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International Women’s Day Q&A with Penny Mordaunt MP, Secretary of State for International Development NOW CLOSED TO NEW QUESTIONS

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MNHQ have commented on this thread.

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 04-Mar-19 14:29:32

[EDITED BY MNHQ: Questions have now been collated and sent over - new questions may not be answered]

Hello all,

We’re very pleased to announce a Q&A with Penny Mordaunt MP, Secretary of State for International Development and Minister for Women and Equalities.

Please post your questions on this thread by lunchtime on Wednesday March 6. We’ll send on a selection to the Minister and we will post up written answers from Penny on this thread this coming Friday (March 8), International Women’s Day.

In her role as Secretary of State for International Development, Penny Mordaunt oversees DFID’s work ending extreme poverty overseas, including programmes focused on girls’ education and women’s health. DFID has been in the news recently, facing calls for its budget to be spent partly on encouraging projects that would aid British business overseas, and for it to be folded into the Foreign Office instead of being a standalone department.

In her role as Minister for Women and Equalities, Penny is also responsible for work including gender pay gap reporting and possible changes to the law concerning gender recognition.

Penny campaigned for Brexit in the run-up to the 2016 EU referendum and is a Royal Naval Reservist. She has previously been Minister of State for Disabled People and Minister of State for the Armed Forces.

Please add your questions for Penny here by Wednesday lunchtime. And although it’s not a live webchat please stick to the spirit of our webchat guidelines and keep it civil.

If one topic is overwhelmingly dominating responses we might request that people don't continue to post what's effectively the same question or point. Rest assured we will ALWAYS make the recipient aware that it's an area of concern to multiple users and will encourage them to engage with those questions.


Nb existing members will be able to post on this thread. Thanks.

HumberElla Thu 14-Mar-19 15:27:20

What’s the guidance re delayed response to web chats? Do we get a gin voucher to sustain us if it’s more than a week?

Smotheroffive Thu 14-Mar-19 15:45:30

the UK has a strong tradition of supporting women's rights, and I will continue that

Righty ho, then, there's a commitment to support women's rights right there on that award, so lets see this in action, right here right now and no more bluster and undermining women's rights is what I'd expect

Beamur Thu 14-Mar-19 15:55:18

Maybe her office are checking out the details of some of the questions?
Clutches at straws...

Smotheroffive Thu 14-Mar-19 15:55:23

You either champion women's rights or you dont, then just means womens rights not some.bollox as well,not the rights of those who are not women, and have penis, as legally, we are women and want to believe that you actually mean what you say, but based on this performance, well, what are we supposed to surmise?

HazardGhost Thu 14-Mar-19 16:09:47


SlinkyDinkyDoo Thu 14-Mar-19 16:18:14

Pmsl Empress how apt!

AutumnCrow Thu 14-Mar-19 17:26:35

we are women and want to believe that you actually mean what you say, but based on this performance, well, what are we supposed to surmise?

It's not really a good look, a nearly-a-week long No Show. If she wants to vet her Spads' answers before they go out, why doesn't Penny Mordaunt say that?

Otherwise the impression is left of indifference or prolonged whitewashing.

ChickenNuggetsChipsAndBeans Thu 14-Mar-19 17:27:26

Almost tea time in the nugget household.

I am watching with interest. I have been made politically homeless by Jeremy Corbyn, but I could not vote for a party thst was unable to accurately define woman.

Cismyfatarse Thu 14-Mar-19 17:29:22

Are we there yet?

MrsTerryPratchett Thu 14-Mar-19 17:31:16

I have been made politically homeless by Jeremy Corbyn, but I could not vote for a party thst was unable to accurately define woman.

The Conservatives are really missing a trick here.

Melroses Thu 14-Mar-19 17:31:32

oh, nothing doing...……….

<wanders off again>

AutumnCrow Thu 14-Mar-19 17:37:57

The Conservatives are really missing a trick here

Aren't they just?

If Penny Mordaunt's answers turn out to be a pile of drivel, that'll presumably be actual news, given this is a big issue within an already unstable parliament?

ThePurportedDoctoress Thu 14-Mar-19 17:41:33

I look forward to Penny's leadership campaign speech.
"...and as Minister for Women and Equalities, I have championed..."

