The Conservative party conference, which started on Sunday 1 October 2023 in Manchester, has reached its final day, and it seems like the party has been saving its most vicious announcements for last. So far, the Tories have shamelessly declared a delay of some climate targets, referred to the Human Rights Act as a “criminal rights act,” oh, and Suella Braverman stepped on a guard dog. Is it too early to call her Cruella yet?
Health secretary Steve Barclay announced in his conference speech yesterday, Tuesday 3 October, that the party would also start to prioritise women’s rights by recognising “the importance of biological sex in healthcare.”
Barclay declared that “as conservatives, we know what a woman is.” Thus, he promised to ban transgender woman from female NHS wards to restore “common sense” to the health service.
However, according to The Independent, there is no evidence of complaints ever being made about trans people in the NHS. Furthermore, an investigation by the website TransLucent found that no women had complained about sharing a ward with a trans woman.
This point was reiterated by conservative MP Jamie Wallis, who identifies as transgender. “Whilst Mr Barclay is solving a problem, with our continued support and encouragement I hope to see him solve ones which actually exist,” he critiqued.
The health secretary’s plans to simplify healthcare also did not stop at trans people’s access to wards. He further ordered a reversal of “unacceptable changes” to the NHS website that used gender-inclusive language for conditions such as cervical cancer. Furthermore, Barclay took action against the NHS for ordering staff to declare their pronouns to new patients.
Influencer and trans rights activist Munroe Bergdorf expressed her frustration in an Instagram post:
View this post on Instagram
“I’m frustrated, angry and sad at the state of this country. That so many people are failing to see what links us as human beings, instead, opting to participate in a baseless moral panic that has been played out so many times before, by government leaders and media institutions seeking authoritarian power and control,” Bergdorf said.
Barclay’s speech is only the latest instalment in the Tory party’s war on gender ideology and trans rights. Earlier this year, the government released new guidance that forced schools to ‘out’ trans, gender non-conforming, and non-binary students to their parents.
Additionally, trans children were barred from using changing and shower facilities that align with their gender identity.
In March, a report by the conservative think-tank Policy Exchange stated that schools were “increasingly becoming influenced by gender ideology.” The report also noted that single-sex spaces were being “compromised” and that “gender identity beliefs” were being taught unchallenged in Relationships, Sex & Health Education classes. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called these findings “very concering.”
“My hope is that with each instance of this violence, that will no doubt increase in the lead up to the general election, more people begin to exercise their empathy and compassion for those being affected by the decisions of an increasingly fascist cabinet—and turn it into action at the polls,” Bergdorf added in her post’s caption.