Sal Brinton writes…Join the Lib Dems in saying Trans rights are human rights

Across the Atlantic, Trump and his cronies are doing their very best to rewrite the definition of transgender out of existence. An agenda of social cleansing that feeds into his administration’s insular and antagonistic narrative. We may like to think that Trump’s views are in isolation, that his fear of difference does not seep to our shores, but it does.

The experience of many trans people is incredibly tough. A report from Thomas Reuters Foundation last week found that 20% of trans people still get pushed towards conversion therapy, even within our NHS; and another report from Stonewall showed that in the last year, 12% of trans people have attempted suicide.

With the Government’s consultation on the Gender Recognition Act having taken place this year, trans issues have been all over the mainstream media, with opponents viciously attacking some of society’s most vulnerable people. These attacks are shocking, and the perpetrators are often sat behind keyboards, unable or unwilling  to see the damage their words can cause.

But in Transgender Awareness Week, I want to focus on the positives, and what we can do to improve the lives of trans people going forward.

Our party, the Liberal Democrats, exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. Quite literally, that is our mantra, our values and we have always stood beside those facing inequality and attacks.

Transgender and intersex communities are too often marginalised, and many forget that in the fight for equality, trans rights are human rights.We must, and we are, endeavouring to ensure that a vulnerable group of people, are able to live as they are entitled to under our laws.

But those laws need to be more flexible. The ‘spousal veto’, as it has been dubbed by the trans community – a law which enables the spouse of a trans person to veto their transition, needs to be changed, and I really want to believe that the Government will acknowledge this as part of the review of the GRA.

Gender dysphoria is a serious and not a casual condition. For anyone that has been through a transition, or supported another through it, they will see that the system does not meet the needs of those who access it, and that it is long, arduous and expensive.

We need to aspire to make things easier for people to transition if that is what what is right for them. It should be no-one else’s decision and the criteria should not be made so difficult to meet that people end up experiencing mental health issues because they feel despondent, anxious and isolated.

I know that in writing this blog I will be on the receiving end of abuse, but it is nothing compared to the abuse that our transgender friends and colleagues face every day.

This week especially, I want to ask you to support our transgender friends and colleagues, to create a better environment of acceptance and to provide a system that works and meets people’s human needs.

Join our campaign to recognise that Trans Rights are Human Rights, as Liberal Democrats we believe their rights are key to our values and we will do everything possible to spread those values to improve our society, and the world we live in, whoever you are.

* Baroness Sal Brinton is President of the Liberal Democrats. She is a working Lib Dem peer, and was the candidate for Watford at the 2010 and 2005 General Elections.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • David Warren 12th Nov '18 - 6:42pm

    Happy to sign the petition and support this.

    I often wonder what happened to an old work colleague of mine who was trans and was very badly treated by the employer.

    The union fought her case all the way and eventually achieved substantial compensation for her after what was effectively a constructive dismissal.

    I am sure this was not an isolated case.

    Many workplaces are not set up for trans people and there is still a lot prejudice out there.

  • James Baillie 12th Nov '18 - 10:43pm

    Great stuff, Sal. Good to see the Lib Dems taking a firm lead on this.

  • ” Even when we are confused about someone’s gender and don’t have a greater awareness of what it means to be trans, we have a choice to respond with kindness rather than cruelty” C N LESTER


  • Mick Taylor 14th Nov '18 - 6:33pm

    Right on Sal. Too many people want to attack and vilify trans people.
    It’s great to see you being so clear. Trans rights are indeed human rights.

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