Smotheroffive Thu 14-Mar-19 17:47:59

<shoots hand up....oooo, I know,I know>

...erosion of womens rights along with flagrant disregard for their fears and very real concerns and safety...

FuzzyPuffling Thu 14-Mar-19 17:52:01

I have hung on for eighteen pages. My arms are getting very tired.

CaptainKirksSpookyghost Thu 14-Mar-19 17:55:04

Love this thread
She's trolling the site, we all knew this would happen. It's the arrogance that comes with being above the law.

BojanaMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 14-Mar-19 17:56:44

Hello all,

Thank you for your patience - please see below for answers from Penny Mordaunt.

Q. Do you wholeheartedly support the UK spending 0.7% of GNP on aid?

I voted for the 0.7% GNI threshold and believe strong aid spending is important not least because many of the problems we are seeking to tackle overseas have an impact at home. If we tackle issues at their root, such as dealing with migration at its starting point and investing in new drugs and antibiotics, we prevent piling costs onto other areas of government spending like combatting organised crime, defence or health. However, I never forget we have important priorities at home too, and that we are borrowing this money. So now as well as proving we are spending taxpayers’ money well, we have to show that our funds could not be better spent in the national interest.

Q. What are your views on the distinction of remit between DFID and the FCO, and the suggestions that DFID should be incorporated back into the FCO?

All DFID’s work aims to reduce extreme poverty and we are driven by what is in our country’s national interest. That includes the delivery of the Global Goals which will make us safer, more secure and more prosperous, but in a way that recognises the priorities of the people whose money it is: the UK taxpayer. It is what is becoming known as the ‘win-win’ agenda. It doesn’t dilute the good we do, it doubles the good the aid budget does.

If we are to be successful in making the world a better place and eradicating extreme poverty by 2030 we have to work increasingly with others in partnership. DFID is a technical and highly operational department, similar to the MoD in that respect. We have a strong voice helping the National Security Council (NSC) and Government shape policy and strategy and if we were not a standalone department with a seat at cabinet and the NSC, that perspective would be missed. I think that works well.

We are not the only department which spends aid money (ODA), but we do have a huge amount of expertise and so we have been trying to help other departments spend their ODA money better. I don’t mind a bit of government reorganisation - I have moved the Government Equalities Office into the Cabinet Office for example, but there would have to be a clear reason for it, and I don’t believe there is.

Q-a. Can you please update us on the plans to investigate the serious allegations regarding WWF directly funding paramilitary groups who imprison, beat and torture local people, including raping indigenous women? Are there plans to widen the scope to include other charities that receive DFID funding?

The allegations made about WWF are very serious and they have been reported to the Charity Commission, their regulator and an independent investigation is underway. We are following it closely.
There has been a big push to diversify who DFID works with, both in terms of its suppliers and contractors, but also the number and size of charities we give grants to.

We have been travelling round the UK to drum up interest in smaller organisations working with us and have a target of 40 per cent of our work being delivered by SMEs. We have a small grants programme and through initiatives like UK Aid Match we are enabling the British public to have more say over what we fund. I will very shorty be making some exciting announcements about our work with small charities.

Q-b. Particularly given previous revelations involving high profile charities such as Oxfam, I am concerned there have been no lessons learned and our government are continuing to indirectly fund the sexual exploitation of women and other human rights abuses. Clearly there is not enough due diligence being done to vet these funding recipients, are there plans to change policies to tighten up scrutiny in the future?

I can reassure you of the things we have done:
mobilised 50 nations to lobby the UN to get their house in order on safeguarding;
launched Operation Soteria, a five-year project with Interpol, to stop perpetrators of sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment moving around the aid sector. It will digitise criminal record checks, improve information sharing between countries and train staff, so there is a more robust law enforcement response against predatory individuals;
people will be investigated as a result of this work;
in January Reuters published the findings from its survey of a dozen major aid organisations who DFID works with. It showed that the number of reports of sexual abuse and harassment received in 2018 increased by 17% compared to 2017. The survey also found that last year 91 staff were sacked as a result of those reports, with many other reports under investigation. That is only a snapshot. But it tallies with trends that DFID is seeing and that the Charity Commission and United Nations have reported too.
There is more reporting and more robust action being taken, and we know action is being taken against perpetrators in Asia and Africa and we are working with Interpol to improve vetting checks for aid workers and better information sharing between law enforcement agencies on perpetrators of abuse.

