Equality. I am not your equal before the law. I’m not quite male and I’m not quite female. Whilst I identify as female, and my passport says the same, I’m still not legally female. Not quite. My birth certificate still says I am male, and if I was arrested, I could be searched by a male, and kept with men or even in solitary.
To get a birth certificate requires a £140 fee and a petition to an anonymous panel to accept my plea to be female before the law. But I don’t matter to this plea. It is other people’s testimony that determines my fate. Other people are experts to my gender in a way that I am denied.
Let’s take it further. If I was raped, I would struggle to find shelter. If I was running away from an abusive partner, I might not be taken care of... hell, some people would even say I deserved it.
That’s my equality in the UK right now.
My gender is conditional on the whim of others. Sometimes it is respected, and other times it is dismissed.
A recent example of such is Parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee’s latest enquiry, specifically on trans issues, which said: ‘the Committee is aware that full equality for trans people still has not been achieved. In its inquiry the Committee is looking at a range of outstanding issues and considering how they can most effectively be addressed’.
Our society, as a whole, is discriminatory towards trans people, and at 1.03am on 12 September, the government responded to a petition for the right of trans people to self-define their gender – not to jump through hoops, or beg for permission, but to claim our gender as our own. Ireland recently put this into law, but we in the UK were denied this.
But this isn’t just the Conservatives. This is you, too. This policy was also proposed for the recent Green Party Conference. We were number 30 on the prioritisation list, far too low down to have a chance to be heard, and all the efforts of our allies couldn’t change that.
And so it goes. We shout some more, more trans people are outed and vilified and bullied and fired and excluded, and many of us die in the meantime, as we slowly try to build up momentum and volume until finally enough people listen.
That’s not equality.
If this matters to you, if equality matters, then please sign the petition and pass it on. Think about future prioritisation ballots, not just for trans people, but also for intersex people – and all marginalised groups. I am a Green Party member and proud. I think we are better and more inclusive than most groups, but inclusion is an ongoing process to protect minorities and the vulnerable, not a quick fix – and involves us all working together to help each other, because none of us can succeed alone.
The petition for transgender people to self-identify their gender is available at: petition.parliament.uk/petitions/104639