it is crucial that we do not lose the Bill.  One area that won’t be in the Bill is the question of discrimination, to provide genuine equality of opportunity as this would make the Bill too long.  However, there are already proposals for anti-discrimination legislation.

Note from LJ: The Draft Bill was published on 11 July.  Details can be found via the PFC website: www.pfc.org.uk  Unfortuantely, on the issue of pre-existing marriages the Government has not found a way of allowing these to continue without legalising same sex marriages, which it is not currently prepared to do.  The JCHR has issued a call for submissions prior to pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft Bill in September. Click here for details.  The deadline for evidence is September 11th

Police Guidelines on the employment of Trans-people

Essex police guidelines are up and running now and they are continuing with their work on educating the Police Service nationally.  They are trying to get the issue on the agenda of the Chief Police Officer’s conference.  They are also looking at a national conference to share the information. 

Forum  to write to the Chair of the West Yorks Police Authority, along the lines that his Authority are wasting their budget – over m has been spent on going to Court already (see agenda item 6).
note 01.08.03 correspondence to date attached – Lynne Jones has since written to Hazel Blears MP at the Home Office asking for details of any guidance the Home Office has issued to police authorities on the matter of recruitment or retention of transsexual officers.

Correspondence with Press Complaints Commission

Encouraging letter received from Sir Christopher Meyer of the PCC with an offer for a representative from the PCC to come to the next meeting to brief the Forum on the PCC Code.  LJ will also make the offer for a member of the Forum to go to the PCC. 

Professor Milton Diamond

Prof Milton Diamond, one of the world's foremost respected authorities in the study of Gender Identity, gave a presentation on his work in the US.

Professor Milton Diamond thanked all for his invitation to participate and offered support for all the current work which aims to improve the legal rights and medical treatment of trans people.

He spoke of his research of twins to see what might be learned about transsexualism   from 'twinning'.  To date he has had responses from about a dozen sets of twins, in which one or both had transitioned. These provide useful data, but Professor Diamond is hoping to broaden the scope of these data by involving more sets of twins. The results will be written up for the literature.

He is also currently researching the relationship between physical characteristics, especially height, and transsexualism.  He believes that trans women are significantly taller than the average male and trans men are significantly shorter than the average female. This is counter-intuitive.  These data are being gathered and will have to be corrected for other factors, such as diet etc.

Good Practice

- Draft guidance to Health Organisations

It was agreed that the guidance should cover all health organisations that have a duty of care to trans people not just health authorities.

A draft of the document is now posted on the GIRES website for consultation.  There was some concern about this and it was agreed that some clarification of the status of this document as a draft was required. 

A budget has been ratified for an inter-collegiate working party of the Royal Colleges to produce guidelines for the medical profession and LJ: hopes these projects will coalesce.

- Guidelines for the treatment of transsexual prisoners

Information was sent to LJ from someone who transitioned in prison but who has now been released – she was asking what has happened to the Prison Guidelines.  LJ to write to Prisons Minister to pick up on previous correspondence and to ask what is currently being done.

Legal cases update

Following recent legal cases birth certificates have to be shown when marrying.

The West Yorkshire police have been given leave to appeal to the House of Lords in the case of A v West Yorkshire Police.

Date of next Meeting – September 17th 2003

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