Content warning: suicide, transphobia, violence and sexual abuse.
Having previously written about Trans Day of Visibility, I thought it would be great to follow up with something about Trans Day of Remembrance on 20 November and Trans Awareness Week in the week preceding on 13 -19 November.
Why do we have a Transgender Day of Remembrance? To put it bluntly, it’s simply because people are still suffering abuse and violence and are losing their lives because of who they are. Suicide rates are disproportionately high amongst the trans community, and the fact that there are people who de-transition because being trans in society can bring so much harassment, bigotry and fear is a terrible reflection on society today.
Trans rights don’t adversely affect anyone else’s rights and no one is devalued by identifying as cis (or not trans). Asking someone which pronouns they use is easy and a great way to make someone feel included. Additionally, we also use ‘they’ as a singular pronoun all the time in English, and we all have pronouns. It’s not something you can opt-out of!
It’s important to not just be trans-aware during Trans Awareness Week but to also be Transphobia-aware. Transphobia exists far beyond a few ill-informed minor celebrities, and whilst real prejudice exists in a very small percentage of the population, they are very vocal about it, and can be intimidating if you’re not confident in your knowledge or understanding of trans and wider gender rights.
So, let’s look at a few important touchstones, as a start:
Trans people have existed throughout history in almost every culture. This isn’t a fad or trend, and trans people are more apparent now because we’re becoming better informed and better educated about what it means to be trans, non-binary, agender or otherwise outside the gender binary. The trans community is not only able to feel safer in being visible but also finds a greater sense of community in the process.
The Equality Act 2010 protects the rights of trans people and means that they can use the correct bathrooms and changing facilities, as well as protects them from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society. Trans people have always been doing this, without issue, and these rights became law in 2010. The Equality Act’s protections are not going anywhere. It is the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) that is under reform in the UK, as the current process to change your gender legally is “bureaucratic, too expensive and too intrusive” according to the government consultation set up to assess the reforms needed, and the report noted that trans people find the current process “overly intrusive, humiliating and administratively burdensome”. However, in England, the actions recommended in the report are currently not being acted on, and the frustration of the committee is made clear in the third report on the consultation stating “we are deeply disappointed by the approach taken by both the Government Equalities Office and the Equality and Human Rights Commission to this inquiry”. Trans people have even now been excluded from the proposed protections against conversion therapy, and the response to the report states that they “will carry out separate work to consider the issue of conversion therapy concerning transgender status.”
Being trans (like being gay) is not a choice. Who would choose the prejudice, oppression and hate that so many trans people experience every day? There are still far too many people living in fear or having to hide who they are and this is unacceptable in any modern society or culture. There are only positives in accepting trans women as women, and trans men as men. Or in fact, if you accept and respect however someone else identifies.
How can you tell if someone you are talking to does not support Trans Rights? Transphobes tend to act from the same playbook, and will often mention things like:
Sexual predators assume a trans identity to access women’s prisons and the women inside them.
Why should trans people have their rights oppressed because someone else is falsely masquerading as trans? Then there is the cognitive dissonance in someone obviously misogynistic wanting to be seen as a woman. This is an enormously rare occurrence outside of poorly researched fiction.
Being trans is not just saying “I identify as…”, and the reforms to the GRA won’t change this. There will remain a legal process to go through, and the requirement to permanently live in the gender you declare.
There’s also the fact that sexual predators are never housed in real spaces where they can access victims, whatever their gender identity. Karen White? A massive false flag and an admitted failure of the allocation process.
People need to know there are protected spaces and situations where they can be assured of the gender of the people they interact with.
Back to the Equality Act, here. None of this is part of the Gender Recognition Act reform. It is not relevant to the debate around the GRA.
What about protecting women and children from ‘people with penises’ in bathrooms and changing rooms?
Trans people have been using these spaces for a very long time, and people have only raised concerns about this now there’s a question about GRA reform. The Equality Act protects everyone’s right to access appropriate spaces without fear or harassment. The only people currently being harassed are gender non-conforming cis women, who transphobes assume must be men, presumably because they aren’t wearing dresses and makeup – setting women’s rights back a good century.
Women can have short hair and wear trousers. They can even wear men’s trousers if they want decent pockets. Trans women can wear trousers too and can be butch as heck, just like trans men can be as camp, femme and fey as they choose. It doesn’t change their gender any more than a man wearing a kilt does.
Again, if male predators want to access women’s spaces, why would they bother presenting as trans? You can access a female toilet with just a boiler suit and a clipboard. If kids are at risk from penis holders, why do people let their male-identified kids use the men’s bathroom? There’s no logic here, and no evidence to support it.
For no sensible or logical reason, transphobes love asking people “What is a woman?” as if suddenly English words can only have one definition.
A great response is that a woman is an adult human female, which of course includes trans women. Check Merriam-Webster’s definition of female for extra points… Women’s rights don’t include the right to exclude whoever we see fit from those rights.
People may of course believe whatever they choose. Gender Critical (the new term for transphobic) beliefs are protected in law, just like all other beliefs that do not actively promote harm to others. But that doesn’t give anyone the right to speak or act on those beliefs without consequence. Many people seem to be labouring under the misapprehension that freedom of speech means they can say whatever they like to whoever they please, wherever and whenever they choose. We have really robust anti-hate laws in the UK and hate crimes are simple and painless to report. You can even do it via Facebook if you have a switched-on constabulary.
It is much easier to treat each other with kindness and respect, whoever we are. I hope you’ll take that message to heart this Trans Awareness Week and feel more able to deal with transphobia both online and out in the real world. The trans community don’t want to take anything from you. They just want to live their lives in peace and safety.
Trans Day of Remembrance events will be happening in many places, including online, on the 20 November. We are planning an online event for the Open University Gender Diversity Student Club, and please do find us on Facebook if you’d like to come and join us.
Two trans people hugging at twilight
I think I will direct people to this post in the future. Its very well written. Look forward to reading your future articles.
Thank you so much. That’s very kind ☺️