Press for Change is a political lobbying and educational organisation, which campaigns to achieve equal civil rights and liberties for all trans people in the United Kingdom, through legislation and social change.
Press for Change’s Mission Statement
The following is the mission statement of Press for Change, taken from their website:
1.01 Transsexual people are those whose gender identity is not congruent with their apparent physical gender. A “male-to-female” transsexual is a person who feels herself to be female, although apparently physically male. A “female-to-male” transsexual is a person who feels himself to be male, although apparently physically female. A transsexual person who is living in the gender role which feels correct to them will be said to be living in his or her “proper” gender role.
1.01 Transsexualism (sometimes also referred to as a form of Gender Dysphoria or Gender Identity Disorder) is now widely recognized as a congenital medical condition capable of moderation by medical and surgical treatment. Such treatment seeks to alter as far as possible the individual’s body, in order to enable the person to live as comfortably as possible in his or her proper gender role.
1.03 Transsexualism is treated under the National Health Service, generally through both long standing and newly established Gender Identity Clinics, and increasingly on a local level by GPs.
1.04 The syndrome is described authoritatively by Prof. John Money (Baltimore), Prof. Louis Gooren (Amsterdam), Prof. Milton Diamond (Hawaii), Prof. Dr. Cohen-Kettenis (Utrecht) and Dr. Reid (London), amongst other specialists in an expanding field.
1.05 Six international medical experts under the leadership of Dr. Reid collaborated in the production of the document Transsexualism, the current medical viewpoint, published by Press for Change in March 1996 (ISBN 0952784203). The document makes recommendations for the appropriate diagnosis, treatment and legal status to be offered to transsexual people, which are fully supported by Press for Change.
1.06 Some indications from recent work point to transsexualism originating pre-natally, possibly as a result of a genetic disorder. Transsexualism is now ranked with other congenital medical conditions which may not present symptomatically at birth, but become apparent to subjects from their earliest awareness.
2.00 Legal background
2.01 From as early as 1944 until 1970 support was provided at law: birth certificates were annotated, marriage was legal, and the rights of citizens under detainment and imprisonment were assured.
2.02 In the case of Corbett v. Corbett in 1970, Arthur Corbett gained a ruling that his marriage to a woman who was a male-to-female transsexual was null and void, on the grounds that his partner was male. Although this ruling was for the purposes of marriage only, it has since been used in all circumstances in which gender is legally relevant.
2.03 Following this precedent, the rights of transsexual people who have adopted their proper gender role have been eroded with the result that, for example:
- Marriage (of a male-to-female transsexual to a man, or a female-to-male transsexual to a woman), is unlawful. Because of the inability to consummate the marriage, “same sex” marriages for gay couples would be liable to annulment. Thus no transsexual people may marry.
- The originally-recorded incorrect gender remains on all National Insurance and hence Benefits Agency and Department of Employment computer records, where unless inconvenient “restricted access” is requested, it may be on show to anyone who accidentally views the screen.
- Adoption and fostering of children are effectively prohibited by statute and case law.
- Access to children is infrequently granted (case law).
- Employment rights are adversely affected (many recorded examples).
- Detainment and imprisonment rights are not assured.
- Rape of male-to-female transsexual women is not chargeable as such.
- Transsexual people are open to prosecution for using public toilets appropriate to their proper gender.
- The originally-recorded gender should legally appear on death certificates.
- Personal privacy is grossly invaded in many ordinary life situations because of the need to present a birth certificate as proof of identity (many examples in law, employment, education, insurance etc.).
2.04 Transsexual people also face prejudice, discrimination and misunderstanding within society, with the result that:
- Transsexual people are generally barred from entering or remaining in many professions, including teaching or other work with children, the armed forces, and the church.
- Some transsexual people are refused medical and surgical treatment for their condition on the National Health Service.
- Little research on transsexualism has been funded, with the result that: official estimates of numbers of people affected by the syndrome are probably far too low(especially with regard to female to male transsexuals) and many people including medical professionals remain ignorant of the syndrome.
- Transsexual people are easily exploited by the media, by blackmailers and by people posing as medical professionals or counselors.
3.00 The U.K. compared with the rest of the world
Three levels of support and care exist worldwide for transsexual people who have adopted their proper gender. The U.K. is at the bottom of the scale.
3.01 Level 1: Legislative Support
Births and deaths legislation provides for the reissue or amendment of the birth certificate on production of medical evidence. Full legal status is given. e.g. Germany, U.S.A. (most states), Canada, Scandinavia, Holland, Turkey, S. Australia.
3.02 Level 2: Support at Law
Application to the courts provides a change of birth certificate or issue of a new identity card on production of medical evidence. Full legal status is given. e.g. France, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Finland
3.03 Level 3: No Legal Support
Selective change of documentation is permitted on production of medical evidence, leading to many anomalies in personal and legal status. No legal rights are granted in marriage, employment or imprisonment. e.g. Singapore, New Zealand (at present, but currently legislating), Ireland, U.K.
4.00 “Press For Change” campaigning
In the light of the above injustices, the “Press for Change” Campaign will work towards achieving the following rights and liberties for all transsexual and transgender people in the U.K.:
4.01 The right to live in their proper gender role without harassment, ridicule or discrimination
4.02 The right to privacy regarding an individual’s personal medical history and transsexual status. This would include the removal of the record of the originally-recorded incorrect gender from National Insurance and other computer records.
4.03 The right to equal access to appropriate medical and surgical “gender reassignment” treatment on the National Health Service, as for any other medically recognized condition.
4.04 The right to marry in the individual’s proper gender.
4.05 The right to found a family, including the right to equal access to fertility treatment on the National Health Service,and equal rights to foster and adopt children.
