Category Archives: Uncategorized

Letters to my MP – Ban Conversion Therapy

Dear Thangam Debbonaire MP,

I am writing to ask for your support for a comprehensive ban on so-called ‘conversion therapy’ in England and Wales.

‘Conversion therapy’, or conversion practices, refers to practices that seek to change, “cure”, or suppress an individual’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Conversion practices are abuse. They cause severe and long-lasting physical and psychological suffering, violate the human rights of LGBTQ+ people, and were found by the UN to ‘amount to torture’ in some cases. The UN Independent Expert report on conversion practices found that individuals subjected to this abuse experienced “significant loss of self-esteem, anxiety, depressive syndrome, social isolation, intimacy difficulty, self-hatred, shame and guilt, sexual dysfunction, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as often significant physical pain and suffering.” 

The UK Government’s National LGBT Survey 2018 – the largest national survey of LGBT people ever conducted in the world, with over 108,000 respondents – found that 7 per cent of LGBT people have been offered or undergone conversion therapy, and that rises to 13 per cent of trans people.

The UK Government committed to banning conversion practices after the release of the National LGBT Survey, yet nearly four years have passed without a ban. This has left, and continues to leave, victims and potential victims of conversion practices at risk of abuse and lifelong harm.

The UK Government announced its intention to ban conversion practices in England and Wales in the Queen’s Speech May 2021, and released its proposals in October 2021. These proposals were open to consultation, which ended in February, and the Minister for Women and Equalities has committed to publishing draft legislation in the Spring.

The proposals include plans to introduce a new criminal offence for talking conversion therapy, as well as sentence uplifts for current offences that are found to have been used as a form of conversion therapy. There are also proposals to ban the advertising and promotion of conversion practices, to prevent young people being taken abroad for the purpose of conversion, and to engage statutory services in supporting victims and those at risk.

The Government will use the consultation responses to inform legislation for a ban, but there are concerning gaps in its proposals that must be dealt with for a legislative ban to be effective.

Please write to the Minister for Women and Equalities and call on her to ensure that any draft legislation to ban conversion practices:

  • Protects all LGBTQ+ people. The definitions used by the UK Government of ‘same-sex to opposite-sex attraction’ and ‘transgender to not transgender’, or vice versa, do not include bi, asexual or non-binary people or other minority sexual orientations or diverse gender identities.
  • Does not include a ‘consent loophole’. It is impossible to consent to abuse. Conversion practices are not a medical or therapeutic procedure, but the UK Government proposals suggest adults could provide ‘informed consent’. This is an incorrect application of the concept of ‘informed consent’ which could have significant legal implications for other forms of manipulative abuse such as domestic abuse.
  • Bans all conversion practices in all settings. Whether in healthcare, therapeutic, religious or cultural settings, there should be no exemption for any form of conversion practices. While ensuring religious freedoms are maintained, there should be no exemption for faith-based conversion therapy which constitutes over half of the experiences of conversion practices in the UK.
  • Provides support services for current and historical survivors of conversion practices.

Will you write to the Women and Equalities Minister to comprehensively ban conversion practices? Will you support legislation to ban conversion practices when it comes to the House? Will you support amendments to protect all LGBTQ+ people from this abuse, to remove the consent loophole, and to remove exemptions?

I welcome the opportunity to discuss this issue with you further and look forward to hearing from you soon. 

Yours sincerely,

Letters to my MP – Take Action to Reform the Gender Recognition Act

Dear Thangam Debbonaire MP,

Please speak at the Westminster Hall Debate on the petition to Reform the Gender Recognition Act.As your constituent, I am asking you to speak up in favour of reforming the Gender Recognition Act 2004 at the upcoming Westminster Hall Debate on Monday 21 February at 4:30pm.

The Gender Recognition Act 2004 enables trans people to change their legal gender (from female to male, or male to female) by applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC). GRCs are required for trans people to have their correct gender recorded on birth and death certificates, certain pension and insurance policies, and to protect their privacy and safety by not requiring their trans status be revealed in various situations such as applying for a job or university or college course.

As it stands, the Gender Recognition Act subjects trans people to a process which is needlessly lengthy, intrusive and stigmatising. For example, obtaining legal gender recognition requires that an individual be medically diagnosed with ‘gender dysphoria’.

