Words Matter: Why vocal ally-ship for the Trans Community matters more than ever
What is Trans Day of Remembrance?
The 20th November is Trans Day of Remembrance, taking time to remember all those trans people who have been murdered solely because of who they are. Our own lovely Cheryl wrote a beautiful blog explaining why this day is so important, and her words still ring true today - even more than ever in these increasingly hostile times for our trans communities. The week leading up to Trans Day of Remembrance is an opportunity to celebrate Trans Awareness week - an opportunity for all of us to raise the visibility of transgender and gender non-conforming people, and address the issues the community faces.
Why is it important?
Sadly, even in 2022, the issues facing this community are on the increase, rather than improving. The UK has fallen down Europe’s LGBTQ+ rights ranking for third year running, dropping from top of the table in an international ranking in 2015, to number 14 in 2022.
And it’s really no surprise when you consider the government’s reluctance to ban conversion therapy for trans folks, making them the only part of the LGBT+ community not protected from this harmful practice. We always talk about how much “words matter”, and it’s telling that not only the government, but its opposition are sketchy when it comes to fully supporting the trans community.
We live in dangerous times, where high profile, very articulate celebrities use their influence and artistry with words to tear down this community of people who are already marginalised in many many ways. This hate-speak and transphobia needs to be called out for what it is. When celebrities like JK Rowling use their enormous profile, and very reasonable words to pedal transphobia, it can be hard to unpick and dismantle what is actually happening. It all sounds so very reasonable, with discussion of protecting safe spaces for (cis) women and “won’t someone think of the children”. If you’re thinking this sounds familiar, you’re right - these same arguments were being pedalled 40 years ago about the gay community, and are now rightly viewed as utter nonsense.
So what’s the reality?
We'd be here a while if we dismantled every piece of anti-trans nonsense currently floating around, so let's start with three of the most common anti-trans tropes.
1. "The Bathroom Debate" - In the US, in states where the right to use a bathroom which aligns with an individual’s identity has been enshrined in law, NOT A SINGLE incident where a trans person perpetrates a crime has taken place, as beautifully articulated in this gorgeous video from Refinery 29.
2. Trans people as aggressors: Trans people are much more likely than their cis peers to be the victims of aggression - Research in the UK says at least twice as likely, and more recent US research suggests that trans people are four times as likely to be a victim of violent crime.
3. "But won't someone think of the children!?": Kids are not being forced into making life changing decisions about their gender. The reality is that the average wait in the UK for support for gender-affirming treatment is around two years, and the only treatment provided for under-18s is puberty blocking hormones, which provide them with the time and space to fully explore their gender, pausing the physical changes brought about by puberty. Mermaids, the charity which supports trans kids and their families, did an amazing job of dismantling a lot of Rowling’s initial claptrap in an open letter they published in response to her blog.
It’s no coincidence, given the rise in anti-trans rhetoric being pedalled through the mainstream media that hate crimes against members of the trans community have increased by 56% in the last year.
Now, more than ever is the time for vocal, visible allyship
Vocal, proactive and consistent ally-ship for the trans community is more critical now than it has ever been; whether it’s individuals speaking out and challenging (like Jon Stewart and Daniel Radcliffe have done recently), responsible and authentic casting of trans and non-binary characters (more on why this is important in our blog here), or simply becoming more aware of what the reality is, we all have a responsibility to educate ourselves all year round. The lead up to Trans Day of Remembrance is a poignant and important time to feel the weight of this responsibility. We love this “myth-busting” series from Vox as a great place to start.
To make an even more tangible difference, why not join us in supporting Mermaids, a charity doing amazing work, which is currently on the receiving end of a campaign of hate coordinated by various anti-trans groups. If you’d like to join us in supporting them by making a donation, you can do so here.
If you’re still not convinced about the importance of vocal ally-ship, take ten minutes to read through the comments from families and kids who’ve been supported on the crowdfunder page. It hurts our hearts to read it, but it’s critical to see:
“If only my daughter had your support she wouldn’t have suffered 15 years in silence. Keep going, you are so needed”
“Without Mermaids we as parents wouldn't be where we are with a child happy in their own skin and with a family who can be educated and supported by an amazing org such as yourselves. Thank you.”
“Thank you for supporting our family when our daughter first came out as trans and we didn't know how best to support her. We won't let hate win!”