United Nations on Transphobia and Homophobia

Theme: Opposing grave Human Rights Violations on the basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation.

I have not posted much because I am massively disillusioned with trans activism in the UK which refuses to understand how far the UK has moved and concern that stories are sometimes used as a point rather than in compassion for the victim.  This UN video, however, is a landmark and is something that everybody should watch. It reinforces how lucky we are in the UK – I wish people would remember that because, I believe, until we do, we cannot really understand how bad the situation is on other countries.

Warning: this is a speech which is emotionally powerful and some may find deeply upsetting. There are no disturbing images – just truth about brutality in many countries.

There’s a full version of the even (85 minutes) here


Filed under crime, Equality, Homophobia, Transphobia

Self-Inflicted Transphobia

It’s easy to blame all prejudice encountered on others but talking to ordinary people I have realised that they may have a very different attitude to one transsexual person than to another: for instance I know people who call some MTFs she/her and others he/him depending on the behaviour of the individual.  That’s not transphobia – that’s a reaction to somebody who comes across as either male or transsexual, not as a woman (or vv for FTMs).


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Queer Youth Network Slams The Sun

The Queer Youth Network has made a formal complaint to the Press Complaints Commission alleging that The Sun’s reporting of Kim Petras was transphobic in describing her gender confirmation surgery as “drastic body mutilation”. There is a good write up on the Lesbian and Gay Foundation website so there is no point me repeating it – just pop over there.

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Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg Speaks Again

Thomas Hammarberg has again spoken out against transphobia.

Council of Europe member states should do more to stop transphobia and discrimination against transgender people. The situation of transgender persons has long been ignored and neglected, although the problems they face are very real and often specific to this group alone. They experience a high degree of discrimination and intolerance in all fields of life, as well as outright violence. Transgender persons have been the victims of brutal hate crimes, including murder, in some European countries”

Thomas Hammarberg is the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights. Some time ago he released another strongly worded statement against transphobia and discrimination against trans people, reported here as “Discrimination Against Transgender Persons Must No Longer Be Tolerated”.

He also spoke out against the UK’s Gender Recognition Act’s discriminatory treatment of marrried transitioners:

In some countries there is a legal obligation that a transgender person who is legally married to his or her different-sex partner has to divorce before his or her new gender can be recognised,” he said, citing the problems this causes when the couple can not remarry if their country does not allow same-sex marriage.

Hammerberg has also released a position paper which I have not yet had time to read.  The best coverage of the story is by LezGetReal.

Supposedly in the UK Trevor Philips as Head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission is supposed to speak out for those who have undergone gender reassignment (by statute that is not trangender people more widely as some seem to believe).  When did you last hear him speak out on trans rights?  Has he ever challenged the Government on trans rights has Hammarberg has?  Have the EHRC produced any papers like that Hammarberg has just published?  Never. No. And No.  It’s a good job we are part of Europe because neither the Labour Government nor the Equality and Human Rights Commission seems to really care about addressing the issues facing those people who undergo gender reassignment.

(By which you would be correct in assessing that I am rather fed up with those in the UK who are supposedly the advocates of transitioners.)

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Lateisha Green

I struggle to follow the implications of this case – I’d suggest you read about it on Feministe instead.  Essentially one Dwight Less has been convicted in the USA of the manslaughter of a transsexual woman, Lateisha Green and that the killing was a hate crime.

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GID and disability

There’s a lot of fuss about the provisions in the new Equality Bill relating to “gender reassignment”.  As ever, many commentators are overlooking that the disability provisions in equality legislation offer greater protections – for instance in relation to expecting reasonable adjustments.    There’s even a document on the EHRC website from the Equal Opportunities Commission which states the Disability Discrimination Act applies to GID, and this should be carried forwards to the new Equality Bill.

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Faith, Homophobia, Transphobia and Human Rights,

Faith, Homophobia, Transphobia and Human Rights is the name of a TUC-sponsored conference to discuss homophobia and transphobia in faith communities taking place on Saturday 16th May. There’s more about it on the Morning Star site.

Personally I have reservations about this.  In some quarters there is entrenched homophobia and transphobia within some (but not most) faith communities.  There is, however, a problem within the LGBT community that quite unacceptable anti-religous views are tolerated.  Both sides of the divide need to grow up, not just one side.


Filed under Equality, Homophobia, Transphobia

Voice and Movement: Free Workshops for All Trans People

Galop have asked me to publish a series of free workshops in London on Thursday evenings from 21st March.

