The Trans Tax, why I refuse to beg for equality.

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.

Why no platforming Germaine Greer is a mistake

Two decades ago I was caught in the grip of a cult indoctrination, from birth I had been force fed information which lead me to believe that the whole world was against me. Three times a week I was taken to church services which drummed these lies into my head, complete with group chanting, fear mongering about the imminent coming of Armageddon which would bring about the death of billions of non believers and public reproof announcements about anybody who had transgressed their authoritarian moral codes.

Being the child of a man who was desperate to join the ranks of the higher-ups in the cult It didn’t take much to piss off the Elders, by the age of thirteen I had already lost count of the number of times I had been called in for ‘Biblical Council’. It didn’t take much, pointing out the logical fallacies of dinosaurs, Darwin and carbon dating to a young earth creationist was never going to go down well. Asking why the founder of the cult based his failed prophecies on pyramidology was a sure-fire way to end up sitting in a cold back room with two greying men in polyester suits for two hours.

The simplest definition of a cult I’ve ever read is this: A person is free to leave a religion but when they leave a cult, sanctions are imposed upon them. My early memories of life have a menacing storm cloud hanging over me, if I didn’t show enough belief, enough repentance, enough obedience, my family, friends and virtually everybody I had ever known would shun me. The people who helped raise me from a baby would cut me out of their collective lives and treat me as if I were dead.

 

The mantras those men made me repeat are still burned into my psyche; “bad associations spoil useful habits” (1 Cor. 15:33) AKA don’t hang out with non cult members. “The heavens and the earth are reserved for fire and are being kept until the day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly people.” (2 Peter 3:7) AKA everyone not in the cult is going to die.

Slowly but surely the orwellian inculcation took over. I worked out that if I didn’t question what the leaders said, if I just kept my mouth shut, I would stay out of that cold back room, my life would be easier and people would just leave me alone to my apostate thoughts.

This was my childhood, almost half my life. No questioning. No discussion. No dissent. Toe the party line or we will take away everything that is important to you.

Nowadays things are different, I have learned to question everything and everybody, time has taught me that to get a full understanding of any subject I must listen to all sides of a story. When I freed myself from that horrible cult I read books by Anton LaVey and Erich Von Daniken, I read about Reptilians, Orthodox Judaism, ghosts and Scientology. Nothing was off the table and brick by brick I rebuilt my life from the foundations up but this time it was with the benefit of being able to see the full picture.

What does this all have to do with no platforming, I hear you ask? I have to declare my passionate opposition to this practice, banning somebody who’s opinions you disagree with can never end well, I know this from bitter experience.

I haven’t made it to university yet, when I was leaving school I genuinely believed the world was about to end very soon so I found another path through life but from what I can tell, universities are supposed to be the place where opposing opinions are heard, people are taught critical thinking and how to form arguments for and against subjects. To be fully informed about any subject, a person must listen to all sides and make up their own mind. No platforming just polarises the debate further.

Germaine Greer is a transphobic idiot. Her anti trans diatribe is disgusting and she deserves ridicule as a dinosaur from the feminist dark ages, somebody who is so stuck in her hateful ways she really is comparable to a Kool-Aid drinking cult leader. Debate her, show how science has proven her wrong, write a book taking down her vicious transphobic opinions. Laugh at her, Photoshop her face onto a giant turd, print it onto a t-shirt and go take a selfie with her. Just stop with this no platforming malarkey because once the precedent is set things will only end badly.