Q. Can I ask why the Government doesn't take into account the status of LGBT rights in countries before sending aid or directing aid towards supporting LGBT groups. Trans men and women are under a massive push back in this country but in many countries that we support it would be illegal and possibly be punishable by death. Will the minister assure me that LGBT rights will be at the heart of policy. PS I am a mum and a woman with a trans history.


I am very conscious of this in my role as the Minister for Women and Equalities. We use many different avenues to encourage nations to uphold human rights, as well as supporting civil society groups, including LGBT organisations, who defend and support people in the countries we work with. Quite obviously, countries cannot fully develop while oppressing minorities. DFID works closely with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to raise concerns where we have them.

However, half of our work is in fragile and conflict affected states and much of it is life-saving. In certain countries we aren’t giving aid to governments, we are working with trusted aid agencies to prevent people dying. That means we do work in some countries whose leaders do not uphold human rights, but unless we do this work, those people would be in peril.

During the Brexit campaign, you repeatedly said that the UK couldn't stop Turkey from joining the EU. This was a huge lie. A lie I heard many people repeat in the run-up to the referendum. So my questions are: Why did you say that? Are you ashamed of the lies you told to get people to vote Brexit? Do you think deliberately lying in politics is acceptable or democratic?


I said that because I believed there was a risk of Turkey joining the EU and Britain not being able to veto this due to the public statements made by the Government, including the Prime Minister, at the time.

I’ll explain my thinking. Our former Prime Minister David Cameron set out the case for Turkey’s membership of the EU in a video that emerged in 2016, saying “I am here to make the case for Turkey’s membership of the European Union and to fight for it… I will remain your strongest possible advocate for EU membership and for greater influence at the top table of European diplomacy. This is something I feel very strongly and very passionately about. Together I want us to pave the road from Ankara to Brussels…”

He went on to draw a parallel between Britain and Turkey by mentioning how Britain was initially vetoed from joining the Common Market in 1973 by France.

He added: “We know what it’s like to be shut out of the club. But we also know that these things can change”

I do not believe having given that assurance to a key NATO partner Britain could have ever vetoed their membership.

During the referendum campaign some said we didn’t need to worry about our veto, as other countries would use theirs. I was not reassured. In addition, during the campaign, as Turkey’s human rights abuses escalated, rather than warn them such authoritarianism would exclude them from the club, the EU chose to speed up the process of Turkey’s accession.

Q. How can we ensure that women are not prevented from working by high childcare costs without penalising professional childcarers themselves, most of whom are women on low incomes?

Our free childcare offers are designed to ensure children have the best start in life and also mean more parents are spending less on childcare and are able to balance their work and family lives. Next year we will be spending a record amount on childcare support – around £6 billion, including funding for our free early education offers – including 30 hours, the universal 15 hours and 15 hours for disadvantaged two year olds, on which we will spend around £3.5 billion this year alone.

Councils receive additional funding for maintained nursery schools in recognition of the unavoidable additional costs such as the legal requirement to have a headteacher. We are also determined to improve the training and professional development available to the early years workforce, including our £20 million programme targeted at those working in more deprived areas and by setting more robust criteria for level 2 qualifications. I am always keen to hear further views about how what more we can do to help in this area.

Q. When there are laudable attempts to encourage girls to consider STEM careers, would it be possible to do this without using pink fonts?

Oh dear. Let me know where you found the pink and I will go and have a word.

We’ve made considerable progress in increasing girls’ participation in STEM subjects with the proportion of girls taking STEM A Levels increasing by a quarter since 2010, and 25% more women accepted onto full-time STEM undergraduate courses. Definitely more to do though!

BojanaMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 14-Mar-19 17:57:12

And here's the second batch of answers from Penny:

Q: What is the Government doing to reduce violence towards women? Too many women are dying at the hands of violent partners and we're also seeing in the news that murderers are using 'rough sex' as a defence. How can it be argued that anyone can give consent to sex that results in serious injuries or death?

The Domestic Abuse Bill and wider action plan will help in this area, ensuring that the justice system and other agencies do everything they can both to protect and support victims and their children, and pursue their abuser. The Bill will do many things including creating a Commissioner, a domestic abuse protection notice (DAPN) and domestic abuse protection order (DAPO). It will also prevent cross examination of victims by accused perpetrators of domestic abuse and of other vulnerable parties in family proceedings (and prevent domestic abuse victims and other vulnerable parties from having to conduct cross-examination), introduce mandatory lie-detector or polygraph examinations of high risk domestic abuse offenders on licence and measures to support victims through the criminal process.

Preventing violence is a massive theme of the work both my departments do, so as well as the issues covered in the Bill I think we also need to examine what is driving such behaviour. At the GEO we are currently looking at research in the area of how best to engage men and boys on the social norms and expectations that affect them and their behaviour, and you can expect this to be a focus of ours in the coming months.

Q. Was the decision to steal women’s pensions a blow for equality?

The government decided more than 20 years ago it was going to make the State Pension age the same for men and women as a long-overdue move towards gender equality. People are living longer so we need to raise the age at which all of us can draw a State Pension to make it sustainable now and for future generations. By 2030, more than 3 million women stand to gain an average of £550 per year through the introduction of the new State Pension, and at least 80% of women reaching State Pension age before 2030 stand to receive more under the new State Pension than they would have done under the previous State Pension system.

But my department is working with the Department for work and Pensions (DWP) to look at what we can do to support older and more financially fragile women, and how we can close the pensions gap. There will be more on that in our Gender Equality and Economic Empowerment strategy this Spring.

I would also add that despite the logic of introducing the pension changes, I understand completely why this was so tough for women who were not prepared for it. Having your plans altered if you think you have few options to compensate, is very worrying and stressful.

Q. Why is the Tampon Tax being spread around so many different groups that aren't for the benefit of women?

''Women-only charities lose out in funding from tampon tax''

Thanks for raising this. The fund has made £62 million available to support vulnerable women and girls, but I’m not aware of why some projects were awarded and not others, or who applied to the fund and didn’t get support, it may be to do with the different themes that were given as focus areas for different rounds. I will find out more from DCMS, the department in charge of distributing the funding.

Q. Penny, I heard you talking about period poverty on woman's hour. You made the point that you will be spending quite a bit of money to try and reduce the stigma of buying period products and to raise awareness. However, do you not think that actual poverty- ie- being short of money and not being able to afford to buy period products is an actual problem, and if so what are you proposing to do about this?

You are right, by and large crack poverty you help crack period poverty. The Gender Equality and Economic Empowerment strategy, which we will publish later in the Spring will help us build women’s financial resilience. It is particularly focussed on low paid, part time, women trapped in low paid work or marginalised, women with multiple caring responsibilities, and women with disabilities. If we want women to thrive, to be as financially secure and resilient as they can be, and to reach their full potential, we need to address the challenges and choices they face.

But I think there are other factors too that create period poverty. Provision of sanitary products have not been the first thought in either public or charitable support for those in need, although there are some great schemes out there. And there will be other scenarios where people have had difficulty accessing what they need, those who find themselves in hospital unexpectedly for example.

There are clearly some things that government can help with. Products available in hospitals and schools will now be funded, but I also want to bring together those organisations who have been working in this area with manufacturers and retailers and figure out how we can ensure sustainable provision in all these senarios.

This is not about reinventing the wheel, this is about scaling up existing good ideas.

Q. Do you think Diane Abbott has a right to feel angry that in comparison she is expected to put up with much worse abuse. More generally, what measures can be taken to limit the chilling impact on women’s participation in public society by toxic masculinity.

Diane has experienced some truly horrible racist and misogynistic abuse which is unacceptable and has rightly been condemned from all sides, including our Prime Minister.

We will publish a White Paper, setting out new laws to tackle the full range of online harms and set clear responsibilities for tech companies to keep UK citizens safe. We are considering all options, including what legislation will be necessary and whether a regulator is needed.

What I would say is there are now much better security protections available for MPs and that the downsides to this job are far outweighed by the upsides of serving your community and your country: it is a truly amazing job and a privilege and I’d encourage people to stand.

Q: I think sex should be included as one of the groups that get protected in hate crimes. If that happened then I think that women would benefit from this hugely. Women are regularly targeted by violent men because they are women. Because of their sex. If racist abuse is shouted at someone from a car that's a hate crime. If my daughter is called a slag by someone in that situation then it doesn't get treated as a hate crime. Though it clearly is. I think women are as deserving of this extra protection just as much as the other groups. Do you agree?

