Protecting the rights of women and trans people


Show caption ‘The legal case for everyone to be treated fairly is not in question, surely?’ asks one reader. Photograph: Hollie Adams/Getty Images Protecting the rights of women and trans people Letters Gillian Dalley and Dr Jane Hamlin respond to an article by Zoe Williams, and Jacqueline Darby reacts to a piece by Susanna Rustin. Plus Prof Martin Marshall on the ban on conversion therapy Tue 12 Apr 2022 18.12 BST Share on Facebook

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Women have fought against prejudice and discrimination on grounds of their sex status for generations. In this country, the equality legislation that exists now is largely a result of that struggle, or has been stimulated by its example. But women’s struggle is not over. They still suffer unfairly on account of their sex status, and the demands that are now being made to soften their struggle by relaxing rights to single-sex spaces are but one example of this injustice.

Women are still at risk from male strangers, and they constitute the population group most often murdered or coerced by male partners. It is men, in these situations, who are the problem and who, as a population group, should bear the burden of searching for, and living with, the solutions.

And now, to make matters worse, we find commentators like Zoe Williams (Labour needs to own its policy on gender – and unequivocally back trans rights, 6 April) referring to calls from women for the preservation of their rights to single-sex spaces and dismissing their concerns as “hokey, made-up scenario[s]”. Her flippant complacency demonstrates a lack of understanding of the reality of many women’s lives. She should think again.

Gillian Dalley


• Zoe Williams sums up the real situation regarding trans people so succinctly. Trans rights do not conflict with women’s rights – they are simply human rights. She is correct that it is cruel to discriminate against trans people just because a violent person might pretend to be trans – and it won’t make anyone any safer.

Dr Jane Hamlin

Curry Rivel, Somerset

• Thank you to Susanna Rustin for her article (Labour’s contradictory policies on trans and women’s rights must be addressed, 6 April). The argument that women’s oppression is based on their sex, and that rights won should recognise that, is logical. I had no idea that Woman’s Place UK had been called transphobic, and am quite shocked that prominent female Labour politicians have supported this view.

The legal case for everyone to be treated fairly is not in question, surely? That the presence of penises should dominate the conversation, is predictable and depressing, however, and reveals the limited understanding on display. The new US supreme court judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, on being asked whether she could define a woman, just said: “No, I can’t.” How wise.

Jacqueline Darby


• The Royal College of General Practitioners is one of 20 health organisations that signed a memorandum of understanding opposing conversion therapy, so we were disappointed by the government’s proposal to ban the practice for lesbian, gay and bisexual people in England and Wales – but not for trans people (Report, 7 April).

This document initially only covered sexual orientation. When it was updated to include gender identity, we worked with other signatories to ensure that the memorandum was clear that being opposed to conversion therapy did not mean opposing appropriate clinical interventions for trans and gender-questioning people. This demonstrated that it is possible to deliver a ban on conversion therapy that protects all LGBT people. It is critical that the government comes to this same position.

Prof Martin Marshall

Chair, Royal College of General Practitioners

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