Be’s Response to proposed Gateshead Council Motion
We at Be: Trans Support and Community are deeply concerned and disappointed to see this motion in front of the council. Its suggestion that reforming the GRA poses a threat to the protections in the Equality Act is a clear attempt to reignite the anti-trans sentiment that shrouded the consultation last year.
This weekend has seen an outpouring of support for trans people, as an online gaming streamer raised over $300,000 for Mermaids, a charity supporting trans youth, leading to a motion of congratulations in the Scottish parliament. Our region appears going in the opposite direction, as Labour councillors bring forward a motion built on the idea that allowing us to change a couple of pieces of documentation is a threat to women’s safety. This completely contradicts the party’s position as set out at the 2018 Labour Party Conference.
The GRA only covers the administrative process of obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate, which is itself only required for correcting the gender on a trans person’s birth certificate. Most other important or legal records such as passports, driving licences, and medical records don’t require trans people to have a GRC before they can be corrected, and as such the current GRA constitutes an expensive and demeaning paperwork process, which many Trans people either don’t wish or can’t afford to put themselves through. While the motion falsely claims specific reforms have been proposed, the most likely approach would follow a process of legal self-declaration under oath (which would be equivalent to perjury if done falsely). Far from being something that could be used on a whim, or for ulterior motives, this would bring the GRC application in line with the same legal standard as those previously mentioned legal documents and is something we enthusiastically support.
The costs and limitations of the current GRA mean that In practice ‘Self-ID’, painted by this motion as a dangerous and unpredictable experiment, is the de facto reality for many already, be they transgender themselves or the people who live and work with them – and has been so for years without issue.
The provisions and protections of the Equality Act 2010 don’t require trans people to have a GRC to access the correct services and spaces, nor does having a GRC grant an individual immunity from the same exemptions that can be used to exclude anyone from those same spaces and services when necessary. Similarly, participation in sport is a matter for each sport’s governing body, which is not impacted by possession of a GRC. As such there is no connection between the two acts. The Government has specifically stated that the ‘Gender Reassignment’ provision in the the Equality Act will be unaffected  – and we consider conflating them as this motion does to be a deliberate scare tactic.
The ‘debate’ that this motion seeks to encourage is considered largely settled in other countries, with countries such as Portugal, Ireland, Norway and Belgium among those to already have adopted legal Self-ID. The framing of ‘Trans Rights’ as being in opposition to ‘Women’s Rights’, is something almost entirely unique to the UK, to the extent that even the Guardian’s own US correspondents have seen it necessary to speak out against the line adopted by the paper in the UK 
The tone of the events that this motion seeks to secure council buildings for, and the actions of the organisers and speakers at these events ranges from harassment with billboards  and public vandalism with crude stickers of genitals , to mockery  and outright threats of violence against trans people.  To pass this motion would essentially declare that Gateshead Council endorses such activity.
We urge the council to see this motion for what it is – an attack on its transgender constituents, to make considering us a threat a matter of public record – and reject it wholeheartedly.