4.06 The right of a female-to-male transsexual to be named as the father of a child on its birth certificate, in the same way as is currently possible for a non-transsexual person who is the effective father of the child.
4.07 The right of transsexual people who are the parents of children (by birth, fostering or adoption) to obtain access to their children in the event of divorce or separation by the same criteria as those used for non-transsexual people.
4.08 The right not to be refused employment, discriminated against in employment, or dismissed from employment on the grounds of wishing to have, or having undergone, gender reassignment.
4.09 The right to enter a chosen profession on the same basis as non-transsexual people.
4.10 The right to have transsexual status taken into account when being sentenced, so that a non-custodial sentence is given whenever permissible, because of the additional difficulties faced by transsexual people in prisons.
4.11 The right (when applicable) to be sent to a prison appropriate to the individual’s proper gender, whether pre- or post-treatment, if he or she has been previously living in this gender.
4.12 The right to continue to receive medical treatment for transsexualism whilst in prison.
4.13 The right to a death certificate and burial/cremation in the individual’s proper gender and name.
5.00 Aims of the “Press For Change” campaign
5.01 Press for Change will campaign for the rights and liberties of all transsexual and transgender people in the U.K., whether male-to-female or female-to-male, and whether pre- or post-medical or -surgical treatment.
5.02 Press for Change will offer support and advice wherever possible to individual transsexual and transgender people whose natural rights and liberties are challenged or denied within society or by current repressive legislation.
5.03 Press for Change will seek to gain the support and assistance of individual transsexual and transgender people and of organizations which network or support transsexual and transgender people, and to co-ordinate campaigning initiatives to ensure we all work together.
5.04 Press for Change will seek to gain support for its campaign from members of the public, and from the media, medical, legal, religious and political professionals and others in a position to exert influence or to make changes to policies or laws.
5.05 Press for Change may work and co-operate, where appropriate, with other minority or oppressed groups campaigning for civil rights and liberties, and will respect the rights and liberties of all other members of society.
5.06 The ultimate aim of the campaign is to achieve equal civil rights and liberties, and freedom from prejudice and discrimination for all transsexual people as outlined above.
6.00 The goals of the “Press For Change” campaign
6.01 The final goal of the campaign is to achieve full legal recognition of transsexual people in their proper gender roles. The immediate goal of the campaign is to obtain as many rights and liberties for transsexual and transgender people as possible through any possible avenues, including any or all of the following:
- Recognition in Parliament of the need for a method of granting transsexual people the same rights as other citizens, for example by the use of the passport or the “short form” birth certificate (currently used in adoption) as a document of equivalent status to a birth certificate, which would confer on transsexual holders the same rights as any other member of their proper gender.
- The setting of precedents in U.K. courts, tribunals and other legal forums, which are favourable to transsexual people.
- The challenging, whenever possible, of the British Government’s treatment of transsexual people in the European Courts.
6.02 Press for Change is concerned that in securing the rights of some transsexual people, it could simultaneously further marginalize others. It will therefore be stressed throughout the campaign that the absolute criterion for transsexual status should be self definition.
6.03 Press for Change will campaign for equal civil rights and liberties in their proper gender role to be granted to all transsexual people who fulfil the following criteria:
- self definition and
- permanent change of name and
- living in the proper gender role and
- the endorsement of appropriate medical professional(s) (e.g. G.P., psychiatrist, Gender Identity Clinic etc).
6.04 Press for Change will resist a definition of transsexual status which relies on an individual having undergone any particular medical or surgical treatment. Some transsexual people are unable to obtain treatment, are unable to receive treatment for health reasons, or do not wish to submit to unsatisfactory or expensive treatment (e.g. phalloplasty). Such persons are no less entitled to their civil rights and liberties than others.
7.00 The Methods of the “Press For Change” Campaign
7.01 Any legal method of attaining our goals is acceptable, and no particular strategy is laid down centrally, in order to encourage as much individual and grass roots activity as possible.
7.02 The following initiatives are currently being co-ordinated by the committee:
- A Parliamentary Forum of M.P.s from all political parties, committed to supporting a change to the law through Parliament.
- The establishment of a group of legal professionals committed to challenging discriminatory legislation through the British and/or European Courts.
- The establishment of a group of medical professionals familiar with current best practice in the treatment of transsexualism, who are willing to endorse the view that transsexual people are neither insane nor perverted, but are people with an inherent intersex condition, who are generally able, if appropriately treated, of leading full and constructive lives within society.
- The establishment of a group of Bishops and other religious leaders willing to support the rights of transsexual people.
- The establishment of a group of supportive Members of the European Parliament.
- Affiliation to the National Council of Civil Liberties.
- Liaison with the Trade Unions, asking that they affiliate to Press for Change and include “gender identity” in their equal opportunities policies.
- Liaison with the committee of Pride (in 1996 “Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Pride” to ensure transgender people are properly represented and included in this important event.
- A petition to be signed by the public and presented to the government.
- Regular articles and television appearances attempting to put forward a positive image of transsexual people and highlight the injustices we suffer.
- The co-ordination and dissemination of up-to-date information about transsexualism and about related civil rights and legal issues, to transgender people themselves, to the public and to relevant professionals, including the publication of books and training materials as appropriate.
- The provision of leaflets, posters and a campaigning pack, free of charge to any person or organization prepared to campaign in any way on behalf of transsexual people.
- The publication of regular updates on the campaign, distributed to all transsexual organizations, and to any individual or group who is actively involved, on request.
- Fund-raising as necessary. Please note that all money donated goes directly to the campaign – there are no paid staff.