Lauren Summers is one of our Trust marketing and communication managers. She is also a UNISON steward and vice chair of Staff Side. Lauren is trans.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance has been observed annually on November 20 as a day to mark those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia. It is a day to draw attention to the continued violence endured by transgender people.
Transgender people face extreme discrimination and violence in much of the world. In many countries, our very identities are criminalised.
Since 2013, more than 130 transgender and non-binary individuals have been killed in the United States, according to a report by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. It reports that transgender women of colour — particularly black transgender women — are disproportionately affected by fatal violence.
Urgent action is needed. In many countries it is either illegal to be trans or there are no legal protections for trans people. For a trans person looking to travel abroad there are limited options. Many colleagues enjoy a holiday in Dubai, however, the risks for trans people travelling there are enormous – if they can even get into the country.
In the past couple of years, it was reported that a model was detained at Dubai International Airport for being a trans woman and denied entry. Elsewhere in the UAE, a trans woman was sentenced to a year in prison for ‘cross-dressing’.
Right-wing governments in Hungary and Poland have recently promoted discrimination against LGBT+ people, leading to internal protests and action from the European Union to strengthen the rights of LGBT+ people.
Here in the UK trans people do have legal protections, but the battle has not yet been fully won. Progress came in the past month when a landmark employment tribunal found that protections under the Equality Act extend to non-binary and gender fluid people.
Rose Taylor, a gender-fluid/non-binary engineer who worked for Jaguar Land Rover won a discrimination case against her former employer. Rose suffered abuse and harassment after she changed the way she presented in 2017. An important aspect of the case, heard in Birmingham, centred on whether gender fluid/non-binary people were protected by the Equality Act in the same way that those who have undergone gender reassignment surgery. Employment Judge Hughes ruled that it was “clear … that gender is a spectrum” and that it was “beyond any doubt” Taylor was protected. The judge said gender reassignment “concerns a personal journey and moving a gender identity away from birth sex”.
Young trans people in the UK are also disproportionately affected by discrimination. A study by Stonewall found that among trans pupils one in ten (9%) have received death threats at school, while 84% say they have self-harmed and 45% have tried to take their own lives.
The message from me is that trans rights are human rights. In the same way that many people have taken a decision to be actively anti-racist in their everyday lives, you can also make a commitment to be a strong ally for trans people. Let’s make the world a kinder, fairer and more equal place for all.