A long road to Trans equality…
This week I have participated in two flag raising events. Both to show support for those who have been victims of hate crime or have been persecuted for simply living the life they choose to live.
I have chosen to stand side by side with both friends and strangers to show that we will not be silenced whilst others use violence and cause harm to people simply because of who they are or what they believe in.
In 1969 at the Stonewall Inn in New York the police entered the building and started to arrest people for just being themselves or choosing a lifestyle that was not considered to be ‘normal’ at the time!
On this occasion one person decided to fight back because she had decided that it was her right to choose to wear a dress even though the police just saw a man. The riots that followed are considered, by many, as the start of the modern gay rights movement.
Last year we saw how voices coming together in unison, with both friends and allies has helped to change legislation. People are now able to marry the person they love no matter what gender they are. Gay rights continue to move forward at a rapid pace however Tran’s equality is still behind on the journey. The existence of the so called ‘spousal veto’ shows that this legislation falls a long way short of equality for many married transgender men and women seeking gender recognition.
National figures show a 9% increase in hate crime towards transgender people in the last year. What I know is that these figures don’t reflect the experiences of people facing hostility and name calling on a day to day basis. They don’t show you how this impacts on a person’s wellbeing or explain why some types of offences are often not reported or recorded as a hate crime.
It’s only by ensuring that reporting systems are accessible and people feel that their voices will be heard, that we will be able to start on a journey of change. So that society understands that this behaviour is not acceptable or will not be trivialised and appropriate action will be taken.
I recognise that there is still a long way to go to make Trans equality a reality. The work and dedication of local organisations like Be and Gadd play an important role in this journey as well as the role of national organisations such as Stonewall.
We must also celebrate and recognise the success of programmes such as ‘Boy Meets Girl’. A story set locally about two people falling in love, one of whom just happens to be transgender, which has helped to bring a wider awareness of some of issues faced by the transgender community into households.
Today on Transgender Day of Remembrance I want to acknowledge those who have faced much adversity to be true to themselves. Pay tribute to the courage people show in standing up to prejudice and ignorance that they face on their journey, and remember those who have lost their lives along the way.