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The STA at Glasgow Pride

This Saturday, 22nd August, the STA, Equality Network, and lots of our lovely volunteers lead the Pride march through Glasgow to call for trans rights now. The day started pretty early for us as we arrived in Glasgow at 9 to set up our stalls on the Green, and decorated the float with an assortment of rainbow balloons, placards, banners, and a bunch of bubble guns to fire on the way round!

pride photo 1

After hearing some speeches from our float at the start point of the march (there was a focus on the legal rights that are still unavailable for some in the trans community, the need to make our LGBTI activism global and inclusive, and the specific problems around trans healthcare) we took to the streets to spread our message of trans rights now! The parade was so much fun – we danced our way around central Glasgow and had loads of people watching and waving. It was an amazing opportunity to get to call for trans equality at an event not only attended by many from the LGBTI community, but also watched by hundreds more, who may not be aware of or think about the discrimination that continues to be faced by almost all LGBTI people. We got to be ourselves, have fun, spread our message, and be proud!

After the march, we did the speediest clearing of the float we could, and headed in to the stalls. From ER stall picthere we had a hectic day where we were visited by tonnes of people, some of whom had never heard of us and some more familiar faces! We managed to run out of Equal Recognition postcards as so many people signed up on the day to our call for equality for all trans people. The people signing up were all different ages, cis and trans, knew nothing about it or knew everything about it… it was a really great feeling to know that our call for equality was being heard and that so many people want to support us with it.

So we spent the afternoon chatting with people and letting them know what we do and what we’re working on at the minute and it was loads of fun – everyone was really friendly and it was a great chance to let people know who we are and what we stand for. We gave out lots of info, sold a bunch of trans pride badges, and heard stories from people about how being trans affects their lives. Some people were talking about all of the positive changes in the last few years and how they feel more able to be themselves, whether that’s at work, at home, or popping to the shops. Some people though were telling us about the problems they continue to face due to being trans – discrimination, stereotyping, and a lack of respect. Which is why we all need to keep working hard to make our voices heard and make sure that trans people have the same rights as everyone else, and hopefully we’ll hear less and less of these stories with each new Pride.

At 6 o’clock it was time to pack up and head home, so after carrying many many boxes back to the van (thank you so much to our volunteers for helping!) that was us done! Thank you so much to everyone who was there, who volunteered with us, or who came and said hello – the day wouldn’t have been the same without you.

Polish Senate passes first Gender Recognition Law

TGEU released the following press statement about the passage of Poland’s first ever Gender Recognition Law:

Today, on August 7 2015, the Polish Senate adopted the first gender recognition legislation in the country. Transgender Europe (TGEU) welcomes the Gender Marker Change Act as it brings legal certainty and respect to many trans people and calls upon the Polish president to sign the new Act into law without delay.

The Act is viewed by Polish trans activists as important to establish quick, transparent and accessible gender recognition procedures. Already approved by the Parliament, the law does not foresee physical interventions, but stresses the involvement of mental health experts. In addition to two independent expert statements from a clinical psychologist, psychiatrist or sexologist, a sexologist and/ or a psychologist need to be present during the gender recognition court session. In case of an applicant with minor children, a paediatric psychologist should also be present.

Trans people who are underage, foreign, or married cannot change their documents under this law.

Despite its shortcomings, the new legislation is of major importance for the daily life of trans people in Poland: 78% of Polish trans people think that quicker and easier legal gender recognition procedures would allow them to live more comfortable as a transgender person, according to the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA, LGBT Survey 2014)[1]. Currently Polish trans people have to sue their parents to have their documents changed. A lamentable practice that will become a thing of the past if the new Act becomes law.

“The Senators confirmed today that trans rights are human rights.” Comments Arja Voipio, TGEU co-chair:

“Congratulations to the Polish trans community who together with MP Anna Grodzka did a fantastic job in educating the public in at times challenging debates.”

“This law is an important step recognizing the existence of trans people and their human rights in Poland.” comments Alecs Recher, TGEU co-chair:

“The Polish government should now ensure the swift implementation of the law and immediately start conversations with trans rights civil society to ensure that rights of young trans people, foreigners, those who are married and gender-variant people are included in a next step. We expect Andrzej Duda as former member of the European Parliament and as President elected to quickly sign the Act into law.”

You can read it on TGEU’s website here

Launch of a UK wide non-binary survey

The Scottish Transgender Alliance is today launching a UK wide survey for all non-binary people, defined as those:

“identifying as either having a gender which is in-between or beyond the two categories ‘man’ and ‘woman’, as fluctuating between ‘man’ and ‘woman’, or as having no gender, either permanently or some of the time”.

It asks questions on three main subjects: experiences of using services, views on legal gender recognition, and experiences in employment.

The survey will be used to give us a clearer picture of some of the issues being faced by non-binary people in the UK today, and to provide us with real evidence to use in our campaigning and lobbying around improving the rights of all trans people. At the moment, there is little existing literature on some of the specific issues faced by non-binary people beyond what we hear anecdotally from the community – and this is a great opportunity to change that.

If you would like to take the survey, you can do so at this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/nonbinarysurvey

The survey should take around 30 minutes to complete. It will be open for 8 weeks, closing on Tuesday 15th September.

If you have any questions about the survey or would like to request it in a different format, please do get in touch with Vic Valentine by emailing vic@equality-network.org or calling the office on 0131 467 6039

EU Commission says that all trans people should be protected from discrimination

On May 5th, the EU Commission published a report on the implementation of the Gender Goods & Services Directive stating that anti-discrimination law should apply to all trans people.

The EU doesn’t specifically mention trans people in any of its equality legislation, but they had previously ruled in 1996 that the EU gender equality principle should be extend to cover people discriminated against because of gender reassignment.

In publishing this new report, they have now gone further and stated that these protections should be extended to people facing discrimination because of gender reassignment or gender identity.

Some of the people over at TGEU (Transgender Europe) had this to say about the publishing of the report:

“While this interpretation is not legally binding for member states, Transgender Europe welcomes this clear statement by the European Commission that it will interpret EU sex discrimination law to include gender identity. This has been long over due.“ comments Richard Köhler, TGEU Senior Policy Officer:

“This ends speculations on who is protected by EU law. Before, this was only definite for those who have been taking or planning to take medical or legal steps, leaving a big part of the trans community out.”

“However, TGEU regrets that the European Commission accepts the legal situation in member states as sufficient. TGEU recommends introducing gender identity as a protected ground in EU and national gender equality law similar to pregnancy or maternity. This would set aside any doubts and support a consistent application of the equality principle for all trans people.” comments Arja Voipio, TGEU co-chair.

Download the EU Commission’s Report

Ask your MSPs to support gender X passports for people who do not identify as men or women

We’re delighted that Alison Johnstone MSP has submitted the following motion in the Scottish Parliament supporting non-gendered passports for non-binary people:

Motion S4M-12970: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 21/04/2015
Passports for People who do not Associate with a Particular Gender
That the Parliament recognises that the UK Parliament’s early day motion number 47 relating to the provision of passports to people who do not associate with a particular gender, accumulated 80 signatures; understands the importance to transgender people who are non-binary, and therefore do not identify as male or female, of having passports that reflect their true identity; notes that non-binary people have called on the Labour and Conservative parties to comment on this issue in their manifestos; recognises that a number of other jurisdictions, including Australia and New Zealand, provide their citizens with passports bearing a gender marker other than M or F; believes that, like other trans people, non-binary people have the right to have their gender identity recognised and should therefore be able to obtain passports that reflect the fact that they do not identify as male or female, and urges the next UK Government to consider whether an additional gender marker should be made available on British passports.

Several MSPs have already signed as supporting the motion. It’s really important to raise visibility of non-binary issues so please send a quick email to your local MSPs asking them to sign in support (you can find their contact details at http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/msps.aspx).

NHS Consultation Event

Live in NHS Grampian or NHS Highland? Come and share your views on improving NHS provision for trans people. Discuss the information resources and expanded protocol details currently being worked on by the National Gender Identity Clinical Network for Scotland. Travel expenses provided. More info.

Logos of NGICNS & STA

WPATH Issues Statement on Legal Gender Recognition

On 19 January, 2015 the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) issued a statement asserting its position regarding legal gender recognition.

Significantly, WPATH stated:

  • “No particular medical, surgical, or mental health treatment or diagnosis is an adequate marker for anyone’s gender identity, so these should not be requirements for legal gender change.”
  • “WPATH Standard of Care 7 recognizes that there is a spectrum of gender identities, and that choices of identity limited to Male or Female may be inadequate to reflect all gender identities; an option of X or Other (as examples) may be advisable.”
  • “Marital status and parental status should not affect legal recognition of gender change. . .”
  • “. . . appropriate legal gender recognition should be available to transgender youth.”
  • ” . . . urges governments to eliminate unnecessary barriers, and to institute simple and accessible administrative procedures for transgender people to obtain legal recognition of gender, consonant with each individual’s identity. . . “

The Scottish Transgender Alliance welcomes that WPATH, long regarded as the world’s foremost authority on the medical treatment of transgender people, has clearly stated that legal recognition should be completely separate from the medical processes and not contingent on any diagnosis.  We are also pleased that they support access to legal gender recognition for transgender young people, and for the inclusion of a non-binary option.

These statements clearly align with the calls of our Equal Recognition campaign.  It is good to see that our campaign is consistent not only with international trans human rights activism, but also with the views of leading medical gender specialists.

The full text of the WPATH statement can be read here. WPATH Statement on Legal Recognition of Gender Identity 1-19-15

I can wake up as male or female. Or neither: Young Scot raises awareness of non-binary gender identity

  • By Jenny Morrison of the The Sunday Mail

 

DREW O’Donnell can live with a different gender each day and wants to raise awareness of leading a non-binary life.

 

Drew on a gender neutral day.

Drew on a gender neutral day.

DREW O’DONNELL prefers to be referred to as “they” and not as “he” or “she” because when they wake up in the morning, they never know whether they will feel male, female or gender-neutral.

Born male, Drew grew up wrongly believing they were what they describe as a “very camp gay man”.

At the age of 22, Drew was empowered to realise they were neither male nor female – but belonged to a group of people who describe themselves as non-binary.

Drew’s family and friends have come to accept that one day they may live as a man, while the next day they may feel much more like a woman and choose to wear make-up, dress in more feminine clothes and even speak with a much more feminine voice.

Drew as a male.

Drew as a male.

While Drew says being classed as non-binary falls under the transgender umbrella, they don’t feel trapped in the wrong body and don’t cross-dress.

And while Drew says they know many people may find their ever-changing gender difficult to understand, they say people need to learn to be more understanding.

Drew, 23, of Paisley, said: “I’ve been told there are 37 different types of gender – a lot more than simply male and female.

“Even I can’t remember them all but when people ask me about it, I try to explain to them that sex and gender are two different things.

“The singer Cher has a transgender son who said, ‘Gender is between your ears, not between your legs’ and for me that describes it well. Gender is what you feel – and sometimes I might feel two thirds male and only one third female while the next day, I might feel two thirds female and only one third male.

“Some days I feel absolutely gender neutral – neither more male nor more female and that is totally fine too. I have three genders – the more feminine me, the more masculine me and the gender neutral me – but I am still the same one person.

“When I am feeling more feminine I will wear more feminine clothes – not skirts or dresses but clothes that have a more feminine than masculine look to them.

“I will wear make-up – I like eye shadow, eye liner and nail polish. And I have even coached my voice to sound more feminine.

“On days where I feel more masculine, my clothes are much more boyish and I won’t wear make-up. On gender neutral days, I’m somewhere in the middle.”

Drew doesn’t consciously decide what their gender will be on any given day – their body decides for them.

An example of how Drew might dress on a day they feel more feminine.

An example of how Drew might dress on a day they feel more feminine.

Drew said: “I believe I have a hormone imbalance that affects how I feel gender- wise. I’ve been considering going to the doctor to have my hormones investigated, as I suffer from hot flushes which most males don’t experience – but women going through hormonal changes do.”

Drew says they first realised they were gay around the age of 14. But they didn’t tell anyone how they felt until they had left school and started college.

Drew, who is the transgender representative for Scotland’s National Union of Students, said: “When I was growing up, I was always very feminine – I played with girls rather than boys and I preferred girls’ toys. Up until about 13, I did have girlfriends but by 14, I knew I was more attracted to boys. I finally told my mum and friends I was gay when I was 18 and none of them were surprised. They all told me they had known I was gay for a long time.”

From age 18, Drew dated a number of gay men but admits they are attracted to both males and females. It was another four years before they discovered what it meant to have non-binary gender.

Drew said: “Two friends were talking about being gender neutral or non-binary themselves. As they explained there were more than two genders out there, I started to realise that was me. I realised it was ok for me to accept when my body is telling me I’m female and when it’s telling me I’m male.

“You don’t have to choose one gender. Identifying as non-binary is easier for me.”

Drew, whose dad died several years ago, said their mum Fiona was deeply supportive of their decision.

Drew said: “She’s been great. When people ask her about her son, she explains I am not her son any more but I’m non-binary”

Drew, who is looking for work, says when applying for jobs they prefer to leave blank the box asking their sex.

Drew, who was chosen as a baton bearer in the Commonwealth Games for being a volunteer with several local charities, said: “There are times when I have ticked the male box or the female box – but usually I try to leave it blank.”

Drew accepts they have to use male changing rooms and toilets but wants to see more gender-neutral facilities.

Drew said: “The best way to deal with transphobia is through education. The top tip I would give is don’t just jump to conclusions about whether someone is male of female. Don’t ask them what their gender is – ask them politely what pronoun they are. This shows you respect who they are as a person.”

Drew is currently organising the National Union of Students first Scottish trans-gathering, for all students who identify as transgender, being held in Edinburgh in February.

Drew is also supporting the Scottish Government’s “One Scotland’ Campaign, which aims to promote equality and celebrate diversity in Scotland.

 

FRA Releases ‘Being Trans in the European Union’ Report

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has launched a ground-breaking report ‘Being Trans in the European Union‘. The report points to how trans people experience frequent discrimination and harassment, and draws upon the responses to FRA’s wider EU LGBT survey.

Becky Kent, Scottish Transgender Alliance Research Associate has examined the report and has pulled out the information related to the experiences of trans people in the UK.  We welcome the report as it is the most comprehensive report of trans experiences in Europe published to date.  More than 800 trans people from the UK were among the survey’s 6,579 trans respondents, giving us a good view of the current status of trans people in the UK.

The survey’s most striking result is the high level of repetitive violence and hate-motivated crime trans persons suffer.

The report highlights the serious problem that still remains for trans people experiencing hate-motivated crimes and harassment. 12% of UK trans people have experienced hate-motivated violence and crime in the 12 months preceding the survey as compared to the EU average of only 8%, and 37% of the UK respondents faced hate-motivated harassment in the 12 months preceding the survey.

Sadly, the UK trails only Ireland and Lithuania in the rate of hate-motivated violence and crime suffered by trans people, and is significantly worse than the European average.  This shows that we still have a long way to go in making the UK a consistently safe place for trans people to live and work.

The report also looked at trans people’s experiences in employment, education and when accessing health care.

In health care 53% of trans people feel they can be open about being trans to their health care providers which is significantly better that the EU average of 35%. 96% are also aware that gender reassignment services are available.  On the down side 26% report being discriminated against when accessing health care in the previous 12 months.

In schools, 47% report that the atmosphere in their school or university is negative toward LGBT people and 22% report being discriminated against for being trans in the previous 12 months.  In employment 40% of the trans respondents in the UK report being discriminated against when seeking work in the previous year and another 31% have been discriminated against on the job during the previous 5 years.

These figures continue to show that there needs to be improvement in awareness and understanding of trans people throughout UK society.  It is especially disappointing to see that these results point to schools remaining an unwelcome place for LGBT people.  A closer look at the report also shows that these problems are significantly greater for those people who have a non-binary gender identity.  We need to work harder to help society to understand and accept those who identify as neither male nor female.

We have recently launched the Equal Recognition  campaign in which we are calling for legal recognition non-binary people who do not identify as either male or female.  We see this as an important step in improving the experiences of non-binary people in Scotland.

National Gender Identity Clinical Network launched

The National Gender Identity Clinical Network for Scotland (NGICNS) was launched in Glasgow yesterday (3 December 2014) at an event providing trans people with an opportunity to learn more about the Network, and enabling clinicians to hear trans people’s priorities for change.

In 2007 the Scottish Transgender Alliance identified, through community feedback, that there was an enormous disparity, like a postcode lottery, from one health board to another in terms of the gender reassignment services that were provided. It caused immense problems and significant distress to trans people across Scotland.

As a result of intense lobbying the Scottish government implemented the Gender Reassignment Protocol. In 2012 we pushed for the creation of the Network to ensure the national protocol is implemented equally across all Scottish health boards.

The creation of the Network is a major step forward and an opportunity to improve services and provide greater transparency in how assessments are carried out and decisions made about service provision. It will itself aim to be transparent and empower trans people and NHS professionals working in Scotland. This will be achieved in part by the Network steering group, the members of which will provide expert guidance and information about how services are working on the ground.

It is hoped that NGICNS will also be able to raise issues with the NHS, such as the lack of capacity gender identity services are currently experiencing, and advocate for changes which will improve the patient experience.

The Network has the potential to help shape a gender identity service which is joined up, transparent, effective, equitable, and responsive to the needs of those it serves. For our part we look forward to working with NGICNS to try and achieve just that.