I had such optimism for trans equality until recently, I really believed we were getting somewhere. Rebecca Root was awesome in BBC Two’s Boy Meets Girl, there was a positive sounding Government Inquiry into trans rights, over 30,000 people signed a petition asking the government to allow gender variant people to self define their gender. Things were looking peachy.
Today I sat on the beach and wept. I wept for Tara Hudson, currently being subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment by the Ministry of Justice inside a male only prison, partly because she doesn’t own a Gender Recognition Certificate. I wept for the way people like me have been misrepresented by Channel 4 and yet again derided as freaks on national television. I wept because the Government pooh-poohed the petition slap bang in the middle of an inquiry into how to improve protections for trans people.
A lot of this strife has been caused by a magical piece of paper called the Gender Recognition Certificate. An employer can’t ask to see it, the police can’t ask to see it, local councils can’t ask to see it, but without this piece of paper a trans person does not qualify for certain protections under law.
I have huge issues with the GRC. To qualify for it and the protections it gives means I have to prove that I have lived as a woman for three years, I must get letters from doctors and I have to pay £140. Once I have gathered all this evidence, I have to send it off to something called a Gender Recognition Panel which is made up of some “medical and legal members.” The law doesn’t actually state any qualifications for these members but I guarantee you one hundred percent that they aren’t trans.
I refuse to prostrate myself in front of a panel of cisgender overlords and beg for my human rights. People like me are oppressed from every single angle at one point or another and I will not submit the validity of my gender to the judgement of a bunch of strangers. I have had enough.
So many of my friends have spoken about the difficulties of getting their GRC’s, the submitted evidence is often returned with a letter full of legal jargon pointing out where they didn’t meet the standard to be accepted as themselves. Two or three times they repeat the process, their whole being on tenterhooks, waiting to be given the privilege of being told it’s ok to be able to get on with their lives.
I have friends who have been sofa surfing or homeless at one point in the last three years, they have been unemployed due to discrimination against their gender identity. Their evidence to the panel will likely be rejected. And until they get a job and somewhere permanent to live, applying for a GRC is impossible anyway, that’s before we even get into trying to find the £140 it costs and how the complicated forms disadvantage people who find it difficult to communicate.
Being forced to pay money for something which gives you protections under law is a tax. It’s a tax on trans people for being born different.
If you’d have asked me a few weeks ago what I thought of this Trans Inquiry I would have waxed lyrical about a trans tipping point, fairies and unicorns. Now there is nothing but a grey, glooming storm cloud.
The one piece of hope I cling to is seeing the outpouring of support for Tara Hudson, the trans community has found it’s voice and we are united in trying everything to help her. Never give up.