But while the Government promised reform and held a public consultation in 2018 that found clear majorities in favour of significant reform, there was no response until September 2020 to the consultation’s clear findings. And when the Government did respond, it only announced it would reduce the fee and digitise the process – welcome first steps, but nowhere near the reform that is crucially needed.

The Women and Equalities Select Committee held an inquiry into the Reform of the Gender Recognition throughout 2021. The Inquiry Report, published on 21 December 2021, concluded there had been “a lack of any real change to the gender recognition process”. The report made a number of key recommendations:

  • Immediately remove from the gender recognition process the requirement to live in the ‘acquired gender’ for a set period of time.
  • Remove the diagnosis of ‘gender dysphoria’ from the Gender Recognition Act by 2023.  
  • Remove the spousal consent provision in favour of a new approach where a full GRC can be issued at the same time as an annulment.

The Women and Equalities Select Committee recommended that the Government should bring back an action plan for reform within 12 weeks of publication of the report.

A straightforward system of legal gender recognition based on the principle of self-determination is already in operation in the Republic of Ireland by virtue of the Gender Recognition Act 2015. And in Scotland, following two public consultations that found similar majorities in favour of reform, the Scottish Government will be introducing a Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill in Spring 2022.

I am asking you to attend the Westminster Hall Debate on ‘Reform the Gender Recognition Act’ on Monday 21 February at 4:30pm, to speak up for trans communities and enable a fairer, shorter and non-stigmatising process of legal gender recognition.

Stonewall have produced a briefing in preparation for the debate, which you can find here. If you would like to contact them directly, you can email the Head of Policy at

If you cannot attend the debate, would you please write a supportive tweet on the day of the debate showing your support. You could write: “I support the findings of the @CommonsWomEqu report into legal gender recognition. The Government should reform the GRA and make the process less stigmatising, intrusive and medicalised for trans people. #ComeOutforTransEquality”

Yours sincerely,

Letters to my MP – coronavirus vaccine rollout to healthcare workers

Dear Thangam

I am writing to you as a concerned constituent on behalf of frontline health workers.

The COVID-19 crisis is escalating and we need to urgently protect those who are working on the frontline, and their patients.

It was a relief to see the Government expand its priority vaccination roll out to include healthcare staff. But an EveryDoctor survey on 3rd January found that 39% of our 1318 doctor respondents had yet to receive their first dose.

Frontline healthcare workers are continually exposed to COVID-19 in their workplaces. If they are left unprotected, they are at risk themselves from this potentially fatal illness, and they may also pass coronavirus on to vulnerable patients.

The Government announced yesterday that the sky-rocketing rise in cases has the capacity to overwhelm the NHS in the coming weeks.

With the recent approval of the Oxford vaccine, as a country we are now aiming to vaccinate 2 million people per week. This huge effort will require additional support; it is a huge undertaking. 

The Government must alleviate the pressure on NHS staff in delivering these vaccines by drafting in support from others in administering vaccines; perhaps by utilising the army. 

Frontline healthcare workers must be our immediate priority for vaccines. We are calling for all frontline NHS staff in the UK to receive at least a first dose vaccine within the next 14 days. 

This will protect staff, it will preserve healthcare resources (by reducing staff sickness), and crucially this course of action will protect the vulnerable patients who are in our care.

As my parliamentary representative, will you support EveryDoctor’s campaign to #ProtectNHSworkers in the following two ways?

1. Pledge to do everything in your power to advocate for all frontline health workers in the UK to be immunised against Covid-19 within 14 days.

2. Attend an emergency briefing from EveryDoctor on the need for immediate vaccinations for frontline staff on Thursday, 7 January at 2pm. MPs can register in advance for the online Zoom meeting at this link:

Please let me know if you would like to take this pledge and attend this important briefing.

I look forward to hearing from you and would appreciate you copying in in your reply to this email. 


Letters to my MP – trans rights

Dear Thangam Debbonaire,

I am writing about the reports in today’s newspaper that suggest that Boris Johnson’s government is preparing to scrap a review of the Gender Recognition Act; a review which was commissioned by Theresa May because the current system for trans people is costly, lengthy, humiliating and unnecessary. The newspaper report suggests that the government is preparing to set out new ‘safeguards’ to protect female-only spaces including refuges and public lavatories.