Galop in association with Central School of Speech and Drama invite you to:

Voice and Movement: More Free Workshops for All trans* people
Following on from the success of the first series, Galop is offering another chance for you to participate in these innovative workshops. The sessions will involve using your voice to connect to your body, to challenge, explore and celebrate your own senses of self – however that manifests itself for you. We’ll use deep relaxation techniques and elements of Yoga and the Alexander technique to understand breath; for example, how the muscles in our bodies produce the breath which supports the sounds we make. We’ll be experimenting with the different places sound resonates in our bodies (and the different qualities of sound these make), and exploring the pitch and range of our voices. We’ll combine this voice work with movement; for example, we’ll use our understanding of breath and support to dance the waltz together in session 2. These sessions will be a chance to explore and embrace your physical sides in playful and experimental ways. Whether you’re a commanding leader or expressive partner, you can decide: and of course you’re free to interpret and move between different roles as you wish. There will be plenty of time for reflection and feedback in the sessions. All are welcome, playfulness encouraged! When? 8 week course, Thursday evenings 7-9 from 21st May. Where? Central School of Speech and Drama Spaces are limited so to find out more or book your place, contact Ben Gooch by phone 0207 704 6767 or email to benjamin.gooch[at]galop.org.uk (make the usual replacement to get a valid email address). 

About the tutors: Glen Snowden. Glen trained at the Royal Ballet School, and has danced extensively with Ballet Companies in Europe, North America and South East Asia. He works at the Drama Centre London where he also teaches a number of styles including jazz, ballet, historical and social dance. Helen Ashton Helen trained at The Central School of Speech and Drama, graduating with Distinction from the MA in Voice Studies. She has taught at various London Drama Schools and worked extensively in community settings, through Knowledge Transfer at CSSD. Helen is committed to helping people from all walks of life to communicate expressively and with ease.

About Galop Galop is London’s anti violence charity; we offer confidential advice and support to people who have witnessed or experienced transphobia. Our helpine number is 0207 704 67 07. Want to find out more about us? Visit http://www.galop.org.uk Come as you are be you trans, FTM, MTF, woman, man, TV, TS, bi-gender, ambi-gender, androgyne, CD, gender queer, or your own special creation.

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What is transphobia?

Sometimes the easiest answer to that question is just to point people in the direction of an article that is nakedly transphobic – like this one.

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Who oversees the overseer?

A few days ago, Christine Burns, formerly of Press for Change (PfC) posted an article on her personal blog asking whether the Equality and Human Rights Commission is trying to “forget” trans people.  Many trans people feel let down by EHRC.  An analysis of their website shows little action on trans issues – press releases may mention gender reassignment in a tag cloud of equality issues, but there’s nothing recent at all in terms of anything substantial on trans issues.  I Googled on the name of the chairman, “Trevor Phillips” and “gender reassignment” to see when he last spoke on gender reassignment.  I got bored before I found any matches.  Speaches on women’s issues and a lot on race, but precious little if anything on gender reassignment.

Hmmm.  Disappointing.

You’d have thought that after Thomas Hammerberg’s statement in December that “Discrimination against transgender persons must no longer be tolerated” that EHRC would have got the message and spoken up on trans issues.  If nothing else, the Human Rights Commissioner had given EHRC a perfect platform to stand up and say, “We agree with the Commissioner.  Discrimination against trans people can no longer be tolerated.  Discrimination itself can no longer be tolerated against any class of people.”

Only they didn’t.   Hmmmm.  Concerning.

In fact there’s not even a mention of Hammerberg’s release on the EHRC website.  The Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe has issued a hardhitting viewpoint calling for an end to discrimination on one of the statutory strands of discrimination that the EHRC is supposed to promote and it doesn’t ever merit a link on the site.

Hmmmm, that’s downright worrying.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is supposed to be the champion of trans people against discrimination and transphobia, just as they are the champions against discrimination on grounds of race or gender.  Only there’s no evidence that they are fulfilling that role.  In fact, rather than listing gender reassignment as it’s own equality stream, they keep trying to roll it in to gender.  If gender reassignment ceases to be a stream then EHRC doesn’t need to do anything about trans issues because they are part of the gender stream and EHRC can show it’s doing a lot on that stream.

I suspect Christine’s timely article has touched a few nerves within the trans community and that EHRC will be called to account.  But if they ignore online blog posts and letters to them, where will we go next?  Who oversees the overseer when the overseer goes to sleep?  Let’s hope we don’t need to find out and that EHRC in the next few weeks will get off their backsides and demonstrate that they understand trans issues and are committed to fighting trans discrimination.  It’s not as if there is a shortage of issues.  The many discriminatory provisions in the Gender Recognition Act. PCTs refusing funding.  Transphobic bullying in schools.  Transsexual adolescents being unable to get puberty blockers on the NHS.  Lack of attention to discrimination against those who are transgendered but not transsexual.   Problems with transsexual immigrants being deported even thought they will face persecution.  Pension issues as highlighted by Thomas Hammerberg.

Hmmmm.  Ahhhh.  Perhaps that’s the problem.  The majority of the discrimination is being perpetrated by the public sector.  The EHRC would need to call the Government to account and they seem reluctant to rise to that challenge.

But if they don’t do much more for trans people and soon then I foresee national newspapers asking how EHRC can have credibility in equality issues if they so manifestly fail to act to support one of the most vulnerable groups in society.  Having spent time with trans people over the past couple of years, I have learned that they are generally inclined to let things go but all of a sudden reach a tipping point at which their complaints become very vocal.  It happened with Stonewall and, if the EHRC don’t pull their collective fingers out and soon, I foresee it happening again with the EHRC.


Filed under Equality