Standing with the Trans+ community
Kirsty McLaren, Community Chair
Content warning: transphobia, assault, murder, sexual assault and suicide.
Anti-trans rhetoric had already gone too far, and this week’s comments from MPs and the Prime Minister at the Tory Party conference have taken things to a new level. I'm not just disappointed; I'm livid.
First off, let's debunk some myths. Trans people are not some "threat" to society. Take Brianna Ghey, a transgender teen who was fatally stabbed in Warrington earlier this year. Brianna was a person, not a harm to anyone. Yet, she herself was harmed, murdered in cold blood. Trans people are not lurking in bathrooms waiting to harm you; they're the ones being harmed. Women and every person of every gender are being harmed, but not by trans people. How many people do you know that send you a text to say they’re home when they’ve been walking alone? How many people were told when they were little to ‘find a policeman if they are lost and didn’t feel safe’? How many people would now feel cautious doing the same thing in 2023? The people that have caused this fear are not trans people. 1 in 4 women, 1 in 6 children, 1 in 18 men and 1 in 2 trans people are sexually assaulted. Trans people are not the ones you should be afraid of.
Only 0.5% of the UK population identifies as transgender. Knowing this, it’s hard to understand why MPs and the Prime Minister are dedicating precious airtime to a community that makes up such a minuscule fraction of the population. It’s so enormously out of proportion. But it’s simple. It's a blatant attempt to distract people from the real issues: the government has failed so many vulnerable people with devastating consequences. In a cruel attempt to keep themselves in power, they have fanned the flames of the media soundbites and headlines to create a moral panic when there is no reason to have one.
We're in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis. People are struggling to make ends meet, and what's the government's response? To scapegoat the trans community. It's a classic move: divert attention away from your own shortcomings by pointing fingers at a vulnerable group. I work in Social Mobility and I’m sure the communities we work with care more about whether they can afford to heat their homes in winter than whether a trans person exists or not. They also care about making sure their children can get the best opportunities possible when their background, ethnicity and socioeconomic status give them impossible odds to beat. Odds that are becoming more impossible every year with the Conservative government.
This isn't just about hurt feelings or political disagreements. This is about life and death. The Conservative Party's actions are causing real, tangible harm. People are dying because they can't afford to live, and trans people are at an increased risk of murder and suicide because of the hostile environment that's being fostered. My whole career has been spent in Higher Education. Universities are, and should be, a place of debate and challenge. However, when any debate is leading directly to death, it’s our absolute obligation to make sure the political and social climate is stable enough where they can be healthy and productive, and not outright destructive.
On behalf of Proudly King’s, I want to re-emphasise that our trans+ community have a home with us. You matter to us as your most authentic self. We are here to embrace you exactly as you want. Our membership voted to be a fully trans-inclusive network, and our committee reflects that. We are so proud of this, and proud that King’s is a Stonewall Diversity Champion. We won’t always get everything right, but we know when things are wrong. We love you, and we are always here.
Community Chair of Proudly King’s
King’s College London LGBTQ+ Staff Network.