Tag Archives: transgender rights

A big thank you to Ed and Jo for championing Trans rights

As the dust begins to settle after the Leadership Election (and many congratulations to Jo and commiserations to Ed) there will, as usual, be time for some self-evaluation and reflection for the party, even if the other leadership election that’s happened means there might be a bit less of it than normal!

With that in mind I only have one thing to add to everything else that will be going on in the coming days and that’s a note of thanks to Jo and Ed for their unwavering support for trans people during the Leadership election. You both stood by us, unswervingly, even when it led to you getting so much abuse for that stance. It would have been so easy to step back and dial it down. To make vague equivocal noises about supporting equality. To throw us under the bus as we have been so many times before. Thank you for not doing the easy thing.

Both Jo and Ed showed yet again that the real essence of liberalism is doing the right thing and not the easy thing. Giving trans people a place to feel welcomed and at home at a time when we are so under attack in the media and everywhere we go was definitely not the easy thing for either of you to do. It has meant so much to the trans people I know in the party (and even quite a few outside it) to see you both prove that you will stand with us against those attacks, which frankly makes us unique as a party, and show conclusively that there is no place for bigotry and transphobia in the Liberal Democrats.

At a time when every other party has been backing down in the face of those attacks, you both stepped forward. Thank you for proving beyond a doubt that whatever your differences and whatever the future brings we have had a choice between two true liberals.

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Homophobia today

One of the genuine achievements of the Coalition government was the introduction of the Marriage Equality Act, the piece of legislation that made same sex marriage legal in the UK. It is a law that is heralded as the culmination of decades of campaigning by the LGBT community, a symbol of the progress we have made as a society in regards to sexuality and sexual rights.

But has progress truly been made? All over the world and, indeed, in Britain, individuals are still discriminated against in their day to day lives, they are still subject to harm, and their existing rights, so hard won over so many years, are under threat.

Recently, the country was exposed to the image of a lesbian couple who had been beaten by a gang of youths. It was a taste of what lies underneath the tolerant and accepting facade that has been built. The great, sweeping reforms of the past twenty years have still not broken through into parts of our culture. Indeed, incidents of “queer bashing” and other such crimes have been rising for the past few years. The London attack needs to be analysed – who did the attacking and why did they do it? It was a gang of youths, male (at the time of writing), the motive being that the couple would not engage in the group’s fantasies concerning lesbians. There is something deeply insidious in this attack, that these men believed that all they had to do was throw money at these women and they would do as they were told.

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20 May 2019 – today’s press release

  • Prime Minister’s Deal is dead – Tom Brake
  • Further Gender Identity Clinic delays unacceptable
  • Davey: Govt is failing in its duty to protect the public
  • Welsh Liberal Democrats only chance for 2nd remain seat

Prime Minister’s Deal is dead – Tom Brake

Responding to comments made by Matthew Hancock, the Health Secretary, on the Today Programme, that the Government will bring forward its bill on exiting the EU, Tom Brake, Lib Dem Brexit Spokesperson said:

The Prime Minister’s deal is dead. They can bring forward votes on that deal and a speculative bill every week, for the rest of the year – it will still fail

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Today’s cancellation of the 2nd part of the Leveson Inquiry – a massive betrayal of the promises to victims of press abuses

Just over six years ago, I walked into the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand, sat down in a blue chair in front of some microphones and faced about an hour of questions from Robert Jay QC. I was giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry.

Quite frankly, I had been terrified about doing so. Before heading up to London I had called the local police to warn them that I may need rapid response. I had talked through press management with the school I was a governor at, and had given advice to every single family member.

But I sat there and dismantled the evidence given by the editors of the Mail and the Sun, including pointing to a story the Scottish Sun had published the same day that Dominic Mohan (the Sun’s editor) had said they had improved their reporting on trans issues.

I did this, not because I personally had been the subject of adverse or downright hostile press coverage, but because as part of campaigning for fairer media representation of trans and intersex people, the group I had helped start had received numerous stories from those who had. Reading the damage the press did to countless individuals and families, including disrupting the education of children who had nothing to do with the stories the press were covering – quite honestly it was and still is heart-breaking.

My appearance before the biggest media story in the country at the time went largely unreported, probably for obvious reasons. Fortunately the protections I’d put around my family, my company and the school I volunteered for were simply not needed. But the initial appearance did prompt a press backlash on the community I represented– until I made a second submission, acknowledged by the Inquiry Team within minutes.

The relatively new Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport – Matt Hancock – has made clear his direction of travel from shortly after he was appointed. Under Karen Bradley, Government launched a consultation last year on whether the second part of the Leveson Inquiry should proceed, but it was clear from the questions asked where they were minded to go.

So today’s cancellation of the second part of the Leveson Inquiry – the part that couldn’t happen while court cases were proceeding – comes as no great surprise.

But it is a massive betrayal of the promises to victims of press abuses made by David Cameron, who said publicly that Leveson’s proposals would be fully implemented unless they were clearly bonkers. Those victims are hurting, and hurting badly. Not only were they subjected to some of the most egregious behaviour, they now feel completely betrayed by Government.

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Feminist and trans equality organisations can work very well together – Scotland leads the way

You can hardly open a newspaper these days – including some which should know better – without seeing some horrible, untrue and vicious stories about transgender people.

It’s terrifying to me as a cisgender woman to see any group of people targeted in this way. Imagine what it must be like if you are transgender. Your very right to exist is being questioned. In the US, an ignorant President undermines you at every opportunity.

As Liberals, I would argue that we have an absolute duty to do everything we can to stand up for people who are being targeted with so much hate. Doing nothing is simply not an option.

It makes me furious when I see some vocal feminists target transgender women. It really, really does not have to be this way. I don’t often voluntarily share articles from The National, but on this occasion, I am proud to do so. James Norton, who works for the Scottish Trans Alliance wrote an excellent piece about how feminist and transgender rights activists and organisations work so well together in Scotland. He writes about a decade of respectful dialogue has done all it can

to ensure that trans equality enhances wider gender/sex equality and that discussion is factual, friendly and diverse.

He continues:

Together, Scotland’s trans and feminist movements have grown in our mutual understanding and support of each other. We have found huge common ground in our desire to prevent sexual assault and domestic violence, ensure bodily autonomy and reproductive freedoms, implement equal pay and challenge gender stereotypes. There cannot be full trans equality without full equality for women.

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