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Pride 2019

Trans people aren’t the monsters you’ve read about

Pictured: India Willoughby, Presenter

How many people reading this have been attacked by a transgender woman? Or a sex offender pretending to be transgender? Come on, hands up. Don’t be shy!

There must be loads of you out there. Because according to the British press and certain internet sites, trans people have been leaving a trail of havoc around the country in the last few years. Trying on frocks in changing rooms, using public toilets, insisting on appropriate pronouns. Terrorism, I tell ya! No wonder we’re currently up there with ISIS as a clear and present danger to modern society.

The most dangerous thing I’ve ever done is wear a horizontal striped top, with vertical striped trousers. Which, admittedly, was quite offensive. But surely nowhere near a bad enough crime to justify the current level of hysteria that exists about just 1% of the UK population? It’s a fact that you’re almost as likely to meet an Eskimo as a trans person. So why are we so vilified?

Trans people are invisible in media – even in 2019

The truth is that trans visibility and awareness in the UK in 2019 is nothing short of a national disgrace. We are invisible – and my profession bears the bulk of the blame.

Newspapers – along with one particularly well-known ‘parenting’ website – have been fanning the flames of hate; demonising an already extremely marginalised section of society.

It breaks my heart saying all of the above – because media people usually pride themselves on being champions of fairness, difference and equality, but with transgender people, there’s been an inexcusable dereliction of duty. We are the dog that can still openly be kicked or laughed at. I truly don’t understand it.

Trans stories are almost exclusively negative

The only time you ever see a trans woman in a newspaper or on the radio or television is when they are put in the dock of public opinion to justify their very existence. Trans men fair slightly better, but they too are still misunderstood. There are no mainstream trans newspaper columnists, radio hosts, TV presenters, MPs, high profile business people… Nothing. From an entire country. In 2019. Embarrassing.

It’s got to stop. Because, whether we like it or not, the tone of the media has a direct impact on our lives.

No wonder nearly half of all trans people experience mental health issues, not from being trans, but from a world that views them as suspicious, weird and potentially dangerous. A world where they quite literally don’t have a voice. A subject to be discussed by others, but without any trans people at the table.

Doors tend to close following transition

It takes immense courage to stand up and tell everyone you are different. We know that, when we take that step, we are risking everything we hold precious in life. Work opportunities are reduced. Family and friends can abandon us following transition. Seeing someone you love become someone else is tough. The world shrinks, and generally becomes a lonelier, more hostile place. It’s not something trans people by themselves can overcome.

You need to support us to normalise transgenderism  

We need allies to bring us in from the cold. Colleagues and friends who stand by us; who treat us as normal, regular men and women. Who speak up when they see something online or in real life that’s clearly motivated by ignorance or hate in the same way that most people no longer tolerate open racism.

Whatever industry or profession you are in, you can be at the forefront of helping transgender people finally be accepted as ordinary people.

I promise you; we are just ordinary people… with mums and dads, brothers and sisters. Children.

We have feelings.

If you work with someone who identifies as transgender, please, support them. You’ll reap the benefits tenfold.

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