Liz Truss says it is ‘dehumanising’ to be ‘treated as a woman’, as she is challenged over trans rights

Equalities minister also dismisses Council of Europe criticism of UK treatment of transgender people

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Wednesday 06 October 2021 08:27
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Liz Truss has said it is “dehumanising” for someone to be “treated as a woman” – calling for everyone to be seen as “individual humans” instead.

Using the word “woman” is box-ticking that prevents a proper focus on “talents and ideas and hard work”, the equalities minister told a meeting at the Conservative party conference.

The comments came as Ms Truss was challenged over the government’s treatment of transgender people, after a Council of Europe report linked it to a rise in hate crimes.

On Monday, Ms Truss, who holds the equalities brief alongside being foreign secretary, said people should not have the right to self-identify as a different gender without medical checks.

In Manchester, the rising Tory star dismissed calls for the equalities post to be a standalone job, saying: “I very much believe in the principle of individual humanity and dignity.

The she said: “What is dehumanising is to be treated as a woman, rather than a person, as just a box to be ticked, rather than somebody with your own talents and ideas and hard work.

“That’s what we really need to get the focus back on – rather than seeing people as part of an identity group, we need to see them as individual humans.”

The Council of Europe report followed a sharp rise in transphobic attacks since 2015, calling the refusal to allow self-identification “a contradiction with international human rights standards”.

“Such rhetoric – which denies trans identities – is being used to roll back the rights of trans and non-binary people and is contributing to growing human rights problems,” warned the body, of which the UK is a member.

But Ms Truss said: “I think we have struck the right balance between making the process for gender recognition simpler and kinder, whilst also maintaining the checks and balances in the system.

“And, under the Equality Act, it’s very clear that single sex spaces can be protected by organisations.”

During the fringe meeting, organised by the Conservative Home website, Ms Truss also:

* Declined to say whether the AUKUS pact meant the UK would step in to protect Taiwan from a China attack – while insisting it would “help prevent conflict”.

* Brushed off Joe Biden’s lack of interest in a US-UK trade deal – saying “there are plenty of other trade deals for us to be working on”.

* Denied any leadership ambitions – insisting that, in five years’ time “I still want to be in the Foreign Office”.

* Said she is not “in the business of saying every country has to be democracy” – provided partner nations follow international rules.

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