As part of the Hate Crime Action Plan Refresh we have asked the Law Commission to undertake a review of current hate crime legislation and we look forward to seeing the results. This review will consider whether the current legislation is effective and whether there should be any additional protected characteristics.

Q. Many low income women are losing money - and friends - to Multi Level Marketing companies and their representatives. Do you agree that the laws on pyramid selling need to be tightened?

Pyramid selling schemes are illegal and people who establish, operate or promote them can be prosecuted under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. Those who participate in them are likely to lose money, and you should report anyone who you suspect is operating a pyramid scheme to action fraud or citizens advice.

Q. Following your comments in June 2018 regarding the lack of women's reproductive rights in NI and the fact that Stormont is still completely inert but with worse feeling between the parties, I was wondering what way forward you as Minister for Women and Equalities can see in order to provide women in NI with these rights?

The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) and their Secretary of State, my colleague Karen Bradley, are leading on this issue.
But the current enquiry by Parliament’s Women and Equalities Select Committee has been hugely helpful in showing how healthcare professionals are so concerned about doing something illegal they are not even allowing women to access the services which should currently be open to them. While NIO wait for either an assembly or declaration from the courts we should at least ensure the guidance being given to healthcare professionals is clear.
We have a duty of care to women from all parts of the United Kingdom and we are working hard to find a way through this.

Q. How is the UK government working to ensure women’s access to single sex spaces and services in the UK?

Q. It's generally acknowledged in the development sector that single sex toilets are important for girls to maintain access to education.
Do you agree with this, and if so why are your policies reducing access of UK girls to spaces where they can deal with menstruation in privacy away from male bodied peers (however they identify)?

Q. The Equality and Human Rights Commission say "There is evidence that practical guidance is required to help trans people, single-sex and separate-sex service providers understand and navigate the complexities of sex-based exceptions in the Equality Act 2010, without compromising the service provided to women in difficult and vulnerable situations."
In fact women and girls would also like practical guidance as to what the Equality Act says about our rights in everyday situations like school and sports centre changing rooms, hospital wards and youth hostels, as well as in vulnerable situations like women's refuges. What will the government do to provide clear guidance for all?

Answer (for above three questions)
I understand people are worried, but I want to reassure them we are absolutely committed to maintaining protections for single sex services. As part of developing our response to the Gender Recognition Act consultation we are considering whether we need to take any further action, to make sure single sex spaces continue to be protected.
When it comes to toilets in schools, the School Premises regulations 2012, which cover England, state that separate toilet and washing facilities must be provided for boys and girls aged 8 and over.
However, the same regulations state that there can be an exception to single sex segregated toilets in schools where the toilet facilities are in a room that can be secured from the inside and used by one pupil at a time. So if a school wishes to provide, alongside the single sex toilets, single occupancy lockable toilets (rather than stalls in a shared area) as gender neutral toilets for pupils, that is judged acceptable by the regulations.
We know the concern people have over these issues and we are working as swiftly as possible to arrive at what further we may need to do.

endofthelinefinally Thu 14-Mar-19 17:57:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BojanaMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 14-Mar-19 17:57:36

And here is the last batch of answers:

Q. Do you have any explanation for how a policy was allowed to exist that enabled a male bodied, legally male rapist to self ID as a woman and be placed in a women's prison? Do you acknowledge this to be a human rights abuse of the female prisoners and what actions are being taken to ensure that this never happens again?
This is an area for my colleagues at the Ministry of Justice, who I know are reviewing their policy and practice in this area at the moment. We need to be sensitive to the needs of everybody in our society so we have an appropriate solution – we have seen transgender women commit suicide in men’s prisons, and we have seen the horrific case of Karen White. Nobody should be put in a space that causes a risk to them, or a risk to others.

Q. What do you think of academics being censored or disciplined for being critical of transactivists' attempts to erase women & girls from any kind of gender critical feminism? I am one such academic - I can't speak about this in public or under my real name - why have you persisted in a set of policies which has allowed this to happen?
It is important that proper academic analysis and open discussion of trans issues are not supressed and academic freedom is not curtailed. But it is also important the voices of trans people are listened to as well.
The EHRC in February this year published a guide on freedom of expression for higher education providers and student unions. This is a useful piece of guidance and I encourage people to read it.

Q. Do you think that it is right and fair that a person who was born male and has gone through male puberty, can compete in girls’ and women’s sports?

