Jersey Evening Post: Friday 5 June 2015
BBC Radio Jersey: Tuesday 2 June 2015 (timecode: 02:07)
Pink News: Tuesday 2 June 2015
Trans* Jersey welcomes Jersey’s sex discrimination regulations that go further than the UK in their protections for people of non-binary genders.
The States of Jersey have passed regulations today that expand the island’s anti-discrimination legislation to encompass sex, gender reassignment, sexual orientation and pregnancy and maternity. The new regulations, due to come into force on 1 September 2015, give protection to transgender islanders, but also protect all those who do not identify with the gender binary of man or woman.
Jersey has gone further than the UK’s Equality Act by recognising that there are more than two sexes. The island’s regulations explicitly protect intersex people as well as men and women from discrimination under the protected characteristic of sex.
“This is an important inclusion that recognises a small and often misunderstood section of society. It makes clear the distinction between intersex and transgender people – a common misconception – and it allows those who were born neither biologically male nor female and who identify as intersex to do so, knowing that they do not have to choose man or woman if they do not want to and they will still be protected from discrimination under the law,” said Vic Tanner Davy, Founder of Trans* Jersey.
For the 1-2% of the population that experience some degree of gender dysphoria (a feeling that your gender identity does not match the gender role assigned to you by society), they are also given protection under the new regulations. Jersey’s regulations state that a person is transgender whether or not they intend to have medical intervention to transition. This, again, goes further than the UK in its protection.
Trans* Jersey’s founder, Vic Tanner Davy, said: “Not everyone who experiences gender dysphoria will take steps to do anything about it. As well as those who decide to transition, the regulations protect those who identify as any one of a number of genders that can be termed genderqueer from discrimination, harassment and victimisation.
“The trans* community in its widest sense is at its most vulnerable from physical and verbal abuse when it does not fit society’s ideal of men or women. This means that those early in their transition or those who cannot, or do not want to, transition are the most likely to experience discrimination. Jersey has recognised this and put in place protections. We are pleased that Jersey is leading the UK in this and we congratulate the States members on their decision today.”
Trans* Jersey is offering training sessions for organisations on how to deal with trans* employees and service users ahead of the new legislation coming in on 1 September 2015. They can be contacted by email: email@example.com
The Social Security Department has released a consultation draft of the Discrimination (Sex and Related Characteristics) (Jersey) Regulations today. The draft can be downloaded by clicking here.
The draft represents a great deal of hard work by the Social Security Ministers, Francis Le Gresley and Susie Pinel, and their team. It takes as its starting point the UK’s Equality Act 2010 but then improves upon it, taking into account areas where the Act falls short. Protection for transgender people is one of those areas and the draft has gone further than the UK in its recognition of the diversity of sex and gender by protecting both intersex and genderqueer people.
The highlights for trans* islanders are as follows:
If you have any queries about how the draft regulations might work in practice, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do our best to answer them.
Trans* Jersey and Liberate met with Susie Pinel, Social Security Minister, on 23 January 2015 to discuss the progress of the next phase of Jersey’s discrimination law that, amongst other things, deals with discrimination of transgender people.
The good news is that, although more work needs to be done on the parts of the new law that deal with pregnancy mainly, the policy team are confident that it will be in force by September 2015. It is hoped that a draft document might be publicly available soon.
From the partial draft available at the meeting, the parts of the law dealing with sexual orientation are well-written and provide protection for sexual minorities.
Those parts of the law dealing with gender reassignment still need a bit of work to get the wording right, but the basic principles are in place. Trans* islanders will be protected no matter what stage of their transition they are at. This includes those who identity as trans* but have not yet started any form of treatment. Intersex islanders will also be protected. Both these inclusions are improvements on the UK’s legislation.
It was obvious from the meeting that the policy team are working hard to make Jersey’s law as good as it can be and have learned from mistakes made in the UK’s Equality Law. This is all positive news for trans* islanders.
On 27 November 2014, the Channel Island charity Liberate (supported by Trans* Jersey) is holding its first Rainbow Mufti Day and they are encouraging businesses, government offices, schools, places of worship, clubs and associations in the islands to get involved. Liberate are asking all Channel Island workplaces to fly a rainbow flag or allow their employees, members or pupils to dress in brightly coloured clothes to show the world that the islands support equality.