I am writing for your action on three main points regarding this:

Firstly, the newspaper article suggests that 70% of respondents to the government’s consultation support improving the lives of trans people, despite a drive from anti-trans lobbyists to skew the consultation. I am therefore concerned about the government’s choice to ignore this overwhelming mandate for change and that it is instead siding with a relatively small but vocal group of activists and their followers, who appear determined to tell trans and cisgender women who they are and what they think. They seek to characterise transgender women as a sexual threat and cast transgender men as duped victims of a patriarchal conspiracy. This represents the government not acting in good faith with regard to this consultation, a point I feel that they should be challenged on, regardless of the subject at hand.

Secondly, the GRA review was intended to look only at the current process for trans individuals to change their birth certificate. A process that requires them to pay £140, gain accreditation from two separate medical experts, provide proof of living in their true gender for a solid two years and offer ultimate judgement of their identity to a panel they never personally meet. The government appears to be extending their remit and instead are suggesting revoking protections granted by the Equality Act 2010 to allow access to gendered spaces with reference to an individual’s gender rather than their sex. This roll-back of rights has the potential to cause harm to cisgender women, transgender women, transgender men and non-binary individuals. In North Carolina in 2016 a gender-policing law regarding access to public bathrooms was enacted that led to a rise in transphobia, as well as opening up the possibility of increased harassment of women in public restrooms who weren’t transgender but who didn’t dress or present in a ‘feminine’ way. It also meant that transgender men were being forced to use women’s toilets. This poses a far greater risk to spaces intended to be safe for those who identify as female (either permanently or on that day) as requiring transgender men to use such spaces makes it much easier for cisgender men to claim to be transgender and access them.

Thirdly, the government appears to once again be ignoring the evidence of experts in not allowing self-identification for the purposes of changing a birth certificate. Iceland, Portugal, Malta, Norway, Denmark or Belgium have all empowered trans individuals to self-ID. None of these countries have reported a rise in attacks on women in single-sex spaces.

In summary, trans people and all women are already self-identifying in single-sex spaces. There is no known evidence that male abusers are using this freedom to attack women. Self-ID in a number of countries has not affected women’s safety and has improved the lives of trans people. Policing gender in toilets and changing rooms has a negative impact on the freedoms of all women. Instead it appears that the ‘concern’ being expressed by lobbyists, without basis or evidence, is nothing more than anti-trans bigotry dressed in outdated quasi-feminist clothing. Nobody who believes in equality would seek to enforce the segregation of trans people and the introduction of further obstacles to all women.

I therefore ask you to support the LGBTQIA+ community, particularly during pride month, and hold the government to account for ignoring the response to their consultation; to require them to act on the recommendations laid out by experts regarding allowing self-ID; and to vote against the rolling back of existing rights granted to allow people to use gendered spaces based on their gender, providing safer spaces for all cisgender women, transgender men, transgender women and non-binary individuals who have been using toilets, trying on clothes in changing rooms, accessing domestic violence facilities, and generally getting on with their lives for as long as single-sex spaces have existed.

Yours sincerely,

Letters to my MP – Black Lives Matter

Dear Thangam Debbonaire,

I am writing to appeal that the export of tear gas, rubber bullets, riot shields and other equipment related to the militarisation of the police is suspended, specifically to the US at this time in relation to its use in excessive force against protestors of the death of George Floyd. Ideally I would appeal that the export of such items is permanently disallowed.

Yours sincerely,

Letters to my MP – Dominic Cummings

Dear Thangam Debbonaire,

I am writing to you to express my disbelief regarding the comments made by Ministers today regarding the trips taken by special advisor Dominic Cummings in contravention of the official advice during April 2020. Their words and his actions have seriously jeopardised the health of this nation and the ability to control the spread of covid-19 and I would like to see parliament returned before recess to discuss this as an urgent matter.

Yours sincerely,

Week 19, day 7 (T-0) – London Marathon

The London Marathon was finally here, after a lot of training, and the forecast was for cloud cover and middling temperatures (12-14ºC). After the train journey and walk to the green start (which was a fair hike up a not inconsequential hill) it was clear that it wasn’t going to stay that way and it was time to crack the sunglasses out. After dropping the bags at the lorry Jane and I stood in a queue for the portaloos which took up all of the time before it was necessary to get into the start pens.

The 3:30 pacer was in a pen ahead of me, so I took note of the time I crossed the start line (3 minutes 10 seconds after the start) and headed off. Given that the pens are supposed to be divided up by expected pace I was surprised at home many runners appeared to have zero spatial awareness (something that became a recurring theme over the race) and I was cut up left right and centre. In a way this was good because it prevented me going off too fast, but it was using up energy having to stop and start and go for gaps when then came up.

