- Rudy Harries
“They’re jeopardising the dignity of trans people”: Trans Rights Protest at Cardiff’s UK Government
On Tuesday 21st February, in response to renewed attacks on trans autonomy from the UK Government, mutual aid group Trans Aid Cymru plastered fake birth, marriage and death certificates across the windows of the UK Government building in Central Square, Cardiff.
Rishi Sunak’s government blocked Scottish Parliament’s Gender Recognition Reform (GRR) Bill - which would have simplified the process for obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate in Scotland - using an unprecedented veto clause in the Scotland Act 1998 on 17th January. This was met by a backlash from LGBTQ campaigners and Scottish Independence campaigners alike, with both communities alarmed by the UK Government’s attack on Scottish democracy. The Scottish GRR Bill “received more extensive scrutiny than any other legislation in the Scottish Parliament’s history”, and was passed by MSP’s across party lines. The Westminster Government claims that the GRR Bill would have an adverse effect on the UK-wide Equality Act 2010, but an amendment was added to the Bill stating explicitly that it would not override the Equality Act.
Due to the cold weather, Trans Aid Cymru opted not to do a standing protest similar to their previous demonstrations at Cardiff Castle and the Senedd, instead creating dozens of fake birth, marriage and death certificates. These certificates illustrate the simplicity of what it is that trans people are asking for with gender recognition reform: the ability to be recorded in a way that honours and respects their lived experiences. Members of the trans community filled out the certificates by hand, creating distinct characters that appeared across the different certificates, getting married to each other or having children.
Some characters asked for recognition of their humanity, with names like “aspiring lawyer”, and others lashed out provocatively with names like “gender bender”. All of the certificates were different aside from one detail: every death was recorded as taking place on the 17th January 2023 - the same date that the UK Government vetoed the Scottish GRR Bill. Causes of death such as “Tory transphobia”, “GC extremism” and “no more hope” were listed. When the certificates were stuck to the government building, members of the public flocked to read them, asking questions about what it all meant.
“We want to show the UK Government that they are jeopardising the dignity of trans people by robbing us of the opportunity to be correctly married or to die as ourselves. Being denied documentation that reflects our lived experiences and current selves is dehumanising” wrote Trans Aid Cymru in a manifesto in the run up to the protest, going on to explain that many trans people don’t get married when they’d like to due to the restrictive laws around gender recognition. They also said that many trans people fear dying and being recorded incorrectly, which was shown by the reaction to the recent murder of Brianna Ghey. Following the 16 year old trans girl’s death, a campaign quickly sprung up to “Amend the Gender Recognition Act to allow for posthumous and expedited grants”, which has amassed over 12,000 signatures.
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