Right now is a distressing time to be a trans and/or non-binary person, both globally and in the UK.
According to a recent Equalities Office national LGBT survey, 41 percent of trans people responded that they had experienced a hate crime or incident because of their gender identity in the last 12 months. Sixty-seven percent of trans respondents also said they had avoided being open about their gender identity for fear of a negative reaction from others.
In June, it was reported that the government is planning to drop proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA). Instead of allowing trans people to change their gender on their birth certificate without medical consultation, the government plans to block trans women from using female-only spaces, including refuges and public bathrooms. This rolling back of trans rights will see the UK "plummet" down the European rankings for LGBT equality, according to Amnesty International's women's rights programme director, Chiara Capraro.
Following last weekend's Black Trans Lives Matter march, this Saturday saw over a thousand people assemble in Parliament Square to protest against the GRA changes. Speakers made it clear that this community will not be silenced, and that the rights of trans and non-binary people are valid and essential.
Kacey, a 48-year-old trans woman, said, "I'm here today because enough is enough. I'm a teacher as well as being trans, and that’s just a part of my life. I transitioned while working in a school about three to four years ago, and ever since then the transphobia in society has been relentless. Every time that we think there seems to be movement and progress happening, it just gets taken away. The sounds coming from the current government are just shocking and appalling. It's time for it to end."
Asked about the planned GRA reforms, she continued, "It's just disgusting, it’s appalling. The GRA is literally about a birth certificate, which you don’t really need. I'm unlikely to change my birth certificate. I've got a driving license, I've got a passport. Self-identification already happens – that's why I've used toilets of my choosing ever since I transitioned. It's just dog whistles and inflaming people, literally for hatred and bigotry."
Georgie, a 24-year-old academic and researcher in the fields of gender and sexuality, echoed that sentiment: "It's absolutely unacceptable. We shouldn’t be protesting for the absolute bare minimum rights. A reform is long overdue, and the fact that decisions concerning the GRA have been scrapped at a time where obviously it’s going to fly under the radar shows this. It's barbaric and it's an act of structural violence against the trans community."
Asked how the legislation directly impacted them, they responded, "I'm still considering a transition, and I'm aware of the fact that if I do want to transition I will not be able to get my documentation, my birth certificate changed, without individuals who know nothing about gender – know less about gender than I do – making that decision. As a non-binary person as well, the idea that I would have to live as my gender in order to prove a transition is reductive and binaristic, and it's almost impossible for our community."
In a speech, Maggie, a trans woman, said, "We deserve a gender recognition system that treats us with dignity rather than forcing us to jump through hoops. We are not guests in gendered spaces – they belong to us just as much as they do to cisgender people. We deserve access to proper healthcare, not gatekeeping that doesn’t allow us to choose our health decisions for ourselves. We are not here to plead with you for these things, they are nothing less than what we are owed."
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