Before hardly any time at all we merged with the blue start where the road was a little wider but it was still hard to get any space to run into. At around 3 miles we joined up with the red a start and hit the first water station, with more carnage as people veered steeply across other runners to get to the water (again a feature throughout the race).

I was happy with my pace through the first 24km or so, it was putting me nicely on target for sub 3:30, but the sun was getting hotter and as we entered the Isle of Dogs the screaming from the supporters was echoing off the buildings and making me feel quite ill. It didn’t help that I seemed to be keeping pace with a Guinness World Record attempt of a two-man Jamaican bobsled, which was attracting a lot of attention. The buildings there meant that you couldn’t trust your GPS to give a true reading of your pace, and I dropped off a little as I went through the toughest miles in terms of there not being much to look at and it being too far out to really start counting down to the finish. I started to struggle to take on any gels, managing a mouthful but not being able to stomach the rest in the heat, but took on water at every station (and still ended up with great salty deposits from how much I was sweating, you do not want to know the colour of my pee when I finished).

There were some nasty inclines and hairpins to get you back headed in the right direction and as I hit the embankment I knew it was going to be close as to whether I would get sub 3:30. I would need to pick up to my planned marathon pace. I gave it all I had, but when I went through 25 miles I knew it would be a stretch. When the 1km to go marker came I knew it was over, but still pushed on to finish as well as I could. My official provisional time was 3:31:19, which is still a massive PB and good-for-age for next year. Apparently it put me in 6549th overall, 918th lady, and 562nd in my age category.

Thank you to everyone who sent message of support, or who supported me through my training, as well as those who came along to cheer (sorry I didn’t spot you Sam).

Week 19, day 6 (T-1) – Mile End parkrun

A final jog out before the big one tomorrow, after a bit of a hike out to Mile End (we were all following Alison who thought someone would yell if she was going the wrong way, we all assumed she knew the way), a rather crowded bit of parkrun tourism. Last week they had under 200 runners, this week they had over 400. I managed to sneak in to get one of the final proper position tokens in 246 having taken it reasonably steady (the downhill’s were fun).

I’m feeling good ahead of tomorrow’s race. I have done the training and now we just have to see what happens on the day. I’ve set myself 3 times that I would be varying levels of happy with:

Bronze: 3:44:59 – this would be qualification for London next year as good for age for my age category.
Silver: 3:40:20 – this would be a new marathon pb (my previous time being 3:40:21).
Gold: 3:29:59 – I’ve been training to go sub 3:30, so anything under that pace would be great. If I feel good and have the opportunity to push on towards the end of the race then I will, but realistically you can’t make up too much time over the last 5-6 miles and I’m more likely to be working on holding to pace than be able to increase it.

It should be fun, I’m nervous obviously (a marathon is always a huge challenge), but excited more than nervous and I have done all of the preparation asked of me. What happens on the day happens (good or bad). For anyone wanting to track me, I am number 30917.

Week 19, day 4 (T-3) – easy 30 minutes by the river

My final run in Bristol as I head off for London tomorrow morning. Just a gentle 30 minutes to keep the legs ticking over. I picked the flatest bit of Bristol I know (apart from the getting there and back), the track alongside the river Avon (not in it as the GPS suggests). Remarkably low on the duck count this morning, but high on the bluebell front. Not long now.

Week 12, day 2 – Aztec West fast 5k

Last month’s running of the Aztec West fast 5k did not go so well. I was therefore not expecting great things from tonight’s race. The conditions were also not great, blustery with a bit of a chill in the air (and slick roads from the rain earlier in the day).

I put myself towards the back of the pack, which seemed a bit smaller, understandably so on such a nasty night. I had not activated the ‘predicted finish time’ feature on my watch and had no laps set up (either miles or km) so just took a brief glimpse as I passed the km markers. It turns out I had gone out a bit faster than I thought I had, but was able to maintain a fairly decent and consistent pace.

This was the race I would have liked to have had last month. There were none of the problems breathing or maintaining the pace and it didn’t hurt nearly as much (plus my heart rate was lower even at the faster speed). This lends weight to the proposed explanation of that result and the training session that followed as being hampered by my body fighting off some sort of bug (successfully). I’m going to take that as a confidence boost anyway (and the bottle of wine as a spot prize).