LGBT+ Allies need to step up

On March 31 2022, Boris Johnson announced he was U-turning on the government’s pledge to ban conversion “therapy”; a form of abuse that seeks to undermine someone’s gender and/or sexual identity, and gaslight them into believing how they view themselves is wrong and must be “corrected”.

Due to backlash from politicians across the House; including a number of Tory MPs, and LGBT+ pressure groups Johnson acquiesced – to a point. He has promised to uphold the ban on gay and bisexual conversion therapy but has failed to do the same regarding trans conversion therapy. What has been made very clear is that the LGBT+ community is viewed as nothing more than a vehicle to gain votes for Boris Johnson. The way he is willing to make such rash, disgusting decisions that compromise the rights and safety of individuals serve to highlight that now, more than ever, LGBT+ allies need to rally around the community and bolster our support.

We cannot expect trans people to shoulder the burden of standing against societal, and now state-sanctioned oppression alone. If we want to see real change, we must create platforms that amplify trans voices. We need to contact MPs, MSPs, MSs, MLAs, Councillors, Mayors, anyone and everyone that is integral to our political system and encourage them to speak up against such prejudice. We must listen, not to respond, but to understand and learn from trans people, the negative experiences they face and what we can do to mitigate them. It is our moral responsibility to defend and uphold the individual freedoms of all people – a responsibility that our government has abandoned.

This attack on trans people is all too similar to the days of Section 28, and the “Gay Agenda”. While trans people simply want to live their lives and be granted the basic respect of being recognised for the gender they identify with, small-minded individuals have made it their mission to demonise them for doing so, going out of their way to attack trans people online and in-person. We’re even seeing news outlets asking questions that are, fundamentally, transphobic dog whistles used to undermine trans women. And we cannot forget the often-overlooked but still valid group that has been impacted by Boris Johnson’s failure: non-binary people. Those that do not identify with binary genders (male and female) are also under threat by the U-turn on banning trans conversion “therapy”, yet they’re so very seldom mentioned by news outlets and government ministers.

And so, I reiterate the need for LGBT+ allies to step up and show support. If you’re compromised in what you can do, have no fear; sharing information, contacting political representatives via email, writing blog articles and opinion pieces to help educate others on what’s going on and how they can help, and making it clear that you will not tolerate bigotry on your social media platforms from anyone is a valid way of showing support. For those that ARE able to do more, join peaceful protests in support of LGBT+ rights, work with activists in the local area to help raise awareness of what’s happening, meet up with LGBT+ people and hear first-hand what they’re going and been through.

We can and will do this!

* Jack Meredith is a Welsh Liberal Democrat member.

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10 Comments

  • Rachel Bishop-Firth 3rd Apr '22 - 12:37pm

    Well said, Jack. I know that there’s a Lib Dem petition out there – what else are we doing as a party? Are we going to be at Trans Pride Brighton / London, and are there any planned demonstrations that we can join?

  • Mary Regnier-Wilson 3rd Apr '22 - 12:41pm

    Excellent article

    As allies not only do we need to proactively stand up for trans and non binary people, we need to call out the way the attacks on these minorities are simply an attempt to manufacture a culture war.

  • Jack Meredith 3rd Apr '22 - 1:21pm

    Thank you both, for your lovely comments. I’m an unpaid carer, so my living condition makes it difficult for me to get out and about with my activism, but you’re 100% right. There’s ALWAYS more we can do, and we need to acknowledge that the hate being spewed out by the government and transphobic platforms is nothing more than fuel for a manufactured “culture war”.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 3rd Apr '22 - 3:22pm