Answer:Sporting bodies have their own rules in place regarding transgender people in sporting competitions, and it is for each organistion to determine the rules that best suit their sport or competition when looking at such issues of fairness and safety. The International Olympic Committee has a set of guidelines which they have put into place, for example.

Q. My question is about the Tavistock Clinic and GIDs. Children were given experimental drugs euphemistically known as 'puberty blockers'. This has emerged as a major safeguarding scandal. Furthermore, follow-up studies of the children post-18 have not taken place, which is inexcusable in medicine and science. It is known, though, that harm has been caused. And also that money has been made. Will you assure us that the promotion of such harm in schools will stop immediately?

The Gender Identity Development Service, which is more commonly referred to as ‘the Tavistock’ is the only NHS gender identity service for under-18s in England and Wales and is not promoted in schools. This is separate from Gender Identity Clinics for adults, of which there are seven in England and Wales. When it comes to medical treatment, there are age limits. Puberty blockers can only be given to children from about 12, who have gone through extensive counselling and discussion with their families and medical experts. Cross-sex hormones are only available at 16 and over, again, after a continued in depth look at how that child’s health is progressing, and surgery is only available to adults who are 18 and over.
The Gender Identity Development Service for under-18s notes on its own website that there is not enough research out there on puberty blockers. This is something the NHS has been carefully and sensibly dealing with for years – making the best decision for each individual child, in conjunction with their families, weighing up all the risks.
We have committed in our LGBT action Plan to improving our understanding of the impacts on children and adolescents of changing their gender.
It is important to note that age limits for legal gender recognition are separate to age limits for medical treatment. The age limit for applying for legal gender recognition is 18, and there is no intention to change this.

Q. Do you stand by your earlier statement that transwomen are women? If so please would you explain exactly how a man can become a woman? Would it not be better for a man with gender dysphoria to be able to change his legal sex marker to that of Transwoman? Is it best practice in law to have Male bodied people with male genitalia classed as women?

Yes I do. I think it is important here to explain what it means to change your legal sex marker. When someone goes through the process of applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate to change their legal gender, they then use that certificate to get a new birth certificate.
This means their new birth certificate will show the name they are now using and the sex marker on the birth certificate will change either from male to female or female to male. There is no box for ‘transwoman’ on a birth certificate. We are operating within the confines of a system that only recognises male and female on birth certificates, and so trans people must, in order to legally be recognised in the gender they live their life in, change the sex marker on their birth certificate.
The Gender Recognition Act 2004 does not require trans people to have genital surgery to legally change their gender. This law has been in place since 2005. At the time it was world leading for not requiring trans people to be sterilised in order to legally change their gender – because of course that is what genital surgery effectively does. Many other countries follow a similar approach, or go further than the UK position.

Q. Do you agree we should repeal the GRA, that it should not be possible to change the sex marker on your birth certificate, passport etc from male to female as these people are not in fact changing sex. For medical reasons alone surely it is essential to know whether a human body is male or female.

As I said in answer to the last question, the Gender Recognition Act 2004 does not require trans people to have genital surgery to legally change their gender. This law has been in place since 2005. At the time it was world leading for not requiring trans people to be sterilised in order to legally change their gender – because of course that is what genital surgery effectively does. Many other countries follow a similar approach, or go further than the UK position.

Q. If The House of Commons was 50% men and 50% transwomen is that equality?

When the chamber of the House of Commons looks like the country it serves then I think we’ll know we are getting there.

Q. My daughter refuses to wear feminine clothes, has short hair, likes everything traditionally masculine from football to dinosaurs, and claimed she was a boy for 4 years. Obviously she’s not. She’s a girl confused by social gender roles which do not allow her to be her quirky self. Meanwhile, trans rights activists (including groups that you listen to carefully, like Mermaids) are very concerned to tell me online that she’s really my son and that I am abusive. At the moment I am terrified to send her into school because the transgender ideology has become so entrenched and indeed is about to be taught in schools thanks to SRE reforms. What are you doing to support girls like my daughter and parents like me? Why do schools have no government guidance on this issue?

