Firstly.... I want to thank everyone for coming today to “Fly the Flag” and supporting trans and non-binary rights.
I want to tell you about my nightmares.
I had a nightmare that all LGBT people, lesbians, gay, bi, trans, non-binary ...and indeed anyone else who did not fit into the cis-het spectrum…… disappeared from this earth.
I had a nightmare that women no longer had the right to an abortion, not even if a man raped her.
I had a nightmare that patriarchy was never challenged - indeed, that it was accepted as a norm.
My nightmare involved men with thick American accents - yes, like those men in the Handmaid's Tale - where everyone went to the same church to worship their God every Sunday - no exceptions.
That women were, in fact, baby-making machines to breed as many children as possible purely to populate this earth with the disciples of their all-conquering religion.
All of my nightmares will sound fictional to you, but I am afraid if left unchecked, some or all of this could be true in future decades.
Sadly, it is already happening in America, true not in every state but certainly in those controlled by ultra-right-wing conservative states - Republican states like Texas.
Go back sixteen years, and the women in Texas had similar abortion rights to those in the UK. Texas is not a small state. Geographically it is more than twice the size of the UK, with a population of close to 30 million residents.
Now thanks to a new state law, known as S B 8 - abortion in real terms is all but banned.
Anyone assisting an abortion can be sued. Women giving advice about abortion can be sued. A taxi driver dropping a woman at an abortion clinic can be sued - even if a woman is raped, she cannot legally get an abortion without the risk of her perpetrator suing those trying to help her have an abortion.
In Florida, schools are permitted to inspect trans kids’ genitals if they want to partake in sport. In Arkansas, trans kids are no longer entitled to healthcare, and another 14 states are looking to follow suit. In some other states, doctors and nurses can opt out of providing healthcare to trans people.
But America is not alone - right-wing alleged "Christian" extremism which is the driver of everything I have just mentioned……is alive and well in many European countries.
In the UK alone, one group, the ADF, has increased its funding tenfold in just two years, spending over half a million pounds promoting the anti-woke, cancel culture agenda......meaning, of course, that society should ignore minority groups fighting for social justice.
Women’s abortions rights are being roll-backed in some European countries, and in Poland, around 100 towns and regions, nearly a third of the country, have passed resolutions declaring themselves free of "LGBT ideology".
LGBT plus people are not an ideology
WE ARE MORE THAN BIOLOGY!
WE ARE PEOPLE!!
In this day and age, you would think that LGBT+ people were fully accepted.
But despite our government having over forty gay MP's, there has never been a trans MP in our history. Trans people represent about 1% of UK society, and with 650 MP's there should, in theory, be six or seven trans MP's ......but there are none........not one. Zilch.
In Germany just three weeks ago two new trans MP's were elected ......in Belgium, the deputy prime minister is transgender. Meanwhile, at the last local elections, in Portsmouth, one brave trans woman stood for the city council, and transphobes were spoiling their ballot paper ....writing the words "sex not gender".
General LGBT hate crime has doubled in the last five years... and has actually quadrupled towards trans people.
Trans people are frequently smeared in the Times, Telegraph, Spectator, Mail, Observer, Guardian newspapers. Now, more recently, by the Daily Express ....All this negativity…. in turn….. ignites more hatred.
Last year alone, The Times ran over 300 anti-trans stories cloaking transphobia under the narrative of women’s rights.
In essence, that is one hate story nearly every day.
Trans and LGBT people are being physically attacked in the street on a regular basis.
In our prisons, one trans woman inmate is sexually assaulted on average every 33 days.
You may not feel that is a horrific figure, but there are only 160 trans folk in prison. The reason is very straightforward. Many trans people, when attacked, dare not fight back for fear of being accused that they are the perpetrator and then imprisoned in the wrong estate. Trans people are effectively punching bags.
Indeed, …..around 50% of trans people hardly ever leave their homes for fear of abuse on our streets.
If I was put in prison tomorrow, I would go to the male estate, even though I am a post-op trans woman, because I am not eligible for a Gender Recognition Certificate.