This year, Jersey has introduced the first of its anti-discrimination laws that protects all islanders’ from discrimination on the basis of race. Next year, the law will be extended to offer protection on the grounds of gender, sexual orientation and gender reassignment. Following that, protection for age and disability will be introduced. Liberate’s call for Jersey and Guernsey to show their support for their employees, members and pupils no matter what their race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, belief, age or disability is, therefore, timely.
It is also no coincidence that the day marks the anniversary of, San Francisco city supervisor, Harvey Milk‘s assassination in 1978. Milk was an early campaigner for equal rights for the gay community of the city and the first openly gay US citizen to be elected to public office. Thankfully, we live in a more enlightened age now and there are many LGBTQ people in public life. However, inequalities for minorities within society still exist and Liberate is prompting Channel Islanders consider some of these on 27 November 2014 and to then take steps to make changes that make their workplace more inclusive.Although the rainbow flag is strongly associated with the LGBTQ community, its symbolic meaning is one of inclusion and equality for all. It was designed by San Franciscan, Gilbert Baker in 1978 and has undergone several revisions since. The modern flag has six predominant stripes, each colour carrying a different meaning: Red – Life. Orange – Healing. Yellow – Sunlight. Green – Nature. Blue – Serenity or harmony. Violet – Spirituality.
Liberate are hoping to make Rainbow Mufti Day an annual event so, if you don’t have a rainbow flag, why not get one this year that can be used again, and again! Flags can be obtained by emailing email@example.com. We have a supply of 5ft x 3ft flags for £5.00 and 3ft x 2ft flags for £4.00 each (the price includes a small donation to Liberate’s funds). We can also order other sizes if your flag pole requires it!
If you would like to raise money to help Liberate’s work, why not take up a collection from those not wearing something brightly coloured on 27 November or bake rainbow cakes to sell? To find out more about Liberate’s work and how to donate, please visit: www.liberate.gg
Liberate hopes you will show your colours on 27 November 2014 with others across the islands by joining in this initiative.
The States of Jersey have released the results of their consultation paper on the next phase of the island’s anti-discrimination law due to come into effect in September 2015. The section on Gender Reassignment demonstrates that trans* realities are poorly understood by some people and that the old myths surrounding toilet usage and gender specific job roles still persist. There is, therefore, work to be done to educate employers about trans* issues and how they cope with trans* employees.
You can read the results here (link at bottom of the page): http://www.gov.je/Government/Consultations/Pages/SexDiscriminationLawConsultation.aspx
Trans* Jersey met with Senator Francis Le Gresley on 29 July 2014. In attendance were Martin Gavet (Liberate), Ellie Jones (Liberate), Pippa McCarthie (Liberate), Kate Morel (Policy Principal, Social Security Dept) and Darren Newman (Legal Consultant).
The presentation started by discussing the differences between sex and gender. The consultation document uses the word “sex” when it is often referring to gender. It was felt that it would be helpful to unpack the differences in order to better understand the non-binary nature of both features for trans* people and intersex people.
The use of the “X” maker on passports and birth certificates was touched on. Trans* Jersey would like to see this option being used in Jersey but, at the moment, although it is internationally recognised and legal in the UK, it is not policy to allow people to elect to have it on their documents.
The meeting acknowledged that there are more than two genders and, because of that, some explanation and guidance on the spectrum of gender would be required to assist organisations like the Jersey Tribunal and the Jersey Advisory and Conciliation Service in their decision making. The gender grid was put forward by Trans* Jersey as one way to define multiple genders.
Trans* Jersey went on to bust three myths about trans people that had, without malice, crept into the consultation document by implication:
The meeting was hugely sympathetic to this last point and understood the need to ensure that the law does not accidentally enshrine discrimination around this point. It was felt that, when the draft law is debated in the States of Jersey, this point will be the one that takes up most time and causes most concern. The meeting agreed that educating the public and politicians to allay fears around this point would be helpful. The Minister and his team said that they would welcome any help Trans* Jersey and Liberate could provide in this regard.
The meeting discussed how trans people should be treated with regard to exemptions under the law for gender-specific employment and sports teams. Trans* Jersey suggested that, for those employers, such as a women’s refuge, who are exempt from discriminating when hiring, transmen should not expect to be able to be employed but that transwomen should be considered for the job along with natal born women.
