• Kit Eyre

I Support Trans Rights

For the most part, I try to keep politics away from my author platform. You might think this is strange for someone who has literally written novels about politics, but I have spaces to make my opinions known on important subjects and I didn’t think it necessary to bring those thoughts into this space.

Today, that’s changed and, while I’m aware I might lose a few readers due to this post, I’ll happily wave goodbye. As someone with several trans people in my close circle and many more friends and acquaintances, I need to publicly support them – and I will.

So, what’s prompted this?

A front-page splash in The Sunday Times suggests the Government is not only about to backtrack on proposals to reform the self-identification process for trans people but also to roll back some existing rights, essentially tightening restrictions which could serve to make their lives intolerable.

I’m going to leave detailed discussions on self-identification to others who have the evidence at their fingertips. What I’m going to focus on here is the utter cruelty of making life more difficult for one of the most vulnerable groups in society.

One of the leaked suggestions is that access to spaces like changing rooms and bathrooms will be tightened, seemingly for the protection of cis women. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I don’t know what other women do in bathrooms but I go in there to use the facilities and that’s it. Besides, if a predatory cis man wants to assault women, he’s going to go right ahead and do it regardless of the sign on the door. People who complain that strengthening trans rights opens up the possibility of cis men using those rights to abuse women need to refocus their anger towards the cis men who commit violence against cis women and trans women.

Secondly, the side-effects of this ridiculous decision put numerous people in danger. How is it going to be policed? Are we going to have bathroom guards who demand to see inside someone’s pants before they let them in? I have to say, butch lesbians and anyone who doesn’t fit a prescribed version of femininity is going to find themselves singled out, perhaps violently. Trans women who pass as cis (and, contrary to popular belief, you can’t always tell) will slip past the guards while a butch woman will be denied access. That sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

Trans men often get forgotten in this so-called debate yet the prospects for them are terrifying too. You could end up with a trans man who’s been on testosterone for years being forced to use female facilities. At that point, the trans man with the beard looks like a predatory man when they’d gladly be elsewhere. That doesn’t make sense either, does it?

People are going to be hurt and killed if these policies are enacted. That’s the simple fact. And it won’t stop here – this is part of a concerted effort to roll back the rights of LGBT people across the board. I’ve already pointed out how non-feminine women will be caught in this net, but that will be the tip of the iceberg. Do you honestly believe that your rights as a lesbian, bisexual person or gay man are secure because you’re not the target of a campaign at this moment in time?

I generally find that the people behind these campaigns are those who haven’t sat down and spoken to a trans person. Perhaps they’ve interacted with them online and read stories from the tiny, tiny proportion of trans people who are on their side. But they haven’t listened to the heart-breaking histories of people who just want to live their lives in peace.

Trans people want what we all want. They want the freedom to love the people they love, the ability to get a job without discrimination, the opportunity to go out and not be terrified about needing to use the loo. Why is that under threat? Why?

I support trans rights and it can’t be a compromise. Either you support the right to life of some of the people I love dearly or you don’t. If that loses me a few readers, I’ll take the hit because I’m sick of watching vulnerable people pushed to the brink.

I’ll just finish by sharing an excerpt from my novel Amy. It’s a tiny moment in the grand scheme of things, but it says a lot. To set the scene, Valerie Smythe MP is being grilled on TV about a set of policies she doesn’t want to defend:

‘The list of proposals is rather limited, so we don’t know what to specifically expect of Foster’s priorities if he were to get into Downing Street. I wonder if we could discuss one of the elements that is specifically mentioned in the statement. That is, the restriction of surgery for transgender men and women. My understanding is that this is something Foster feels strongly about. Do you share those concerns?’

A chill scuttled along her spine at the unequivocal question and her throat went dry. Pattern hunched forward, a familiar interrogatory glint on his face as he pressed the point.

‘Do you share Foster’s concerns? With you currently in a same-sex relationship, it may seem odd for you to support stripping some elements of the LGBT community of their rights, would it not?’

Valerie’s heart thudded painfully in her chest. She imagined saying the words aloud, but they sounded abhorrent even in her mind. Once they were recorded, there’d be no taking them back, and no amount of apology could atone for them. As the seconds ticked past, she inhaled and then raised her chin.

‘No, I don’t share these specific concerns. I’ve attended several events with trans people in my capacity as constituency MP, and all I can say is that they deserve to have whatever procedures they require. It’s as simple as that.’

‘That puts you at odds with your preferred candidate,’ Pattern pointed out.

Valerie shrugged lightly. ‘There are some things you can’t compromise on.’

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