How not to make trans people safer

Earlier this week we were alarmed to read Labour’s LGBT+ Advisor Anthony Watson advocate for the creation of seemingly separate “transgender zones” in UK cities, where trans people would allegedly be protected from hate crime. It is misguided to ask trans people to live separately from mainstream society for their own safety. We would ask for this policy to be reconsidered. 

Like anyone else, trans and non-binary people want to go to school, work and enjoy socialising among their friends, family and peers. It’s undeniable that there is a lot of work to be done before trans and non-binary people will no longer experience daily discrimination and bullying in education and the workplace. Indeed, it is unacceptable that anyone should have to be fearful of violence and harassment in public, which too many trans people –  41%, according to reporting – continue to experience. The answer to this problem is not for any political party to advocate for the ushering of trans people to designated, separate zones for their own safety. It should not be an acceptable choice to ask any group to segregate themselves for their own safety.

Historically, LGBT people have created spaces where they could be together and form communities. Our communities have always sprung from adversity. We believe there will be value in trans-only spaces, such as our youth groups and annual summer camp residential for trans youth, for as long as gender diverse people are misunderstood and punished by wider society.

As an organisation, we firmly believe that education and training is key to improving society’s understanding of diverse genders and sexualities. As trans-inclusive practices become more commonplace, public life is in turn becoming more straightforward and safe for trans and non-binary people. No one should have to avoid using a toilet or changing room because they are afraid of the reception they will receive. In the latest edition of our Transforming Spaces podcast, based on our 2018 conference, inclusive hairdressing space Open Barbers and cosmetics company Lush talk about how they are making the High Street safer and more welcoming for gender diverse customers and employees alike.

With the recent appointment of the Government’s LGBT Advisory Panel, we hope that the voices and ideas of trans people will be at the heart of all decisions made about our lives and livelihoods. It is heartening to see trans, LGB+ people and lifelong allies in this important group, as these are some of the people who can speak from real experience. It is imperative that the Government, The Opposition and all other decision makers include trans people and organisations in any and all decisions that affect us. To fail to do so will result in well-intentioned but ultimately harmful policies for all trans and non-binary people. Gendered Intelligence welcomes the opportunity for conversation with all parties. Our door is always open.

Nothing about us without us.

 

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