Trans woman ‘considering escaping UK’ over relentless political attacks: ‘They’re trying to erase us’

Collage of Rishi Sunak, Kemi Badenoch, and a trans person holding an umbrella to shield themself

The Tory attack on Scottish gender recognition reform is just the latest example of trans rights being weaponised by politicians – and it’s driving some to consider leaving the country.

Addressing the House of Commons on Tuesday (17 January), the secretary of state for Scotland, Alister Jack, said he would make a Section 35 order – a never-before-utilised section of the 1998 Scotland Act – to prevent the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) bill becoming law. 

The bill would make it easier for trans people to access gender recognition certificates, which are used for nothing more than updating birth, marriage and civil partnership certificates, and for allowing trans people to be identified properly when marrying or in death.

Sophie Rebecca, a dancer who got a GRC so that she could marry as her true gender, feels “somewhat numb by how incompetent” the UK government is and “just how much they hate trans people”. 

Sophie Rebecca and her partner both wear wedding dresses and kiss as they get married
Sophie Rebecca and her partner have considered seeking asylum abroad because of the ever-increasing hatred towards the trans community in the UK. (Simon Ho/Hotography)

She’s considering leaving the country because of the constant attack on trans rights. 

“They are trying to erase trans people, and if you try and bring someone [up] to speed who’s not been paying attention to everything that’s happened since 2016, you sound like that conspiracy meme because there’s so much going on,” she tells PinkNews. 

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“With regards to the British government, it’s absolutely s**t – pardon my language – but it is s**t that I’m looking at escaping to Canada. 

“My partner and I, we’ve looked into how we can get asylum. The fact I would have to leave all of my family and friends by moving to another country because of how bad the UK is allowing itself to get by a tiny minority of people is scary.”

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Trans rights activists protest opposite Downing Street after the UK government announced it will use a Section 35 order to block Scotland's recent Gender Recognition Reform Bill
Jason Potts said it was “utterly mind-blowing” that the UK government would block Scotland’s gender reform bill from becoming law. (Getty)

Scotland’s bill would have expedited the application process for trans people to gain a GRC by removing the requirement of a medical diagnosis, among other measures, and would lower the age limit to 16.

Alister Jack cited concerns the bill would interfere with equality law when blocking it. Despite claims by both Tory and Labour politicians, the bill would not affect the UK Equality Act, as discrimination protections are not contingent on having a GRC.

The decision is likely to face an imminent legal challenge, and politicians have said it will only serve to fuel the Scottish independence movement.

Jason Potts is a trans man who applied for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) while working in the civil service. He tells PinkNews that it’s “utterly mind-blowing” that the Tories would “risk p**sing off the whole of Scotland for 0.5 per cent of the population”. 

“They continue to use trans people as a distraction pawn in their stinking quagmire of a government, and we’ve all had enough,” Potts says.

Around 6,000 GRCs have been issued across the UK since they were introduced in 2005, with census data reporting that there are 96,000 trans men and women in England and Wales (GRCs only recognise binary genders).

Potts believes the “faux concern” over GRCs is “nothing more than bigotry dressed up”. 

“By raising Article 35, the government has shown how much they hate trans people, by risking the union of the UK just to stop trans people from getting a correct birth certificate easily,” he adds.

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“It’s beyond the comprehension of any reasonable person.”

Trans rights activists protest opposite Downing Street after the UK government announced it will use a Section 35 order to block Scotland's recent Gender Recognition Reform Bill
Several LGBTQ+ advocates raised concerns over the freedoms and rights of trans people in the UK under the Tory government. (Getty)

Countless LGBTQ+ advocates and supporters of the trans community have raised concerns about the state of trans rights under the Tory government. 

UK-wide gender recognition reform was abandoned during Boris Johnson’s tenure as prime minister, and he also pushed for a conversion therapy ban that excluded trans folk.

During the race to replace Johnson, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak both denied that trans women are women.

Equalities minister Kemi Badenoch rallied against gender-neutral toilets during her brief Tory leadership run in 2022, and she’s been slammed for “utterly failing” the LGBTQ+ community in the past. 

Meanwhile, home secretary Suella Braverman called on Sunak to tackle so-called “trans ideology”, and was among the first to suggest publicly that the UK government could block the vital gender reform bill

And it’s not just the Tories – Labour leader Keir Starmer said he had ‘concerns’ over the Scottish bill, having previously spoken in support of trans rights.

Potts can only conclude this was “performative allyship”, which he says “is absolutely disgusting”.

Labour leader Keir Starmer wears a white shirt and dark blue jacket. He has faced criticism for saying he has 'conserns' over Scotland's gender reform bill
Jason Potts says Labour leader Keir Starmer (pictured) adds ‘fuel to the fire’ as the UK government attacked Scotland’s gender reform bill. (Getty)

He adds that the increasing hostility towards the trans community isn’t only found in politics – it’s also prevalent in the UK media. 

While he believes “active transphobes” are a small minority, the existence and legitimacy of trans people has become a topic discussion for outlets across the spectrum – The TimesThe Telegraph and the Daily Mail, but also the The Guardian and the BBC.

“None of this is actually about a GRC. It’s because of this monster that is now transphobia that has overtaken the British mass media, becoming this huge thing,” he says. 

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