The chair of the transgender support group Spirit Level has condemned the blocking of the Gender Recognition Reform Bill and the outrage sparked by Isla Bryson being initially jailed in a women’s prison.

Credit: Richie wright1980 from Wikimedia Commons

Lily Hunt, who took over as chair last year, spoke about the recent rising levels of hate crimes against the transgender community in Liverpool amid the controversy.

She said she was “happy” when the Gender Recognition Reform Bill was passed in December 2022.

The bill ensured that trans people aged 16 and older applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate will be required to make a legally binding declaration that they are already living in their acquired gender and intend to do so permanently.

A decision to block the Bill from proceeding to Royal Assent was made in January by the Secretary of State for Scotland, one of the reasons being that he does not believe the bill has sufficient safeguards to “mitigate the risk of fraudulent and/or malign applications” and believes that the reformed system will be “open to abuse and malicious actors”.

Isla Bryson, who identifies as transgender, was convicted of raping two women in January before she transitioned. She was held in a female jail, separated from the rest of the inmates, but got relocated to the male wing of HMP Edinburgh shortly after.

Bryson does not have a Gender Recognition Certificate. An amendment to the bill which would have prevented people charged with rape and other serious sexual offences from changing their gender before trial was rejected by a coalition of SNP, Green and Liberal Democrat MSPs.

Had it been accepted, defence counsel would have been unable to mount the kind of case presented during Bryson’s trial.

This has sparked concerns across the UK about women’s safety, but Lily Hunt calls it a “moral panic” and believes that the real issue lies with the larger proportion of cis-gender men who commit rape.

Watch Sophie Wyatt’s video report here:

Featured image (c) Spirit Level




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