Trigger Warning: Discussion of trans issues, discrimination, suicide risk mentioned, upsetting themes relating to LGBTQIA+ rights.
While pride month is a time of celebration and LGBTQIA+ joy, it is also equally a time where we must fight to magnify marginalized voices and push for change. This pride, we want to draw your attention to the issues the trans community are currently facing as they fight for full access to medical intervention and resources that the UK Government are currently not prioritising.
What issues are trans people currently facing?
In the Stonewall Charity’s 'LGBT in Britain, Trans Report', published in 2018, the charity alongside YouGov listed some key findings relating to some of the most prominent issues Trans people face currently. Amongst these findings included the following:
· Almost half of trans people (48 percent) don’t feel comfortable using public toilets.
· A third of trans people (34 per cent) have been discriminated against because of their gender identity when visiting a café, restaurant, bar or nightclub in the last year.
· More than a third of trans university students (36 per cent) in higher education have experienced negative comments or behaviour from staff in the last year.
· More than one in ten trans people (11 per cent) have gone abroad for medical treatment to alter their physical appearance, including buying hormones over the internet from other countries, with many citing the barriers they currently face in accessing medical treatment in the UK.
Source: Stonewall, LGBT in Britain, Trans Report, (2018) [Last Accessed 24/06/2021] <https://www.stonewall.org.uk/system/files/lgbt_in_britain_-_trans_report_final.pdf>
To say the least, these statistics are upsetting but not surprising and are a very small fraction of the overall findings presented. For many trans and LGBTQIA+ identifying individuals, these statistics are a reality they face every day and are part of bigger problems that the UK are failing to address in order to provide trans individuals with full medical support.
What are some of these bigger problems the UK Gov are failing to address?
The UK Government is facing further pressure from young people across the UK as the waiting times to access life saving medical intervention (e.g., hormones and surgery) are stretching into years.
I waited five years as a trans teenager for chest surgery and was told because I lived in Scotland there was no surgeon as the only one retired just as I reached an age whereby, I qualified to get the surgery. - Thomas, 30 (Scotland) (Stonewall, Trans Report)
Not only do trans youth face horrendous waiting times for vital medical intervention, but under 16-year-olds are now unable to access puberty blockers after high court judges have ruled that children under 16 with dysphoria are unable to give ‘informed consent’ to undergo treatment.
Source: BBC, Puberty blockers: Under-16s 'unlikely to be able to give informed consent', 1/12/2020, [Last Accessed 24/06/2021] <https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-55144148>
In addition to this, from May this year, masculine bottom surgery (phalloplasty) has become unavailable on the NHS with no confirmed date of return. This is a gender affirming surgery that has been proven to drastically improve a trans individual’s quality of life, mental health and prevent them from taking their own lives in response to the symptoms of dysphoria. Without access to this, many trans people will suffer greatly and take their own lives due to the emotional distress caused by the uncertainty of when the surgery will become accessible again.
Source: Pink News, NHS Bottom Surgery Trans Men Penis Phalloplasty St Peters Andrology Centre, 14/05/2021, [Last Accessed 24/06/2021] https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2021/05/14/nhs-bottom-surgery-trans-men-penis-phalloplasty-st-peters-andrology-centre/
So, how can I help?
One of the most important ways to help advocate for change is to show up and support trans people whenever you can. On the 26th of June 2021 (this coming Saturday) there will be a peaceful protest in Carlisle at 12pm between Primark and House of Fraser. The protest is organized by @bptyprotest. BPTY stands for Boris Prioritize Trans Youth and the protest will raise awareness of the UK Government ignoring trans youth and the issues they face.
You can also use your platform on social media to uplift trans voices and donate to local LGBTQIA+ charities such as PiNC to help support trans youth in Cumbria.
For more information, head over to @bptyprotest Instagram.