Why are so many trans people leaving the UK?

After a huge rise in transphobic hate crimes in recent years, the UK has slipped down the rankings for LGBT+ equality. So is it any wonder members of the community don’t feel safe any more, writes Jane Fae

Public toilets have become the battleground for transgender rights
Public toilets have become the battleground for transgender rights

I lost a good friend last Christmas: a trans guy I had known for several years. He seemed happy enough, settled. But one evening, a few nights before Christmas, he took his own life. Was it because he was trans? Who knows? I view life as complex, a tangle of multiple strands. I am not often given to declaring this or that ultimate cause for a thing ultimately unknowable. He was grieving the loss of a long-term partner: they walked out on him earlier in the year. That was little to do with his transness.

But, too, last time I spoke with him, he was fearful of where UK politics were headed: enmeshed in a long-running dispute with his employer who continued to place barriers in the way of acknowledging his gender. And just a few months previous he was the victim of a street assault. As he got off a bus one evening, three youths set upon him: did enough lasting physical damage to cause possible lifelong difficulties in his chosen profession. And that was because he was trans.

One swallow does not a summer make: and one sad story is not, on its own, evidence of wider crisis. But this is far from all that has pinged my radar over the past year or so. As a trans journalist writing about LGBT+ issues, I am deeply embedded in the trans community, and the mood there is dire. People I have known for years, settled in what seems increasingly mistaken belief that the UK was tolerant of trans people, now express fear for their lives. More than a few – those with the resource to do so – are looking to leave. To Ireland, Sweden, Portugal, New Zealand. Anywhere, in short, that is not the ever more toxic mess that is this Septic Isle.

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