Liz Truss: Should the LGBTQ+ Community Trust the New Prime Minister?
Will Liz Truss do any good for the LGBTQ+ community during her time as Prime Minister?
On the 6th of September, the now-former Prime Minister and Conservative Party Leader, Boris Johnson, made way for a new era in politics in the form of Liz Truss. Aged 47, Truss was officiated as the country’s Prime Minister by the late Queen Elizabeth II, and we, the nation’s citizens, are now subject to yet another (in recent years) tumultuous period in which the Conservative Party find their feet in Downing Street under new leadership.
But, of course, Truss has made a name for herself before the new title as the former Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development affairs, of which she was appointed in September of 2021. If we are to look back even further, Truss began to receive public attention after she took the role of Minister for Women and Equalities in September 2019. This attention, however, was not positive from members of the LGBTQ+ community. As Minister for equalities, Truss promoted anything but. She has never been “particularly vocal in supporting Trans rights”, nor has she made any movements toward re-instating the LGBT Advisory panel that was disbanded and abandoned in April 2021 after Jayne Ozanne resigned, stating that it was “a hostile environment.” Consequently, the LGBTQ+ community are left floundering, with little to no government representation and a Prime Minister that doesn’t seem particularly keen on bettering their place in society. As the Minister of Equality, we received little from Truss, will we receive even less as she takes on the role of Prime Minister?
The concern for Truss and her ‘opinions’ of members of the British LGBTQ+ community has risen significantly in recent weeks. In a Talk TV Leadership interview that is now taking the internet by storm, Truss is asked by host Julia Hartley-Brewer if she believes that trans women are women, to which Truss simply replies “No.” Unfortunately for the country’s trans community, this is perhaps unsurprisin, as Truss is known for not being particularly pro-trans rights. This notion came to a head in 2020, when as Minister for Equalities, Truss scrapped planned reforms to the ‘Gender Recognition Act’. This act was a vital step forward for trans people as the GRA would have made it much easier for trans individuals to change their legal gender without a diagnosis of gender dysphoria.
This hit hard and was incredibly disappointing for the majority of the trans community who were vocal online about their upset, and yet, Truss defended her decision to scrap the GRA reforms, stating “it wouldn’t be right to have self-identification with no checks and balances in the system.” After her role as Minister for Equalities, it appears as though we cannot expect beneficial policies for the trans community under her leadership, as she initially appears to be doing her “best to focus on economy and taxes over trans issues.” This, of course, is still a necessary issue considering the current cost-of-living crisis the UK is facing, but considering Liz Truss’ previous stance on trans issues, it is perhaps fair that their community are unlikely to hold out hope that she will employ policies that will benefit them.
Whilst it is clear that Truss is causing indirect damage to the trans community; it does not stop there. The Prime Minister, due to the pressure of the leadership race, has chosen to position herself as central to the Tories’ ‘war on woke’ would help garner some support within the party. As a result of this ‘war’, the government promptly disbanded its own LGBT Advisory Panel after several members resigned. The situation began in March 2021 when Jayne Ozanne, an anti-conversion therapy campaigner and a member of the panel, cited a hostile environment for LGBTQ+ people on the panel. Following their lead, other members of the panel resigned within the next week. The government responded by formally disbanding the Panel in April, and whilst Truss promised a new panel with speed, it is yet to materialise over a year on. “It was a disappointing moment for LGBTQ+ people who still harboured hope that the government would turn things around and improve life for queer people in the UK.”
Consequently, the LGBTQ+ community are left to continue to fight for themselves, with little trust that the leaders of the country will listen, fight with for the community and instigate change. It is an especially hopeless time for the trans community, who Truss outwardly continues to disregard, but also a time of grave worry and stress for the entire LGBTQ+ community.