One of Judaism’s major teachings is we are all created in the image of the Eternal One.
The worth of a person is indisputable and this extends to the need
for people to be treated with respect and dignity. In his Mishneh Torah, Rambam taught: “Do not belittle human dignity, for it overrules a negative commandment enacted by the rabbis…”
Two years ago, with these principles in mind, Liberal Judaism urged its members to participate in the consultation for reforms of the Gender Recognition Act, which would protect the dignity of transgender (including non-binary) and intersex people.
These reforms included simplifying the process of changing one’s legal gender by removing extensive and expensive requirements and extending this right to non-binary people.
As a rabbi and one of around 100,000 people who responded to this consultation, and part of the 70 percent who favoured the reforms,
I am dismayed that the government is considering dropping them.
To protect their dignity, transgender and non-binary people need to access documentation matching their gender identity.
Rights such as those related to employment and the ability to move freely through obtaining a driving licence or passport are dependent on this documentation. Additionally, their dignity, and even their lives, must not be put at risk by eroding existing rights through changes to the Equality Act 2010.
For example, forcing trans women to use male facilities such as changing rooms and toilets destroys their dignity, as well as potentially putting them in danger by forcing them into spaces where they could be subjected to harassment or assault.
Trans women have been using women’s spaces for years, and there is no evidence other women have been put at risk. As a cisgender woman, I have no problem sharing such spaces.
Trans women are women and trans men are men and the heartache and pain of not being respected as who they are has consequences.
The potential for harming physical and mental health was highlighted by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, an interdisciplinary association of some 700 members worldwide.
Each of us can help to protect the dignity of others by writing to our MP on this matter. If not now, when?
- Rabbi Janet Darley is a member of the Conference of Liberal Rabbis and Cantors