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We Are Gay UK

COMMENT | Fighting Transphobia and How to be a Trans Ally

Writer Simon Sayers-Franklin urges you to think carefully about being an ally to trans people in our community and what you can do to help with the soon-closing Gender Recognition consultation.

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Transgender women ARE women… Sadly this is something that is contested by an increasing number of so called feminists. These vicious groups of Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists have made it their business to demonise and hurt trans people at all costs.

They make the most bizarre claims, ranging from: “Trans women can never be women because they have experienced “male privilege”” to “Any man could pretend to be a trans woman in order to gain access to female spaces with a predatory intent.”

The activist group, Fair Play for Women, just the other day took a whole page spread in the Metro, a free newspaper which is mostly distributed on public transport and therefore reaches a large audience. Their message not only displayed crude language but an absolute lack of understanding about transgender people and demonstrated a strange obsession with genitals. The ad questions whether “men” should be able to compete in sport with women. Whether “fully intact men” should be allowed to live in women-only prisons and the list goes on. The cost of this vile ad? £45,000. Now, that sort of money does not come from nowhere. These groups have some serious funding coming from somewhere and while we don’t know where it’s from, we can assume they have big sponsors somewhere. Don’t we deserve to know who it is so we can boycott or take appropriate action against them?

While Ofcom have said they will look into complaints surrounding the ads, we will have to wait and see what their decision is. Judging by the recent outcome of the Ashers Bakery “Gay Cake” legal battle, which did a U-turn on the second appeal, it’s a worrying prospect.

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This ad comes just weeks after a billboard in Liverpool had to be removed within hours, following complaints. The group Standing for Women, had placed a plain, black billboard with white writing stating that “woman” means “adult human female.” Word got out and many quickly tweeted the company who had no idea about the motive behind the ads. The company were deeply shocked and upset. The billboard was quickly removed.

Standing for Women, reacted with: “As you may have read, the billboard has been deemed transphobic and is being removed in an act of grotesque misogynistic rage. We are seeking legal advice and will make a full statement in due course.”

We are still waiting for that full statement.

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Sadly, facing such hatred is the norm for transgender people in this day and age. The bullying is relentless and groups like Standing for Women, etc, keep pushing on and nobody seems to help. It’s a heart breaking statistic that almost half of young, transgender people have attempted suicide. This should not be happening and we need to do something.

I recently met with Dr Adrian Harrop (@DrAdrianHarrop) who is an LGBTQ+ activist and is very passionate about taking a stand for transgender people’s rights and speaking up against these anti-trans groups. He has developed quite a name for himself for doing so, speaking on TV and radio as well as his twitter. The groups paint him out to be a monster but they couldn’t be further from the truth. He is warm, friendly and keen to make a positive change in the world.

During my chat with Dr Harrop, we discussed the issues faced by transgender people in the modern world with smear campaigns in the media, the government not caring enough to do anything to help and abuse in the streets.

The comparisons to paedophiles, perverts and sexual predators are no different to the abuse that the gay community faced in the past. It is scarily close to the attitudes of the 80s and early 90s at the height of the AIDS crisis, except now there’s no escape from the constant bullying. Online, anti-trans activists swarm like flies around any remote mention of a trans issue and let rip.

For lots of us under thirty, we don’t remember a world with such dangerous hostility towards LGB people. We were too young to properly remember the AIDS crisis; we saw the back end of Section 28 in our school life, sex was legal for us sat 16. We have been very lucky to grow up in a world where battles have been fought and won by people who had a much harder time than us. Sadly, a majority of these heroes are no longer with us but we still owe it to them, to continue their fight. While the world is still not entirely accepting of LGB people it is so much easier than it was and now is the time to stand up for our transgender brothers and sisters.

As cisgender gay men we are very privileged and we must use that to our advantage. Our transgender family have fought along side us for so long. We cannot forget that there is a T in LGBT and we must make a stand and fight alongside these people as they did for us.

Now, the main question is “How do I become an effective transgender ally?” When we met, Dr Harrop explained how we can effectively help our transgender family. Here are some simple steps to being a trans ally:

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1. Respect and validate people without question. People know themselves better than you do. It’s a fact. Nobody should be made to feel like they need to explain themselves or that they need to validate their existence and their right to be who they are. This would never be expected of any other minority.

2. Be prepared to call out transphobia. Most people would be confident to call out racism, lots would also be confident to call out homophobia… transphobia is no different. Call that out too whether it’s online or in person. Transphobia can sometimes be difficult to spot but it must be tackled. Examples include small things (which actually have a massive impact on the person receiving the abuse) like misgendering and calling someone by their dead name (their birth name) to more extreme cases where someone’s identity is being questioned with hurtful words and/or violence.

3. Be supportive. Be kind. Be human.

4. There is currently a consultation about the GRA (Gender Recognition Act) which involves a long, dehumanising and hurtful process for transgender people to “prove” their gender. If we make our voices heard, we can change this and make life much easier for our transgender family. Filling in the consultation is quick and easy and is a great way to start your journey to being a trans ally.

 

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