- May 26, 2018
Hot on the heels of the transgender child on last night's Late Late, another top down attack on the Irish people:
Drags next act, with corporate gigs, primetime TV shows and doting pre-teen fans, drag culture is officially mainstream in Ireland. But can it stay true to its subversive roots ?
Corporations, TV, Pre-Teen Groupies, Subversive.What they're not used to, however is groupies - pre-teen groupies in particular.
Children should be allowed to change their legal gender without the involvement of medical professionals or parents, says Dentons, and the state should take "action" against parents who attempt to intervene.
The recommendations are contained in a report produced by the firm which its authors describe as a "powerful tool for activists".
"Only adults? Good practices in legal gender recognition for youth" advises campaigners to be secretive about the changes they are lobbying to put into law.
The document was written by staff from the firm in conjunction with Thomson Reuters Foundation and LGBT pressure group IGLYO. Its authors include several Dentons trainees and Lamin Khadar, the firm's Pro Bono Manager. A disclaimer states that it "does not necessarily reflect the personal views of any of the lawyers, staff or clients of Dentons
And UK authorities should “take action” against parents "who are obstructing the free development of a young trans person’s identity in refusing to give parental authorization when required".
In Ireland, Denmark and Norway, changes to the law on legal gender recognition were put through at the same time as other more popular reforms such as marriage equality legislation. This provided a veil of protection, particularly in Ireland, where marriage equality was strongly supported, but gender identity remained a more difficult issue to win public support for.
In Ireland, activists have directly lobbied individual politicians and tried to keep press coverage to a minimum in order to avoid this issue.
A final lesson from the campaigns we studied, is that activists should be wary of compromise; compromise can be a double-edged sword. For example, in Ireland, compromise on legal gender recognition for young trans persons was critical to getting the legislation passed, but it might take years to revise the legislation to render it more favourable to trans youth.
The legislation went under the radar in Ireland because marriage equality was gaining the most focus. In a way, this was helpful according to the activists, because it meant that they were able to focus on persuading politicians that the change was necessary.
This is a common technique that we have seen in many of the successful campaigns, and it was very effective in Ireland. Activists prepared materials such as videos with case studies and targeted politicians to raise awareness of the seriousness of the issues. To do this, they looked at human rights principles, examples of other countries such as Malta and Iceland, and had trans people tell their personal stories in order to put a human face on the issues.
However, there may yet be a positive outcome for trans youth in Ireland. Once the 2015 Act was passed, it was agreed that there would be a review of the legislation two years later. This review was conducted by a panel of officials, activists and experts. Submissions and consultations contributed to a report which was published at the end of May 2018.
Many activists in good practice countries still believe that there is more to be done, and there are many countries such as Ireland, where change is hopefully forthcoming. Despite the rise in right-wing groups, and the increase in hate crime towards trans people in the UK, overall the general trend that has emerged from this research is one of changing attitudes and increased awareness of trans rights.
In terms of progress for minors, there seems to have been little focus on this generally, except in countries such as Ireland where there are active plans to improve on existing legal gender recognition laws. Part of the reason for this could be that many countries, like Ireland, had to focus on getting laws passed in the first instance, and extending access to minors was a political sticking point
Any laws or decrees pushed without the Consent of the governed - Wikipedia through force/intimidation or deliberately creating a veil to hide behind is something that should be undone.A great deal of the transgender debate is unexplained. One of the most mystifying aspects is the speed and success of a small number of small organisations in achieving major influence over public bodies, politicians and officials. How has a certain idea taken hold in so many places so swiftly?
So the question again: how did organisations with small budgets and limited resources achieve such stunning success, not just in the UK but elsewhere?
Well, thanks to the legal website Roll On Friday, I have now seen a document that helps answer that question.
The document is the work of Dentons, which says it is the world’s biggest law firm; the Thomson Reuters Foundation, an arm of the old media giant that appears dedicated to identity politics of various sorts; and the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex Youth & Student Organisation (IGLYO). Both Dentons and the Thomson Reuters Foundation note that the document does not necessarily reflect their views.
The report is called ‘Only adults? Good practices in legal gender recognition for youth’. Its purpose is to help trans groups in several countries bring about changes in the law to allow children to legally change their gender, without adult approval and without needing the approval of any authorities. ‘We hope this report will be a powerful tool for activists and NGOs working to advance the rights of trans youth across Europe and beyond,’ says the foreword.
In short, this is a handbook for lobbying groups that want to remove parental consent over significant aspects of children’s lives. A handbook written by an international law firm and backed by one of the world’s biggest charitable foundations.
‘In Ireland, Denmark and Norway, changes to the law on legal gender recognition were put through at the same time as other more popular reforms such as marriage equality legislation. This provided a veil of protection, particularly in Ireland, where marriage equality was strongly supported, but gender identity remained a more difficult issue to win public support for.’
I’ve added my bold there, because I think those are very telling phrases indeed. This is an issue that is ‘difficult to win public support for’ and best hidden behind the ‘veil of protection’ provided by a popular issue such as gay rights. Again, anyone who has even glanced at the UK transgender debate will recognise this description.
Another recommendation is even more revealing: ‘Avoid excessive press coverage and exposure.’
According to the report, the countries that have moved most quickly to advance trans rights and remove parental consent have been those where the groups lobbying for those changes have succeeded in stopping the wider public learning about their proposals. Conversely, in places like Britain, the more ‘exposure’ this agenda has had, the less successful the lobbying has been:
Although it offers extensive advice about the need to keep the trans-rights agenda out of the public’s gaze, the report has rather less to say about the possibility that advocates might just try doing what everyone else in politics does and make a persuasive argument for their cause. Actually convincing people that this stuff is a good idea doesn’t feature much in the report, which runs to 65 pages.
A major international law firm has helped write a lobbying manual for people who want to change the law to prevent parents having the final say about significant changes in the status of their own children. That manual advises those lobbying for that change to hide their plans behind a ‘veil’ and to make sure that neither the media nor the wider public know much about the changes affecting children that they are seeking to make. Because if the public find out about those changes, they might well object to them.
That, I think, should interest anyone who cares about how politics and policy are conducted, whether or not they care about the transgender issue.
I’m going to conclude with an observation I’ve made here before, but which I think bears repeating in the context of that report and the things it might tell people about other aspects of the trans issue: no policy made in the shadows can survive in sunlight.