Time for acceptance and respect: Trans Rights at Conference

I am trans and about as out as it gets. I’m not ashamed to be trans and I’m not ashamed to be out.

But I am afraid to be out.

Perhaps there are trans or non-binary people in the UK who are not afraid to be out at the moment, but I don’t know any. Being trans or non-binary and out in the UK is a scary thing as attacks on who we are (as well as attacks on us for who we are) have skyrocketed.

Trans and non-binary people in the UK live in a country where the media is, for the greater part, hostile to us—hostile to the very idea that trans and non-binary people should exist without being questioned about our right to simply be ourselves.

The older LGBTQ+ community in the UK have seen this all before, of course. Hit pieces that depicted queer people as being dangerous to “normal” people. For the most part such attack lines in the mainstream press have all but gone.

But not for trans and non-binary people. Almost daily, as a community, we face an unrelenting tide of disinformation and hate. We face accusations that trans women don’t just hide predators amongst us but are predators ourselves. That we’re simply too dangerous to be around women and children. That we prey on children and “groom them to be trans”.

Trans men are unendingly portrayed as “confused lesbians”. People who—in the eyes of transphobes—are so incapable of self-reflection or understanding that they must be “protected from themselves”, that they’re “mutilating themselves”, “sterilising themselves”.

Non-binary people are portrayed as being “fake attention seekers”, or “people too stupid or ignorant to know the difference between their identity and gender stereotypes”.

It’s against this backdrop that trans and non-binary people in the UK must live their lives. It’s no easy thing and for all that we sometimes scoff or laugh at the idea that we’re a community, the reality is that trans and non-binary people look to each other and our allies to get through the day—or to find the strength to face the next. The simple truth is that when you’ve spent a day studiously ignoring the people who stare at you—filming you—talking about you like you’re a freak in a circus show—you need to be amongst people who don’t treat you like that.

Acceptance is an important thing to trans and non-binary people. It’s important to everyone but often our cis, straight peers take it for granted. Acceptance is a simple thing. It’s a thing of moments; taking the time to respect another enough to accept them; the respect and acceptance to accept that somebody who says that they are a he, or a they, or a ze, or a she, that they are just that. The respect and acceptance that it is not for you to demand that another person cannot be who they truly are.

It is not a belief to accept that a woman is a woman. It is not an act of faith to accept that a non-binary person is non-binary. It’s just acceptance of a fact; that non-binary people are non-binary, that trans men are men, and that trans women are women.

It is nearly the third decade of the 21st century and here we are, about to debate a motion on whether trans and non-binary people should be accepted and respected for who we are; about to debate whether we should be able to use the toilets we choose to use rather than be forced into using facilities that are imposed upon us; being treated as if we’re some kind of dangerous or malign presence. Yet again trans and non-binary people find our dignity—our very existence as ourselves—up for debate.

As if there is anything to debate.

Trans women are not the predator at the door.

Trans men aren’t easily confused people “brainwashed out of having children or being gay”.

No-nbinary people aren’t people who don’t understand the difference between who they are as individuals and the gendered roles and expectations of the society they live in.

We aren’t oddities. We aren’t freaks. We aren’t “others” to be treated as afterthoughts or not thought of at all.

We are people. Just the same as any other person. As equally deserving of respect and acceptance. As equally deserving of not being the target of harassment.

As equally deserving of not being treated as exhibits in a metaphorical museum of curiosities.

It is nearly the third decade of the 21st century—

—and it’s past time that this was simply accepted and respected.

The motion on Monday evening should not be a thing that needs to be put before conference. It shouldn’t be necessary for the measures within it to be acts of acceptance and respect within society, let alone the Liberal Democrats. It shouldn’t be a motion that is brought forward by a cis man for it to be heard, although I thank Fraser from my heart for ensuring that my voice is heard on Monday. 

And yet for all of that this is still something that not only must be heard, but also accepted. And so I ask you to accept this motion.

To vote for it.

To accept us.

* Jasmine Joséphine Sakura-Rose is a Lib Dem member from Caerphilly.

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  • This is a great piece, Jasmine. Thanks for writing it and thanks for being so open. You’re quite right, the motion shouldn’t even be necessary. But is coming to conference on Monday, and I urge everyone to vote in favour.

    And you know what? I’m not trans or non-binary, and yet I’m worried about what might be said in the debate and the hurt that this is going to cause my trans and non-binary friends. I’m hoping for a civil and respectful debate, and I’m hoping that the motion will pass.

  • Stephen Harte 26th Sep '20 - 8:46pm

    Well said!

  • Candy Piercy 26th Sep '20 - 9:06pm

    Well said Jasmine. It is time that we as Lib Dems reaffirm our support for trans rights by supporting the motion on Monday evening.

  • Great post Jasmine, I will be supporting the Motion on Monday. You are right though, we shouldn’t need the Motion, we just need to accept everyone for who they are and how they want to be.

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