Can you imagine my fate?
I want to read to you what one trans person said while an inmate in prison:
"I have lost count of the things that happened to me inside.
You can see my scars.
I was in a male prison for the entirety of my sentence, and that is a dangerous place to be as a trans woman. I’ve lost count of the things that happened to me inside. I’ve been cut with razor blades; I was stripped and pinned down. I had boiling hot water, and sugar poured all over me. I got stabbed.
In Wakefield, I was raped.
In Feltham, I was gang-raped - the group stuck a pool cue in me.
The staff would not take responsibility for my safety. They said: “Well, what did you think was going to happen?”
The Ministry of Justice said it would create a transgender wing, but it ended up being a prison segregation and punishment bloc.
Although I was allowed access to makeup and hair products, I was not permitted oestrogen.
To access it, I needed to prove I had lived two years as a woman. But for me, that was impossible. I decided enough was enough and resorted to drastic measures in December 2017, I cut my testicles off when I was in my prison cell.
There was so much blood,……. I nearly died.
As I mentioned I am a post-op trans woman….69 years young,…… my best years are behind me, I have a driving licence and passport showing F for female… but because I don’t have a Gender Recognition Certificate,… if I was die tomorrow, …..I would die as a man.
My transition took nearly ten years, and because of the waiting times to get to a Gender Identity Clinic, I took a massive chunk of my pension and paid privately.
I was lucky............ indeed privileged……others are not so fortunate as me.
But what of our trans kids….those suffering gender dysphoria.
The youngest are lucky to get any proper care at all because of NHS waiting times and then excessive gatekeeping. Access to puberty blockers has indeed been blocked because of legal actions primarily funded by those Christian extremists and the trans-exclusionary radical feminists.........the "Gender Critical" ..... in what they call as safeguarding ....in what we call conversion therapy.
Despite winning court battles, it is still unclear what the NHS is doing to help trans kids, some of them as young as eight or nine.
Waiting time for NHS funded adult Gender Identity Clinics are officially now stretching to up to SIX years ......but in reality, is much longer.
Currently, the gender identity clinic in London has 9667 people on its waiting list. Last month they accepted a further 319 new referrals but saw only 26 new patients. At that rate, that means trans patients joining the list today will have a thirty-year wait for the first appointment.
So much for the maximum 18-week wait, the NHS aims for ........and this Tory government funds.
Is it any surprise the mental health of those waiting for trans healthcare plummet to such low levels that they inflict self-harm and, sadly, commit suicide?
Suicide rates for trans people in the UK are not monitored, but we know that in France, the suicide rate is seven times higher than cisgender people and is ten times higher in the US.
Many trans people are too frightened to see their GP's for fear of an adverse reaction. 14% of trans people report being turned away …....refused treatment by their GP.
I know our GP's are at breaking point that many are leaving their practices because they are overworked and under-resourced. But just by offering bridging hormones, trans lives are instantly transformed. Gone is the dysphoria, masking the knowledge that you should have been born differently.
I once asked my Twitter followers to describe gender dysphoria in one word. I got lots of replies, but some words were repeated time and time again.
Desperation, …Wrongness, ….Pain, ….Jealousy, …Fear,… Loathing, …Sadness,…. Disgust,… Homelessness, ….Hopelessness, …Self-hate......... Drowning.
Today as I give this speech…….perhaps this very minute….. in a building just yards from here, people are likely campaigning AGAINST trans-rights and, in particular, trans women’s rights. They are discussing if trans women should be allowed to use the ladies loo, some extremists may well be discussing our right to EVEN exist. Certainly not all…. but possibly some.
They object to trans people being able to change their legal gender easily by Self-ID.
What does Self-ID mean?
Quite simply that a human being born in the wrong body makes the momentous decision that they are trans and want to live their lives in their rightful sex - their gender. And to reflect that this decision, they want to change their birth certificate. Not to eradicate their birth history,…just to record their future, …..to perhaps get married and when the time comes… to die in dignity.
A fresh start. .......Not much to ask is it?