    Jack, thank you so much for this article.
    If Boris Johnson and his government have recognised, rightly, that conversion therapy is a violation of human rights, and have rightly made it illegal for gay or bi people to be subjected to this, then how can they consider it acceptable for trans people to be subjected to this same barbaric treatment?
    You are right that LGBT+ allies need to “step up”.
    I think those of us who are cis, but who want to be good allies, sometimes hesitate to speak out, just because we are afraid of saying the wrong thing, of somehow unintentionally causing offense, or of sounding patronising. We may feel that there are gaps in our knowledge, which may prevent us from finding the right response to the arguments of transphobes. But I think we need to assume that it is better to give imperfect support, than not to speak out at all. And all we really need to understand is that everyone has the right to openly be their true selves, and to live their best lives, to be believed and to be supported

  • Phil Beesley 3rd Apr '22 - 3:27pm

    “Conversion therapy” is an expression adopted by people who wish to explain coercive behaviour. It was first presented as cuddly, kind help for those struggling with sexual or gender identity worries, by people who are misguided or uncaring. Why do opponents fall into linguistic traps?

    When talking about so-called conversion therapy, we should say what we mean.

    This sentence is pretty clear:
    “There is no justification for these coercive and abhorrent practices and the evidence is clear that it does not work: it does not change a person from being LGBT and can cause long lasting damage to those who go through it.”

    Sadly, the paper defines itself about so-called conversion therapy:
    https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/banning-conversion-therapy/banning-conversion-therapy

    Bullying, brain washing, coercion — they’re straightforward words.

  • Many lesbian, gay and bisexual people do not conform to sex stereotypes and, like me, question their gender as children. Unlike people who grow up to be trans, people like me find that puberty and then later sexual awakening resolves this confusion.

    The danger with the proposed conversion therapy legislation is that it risked labelling exploratory therapy for children and young adults, like I was, who might’ve thought that they had gender identity issues, as conversion therapy if it didn’t affirm those children and young people as trans.

    We know that there are many and varied reasons why people struggle with their gender identity. Some of these are internal and some are external. We still have a long way to go to make society more tolerant and accepting of difference and non-conformity. Personally, I’m very glad that the legislation will be split to allow more consideration of the particular needs of people with gender issues, to recognise that we all have different needs and this bill had very serious potential unintended consequences, especially for young lesbian, gay and bisexual people.

  • Jenny Barnes 4th Apr '22 - 5:57pm
  • Thank you, Jack. I am proud to count myself as an ally. I heard myself being described as as such when I attended a small ceremony to mark the first time the Pride flag was flown over our Guildhall three years ago. I don’t think I had been called that before, even though I had been supporting LGBT+ issues throughout my working life. It’s a good term to use, and acknowledges that LGBT+ rights are human rights and impact on all of us.

  • Andrew Toye 4th Apr '22 - 11:54pm

    I don’t have a lot of knowledge about the issue, but l do know that badly-written law can fail to achieve its intended outcomes and may prove harmful. It may be that the govt. are being cautious in not inadvertently outlawing genuine treatments that are designed to help people through their transition (or non-transition if that is what they eventually decide). Certainly, coercive and degrading regimes must be banned (and that should also apply to areas such as mental health and criminal justice), but Parliament must get the letter of the law right.

    The history of the Tories suggests that they cannot be trusted on these issues (Clause 28 etc. etc.) and we must ‘watch this space’ and insist that they come up with a solution that respects everyone’s rights, and not just leave the issue as “too difficult”.

  • Chris Bertram 6th Apr '22 - 9:21am

    @Jenny Barnes – that’s a bit of an “out there” take on the report as I read it.

    It says ‘The EHRC says there “are circumstances where a lawfully established separate or single-sex service provider can exclude, modify or limit access to their service for trans people”.’

    It further states that ‘The guidance, which applies to England, Scotland and Wales, advises service providers offering single-sex services to “consider your approach to trans people’s use of the service”, the nature of the service and the reason a separate or single-sex service is needed. “You must then show that your action is a proportionate way to achieve that aim,” the guidance says.’ I note here the calls to reason and proportionality, and regard that as essential.

    From your comment, you would seem to be of the opinion that there are no circumstances whatsoever when a trans person should be excluded from any single-sex space. Can you confirm this for us please and explain how this is reasonable at all times?

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