Why Now? Understanding the Shift in Treatment of Trans People

July 10, 2023
5 min read
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Welcome to the final of our Pride blogs, featuring a series of our amazing guest speakers. Rounding things off we have Katie Neeves. Katie is a woman on a mission - but not just any woman and not just any mission! Katie formed Cool2BTrans to support and inspire other trans people and also to educate everyone else about trans rights and experiences.

Why now? Why are trans people being treated as pariahs at the moment? For many years we have been left alone to live our lives in peace. Granted, most people didn’t understand us (they still don’t), but they left us alone, with a “live and let live” attitude. Today though, things are very different. It’s difficult to open a newspaper, or to turn on the TV or radio and not be bombarded by a story (or several) about a trans person being public enemy number one - especially if that person happens to be female. Let me try to unpick this…

Most people have never knowingly met a trans person. They will have met loads of us, but so many trans people “pass” (horrible word, I know) as their true gender, so anyone who meets them will not realise that they are transgender. This is what’s called being “in stealth mode” in the trans community. Even if someone does know a trans person, they will often not know them well enough to ask them very personal questions in order to increase their knowledge of trans people. So we are a much-misunderstood section of society.

In 2017, the (then) Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May announced a consultation to reform the Gender Recognition Act 2004 - the law that allows trans people to legally change our sex on our birth certificate, which ultimately only affects our marriage certificate and death certificate. We could already change the gender marker on our passport, driving license and NHS medical record and we had the right to access gender-appropriate spaces, so this was just about dignity in marriage and in death. That’s all. It was a good thing too. Unfortunately, the consultation brought out lots of trans-hostile activists, many of whom were being funded by far-right Christian fundamentalists from the US and the hate began. 

Theresa May was the last trans-friendly Prime Minister the UK has had, and when she left office, the Government lurched to the right and the hate increased. Since then, the economy has crashed, the cost of living has rocketed, inflation has gone through the roof and the NHS is totally and utterly broken. The Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party, Lee Anderson, recently stated that the next general election would have to be fought on minority issues such as trans rights, even though many surveys show that this is the topic that affects the electorate the least. Trans people are being used as a smokescreen. “Don’t look over there at the stuff you really care about. Look over here at these nasty, dangerous trans people instead!” This is not limited to the Conservative Party though, The Labour Party Leader Sir Keir Starmer has been agreeing with much of the anti-trans rhetoric being spouted by Rishi Sunak, Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and co. He has also failed to take any action against trans-hostile comments being made by Labour MP Rosie Duffield, so please don’t think this is a party political rant, as it’s not.

Misinformation has been regularly pumped out in Parliament, on social media and in the mainstream media. Most of the mainstream media is anti-trans and they are only too happy to see (and to facilitate) trans people being used as political footballs. 

Most people are lovely people who don’t want to offend, but the constant barrage of misinformation about trans people has an effect, so it’s no wonder that the Home Office reported that anti-trans hate crime increased by 56% in the last year. Hate speech leads to hate acts.

Through my talks and trans awareness training, I’m on a mission to educate as many people as possible with the truth about trans people and to show that trans people are just ordinary people who want to be happy. No-one chooses to be trans. The only choice we have is whether to be happy or not and therefore whether we do anything about it or not. Very often, it’s a life or death decision, as we become so desperately unhappy when we are forced to conform to what others want us to be. 

It’s tough being trans in the UK (as well as in the US and in many other parts of the World) and I fear the anti-trans rhetoric will only increase as the general election approaches. I for one, can’t wait for this trans-hostile period to end.

By giving trans people the right to exist in peace, you are not taking anyone else’s rights away. We are not a threat to anyone. We just want to be happy. Just like everyone else.

If you are interested in getting Katie in to talk at your company or organisation about trans rights and experiences, please send us a message at hello@thatday.uk

Katie's socials:

Website: www.cool2btrans.co.uk

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