Conservative party politician Mary Douglas has compared being transgender to having an eating disorder.
On BBC Radio 4’s flagship news program Today, southwest conservative Wiltshire councilor Mary Douglas was discussing Gender Recognition Act proposals.
The UK government has proposed allowing transgender people to self-identify their gender rather than being judged by a panel.
The segment asked, ‘should the Government make it easier to change your gender?’
Douglas said: ‘In my view, it should not be easy to do something as massive as changing your gender.
‘The law is there to protect us normally from other people, and sometimes ourselves.
‘If somebody thinks they have a mismatch between how they think and the way their body is; the question is what should be changed.
‘What is interesting is that many people with gender dysphoria also, not all, but many have other mental health conditions like depression and drug addiction.
‘It has been proven that when they solve their gender, they don’t solve these other issues.
‘I’m not a doctor, but I’ve read doctors who think it is a mental illness – until recently that was the medical consensus and I don’t see why that’s changed.’
Presenter Nick Robinson questioned the councilor about those who would find these comments offensive:
‘If you have someone who has anorexia, and they say they are too fat – it is not respectful or loving to affirm that person in a way that is false that doesn’t tie up with reality.
‘It is profoundly un conservative.’
Conservative MP Maria Miller who chairs the women and equalities select committee defended the government’s plans:
‘People including medics will welcome updating the gender recognition act. The current system is out of date and medicalizes people in a system which should be administrative and very personal.’
Miller explained how in her select committee’s investigation that suggested reform, they heard how: ‘Trans people have to stand in front of a group of medics to prove their gender. It is traumatizing’
Twitter reacts to grassroots Conservatives spokesperson
Many of the show’s listeners, took to Twitter to react to Douglas’ invitation.
Many found frustration in no trans person being part of the discussion:
Why was this a topic of debate?
The discussion took place after this weekend’s announcements by the UK Education and Equalities Minister Justine Greening.
Proposed reforms will mean trans people won’t need a doctor’s diagnosis to change their birth certificate. Non-binary people will be able to record their gender as ‘X’.
It was part of a series of announcements ahead of the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalization of homosexuality in England and Wales.
Other announcements included a reduction in a one year ban for men who have sex with men, to just three months.
The UK Government has also launched a national survey for LGBTI people to better understand their experiences in the country.