But organisations like those here today…. have conflated the Gender Recognition Act, the Act that has legally allowed trans people to change sex since 2004 with the Equality Act. This conflation is purposely designed to scare women into believing that trans women and potential sex offenders will put women at risk in single-sex spaces.
What utter nonsense.
Utter…. Utter…. nonsense.
There is no evidence whatsoever from any country that Self-ID has harmed women’s rights.
The reform of the Gender Recognition Act will allow trans people to change a few words on a birth certificate. That's it.
Self-ID is not new. It became standard practice in Argentina ten years ago and is now adopted by many countries, including Brazil, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Colombia, Malta, Iceland, Portugal, Uruguay, Bolivia, Pakistan,…. Yes you heard that right….Pakistan,… Chile, Belgium, and other countries and states across the world.
In terms of global population, that is, over 700 million people now have the right to Self-ID.
Even in Iran, a county that has some of the most appalling human rights in the world.......that forces our gay brothers and sisters into transition ….or even worse…..executes them by public hanging ……..actually treat trans people better than our government……..with funded surgery and immediate legal gender recognition.
Recently both the UN and EU branded the UK as one of the MOST transphobic countries in Europe, comparing our country to Poland and Turkey.
It is THAT BAD
Transphobic, what does that mean?
Put simply, it means the dislike or prejudice of transgender people. That's not my definition. That is what Google say, quoting from Oxford Languages.
The dislike or prejudice of other human beings......not nice is it?
You will note that I have not even mentioned non-binary people who make up about half of the trans community - or those born intersex, gender fluid, genderqueer, pangender, agender or indeed the many other genders or labels that folk may wish to identify to.
I apologise that I have not mentioned you… if you are here ...I am not you…....you are not me….. but YOU are AS important as me. …..We are all important.
But for sure the government could help those who are non-binary. They could offer the X option on legal documents rather than the binary male or female. It is not a big ask; many countries now offer this across the world.
But apparently for our Tory government “it is too complex” to do ………..a feeble excuse.
If other countries can adopt opt-out options …….then the UK can. Can… if they get off their arse.
Gender is personal ....it is not really a label at all ..... it is being ..human!
It is you...it is me.
I hope today I have given you an insight into our cause – Simple…. Human … Rights.
Trans rights ..are human rights.
I would like to thank Amnesty International for its support at my event today.
When we think of Amnesty, we think of countries that torture, maim or refuse human rights.
Is it not shocking ...that in two thousand and twenty-one ... Amnesty feel it is necessary to support marginalised groups of people in OUR country today?
It is THAT bad !!!
Trans people are fighting for what other people had to fight for, and some still fighting for.
If we go back to the 60s and 70's racism was endemic, …..it is better than it was, ……but sadly racism still exists.
If we go back to the 70s, 80's and even the 90's gay people had to fight section 28 …and AID's …..but homophobia still exists,……. but it is better than it was.
And now trans people, the most marginalised group of people in our country, are fighting for rights and acceptance in society – and we need allies.
What can you do to help?
You can help by using pronouns to show you are an ally of trans and non-binary people.
You can help by calling out transphobia .....the dislike or prejudice of trans people.
You can help by SIMPLY accepting… we are ALL different.....that we all want.... indeed, deserve …..to be loved.
And in wrapping up this speech, I want to leave you with words from Harvey Milk.
Words that inspired me to be a trans rights activist, simply by replacing the word gay……for trans.
Words that I hope will ring in your ears …for years to come.
As a gay man, Harvey gave his life for his cause, but forty three years on…..he is still inspiring people across the world.
We must continue to speak out. And, most importantly……. most importantly every gay person must come out. As difficult as it is, you must tell your immediate family. You must tell your relatives. You must tell your friends, if indeed they are your friends. You must tell your neighbours. You must tell the people you work with. You must tell the people in the stores you shop in. Once they realise that we are indeed their children,… that we are indeed everywhere, ……every myth, ………every lie, ……..every innuendo ….will be destroyed …once and for all.
I am Steph.
Thank you very much.