England, Wales and Scotland section of International Socialist Alternative

UNISON: No stepping back from the fight for trans liberation

By Socialist Alternative members in UNISON

National Delegate Conference this year falls in the middle of the general election campaign with the Tories increasingly desperate to cling on to power. The last 12 months have seen them continue to whip up their so-called ‘culture wars’ against sections of the working class, including trans people.

In this context, our union – and the trade union movement as a whole – has a huge responsibility to step up our defence of trans rights, and to fight for liberation.

Since NDC 2023 we have seen the establishment, via the courts, uphold the decisions of the Westminster government to block the Scottish Parliament from introducing the Gender Recognition Reform Bill. This was a disgusting decision that was not only an attack on trans people but also on the rights of people in Scotland to political self-determination.

We see constant rubbish from the Tories about  gender neutral toilets, and the recently published Cass review represented a further doubling down on the anti-trans agenda.

Streeting’s transphobia

But it is not only the Tories who are spewing anti-trans rhetoric. Labour’s Wes Streeting has made highly inflammatory comments regarding trans women and women-only hospital wards. After protests from UNISON members, Streeting did not appear at UNISON’s Health Conference in April (diary ‘double-booked), yet he still features prominently on the UNISON website (not only has he spouted anti-trans comments, but also supports the increased involvement of the private sector in our public services).

This is a stark reminder that following what will hopefully be a catastrophic defeat for the Tories, we will need to step up the fight against an incoming Starmer government, which will govern in the interests of the rich and powerful.

We urge delegates to consider motion 73 (Step Up the Fight for Trans Rights) from Wirral. We think this outlines the situation very clearly, and points to the need to fight for fully funded, publicly funded, free and accessible trans healthcare, alongside a ban on so-called ‘conversion therapy’. Furthermore, it makes clear that UNISON needs “to play our part in a mass, united, working class movement that stands for equality, liberation, high quality public services and against all forms of oppression and discrimination.”

Across the movement Socialist Alternative members are fighting for our unions to support trans rights – and to back up policy with active involvement in Pride and Trans Pride events, with strong union contingents linked to the need for strong workplace organisation. Capitalism will continue and intensify attacks on us – let’s get organised and say ‘an injury to one is an injury to all’ and fight for a new type of society to win liberation.

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