Whilst we are making positive advancements in trans awareness, trans people still face daily discrimination in our society. In recent years, two in five trans people have experienced a hate crime because of their gender and almost half of trans people in Britain have attempted suicide at least once. On top of this, the average wait time to get an appointment at a gender identity clinic is 18 months. For trans or non-binary people, these wait times are unimaginable.
A few weeks ago, I was honoured to attend a meeting with young trans people living here in Norfolk. I was able to listen to their stories and their concerns, and one of the main frustrations they expressed was that they weren’t considered capable of making the choices that so evidently applied to them, in terms of their identity and the journey they are on. They also struggle to get support and medication, as well as facing basic issues gaining identity documents. These young people can face a hostile and transphobic public, and it is clearly our duty as allies to give them all the support we can.
Earlier this year, the government issued its response to the two year long consultation period for the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) 2004: the Act that enables trans people to change their legal gender. With trans and non-binary people currently underrepresented in protective laws, there were many pleas for major reform. Requests ranged from the requirement of a diagnosis of gender dysphoria to be removed for those seeking gender reassignment, to the removal of the requirement for a medical report detailing treatment. The government’s reply to these requests for vital change? Only to reduce the fee to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate, and to take the application process online.
It’s an incredibly disappointing response. The changes are small and, although not inconsequential, they are far behind in terms of the progressive, meaningful and substantial reform needed to secure the rights of trans and non-binary people. This Trans Awareness Week, I promise to continue to use my voice to speak up for the positive change needed. Trans and non-binary people are important members of our community, and they deserve to have their voices heard.