A message from the Chair of LGBT+ Liberal Democrats

* Editorial note: as indicated earlier, all comments on this piece will be moderated before publication.

Today, as always on the 20th of November we at LGBT+ Lib Dems, along with many other organisations around the world, are observing Transgender Day of Remembrance. This is the twentieth year when one of the biggest events in the LGBT+ calendar is not a celebration, but a commemoration of those who have been taken from us by violence. You can find the list of names for this and previous years here. TDoR is always sombre, commemorating as it does the deaths of trans people who have died in acts of anti-transgender violence, but this year feels particularly poignant.

We have a reasonable number of trans members in LGBT+LDs, but they are not writing this article today. I am. I’m writing it because our trans members are all exhausted and stretched beyond breaking point by the sustained and relentless misinformation appearing in the dead tree press about trans people, and when my friends are exhausted I feel it is incumbent upon me – on all of us, really – to pick up the baton. For the last month it has been literally every day in one or other of the papers, and often more than one. A relentless moral panic reminiscent of how gay people were spoken about in the 80s, with the constant cry of “won’t somebody think of the children!”

As Paris Lees said in The Grauniad the other day:

Some children are transgender. You can accept them and love them for who they say they are or make their lives hell – those are the options.

This relentless torrent of misinformation is incredibly difficult to face when you know it is going to fuel anti-trans attitudes in society at large; attitudes which lead, ultimately, to statistics like:

  1. Over 50% of trans people have attempted suicide at least once
  2. 81% of trans people have suffered either physical or verbal abuse
  3. 59% of trans youth self harm (compared to just under 9% of cis youth)

… and it ultimately leads to the violent deaths we commemorate today.
325 of them this year. So far.

Please, my fellow cis people, help our trans friends. Stand up and be counted. Stand with me. Stand with Ruth Hunt. Stand against the moral panic propagated by various powerful media lobbies, and for the people who are the target of it. Help us make the TDoR shorter, or even non-existent, next year.

Trans rights are human rights.

Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) is an annual observance on November 20 that honors the memory of those whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence. It was started in 1999 by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. The vigil commemorated all the transgender people lost to violence since Rita Hester’s death, and began an important tradition that has become the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence. I am no stranger to the need to fight for our rights, and the right to simply exist is first and foremost. With so many seeking to erase transgender people — sometimes in the most brutal ways possible — it is vitally important that those we lose are remembered, and that we continue to fight for justice.

– Transgender Day of Remembrance founder Gwendolyn Ann Smith

* Jennie Rigg is an award winning Liberal Democrat blogger who blogs at With a Melon? She was a member of the Liberal Democrats until September 2019.

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5 Comments

  • Holly Matthies 20th Nov '17 - 8:49am

    Thanks for writing this, Jennie. I’m sorry it’s so necessary, now more than ever.

  • Sue Sutherland 20th Nov '17 - 1:48pm

    All this pain and suffering just for being different is truly distressing. I am very ignorant about these issues and had to look up what cis means, although I do know about being picked on and bullied. When I am distressed I often turn to God and immediately the realisation came to me that God is transgender. If you are a person of faith you know that we are all made in God’s image and God displays the characteristics of both genders in the parables that Jesus tells us. That gave me comfort and peace which I’d like to share with all those exhausted people.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 20th Nov '17 - 1:49pm

    Poignant and important advice from Jennie , good to read this powerful statement and , support her and it , with Holly too another voice for this , very welcome too.

  • Thanks all xx

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