February is LGBT History Month so I thought it might be a good idea to talk about our LGBT heroes. Let us know in the comments who you admire and why.
Here are three of mine to start us off.
First of all, Dr Meg John Barker, who is an academic specialising in gender identity, sexuality and relationships. From their Open University profile:
Meg John is a senior lecturer in psychology at the Open University and has published many academic books and papers on topics including non-monogamous relationships, sadomasochism, counselling, and mindfulness, as well as co-editing the journal Psychology & Sexuality. They were the lead author of The Bisexuality Report – which has informed UK policy and practice around bisexuality. They are involved in running many public events on sexuality and relationships, including Sense about Sex, Critical Sexology, and Gender & Sexuality Talks. Meg John is also a UKCP accredited therapist working with gender and sexually diverse clients. Meg John’s 2013 book Rewriting the Rules is a friendly guide love, sex and relationships
I find their blog, Rewriting the Rules, a really useful learning resource, written in an engaging and interesting way.
You don’t have to be called Barker to be one of my many LGBT heroes, but you might think so, as my next one is our own Liz Barker. Her patient persistence in the face of opposition in the Lords on the most, to put it mildly, spurious grounds, over equal marriage, her raising of healthcare issues for lesbian, bisexual and transgender women in particular are wise and helpful. During that debate she said:
I have four specific points to put to the Minister. The first is to ask when Public Health England will put forward a strategy for promoting the health and well-being of lesbian and bisexual women. There is one for gay men; there is not for lesbians and bisexual women. Secondly, will NHS England develop a data standard on sexual- orientation monitoring? At the moment there is no monitoring of the way in which we interact with the NHS. Thirdly, the biggest problem is that GPs simply do not know how to talk to us. Can the Minister work with the Royal College of General Practitioners to develop some standards for questions to be asked of patients in a non-pejorative way? Lastly, in our work with GPs, could the health outcomes of lesbians and bisexual and transsexual women be part of the overall monitoring of GP practice?
We are citizens of this country. We are taxpayers. We support the National Health Service. It is only fair that we should expect it to recognise that we exist and should be able to access those services with dignity like everybody else.
My third hero is Sarah Brown, who was until 2014 a Councillor in Cambridge. She did more than anyone else to highlight the unfairness of the spousal veto in the same sex marriage legislation.
She was also brilliant in speaking out against the requirement that party members should go through police accreditation to get to Conference when we were in Government.
She summated the transgender and intersex rights debate at Conference last year when we passed a comprehensive policy to improve health and equalities laws. She said:
We have heard that trans people are treated poorly by equalities law. That it’s legal to fire us, that it’s legal to sack us from certain jobs, that it’s difficult to gain legal recognition, and even that process is subject to spousal veto.
Intersex people have no legal recognition at all. At the LGBT+ Lib Dems fringe yesterday, prior to this debate, we heard that intersex people are as common as redheads. The shocking way society treats them represents collective guilty secret shared by us all. The way the medical community treats both trans and intersex people betrays a medical community that has not learned from the decades it spent trying to “normalise” lesbian, gay and bisexual people.
Just as an aside, if you look closely, you’ll see several uses of phrases like ham-fisted and pig-headed. That debate took place the day the infamous story about David Cameron and the pig came out. The Conference bar the night before was a sight to behold as you could see the news spreading from group to group with huge amounts of mirth.
So who are your LGBT heroes?
* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings