The blog of Monty Moncrieff
London Friend Chief Executive
20th November 2013: Trans Day of remembrance 2013
It’s a year since I last blogged about the International Trans Day Of Remembrance. It’s been quite a year for trans people. During that time 238 more trans people were murdered across the world.
That figure doesn’t include the trans people who die at their own hands. People like Lucy Meadows, who took her own life in March after her story was paraded in the press with vile questions about her suitability to work with children. Or people like singer Chrissie Edkins who was found hanged only last month.
Last year’s Trans Mental Health Study highlighted how difficult trans people can find coping with the everyday fear of being targeted with harassment, abuse or violence that comes as a result of prejudice. Many more reported the struggle to access support to help them deal with this. Some told of how having to navigate unsupportive GPs and ignorant healthcare professionals made them feel even worse.
Amid this gloomy picture there are however glimmers of hope. Trans visibility is, arguably, at its highest. Last month the Independent on Sunday’s annual Pink List of influential LGBT people featured a trans woman at number one for the first time, journalist and activist Paris Lees. It also, in a move away from merely celebrating celebrity, included other prominent trans campaigners and community activists like Helen Belcher and Jennie Kermode of Trans Media Watch; Big Brother winner and campaigner Luke Anderson; local councillor Sarah Brown; and journalists Jane Fae and Juliet Jacques.
Like Paris, many of those on this list have challenged the media portrayal of trans people, a portrayal which often contorts the truth to sensationalise trans people’s lives or present them as an unnecessary burden on the NHS. Such intrusive coverage adds to the stigma many trans people feel and makes it more difficult for the majority of trans people who merely wish to get on with their lives with the privacy to do so. People like Lucy Meadows.
Last week the Press Complaints Commission issued new guidance for editors warning that undue attention to a person’s gender identity can cause significant distress. A positive move? Well, maybe one to be cautiously welcomed, although it didn’t stop the Daily Mail publishing an “exposé” of the current NHS trial of hormone blockers for trans adolescents on Sunday.
There are positive vibes too within NHS England, currently drawing up a new national policy and specifications for commissioning providers of gender dysphoria care, and conducting a review of access to healthcare by trans people led by a senior executive at the Care Quality Commission Professor Steve Field. Among several methods of engagement trans people are invited to share their views on Twitter using the hashtag #NHSGenderID. Improving care which has traditionally been maligned for many year is an unenviable task, but this does seem to represent the biggest ever effort from the NHS to listen to patient concerns and commit to significant improvements.
Media coverage and access to healthcare are just two of the factors that could improve the well-being of trans people. We still have a way to go to remove the everyday fear and intimidation that many trans people report. I blog in the hope that, in however small a way, this might be able to help people consider trans issues, identify prejudice, and challenge it, helping to remove some of the barriers trans people face in life, in accessing services, and in just being who they are with safety and dignity.
London Friend provides a range of support services aiming to improve the health and well-being of all lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people, supported by openly trans volunteers. We are a partner provider with cliniQ, a trans sexual health and well-being service in central London. Our own trans social group, T on Tuesday, runs on the second Tuesday of each month. In March 2013 we supported Trans Health Matters, a major national conference on trans health. As a member of the National LGB & T Partnership we are a strategic partner of the Department of Health, NHS England and Public Health England, providing advice on LGB & T health issues.