Green Party’s Carla Denyer: Trans rights do not threaten my rights as a woman

Author: Sophie Perry

Green Party co-leader Carla Denyer has insisted that “pushing for greater trans equality and trans rights in society” does not “threaten [her] rights as a woman”. 

Speaking to PinkNews ahead of the general election on 4 July, Denyer, who leads the Greens alongside Adrian Ramsay, made clear the party’s policies on a variety of issues and topics, including self-ID, the definition of sex in the 2010 Equality Act and the UK’s international ranking on LGBTQ+ rights.

The Green Party of England and Wales’ first MP was elected in 2010 when Caroline Lucas won Brighton Pavilion, a seat she defended in the 2015, 2017 and 2019 general elections. Siân Berry is running to retain that seat for the Greens on 4 July.  

PinkNews: What would you do for LGBTQ+ people if the Greens are elected?

Carla Denyer: Well, as a queer woman myself and one [who’s] been active in our LGBTQIA+ Greens group, obviously this is a key issue for me. The Green Party are really clear on equality issues. One of the key points in our manifesto on LGBT stuff is self-ID for trans people. We would make it easier for the trans people to have their gender recognised because we are clear that it is about dignity, that’s about making sure that trans people have the same dignity that the rest of us take for granted, that if they get married on their marriage certificate or on their tombstone, when they pass away, their gender is recorded accurately.

That’s only fair and that’s a key principle: trans rights are human rights.

We would also push for an “X” marker to be available on a passport so that non-binary people can use that if they prefer, and making sure that there’s good access to trans healthcare and, indeed, access to healthcare for everybody.

Green Party co-leaders Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay
Green Party co-leaders Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay. (Alishia Abodunde/Getty Images)

In the past there have been accusations of transphobia within the Greens and it was previously reported the Scottish Greens temporarily cut ties with the England and Wales Greens over it. What has been done to address this and can you set the record straight?

There is absolutely no place for transphobia or any other form of prejudice in society or in politics, I’m clear on that. It is true that there have been some issues around transphobia in the Green Party, as there has been across UK society, and I think it is a symptom of rising levels of division, of culture wars… that’s something we need to tackle collaboratively at a UK-wide level. 

In terms of the Green Party specifically, the Scottish Greens – our sister party – have been separate from the Green Party of England and Wales since the 1990s. We share policies on the vast majority of policy areas though, including supporting self-ID for trans people and wanting to reform the Gender Recognition Act. 

The Conservatives have pledged to rewrite “sex” in the Equality Act [to make sex mean ‘biological sex’]. What would the Greens’ policy be? 

The Equality Act probably doesn’t need editing as a law although I recognise that perhaps there might be a place for some guidance to clarify. But the act already allows service providers to provide services on the basis they’re needed, according to gender, and while there might be cases for providers, like a women’s refuge, for example, to make exceptions, that needs to be on a case-by-case basis.

Rather than making assumptions about the entirety of all trans women, in the “threat” they pose as a group, I would much rather service providers made a decision depending on the individual threats or vulnerabilities that individual people might introduce.

According to the TransLives Survey 2021, 40 per cent of transgender people face discrimination when seeking housing, 63 per cent face discrimination when seeking employment. What will you do to get these numbers down?

These statistics unfortunately don’t surprise me. I’ve got a number of trans friends and colleagues and it’s something that does come up on the doorstep in my home city of Bristol as well: the prejudice trans people face just in their ordinary lives, in work and in trying to get access to housing.

There is a certain amount that policy can do but ultimately this is about culture change, and that’s why I’m always clear, to say that trans rights are human rights, trans people deserve the same level of dignity and fair treatment that all of the rest of us do in society. I, and the Green Party, will never give in to the stoking of culture wars and the scapegoating of any vulnerable group, including trans people who are often blamed for something that has absolutely nothing to do with them. 

I’m clear, as a woman, as a queer woman, as a feminist woman, that pushing for greater trans equality and trans rights in society doesn’t threaten my rights as a woman at all.

It’s true that we’ve still got some way to go on feminism and that we still need to close the gender pay gap, for example, and create more opportunities for women to get involved in politics. I mean the way the House of Commons is set up at the moment doesn’t really lend itself to people who have caring responsibilities, so there’s a lot more that can be done on gender equality, there’s a lot more that can be done on trans equality and – as far as I’m concerned – these two are not in competition.

In fact, dealing with the misogyny in society is something that will benefit us all.

The Greens vow to push the next government to revoke voter ID legislation – which they believe was brought in to deal with a non-existent problem and which affects trans and non-binary people. (Nicola Tree/Getty Images)

The UK was first for LGBTQ+ rights on ILGA-Europe’s annual Rainbow Map in 2015 and dropped to 16th in 2024. What will you do to return the country to the top spot?

It’s been really disappointing to see our rankings sliding back on that when we used to be a beacon of hope for LGBT people in Europe. 

Looking more broadly, Green Party MPs – however many of us we manage to get elected to the House of Commons this time – will be pushing, for exampl, for improved access to healthcare [and] easier access to the HIV prevention pill PrEP. We’ve got a vision of eliminating HIV altogether in society and we have the medicine that means that that can be done, but it requires policies to match. 

We saw the Conservative government release their guidance for gender-questioning children. What policies or guidance would the Greens bring in for these youngsters?

The Green Party would do our best to protect age-appropriate, inclusive relationship and sex education in schools. It is really important that young people learn about all the different types of relationships, all the different ways of living and being. Of course, it has to be age-appropriate but what the Conservatives announced a few weeks ago amounts to pretty much Section 28 all over again.

I don’t want another generation of young people to go through that. We know that ignorance doesn’t protect any children and so appropriate relationship and sex education in schools, including inclusive education about LGBTQ issues, is a must. 

Voter ID is obviously something that’s going to affect a lot of trans and non-binary people in this election. If the Greens were in government would you revoke this policy?

The Greens would revoke the voter ID legislation, it’s clear the Conservatives introduced this to fix a problem that wasn’t really there. There have been hardly any cases in the UK of voter impersonation, that is simply not the issue and bringing in voter ID disenfranchises many people, including young people, people from more deprived backgrounds and some LGBT people.

We would roll back that legislation, we’re pushing the next government to do so.

Any final message to undecided queer voters?

All queer people are also fully rounded human beings like myself who, I know, care about issues such as the climate crisis [and] the housing crisis and many LGBT young people will be at the sharp end of the cost-of-living crisis. 

What I hear on the doorsteps in Bristol, where we have a pretty healthy LGBT population, is that it’s all those issues together that will help people decide how to vote.

In this election, the Conservatives are clearly on their way out, the Tories are toast. We’re going to have a Labour government. So, your choice is: do you want a Labour government without much challenge from other parties, with an unassailable majority, or do you want a Labour government with a handful of Greens in the House of Commons to push them to be bolder, to go for fairer policies – fairer in terms of LGBT equality – in terms of economic, social and racial justice and tackling [the] climate crisis?

Carla Denyer is standing in Bristol Central. The other candidates there are: Robert Clarke (Reform UK), Nicholas Coombes (Liberal Democrats), Thangam Debbonaire (Labour), Kellie-Jay Keen (Party of Women) and Samuel Williams (Conservative).

The other candidates standing in Brighton Pavilion are: Carl Buckfield (Social Democratic), Tom Gray (Labour), Mark Francis Mulvihill (Reform UK), Ashley Ridley (Liberal Democrats), Citizen Skwith (Official Monster Raving Loony), Al Steve (Independent) and Sarah Victoria Webster (Conservative).

Actual Story on Pink News
Author: Sophie Perry

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