I want women and men to be free to make choices that suit them, not based on other people, and society’s, expectations. We want schools to be a place where all pupils feel safe and supported. The new Relationships and Sex Education guidance will help children to understand LGBT issues in an age-appropriate way. It does not set out exactly how a school should teach about LGBT issues, but instead says that the school should cover LGBT when it considers it appropriate, and they are free to determine how they do this. It is hard to comment further about your particular situation, but if you have concerns I suggest you raise them with your local MP- we can often mediate in such situations if you have concerns.
Your daughter sounds wonderful and I hope she continues to be herself and wear what she wants. I was a bit of a tomboy growing up, including playing for a boys football team.

Q. If you are right and "transwomen are women" how do we define those people who are of the sex class that produces ova, gestates their young, lactates, menstruates etc? And if we can't define that group how do we protect their rights not to be discriminated against because of their membership of that sex class?

I know what you're getting at in this question. On these matters you'll find me to be understanding and highly pragmatic. I get your concerns about this. My job is to ensure that these issues are dealt with and that everyone can go about their business and can feel supported and comfortable. And I am trying to do this swiftly.

The Equality Act exists to guard against discrimination on the grounds of a number of protected characteristics, including sex. There are many women who do not menstruate, who do not bear children, who do not produce eggs, for whatever reason. They are still covered by the protected characteristic of sex. The Gender Recognition Act allows someone to change their legal gender by altering the sex marker on their birth certificate.

Also, the legal principle in the UK is that the person who carries and gives birth to a child is the mother of that child. This is very important - for example, with surrogacy it is the woman who carries the child, rather than the woman who donates her eggs, who is listed as the mother on the child’s birth certificate.

“Mother” in legal terms therefore has a specific meaning – it means carrying and giving birth to a child.

Q. I want to ask if you are aware of the enormous impact teaching gender theory in schools is having on the autistic community? Recent research from The Tavistock indicates that a staggering 48% of young people referred to the Tavistock have autistic traits, with 35% of them moderate to severe.

We are aware of the fact there seems to be a higher prevalence of autistic spectrum conditions in clinically referred gender dysphoric adolescents than in the general adolescent population. This is something the NHS Gender Identity Development Service is looking at.

If you would like to make me aware of specific details please do get in touch.

Q. How are gender non-conforming children being supported rather than encouraged to believe they have been 'born in the wrong body'? (It is utterly regressive to tell a girl who likes football, dinosaurs and trucks that they are really a boy.)

This is for parents to explore and make decisions with their children and schools, and possibly with other services. We do not intend to lower the age limit for legal gender recognition from 18, and the age limits for legal gender recognition are separate to age limits for medical treatment. Surgery is not offered to children and adolescents. All children should be supported in their identity, whatever that is.

endofthelinefinally Thu 14-Mar-19 17:58:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

happydappy2 Thu 14-Mar-19 18:12:06

Do you stand by your earlier statement that transwomen are women? If so please would you explain exactly how a man can become a woman? Would it not be better for a man with gender dysphoria to be able to change his legal sex marker to that of Transwoman? Is it best practice in law to have Male bodied people with male genitalia classed as women?

Yes I do. *

Am speechless-how can she be so utterly clueless?

Angryresister Thu 14-Mar-19 18:15:05

Well so there it is can identify as anything they want without surgery and get a GRC and become women legally. So the rest of the waffle about safe spaces for women might as well be forgotten about.
Thanks Penny

Knicknackpaddyflak Thu 14-Mar-19 18:15:21

I don't care what 'marker' is on a birth certificate, Penny. A transwoman is a man. Unless a person is one of those holding an interesting and niche belief that is wholly contrary to fact and is a quasi religious position not held by the massive majority of ordinary people, that person will perceive a transwoman as a man. And therefore expect the same privacy, dignity and right to female only space as they would from any other man.

You cannot talk about privacy and dignity and everyone feeling 'supported' if you refuse to acknowledge that to me and many other women that a transwoman is a man. There is no way to change this. And there are situations in which I am not willing to sacrifice the privacy, dignity and freedom of women to be apart from men. You are dismissing women, you will not even acknowledge what a woman is.

NeutralJanet Thu 14-Mar-19 18:15:51

This is an area for my colleagues at the Ministry of Justice, who I know are reviewing their policy and practice in this area at the moment. We need to be sensitive to the needs of everybody in our society so we have an appropriate solution – we have seen transgender women commit suicide in men’s prisons

hmm So the rights and feelings of actual women come second. Noted.

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