Tag Archives: transgender day of visibility

For Transgender Day of Visibility – Scottish Lib Dems stand up for trans people’s rights

Today is the annual Transgender Day of Visibility. It comes at a time when trans people and particularly trans women face daily attacks in the media just for being who they are.

Last month, Scottish Lib Dems passed a motion calling for reform of the Gender Recognition Act to make it easier for trans people to get new birth certificates, for all Lib Dem politicians to be robust in their support of trans people and for the media to be more responsible in their reporting. After all, there is a certain irony in the biggest media outlets in the land regularly carrying articles or broadcasts from people complaining that their voices had been silenced and they weren’t allowed to question trans rights.

An amendment repeated many of the false claims in the media that somehow women’s rights were under threat from trans rights.

It was defeated by some margin. I summated that motion. Here is my speech:

As Liberals, we have a duty to stand with any group of people under attack. Trans people in this country are constantly marginalised and are the target of well-funded misinformation. Last Autumn, a transphobic group took out a full page advertisement in a daily newspaper. These groups use the same tactics as the likes of Nigel Farage. He demonised immigrants, they demonise transgender people.  We can’t stand for that.

By passing this motion, unamended, we show that we will not stand for it.

And we should remember that when the claims made about transgender people and the organisations that support them are tested in the light of day, they are found wanting. Anti trans groups were successful in getting a review of a proposed grant to the brilliant charity Mermaids, which supports gender diverse children. This week, that review concluded that Mermaids should get their money. It’s worth mentioning that Mermaids have also benefited from an additional £270,000 from a DonkeyKongathon (I didn’t know what Donkey Kong was either, don’t worry) by a YouTuber who had been incensed by the attacks on the organisation. Celebrities and politicians including Alexandria Ocasio Cortez took part.

My highlight of Federal Conference in Brighton last year was a meeting that Lib Dem Voice hosted with the aim of putting some light and kindness into an atmosphere that had become toxic south of the border. In Scotland, it is much less so. Feminist and LGBT organisations worth together to advance rights for all. They see women’s rights and trans rights as entirely complementary.Neither has anything to fear from the other.

So I invited Emma Ritch, the Director of Engender and James Morton, the Director of the Scottish Transgender Alliance to talk about how their joint work.

Emma spoke about how a comparatively well-funded voluntary sector and a Government determined to make sure services were trans-inclusive helped. She said that there had been some difficult conversations and questions, but that what she called the “institutional kindness” of the Scottish Transgender Alliance had done so much to foster knowledge and understanding. She said that “radical kindness” was a key element in bringing people together.

Conference, there is no kindness in this amendment. Even though the people who submitted it I know to be kind people.

It seeks to solve a problem that does not exist and to pit feminists and lgbt activists against each other.

Women are women. And trying to draw divisions between cis and trans over who gets women’s rights is exactly the divide and conquer tactics used by the people who want to diminish *all* women’s rights.

Who want to diminish all human rights.

Anything that takes rights away from a woman just because she is trans, takes rights away from me and you.

The struggle for equality is one where we should all be fighting shoulder to shoulder.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 1 Comment

“He was the only politician who was interested” in transgender rights

I am just back from a lovely afternoon at Transgender Pride Scotland. I hadn’t expected to be there but my plans changed – sadly too late to take place in the march in the biting cold and driving rain and sleet.

By the time I got there, the crowds were happily ensconced in a conference centre near the main student halls complex in Edinburgh. In the shadow of Arthur’s Seat, packed sessions on  such subjects as tackling transphobia, what to expect at school, navigating gender identity issues as a non binary person, speech and voice as well as creative workshops took …

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It’s Transgender Day of Visibility – why it should matter to every liberal

Today is the annual Transgender Day of Visibility. This afternoon, I’m heading into Edinburgh for the Trans Pride Scotland event and I’m really looking forward to seeing the stalls, workshops, talks and meeting lots of lovely people.

Today really matters to me. As a liberal, I instinctively strive for the rights of people to be able to express who they are without fear. When I was at university, so many of my lesbian and gay friends weren’t out. When I went to uni in 1985, technically homosexuality had only been legal for five years in Scotland. Homophobia still exists, but we have come a long way since then and we have a job of work to do to maintain and continue that progress.

While rights and recognition of transgender people have  improved in the last couple of decades, there is so much more to be done. Recent efforts to simplify the gender recognition system have inspired a bit of a transphobic backlash. Open any right wing tabloid these days and you’ll find scaremongering inaccurate bile which makes life so much more difficult for transgender people.

Imagine how you would feel if your very right to exist and be accepted as who you are was called in to question? Imagine how that must feel if you are a child or young person struggling to come to terms with your gender identity.

As a cisgender woman and a feminist, I’m not prepared to stand by why anyone is discriminated against and attacked. The words of Martin Niemoller are never far away from my mind and my love for my transgender and non binary friends is never far away from my heart.

The bottom line is that everyone should be able to express who they are, something very individual to them, as they see fit. They should be accepted and welcomed. For me, that’s a basic part of a liberal society.

I have been in total awe of my transgender friends these past few days. They have been under sustained attack on social media and have dealt with it with resilience, patience and humour. The bile and unpleasantness coming in their direction has been awful to see. That’s why I will always stand with them.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 6 Comments

Three things to note on the Transgender Day of Visibility

Today is the annual Transgender Day of Visibility, a day when we are asked to take the time to learn and understand about transgender people’s lived experiences, where we celebrate our transgender and non binary friends and think about what we can do over the next year to make their lives easier.

If you just take a look at the #TDOV hashtag on Twitter, there is so much you can learn from people sharing their experiences. I want to point out just three of the day’s highlights.

Two of them involve Liberal Democrats. First is the amazing Maria Munir. It’s almost a year since they came out as non binary to President Obama, a year in which they have done so much to raise the profile of non binary people and work for greater understanding and acceptance. Today they were on LBC talking about HSBC’s decision to introduce ten gender neutral titles. Stuart, who leads HSBC’s Pride network explains how difficult it was for him when he transitioned.

If you are looking for resources to help you understand about the lived experience of transgender people and the issues they face, the Scottish Trans Alliance has some really good suggestions

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