Over the last few years I have met with a fair few ministers and a few MP’s regarding trans issues, LGBT+ Education and the basic understandings of the trans* community. Each and every one of these individuals have had a basic understanding of the transgender community, and they understand what the community needs within policies. As you can imagine, my jaw dropped when I read the article that David Davies wrote in the South Wales Argus.
The one misunderstood part of the transgender community is that we are “confused”, which isn’t the case. We as individuals know who we are, we know what our gender is and the only people that seem to be confused in this whole situation are the people that aren’t fully educated on the issue. Mr Davies stated in this article;
“It is an absolute given that we should show understanding and compassion towards anyone confused about their gender. We should not discriminate against them in any way, nor should we tolerate verbal or physical abuse towards them or anyone else.”
This comment got me very upset, as like I said we are not confused, we are people, we know who we are and we should be respected in that way. Would you say a gay person is confused? Would you say an individual who is black is confused because of the colour of their skin? No, of course not, because its how they’re born which is exactly the same for a transgender individual. We didn’t wake up one morning and decide to “become” transgender, we were born like it, and sadly you can change your brain so our only option is to change our bodies. I will admit that some transgender individuals are confused for years or even centuries about who they are but eventually they understand, accept and embrace who they are. It took me 4 odd months to accept who I was, embrace who I was and start living as the man I am, but I know for some others its taken 30, 40 or even 50 years to be able to live as themselves.
The whole controversy about transgender individuals using the toilets that suit their gender identity has only come about in the last 2 years, but the thing is transgender people have been using toilets since the big bang. We don’t go into the toilets to rape people and we don’t go into the toilets to “perv” on children. As a shocking matter we go into the toilets to use the toilet, we wash our hands and leave, that is all we do. We don’t hurt anybody in the mean time and the only victims whilst doing this is ourselves, we get told that were in the “wrong toilets”, we don’t “belong there”, we get called tranny’s, perverts, freaks, we receive threats, just because we are peeing. I used the male toilets and nothing will ever stop me, I have received death threats, I have been given stares and I have had people telling me to go away, but no I won’t, I will use those toilets because they’re the toilets I belong in.
Another part of Mr Davies argument was;
“If a man registers him / herself as a woman should he / she have the right to use women changing rooms and hospital wards”.
Firstly a transgender woman will use female pronouns, not male. Secondly who knows if she is transgender, nobody will know as 99% of the time people assume things. Secondly if someone is taking hormones, or has had hormones then there is a chance that you may not realise that that individual is in fact transgender. And thirdly there are private rooms and stalls for a reason, transgender people don’t openly flaunt the fact that they’re transgender around, were petrified, were scared of what could happen and we despise the way our bodies look so why would we flaunt it?
When I was in college I was studying a course that involved sports and changing rooms, I got told that I wasn’t allowed to use the female, or male changing rooms, I had to use the disabled ones. I am not disabled, and being told to use those facilities when somebody else who is actually disabled may need to use them angers me. Thankfully my college group were amazing and didn’t mind me using the male changing rooms but this is a small amount of transphobia that we face everyday.
As humans we deserve to be on the wards that treat us, if a transgender woman may need to go into hospital then she will be put on a ward that caters for her specific needs at the time. If a transgender male needs to go into hospital then he will also be put on a ward that caters for his specific needs at the time. Nobody has a say in this other than the professionals in the hospital.
In reply to this huge media platforms picked up the article and in actual fact they also seen that what Mr Davies stated as transphobic and unnecessary. Adam Smith, the chair of Rainbow Newport messaged me to write a piece for an article in the South Wales Argus as to why we disagree to what David Davies said. You can read the article here.
Every time I write an article for a blog, a website or a news platform I look at the comments, which is something I should never do. On the article that myself, Adam and Linda wrote there are altogether 320+ comments, some supportive comments to us three and a majority of the comments being hateful and harmful towards the transgender community. I read comments calling us perverts, tranny’s, confused, delusional, mentally ill and the list goes on. Over the last 3 years I have been educating people on what it means to be transgender, I have been campaigning for our rights and I have publicly shared my story and I thought I had made a slight difference, but since reading the comments it has shown me that myself and many others have so much more work to do.
Adam Smith wrote in reply to David Davies’ article;
“I am unsure and baffled as to why Mr Davies thinks the “big issue of the day seems to be transgender rights” in my eyes the big issue of the day is that the equality minister announced proposals that allow human beings to identify as who they want.
Mr Davies mentioned that we should show compassion and understanding towards people, people who are confused about their gender. Confusion is unsure about what to have for tea, or what bus they need to catch. People who wish to identify as male, female even isn’t confusion, they are not confused. I am however confused on how the rights of the transgender community affects the rights of others? Giving a person a right to live and be who they are, so long as it brings no harm to others doesn’t take away another person’s right.
If a person wishes to use a toilet they identify then so be it, all toilets have separate cubicles and uses them cubicles to do the same thing myself or Mr Davies does, so long as they wash their hands afterwards I don’t see an issue. Logically we all use the same toilet regardless of gender or sexual orientation. In our homes, we all have unisex toilets, in restaurants and clubs now have started to introduce unisex toilets, good example is at Friars Walk in Newport.
I know and support many people within the transgender community and they say the same, they just wish and want to use the right toilet that suites their identity without fear of verbal or even physical assault. Even politicians making silly statements on something they clearly have no understand or education on. We welcome the announcement from the Equalities Minister, we are living in 2017 and it’s good to see policies like this being announced, it shows at least some politicians are not stuck in what seems to be medieval times.
I do however offer an open and special invitation to Mr Davies to come along and meet with the community, with the hope and aim that he will be a bit more educated with the transgender community and able to show the compassion and understanding that he mentioned in his article and that it doesn’t or won’t take away any of his rights. We can arrange a special meeting just for him or if he is too busy addressing his rights, Rainbow Newport is arranging an educational trip around equality, human rights and the history of LGBT in Parliament in October, we would welcome him to come along then, and even take part in some of the educational workshops, it could be worthwhile and very useful, especially as this matter does concern members of his constituency, which I am sure he has utmost concern about, the well-being of his constituencies.”
Linda, a transgender resident living in Gwent also said;
“When I first read what David Davies said, I was very incensed, and very much angered by an individual that clearly did not intend to understand what he was talking about. When an individual transitions be that M2F – or F2M, we do so with open eyes and with full knowledge of what is to come.
What Mr Davies has done is to demonstrate utter ignorance of the needs of those such as I. He has shown that the basic human rights that I should expect to enjoy (like all women) but as far as he is concerned – they should not happen. He is trying to say that trans women (and men) should not be allowed to use gender appropriate facilities, such as changing rooms and toilets when going about our daily lives.
He does not seem to care about how much hurt his comments have been to those such as I.
Maybe he has been adversely influenced by recent anti-trans events in America, who knows? All I know is that the damage that the recent statement by David Davies made in the South Wales Argus has the potential to be harmful to the transgender community as a whole.
In this day and age, there is no room for such hurtful and yes, transphobic statements by a member of parliament.”
As a community we face daily abuse, daily threats, assaults, the risk of being murdered, not being accepted, mental health issues, suicide attempts and many other issues. I personally feel like this article has done more harm than good, its fuelling to the misconceptions that are out there. As a community we deserve basic human rights like everybody else, we deserve to feel accepted in our homes, communities and jobs but it isn’t happening and it scares me.
It concerns me that not even MP’s have a basic understanding of the transgender community, this can be damaging and its worrying me. We still have far to go, but I can honestly say that I am going to carry on campaigning until my last breathe.