Positive actions to help tackle Transpho

"It is our duty in solidarity to challenge the myths that maintain a hostile environment towards transgender people. This is perpetuated through ‘gender critical’ narrative, a theory that presents itself as challenging the capitalist commodification  of gender, but often penalises transgender  people (particularly women) by perpetuating that transitioning has insidious motives, leads to oppression of cisgendered people or is damaging to women’s rights. We have compiled a list of some of the most damaging myths used to deplatform our trans comrades, that we are hoping will become a resource for challenging this rhetoric.


Myth: Transphobia is divisive to the class movement/not a class issue/is ‘identity politics’: 


The notion of ‘identity politics’ requires somebody with a generally marginalised identity to obtain a position of power and detract from/ diminish the disproportionate social and economic hardships of others within that identity group. It is inaccurate to claim that transgender people are not a part of the class struggle and them gaining traction as such is irrelevant, when trans women are five times more likely to be hit by some of the more covert affects of austerity such as homelessness and redundancy. If you are a black trans woman, that escalates to three times as likely. Three out of five trans people have experienced physical attacks, this is more condensed to areas where there is socio-economic hardship due to healthcare cuts that present hurdles in ‘passing’ and accessing hormone treatment (see point three).


With the proposed Gender Recognotion Act Reforms  being shelved  in 2020, there has been an impact on a more streamlined process for preferred gender identification on birth documents. There is a lengthy legislative procedure following the approval of a Dr, and recent proposed changes to deed poll legislation leave trans people more vulnerable to attacks. This has a disproportionately higher effect on working class trans people, do to the condensation of services in more affluent areas following privatisation (9 out of 18 gender identity clinics in the UK are predominantly sourced from privatisation). Although the mainstream may be more supportive of trans faces in the media, we have a long way to go in terms of recognising the daily issues that our trans comrades face.


Myth: Trans women are taking over/are a detriment to female spaces: 


The Gender Recognition Act, the piece  of legislation that sparked a resurgence of the ‘bathroom debate’, never had anything to do with public refuges or changing rooms. Trans people can access these spaces, with certain exclusions, under The Equality Act 2010. the government were to bar trans people from those spaces, they would be rolling back rights we already possess.


According to the 2018 peer-reviewed journal ‘Sexuality and Social Policy’ there is no evidence that trans inclusive laws lead to a rise in assaults, stalking or harassment. ‘Fears of increased Safety and privacy violations as a result of no -discrimination law are not empirically grounded’


Trans women are 16 per cent more likely than cisgendered women to be a victim of domestic violence, and trans women are ten times more likely to be attacked in institutions. Not identifying  with the gender you were assigned at birth does not absolve you from the risk of patriarchal violence. What’s more, safeguarding rules for domestic violence shelters in line with Protection of Women against Domestic Violence Act, 2005, work to prevent ‘walk ins’ that could breach the confidentiality or safety  of vulnerable residents.


As anyone who’s ever been a victim eu confirm, violent men do not need permission to invade a woman’s space. By  making such concerns for safeguarding  the responsibility of trans women, we are putting them at a higher risk with no benefit to cisgendered survivors (domestic violence services have seen a 20 per cent cut in 2020).


Myth: Trans women are a threat to women’s healthcare:


A common ‘gender critical’  argument is that we need to accept the different medical needs of trans and cisgendered women in order to ‘not erase biology’, insinuation that trans women’s  access to services is a detriment to ‘women’s services’ this is completely untrue- trans women are already able to access women’s- only  palliative care wards as it is a characteristic covered by the Equality Act 2010. As for women’s specialist services , trans women are disproportionately hit by healthcare cute to women’s services, with cuts to GIC services having seen a 31pc cut since 2016. In 2020, due to an FDA shortage of Oestrogen, cisgendered women took priority for prescriptions (68 per cent of HRT is prescribed to cisgendered women ) meaning trans women were disproportionately hit by shortages. This is the fault of an increasingly privatised healthcare model and a capitalist pharmaceutical industry, and not transgender women.


Myth: Trans children are being rushed through transitioning:


This is a well publicised myth following the Tavistock enquiry into puberty blocker prescription, and the populist case of Keira Bell. Whereas we empathise with Keira’s story, this has been Co-opted to evidence a rhetoric that this is endemic in gender -confused children, which could not be further from the truth .


There is only one specialist children’s gender service in the U.K., which has o. Average an 18 month waiting list for an initial appointment, even before a two year transition period for a puberty blocker assessment (the sensationalist statistic of ‘one child at age five’ being prescribed puberty blockers was revealed by the BMJ to be a case of precocious puberty, as are a majority of the prescriptions). 


Most peer reviewed studies conclude that puberty blockers have no long term health affects that are exclusive to delaying puberty (there are standard hormone  medication-related risks, but these are not increased by a child’s age) and if the young adult at sixteen then wants to pursue hormone treatment, the transition is a lot smoother, cheaper and less traumatic. Of young trans people at age 18, three out of five have experienced suicidal thoughts and one out of five has attempted suicide. The risks of increasingly slashed pathways to treatment are enhancing this risk. Following the high court decision on the banning of puberty blockers, BMJ expect to see a higher proportion of trans youth accessing crisis services."

Originally published by the Labour Party LGBT+ Network on 1st June 2021

About the Author:
Helen Collins (She/Her) is co-chair for the Labour Party LGBT+ Network, and a Homelessness Campaigner in the Merseyside Area

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Helen Collins