Building trans equality in local government

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2023 National Local Government Service Group Conference
16 February 2023

Conference recalls that the motion “Trans Equality – Louder and Prouder!” adopted by the 2022 Local Government Conference acknowledged the toxic debate ignited by the United Kingdom government’s consultation on reforming the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) and recognised the need for our union, including the local government service group, to become more visible and more vocal – louder and prouder – in supporting and promoting Trans equality.

Conference notes that attacks on trans rights have escalated further in the past year, with horrendous attacks from sections of the media, politicians and transphobic groups. The tactics being used, particularly the vilification of trans women, by those campaigning to roll back the existing rights of Trans people are almost identical to the tactics seen around the time of Section 28, when gay men were portrayed as sexual predators and a danger to children to spread fear and mistrust.

These attacks have included the spreading of false information on what the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, which seeks to amend the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) 2004, would mean.

Conference recognises that the Bill would not impact on the operation of the Equality Act or single-sex spaces. There is nothing in the Bill that makes any difference to the rights or ability of anybody to go into any protected single-sex space in Scotland or anywhere else. All a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) entitles anyone to is birth, marriage (if relevant) and, eventually, death certificates in their acquired gender. A GRC is not needed to change your name, NHS record, passport or driving licence.

Targeting a minority, and spreading false information to provoke hatred and distrust by preying on people’s fears, are classic far right recruitment tactics.

Conference therefore welcomes the ‘Trans Equality is UNISON business’ campaign, launched in July 2022, and the work done in the service group so far towards making all our workplaces trans inclusive, and workplaces where Trans members feel safe to disclose their gender identity. It also welcomes the success of the Trans ally training being rolled out across the union. It recognises, however, that this work needs to continue and be built on in the coming year.

Conference therefore calls on the Local Government Service Group Executive to work with the National LGBT+ Committee and other parts of the union as appropriate to:

1)Continue working to increase the strength and visibility of UNISON’s work to promote Trans equality in the service group;

2)Continue to encourage the negotiation of inclusive language in local government agreements and policies, and to raise awareness of the vital importance of including equality and LGBT+ workers rights in collective bargaining negotiations, promoting the UNISON resources available to support this work;

3)Urge branches to promote the fact sheet ‘Why pronouns are important’ to members and to ask employers to adopt a policy that allows all staff to have their preferred pronouns on name badges, ID cards and email signatures;

4)Continue to encourage LGBT+ members in the service group to get involved in the LGBT+ group;

5)Continue to promote the UNISON fact sheet ‘How to be a Trans ally’ and encourage branch officers and members in local government to undertake trans ally training;

6)Encourage members in the service group who have been on the Trans ally training to join the Trans ally network being set up by the National LGBT+ Committee;

7)Promote UNISON materials, such as the factsheet on reform of the Gender Reform Act, to help branches and members in the service group to counter the myths and disinformation being spread by those campaigning to roll back the existing rights of trans people.