The UKs first ever LGBT History Month magazine is being launched with the support of Angela Eagle
Budget airline EasyJet yesterday offered to fly Pope Benedict XVI to the UK following the recent controversy surrounding his viewpoints on British Equality laws and estimated cost of his visit.
The Sun has caused havoc after publishing a poll yesterday asking whether gay people should be allowed to be cabinet ministers.
The Government will not push through proposals that churches argue would restrict their ability to deny jobs to gay people and transsexuals, Equality Minister Harriet Harman has confirmed.
Trans writer Natasha Curson has written in the Guardian about her experience of being Trans.
"In 2006 my employer circulated a staff questionnaire on diversity. Struggling with my gender identity, I found the courage to complete it and declare that no, I did not feel able to present at work in my preferred gender.
But so terrified was I of the possibility of exposure that I put the completed survey in a postbox so that it would arrive from outside the campus and nothing, short of fingerprinting, could connect it to me.
Two years later I began to transition and the protections of the Gender Recognition Act folded around me. My employer suddenly had obligations to treat me fairly and to protect my privacy. In fact, it has done much more than the minimum – transition at work has been a hugely positive experience for me. Job done, you might say, but I still remember the frightened person I was, and I know that there are many others in similar positions, and not all employers are so understanding. The real problem with the current legislation, about to be rolled into the Single Equality Act, is that it requires individuals to be certain about their situation and to fall into categories that the law feels happy to define.
Transgenderism is a spectrum condition. It may, or may not, be linked to intersex conditions, which sometimes show clear physical evidence of gender variation. Causality is unclear, but it is evident that it affects people in a variety of ways, and people's responses to being trans are much more varied than the law allows for. The Gender Recognition Act built on earlier legislation to provide better employment conditions and an obligation to respect an individual's privacy. It does not depend on surgery as "proof", an important change that recognizes the requirement to live in the preferred gender role to gain access to treatment, and also that not everyone who seeks to make a permanent role change will want surgery. The problem is that the Act assumes certainty. Back in 2006 I had not yet accepted my need to transition, so I was not protected. Any expression of my gender variance felt incredibly risky, so much so that I operated a self- and family-imposed exclusion zone on myself, and would travel 120 miles to London before I dared put on a skirt.
The fear – of exposure, of loss of job or family, of ridicule – was one factor that maintained my closeted status, a painful state that I lived with for decades. Arguably the lack of protection for those uncertain about their gender helped keep me in that state for longer than would otherwise have been the case. I found my answer, but the problem is that the law insists that in order to offer you protection you must be clear about who you are, and that "who" must fall into certain categories.
Some people may not need to transition, or at least not permanently. They may, for their own comfort and wellbeing, wish to present as a different gender on an occasional basis, partly or fully. That may be a prelude to determining a sense of self that leads to transition, or it may not. Trans people need to be able to determine their own path, but the pressures to conform are so huge that it is hard to be able to explore our sense of self publicly. Instead we restrict ourselves to ghettos made up of support groups, a handful of nightclubs and specialist services that offer a chance (particularly for trans women) to dress and experiment with makeup. These organisations do good work, but we are still in ghettos, because society says we should be.
If you were to decide, for your own comfort and wellbeing, that you wanted to present at work as one gender two days a week, and another for the rest of the week, the law does not provide for you, and only the most enlightened of employers are likely to support you. But why shouldn't someone be able to do that, if they feel comfortable enough with themselves to want to be visible? If the individual is happier and feels supported they will be a better employee, so why should that be a problem? What about school or college students?
Imagine yourself as a 10-year-old with a growing sense of uncertainty about your gender, deeply aware of the playground taunts you might face if you let slip the truth, and so having to hide your true self completely. I don't have to imagine it – I lived it. Trans people are also the last minority it's OK to ridicule, because many people think it's about clothes, and that (particularly) men dressed as women will look ridiculous. It's so embedded in our culture that gender tourists such as David Walliams can make good money out of demeaning us. That makes it harder for us to speak with one voice, particularly as we are smaller than the gay community.
Trans individuals and organisations have lobbied MPs and peers to debate an amendment to the Equality Act. We failed in the Commons and in the Lords, so the legislation is likely to go through as it is. The government has done a lot for us – the Gender Recognition Act has improved things for a significant part of our community. But the principle of equality of treatment is still applied unevenly to the trans community. Because of this many of us live in fear and discomfort for much of our lives. This situation needs to end."
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