Wednesday, 20 October 2010
Not so. What if you are a trans person under 35 who is questioning their gender, who is unsure of their gender identity or knows they are trans but can't come out for fear of repercussions at work or with their parents? What if you are forced to share accommodation with other people? Suddenly that difficult process of coming out and figuring out your gender identity becomes much more fraught. suddenly you may find that the bullying and harrassment you get in the street, at college or at work comes home and you get hassle there as well. Effectively it forces you to come out to people who are essentially not your own group of friends.
This is goiung to hit transgender and gender variant young people very hard, to the extent that many will either continue to conceal their gender identities or be forced out of their homes by transphobic bullying. Young trans people are already a group with a high risk of poverty, unemployment and homelessness, this is just going to exacerbate the situation. This is one of the horrible measures which Cameron has announced, that will hit trans people hardest.
so what can people do? The first thing is to write to your MP. The second thing is to put a comment on Lynne Featherstone's blog about trans equality. Lynne Featherstone is Lib Dem minister for equality and a keen supporter of trans issues. Now is the time to ask her to put her money where her mouth is. We need to ask her, for the sake of all minority groups, to campaign against this measure in government, and if that fails at least to permit transgender people under 35 to obtain housing benefit for small flats on their own. To do otherwise is going to hit these people very hard and possibly even lead to more deaths from suicide. This is something there is already too much of.
Friday, 8 October 2010
The government in Spain is the first one to have more women in the cabinet than men. Hilary Clinton represents a very powerful women as US foreign secretary. Iceland, Germany and many other countries have women leaders. The UK, Israel, Pakistan, Oz, Bangladesh, and many other countries have had women leaders in the past.
So far so much progress for gender equality in some (but not all) parts of the world.
So how come this gender equality has not extended to people who do not fit easily into the categories "male" and "female"? Where are our transgender politicians?
OK so Italy had a transgender MP for a while; the wonderful Valdimir Luxuria, as did the Kiwis, and there are elected transgender politicians in Hawaii and New Zealand. But that total does not represent very many compared to the numbers of transgender people there are on this planet. The UK actually elected its first transgender politician back in May; Sarah Brown was elected as a Lib Dem councilor in Cambridge. (The former mayor of Cambridge was also a transwoman but she was not known as a transwoman before she was elected, only choosing to out herself after the threat of being outed by the gutter press).
If we accept one of the lowest estimates of the number of transgender people in the UK at 1% and if there are 600+ MPs and 785 MEPs in the EU as a whole, there should be at least 6 transgender MPs and 8 transgender MEPs. Instead we have to settle for one Lib Dem councillor.
As is often the case, "diversity and equality" are simply never applied to transgender people. Even Sarah's heartfelt speech about transgender marriage equality at Lib Dem conference this Autumn was not broadcast, I suspect because they did not want to portray themselves as a party of "freaks" which might put off "mainstream" voters. Well it is about time parties started to be more inclusive. If "mainstream" voters are put off by the sight of transgender people standing for election, then it is up to the parties to educate the public and argue against the insidious propaganda of the Daily Mail and associated hate-mongers.
I have always believed in transgender people speaking for themselves as trans people. That is the ultimate performative act of being transgender. Yet unless those who purport to support our existence as human beings of transgender experience in their parties need to show that support by permitting transgender people to stand as candidates for the major political parties in elections where they have more power at national and European level.
Monday, 4 October 2010
Those who think that transgender people have, at least in Western Europe, are safe from transphobic hate-crime, need to rethink their view of the world. Even those places which one would consider most safe are not necessarily as safe as we may have thought. From the ignorant feminist minority insisting that we be "mandated out of existence" to religious zealots and fascists, the presence and expression of these objectionable idologies clearly results in increased hate crime...
The third Transgender Europe (TGEU) Conference in
This turned out possibly to be a false assumption to make.
At least one of the two transphobic (and possibly also racist) attacks on two Turkish delegates outside a restaurant in Bergsgatan was premeditated. After shouting insults at these two transwomen as they went in, the group of 6-7 male attackers were waiting for them when they came out. They were violently assaulted and pelted with eggs. During the attack the women called out to a male passer-by to call the police, he refused to do so. Eventually two young women called the police, who arrived 30 minutes later. The women were treated in hospital and released. However this was far from the end of their ordeal.
When questioned by the police about the incident they were subjected to a host of degrading and embarrassing questions, including questions about what they were wearing and questions in which they were deliberately misgendered. They were also, rather threateningly, asked questions about their visa status. Questions which would not have been asked to a white victim.
This was relevant to what happened to these two women next. The following day, a Friday, they were enjoying themselves in The Crown nightclub in Amiralsgatan, the entry fee to which they had paid. At one point a male clubber slapped one of the women in the face. Rather than retaliate, these women complained to the staff, expecting, as would you or I, that the assailant would at very least be cautioned or ejected. Instead, astonishingly, the two women were thrown out!
Of course, following their previous ordeal with the police they did not want to report this, and so left feeling extremely unhappy. Of course TGEU has protested very strongly and the equality ombudsman, who was at the conference became involved, and another national equality and diversity worker came straight to
The vast majority of us were treated with that respect by everyone we encountered in
So what has changed? The location? Obviously the City of
No, the main other reason for the difference between our two experiences was time. The conference in
In my opinion the atmosphere in
Their perception that the election of fascist MPs renders socially acceptable the emptiness and ignorant egotism of the arrogant, confused and childish chaos which represents the personalities of these sad people. This is what happens when far-right parties get votes.
The reaction from the queer community in
This is a reality check for people who think that everything is hunky-dory and that trans people no longer suffer from discrimination, as has been shown again recently; transgender people are still being murdered at an alarming rate. It would appear that one of the factors affecting whether or not transphobia raises its ugly head is likely to be the presence of political or religious or other organisations which serve to legitimize the kind of across-the-board bigoted attitudes against anyone who is different. It is the presence of Nazis in the shape of the SD which has made at least some people feel that it is now socially acceptable to indulge in bigoted behaviour and hate-crime. As such countering these peddlers of hate, wherever and however they manifest themselves, is an essential precondition for improving conditions of transgender people.