‘We are now a community under attack’: What you can do be a better ally of transgender people
Everything you need to know about the Gender Recognition Act reform consultation
We’re sorry to say it, folks, but the fight for LGBTQ rights and safety is most definitely not over. Queer people still face daily threats – big and small – and for transgender people, just trying to be yourself can feel like a struggle.
In fact, a YouGov survey from earlier this year found that one in eight trans people had been physically attacked by a colleague or customer in the workplace within the past year; a third of trans people have been discriminated against when visiting a cafe, bar or restaurant; and a quarter of trans people in a relationship in the last year have experienced domestic abuse.
And, depressingly, anti-trans rhetoric has been ballooning in recent weeks, both online and in the media, in response to a government consultation about transgender issues.
But try not to lose all hope because there’s a super simple thing you can do to show your support for transgender people and maybe make their lives that tiny bit easier: filling in the Gender Recognition Act survey.
Here’s everything you need to know about it – and how friends and allies of transgender people can fill in the survey.
Gender Recognition Act: What is it?
The Gender Recognition Act 2004 was an Act of Parliament that allowed people to change their legal gender.
Now the government is consulting on changes to this law to make the process simpler.
As LGBTQ charity Stonewall say: “The UK Government is consulting on vital new rights for trans (including non-binary) and intersex people. This could be a huge step forward for trans equality. It is crucial that the Government sees trans people and allies coming out in support.
“Failure to secure these reforms would not just hold back trans people’s rights, it would represent a major setback in our collective efforts to secure LGBT rights and equality.”
Gender Recognition Act: What difference will it make?
Actor and trans activist Jake Graf tells ShortList why filling in the survey is so important.
“It would send such a strong message if these reforms were put through and young people knew they could just be themselves without having to be validated or vetted – and without having to prove to a faceless board of people they’ll probably never meet that they’re man enough or woman enough to be recognised in the gender they’ve always been.
“No other group in the world has to prove who they are – and yet surely that’s the most basic human right. Just to be able to say, ‘This is me’ and have people go, ‘Okay, I respect that.’”
Referring to the recent spate of attacks on transgender people, Jake goes on: “What’s happening at the moment is a real war. Trans people are a tiny minority and we just want to live our lives quietly. We are the smallest group and yet the most vilified.
“What you’ve got to think of is how it must feel to be a young trans person growing up in 2018 and seeing the hate and vitriol that’s being leveraged at our community.
“This is enough to make you grow up thinking there is something seriously wrong with you.
“The fact that there are such hateful articles being written by some of the biggest newspapers in the country really shows that trans people are behind in our fight for rights.
“Honestly it’s scary, it’s wearing and it’s got to a point where we’re all feeling quite threatened on a daily basis.”
Jake is even concerned that anti-trans rhetoric could spill over into violence.
“There will be a murder and at that point people will finally turn around and take notice but then it will be too late.
“We are now a community under attack. It almost feels like the walls are closing in and we genuinely need all of our allies and anyone who supports us to step up and say this isn’t okay.”
Captain Hannah Graf, the highest-ranking trans officer in the British Army who married Jake in March, added: “I haven’t changed my gender using the Gender Recognition Act as it stands because I think it’s quite a dehumanising, costly and bureaucratic process - so I’d love to be one of the first people to change their gender under a reformed act.
“The backlash has been quite scary. The full-page ad in the Metroentered into my day to day life and it was wild to see that there are people out there who are not wanting to allow me to be me.
“And the key thing to know is that the painful, transphobic arguments they’re making are not relevant to the GRA. Their arguments about trans women in women’s spaces in fact relates to the Equalities Act of 2010. So it’s a hateful thing that they are doing and it’s also irrelevant to this reform.”
Kenny Jones, a trader, model and co-host of YouTube series The Transparency Show, went on: “I was diagnosed with gender dysphoria at 14 years old but I was unable to change my ID to male until I was 18 due to the amount of ridiculous ‘proof’ required to do so. Although, my name was changed at 16 with my title being MR - how confusing? I even faced allegations of identity fraud due to the confusion.
“Nobody should have to ‘prove’ their gender. Changing the GRA will allow individuals to commit an act of self love and live with a sense of freedom. Not everyone fits into the narrative of a ‘normal’ upbringing. Don’t judge us, we are simply being our authentic selves.”
Gender Recognition Act: How do I get involved?
You’ve got until Friday to fill in the survey – and don’t worry about being unsure how to answer in the most pro-LGBTQ way possible because Stonewall have put together a really simple guide for ya: