Imagine for a moment what it would feel like if the person with the highest political office in your country used their platform to speak openly against your human rights.
Pretty grim, right? Well, that’s exactly what happened in the UK this week.
In the wake of his flagship International LGBT conference falling apart thanks to multiple U-turns on conversion therapy, Boris Johnson waded into the toxic so-called ’culture war’ about trans athletes.
His polite smile and token statement that we all deserve ‘love and respect’ did little to reassure me. After all, he said that straight after repeating a blatant anti-trans dog-whistle: “biology matters”. Thanks for nothing, Boris.
Ever since I moved to the UK in 2016 I have witnessed our community being used as collateral to divert from serious political issues.
While people are busy discussing the less than 1% of 1% of the population that competes in sports, living costs are doubling and hate crimes are up 210%.
There were over 20,000 LGBTQIA+ hate attacks in 2020 - in a year that many of us spent at home.
While this relentless onslaught on the trans community continues, the impact is devastating.
I’ve watched my friends spiral into depression. Heard stories about their harassment on the street. Seen those around me shut off social media because they simply can’t cope. I’ve consoled them as they burst into tears over just how horribly we are being treated.
Our dignity and freedom in society are being relentlessly debated, berated and trampled on under the guise of ‘balance’ and ‘open debate’.
Trans people are not an ‘issue’ or a ‘topic’ to be discussed as so much of the media and politicians frame us as.
We are real people. These are our lives you’re talking about.
It’s hard to describe the impact all of this has on your mental health. To see your life, your freedoms and your rights constantly talked about in a negative way on the news - it’s a miserable burden.
Is it any wonder trans people have mental health described as at "crisis point" and that hate crime is on the rise?
It doesn’t have to be this way. What’s happening now is a situation driven by bigotry and misinformation.
We need to stand up and say we won’t condone it - just like hundreds of charities did by pulling out of the 'Safe To Be Me' conference after the government made their embarrassing U-turn.
There is power in solidarity, and it’s more important than ever that we find that solidarity and turn it into meaningful change. There is hope, but we have to fight for it.
If we don’t all stand up for trans rights now, they will only erode further, and further, across the LGBTQIA+ community, until there is little left.
Safe to be me? Not by a longshot.
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