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Women’s rights and safety at risk

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Hands Off My Rights, Fair Play for Women, campaign, Gender Recognition Act, consultation, awareness, sex self-ID, “It was clear though that nobody knew about the proposals.”

With less than seven weeks to go until the deadline for responses to thegovernment’s consultation on changing the Gender Recognition Act 2004, Fair Play For Women‘s volunteers hit the streets up and down the country last weekend to spread the word about how the proposed changes to the Act threaten female rights.

Dressed in striking red Hands Off My Rights T-shirts, they shared thousands of leaflets and talked to the public to draw attention to the issues involved and get people to tell the government what they think by filling in the on-line consultation before the deadline on 19 October.

Some supporters of the changes to the Gender Recognition Act want doctors taken out of the Gender Recognition process, and instead to have a self-declaration system called ‘sex self-ID’.

This would allow anyone to go online, fill out a form, and gain the right get their birth certificate reissued to say they were born the opposite sex to that they were registered as at their birth.

The implications of this for the general public are astonishing.

And Nicola Williams, spokeswoman for Fair Play for Women, looking at it from the point of view of women, said: “This ludicrous idea will rob women and girls of our legal rights. It will destroy the legal definition of female, decimate women-only spaces, services and sports, and jeopardise the safety and privacy of women and girls.

“It represents the worst rollback of women’s rights in a century.”

For it means that a full-bodied man can self-ID as a woman, and expect to live as women live, and among women. And who is to know if a man in a woman’s space is a self-ID’d man or a man who just says he is. And how do you check, anyway?

Fair Play for Women’s Hands Off My Rights campaign is supported by women from all walks of life. This is what some of them have to say about why the campaign is important:

Lucy Masoud, firefighter, said: “Female-only facilities where women can change and shower in privacy are essential to many jobs. As a firefighter, any threat to these would hugely impact on my ability to do my job.”

Helen Watts, a Unit Leader with Girl Guiding UK, said: “We don’t let boys sleep in tents with girls but, if we did, we’d tell the parents.

“If that boy identifies as a girl, however, parents at not told. Not acknowledging who is male and who is female puts children in danger. I will not stay silent.”

And Raquel Rosario Sanchez, PhD student and writer, said she was “concerned about the top-down, anti-democratic way that changes to laws and policies regarding sex and gender have been taking place, not only in the UK but worldwide.”

The start of the campaign came as an article appeared in the Sunday Times, and then other media, reporting that nine out of ten complaints about sexual misbehaviour in changing-rooms related to incidents in unisex facilities.

And that article came after press coverage of the recent court appearance of Karen White, a male-bodied prisoner, identifying as a woman and sent to an all-women prison, who has been charged with the sexual assault of four female prisoners.

Women volunteers talked to the public about this issue on the streets of Bristol, Birmingham, Nottingham, London, Cambridge, Bradford, Surrey, Brighton, Liverpool, Plymouth, Cardiff and in Cornwall.

Afterwards this is what some of them said:

“There were positive responses and gratitude for bringing it onto the streets.”

“I think what really struck me was the look of surprise and disbelief on people’s faces when they first heard about the idea.”

“It was clear though that nobody knew about the proposals, not a single person I spoke to even knew that males had entered

, let alone rapist males! People were shocked and horrified.”

“It struck me how unfair it is that the government would implement a law that took the safety, privacy and dignity away from women without their knowledge.

“I feel a duty now to let as many people know about the consultation as possible, people are not apathetic or in agreement to the changes, they literally just don’t know about them!”

“I was surprised by how many people I spoke to today had no idea that sex self-ID is being proposed.

“I was heartened by how many shared my concerns – grasping the problems for women and girls immediately.

“One woman we spoke to who used to work in blood transfusion was deeply uncomfortable with the move within Health to not label blood according to sex.”

Nicola Williams said: “Unlike the powerful transgender lobby groups like Stonewall, we don’t have paid staff or millions to spend.

“But we have created something incredible with a team of dedicated volunteers and the support of hundreds of ordinary women concerned with the changes they see coming.

“We are determined to bring this issue to public attention before it’s too late.”

You can help spread the word too.

Campaign packs containing printed flyers, postcards and a step-by-step guide are available to order from the Fair Play For Women website.

Tell your friends, your family, your mum, aunties, sisters, and nieces. Tell your yoga group, your sports team, your work colleagues, people at the school gates.

Organise a coffee morning with your friends, and all fill in the consultation together.

Get busy on social media.

This is our chance to all stand up together and say in one loud and clear voice that Sex-self ID is a bad deal for women and girls.

To read how some women’s voices are being silenced in the political and social debate on sex and gender identity click here.

To read and fill in the public consultation – on the Fair Play for Women website – click here.

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