Trans* Jersey explained that sports teams were still a difficult area for trans people, even at the professional level, as transwomen in particular were seen to have an unfair advantage over natal born women. In fact, research has shown this is not true. Once a transwoman starts hormone therapy, she looses the muscle bulk and testosterone advantage that she had.
In essence, for all purposes, the moment that someone self-reports as transgender they should be treated as the gender they present as – even if they are worse off. The meeting then asked about pension entitlement for trans people and Trans* Jersey said that the same rule applies. For transmen, that might mean working an extra 5 years before they are eligible for their pension.
Trans* Jersey, finally, suggested some wording, based on the UK’s Equality Act, for how the new law might be drafted.
Liberate stated their support for the consultation’s proposals on sexual orientation and asked for confirmation that maternity/paternity leave applies equally to same-sex couples as to opposite-sex couples. The Minister confirmed that same-sex couples are equally covered by the law.
The draft legislation is expected to be publicly available in February 2015.
On Tuesday 8 July 2014, the States of Jersey approved an amendment by Senator Ian le Marquand to the proposition to allow same-sex marriage that had been brought by Deputy Sam Mezec. The amendment effectively stalled the progress towards equal marriage in Jersey by making it subject to a consultation by the Chief Minister, Senator Ian Gorst. Apparently, many of those who voted for the amendment did so because of the immoderate language being used by supporters of the original bill. The words “homophobia” and “homophobic” were used on more than one occasion to describe others with opposing views.
On the very same day, Trans* Jersey received two emails from trans* islanders, independently, reporting that they had been the victims of abuse and assault. In both cases, they were physically at risk of injury. In both cases, the attacks were simply because the victims were trans*. As you can imagine, Tuesday was not a good day for Trans* Jersey.
However, the two reports put the States’ debate into perspective and meant that we did not vent our disappointment over the States’ decision by calling-out politicians on Facebook or Twitter as some did. Apart from acknowledging that there might have been any number of reasons why a States’ member voted against same-sex marriage, such as feeling ill-prepared for the debate, there is another reason why we should be moderate in our response to setbacks in the struggle for equal marriage.
Nobody in the States’ chamber on Tuesday was homophobic. Those who have been the victims of homophobia, transphobia or biphobia know it when they see it. *Phobia isn’t an off-colour joke or a misuse of a pronoun or a disagreement over equal marriage. It is a deep-seated hatred of LGBT people that makes a person capable of acts of verbal or physical cruelty to the target of his or her hate. Until you have been the victim of a hate crime, you cannot know *phobia. There is something in the eyes, something in the tone of voice, that LGBT people recognise as *phobic. It’s when the adrenalin starts pumping and the body goes into fight or flight mode.
When a white, heterosexual, male calls people who don’t share his political view on same-sex marriage “homophobic”, he needs to be very careful. Overuse and misuse of any word can remove its power. Homophobia, transphobia and biphobia are important words to the LGBT community for they are they only way we have of describing the most heinous of crimes against us. These words must not be cheapened by those who are unlikely ever to be the target of a homophobic, transphobic or biphobic attack.
Trans* Jersey would like to say to our allies: thank you for your support, thank you for fighting for equality for us, thank you for being allies, but please be careful of the language that you use when you speak on our behalf.
And then, on Saturday 12 July 2014, this happened. Estimates of the number of people who turned out vary but there were certainly hundreds, possibly 1,000 people there. King Street was filled with love, pride and lots of rainbows for what was Jersey’s first ever LGBTQ rights march or equality rally or pride parade. In the end, nobody was sure what it was and, actually, it didn’t seem to matter. We were there to show that we exist. Every human population has an LGBT community. Visible or forced underground, it is there. Our detractors conveniently forget that fact but, sometimes, we do too and when we do, even an island of 9 miles by 5 miles where “everyone knows everyone”, can seem like a lonely place. Saturday was about reminding ourselves that we aren’t alone, that there are others like us, others who also share our desire for equality.
Rallies often don’t accomplish much but this one felt different. This one felt like a moment of change. Maybe because, during the week, the feelings of anger towards the States for their decision dissipated and were replaced with a feeling of solidarity. Trans* Jersey thanks the organisers of Saturday’s event for being the catalyst that brought us all together in Liberation Square. Every LGBT person in Jersey now knows, for sure, that there is a community here to which they belong and who will stand up for their beliefs in a fair and equal society.