Lib Dems on the brink: Swinson’s ‘self-identification’ pledge leaves women groups outraged

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Women’s groups fear that ‘self-identification” will compromise the safety of women in female-only spaces such as changing rooms. The Lib Dems want to make it easier for transgender people to establish their gender identities by amending the Gender Recognition Act. Currently under the terms of the Act, anyone who wants to confirm a change in their gender identity must go through a number of procedures.

These include obtaining a doctor’s diagnosis of gender dysphoria, providing proof of living in their preferred gender for two years, being assessed by a panel of medical experts, as well as paying a fee of around £140.

In response to campaigns by transgender groups and activists, the Lib Dems propose to remove the requirement for medical reports, scrap the fee and recognise “non-binary gender” identities.

The Lib Dems candidate and former Labour MP Luciana Berger defended the party’s new policy, saying that the party was committed to gender equality.

She said: “In the same way we fought for equality for sexuality, for people from different ethnic backgrounds, this is one of those equalities we are working through and fighting for equality as well.

“There should not be hierarchies of equalities.”

Women’s groups, though, have criticised the policy initiative, saying that it is open for abuse and could endanger the safety of women.

Dr Heather Brunskell-Evans, co-founder of the Women’s Human Rights Campaign, said:”The obvious examples are changing rooms, sports centres, prisons, and hospital wards.

“There are also women who may have been sexually abused or violated in some way that find it difficult to be with male bodied people whether those people are harmless or not.”

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