Green Party led Brighton and Hove Council's Trans Equality scrutiny panel has published a paper with some "emerging themes" – it will go before a full council meeting in December for approval. Among their proposals is that the council should abolish honorifics in its communications with residents – this is because use of such terms as Mr, Mrs and Miss when filling in an application form are considered offensive to the "transgender community".
It is not enough for such people to be allowed to leave the form blank – all such designations are to be abolished. What are council officials supposed to call residents when addressing them formally? Citizen?
For those on the extreme left, such as the Green Party, minority groups are forever put together as arbitrary "communities" to be given subsidies, special status, and recognition. They are to be politicised with their grievances emphasised, providing a job creation scheme for the Diversity Industry. Those who object are branded old fashioned, prejudiced and insensitive. Any chance to pick a fight with Christians is always great sport.
Conservatives tend to think of people as individuals. The individual might have had a sex change operation. The individual might be a transvestite. The individual might be troubled or ambigous about their gender identity. Regardless of whether we define them as a "commmunity" who is best place to protect the minority rights of such people?
Let's take the example of school bullying. Bullies like to pick on someone who is different. They might be fat, or have ginger hair, or be black. They might be going through puberty and have let it be known that they are uncomfortable with their gender. Much the most effective policy on bullying, is not to allow it. Bad schools, as measured by academic performance tend also to be unpleasant places where bullying is rife. Schools where pupils can disrupt lessons without fear of the consequences. Schools where weak and incompetent teachers are not able to keep control.
The way to avoid bullying of any kind is to ensure that discipline is strong, that teachers who can't cope are sacked, that pupils who bully are excluded, that failing schools are closed or put under new management as sponsored academies. That free schools are established to offer an alternative. Does any of this sound like the Left's agenda? They want to keep the failing schools open – perhaps with a sub committee set up to establish some ineffective guidance that bullying is a bad thing.
Or what about crime? The way to deter some thug from beating up a transvesite, or beating up anyone else, is to ensure they will be arrested, convicted and severely punished. It means police on the beat not off on diversity training conferences.
The number of transgender people is very low – although, I accept, the term is not clearly defined. A study from the Netherlands stated that 1 in 12,000 of those born male undergo sex-reassignment and about 1 in 34,000 of those born female. Of course that is a narrow definition. It may also be that the proportion of transgender people in Brighton and Hove is higher than elsewhere. That means that the Council should have some sense of proportion. For instance it proposes: "Mandatory trans awareness training for council staff and partners." Let us suppose that such training might have some benefit in some occasional instances. Is it justifiable in terms of the staff time of the 8,000 council employees? Has any thought even been given to the cost?
There is a similar lack of costings for this section of the report:
No sanitary bins for trans men
Toilets don’t need ‘policing’ for mis-use – this can be very intimidating for trans people
Toilets – what needs to be done?
More unisex/gender neutral toilets
Then there is the section which has caught the attention of the media on forms of address:
Forms – the issues
• Contradictory – gender has ‘other’ category but not for honorifics (e.g. Mr, Ms)
• Particular problem with online forms, which can prevent completion
• No options for non-binary/genderqueer people
Forms – what needs to change?
• No honorifics
• Ask gender only if needed
• Think outside the box
• Option for ‘other’ gender
Again there is a lack of any sense of proportion. It may be that a few transgender people are offended by the honoric boxes. I haven't seen any evidence for this and I suspect that rather than a genuine grievance it is political. If the council's computer is adjusted so that those who wish to leave those boxes blank may do so, that is fine.
What seems to have been ignored is that there are many people who want to be known as Mr, or Mrs, or Ms, or Miss. I was canvassing and had a complaint from a lady that the council had sent her a letter saying "Dear Ms…" she wanted Mrs to be used.
I hope the Trans Equality scrutiny panel's recommendations are rejected.