Over the past six months, trans and non-binary identities have been thoroughly discussed and debated, often turning our lives and lived experiences into topics for people to judge. We tend to forget this ‘debate’ is about the lived experience that people like me go through. It isn’t something that is rare or unique, it’s a daily occurrence that impacts our whole lives.
Living in the UK as someone who identifies as non-binary is difficult and beautiful all at the same time. As I live in London, being able to surround yourself myself with other queer and non-binary people is something I am privileged to be able to experience, and the sense of community is a source of strength and love for me. But this level of safe-space warmth only goes so far when you have to face the facts of the actual legal protections and rights of non-binary people in the UK.
Legally in the UK our gender isn’t recognised by the government. By not having legal protections, other people’s prejudice towards us is legitimised. It perpetuates a myth that this is just another symptom of the “Snowflake Generation” – self-obsessed and overly sensitive. The violence and public prejudice that trans and non-binary people face in their lives is undeniable and hugely damaging.
Our lives are seen as something to be mocked and ridiculed. Our bodies and aesthetics continually picked apart without our consent, yet when we speak up for ourselves we’re seen as “dangerous”.
It’s a scary time for trans and non-binary people, as our words are being spoken for us. Hearing the transphobic rhetoric and and the way feminism is used as legitimacy to depict trans and non-binary people as threats is deeply damaging and hurtful.
But the government consultation on reforming the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) has offered a glimmer of hope. It’s been an amazing opportunity for not just us, but all people who support the trans and non-binary community, to speak up and help change our lives.
Today is the final day to fill in the consultation, for all members of the public to share their thoughts on the process that exists now, and to inform the government on how it can be changed to ensure that it’s less oppressive and medically intrusive.
The current process is time consuming, expensive, and has very binary requirements in terms of “proving” your identity. Reform could allow non-binary identities to finally be recognised by our government by implementing a system of self-identification. It would offer us the opportunity to feel recognised and visible by the institutions that we live among.
Earlier this year Stonewall released their LGBT+ in Britain Trans Report, which highlights that 51 per cent of trans people have hidden their identity at work for fear of discrimination. This is why GRA reform is so important – it is an opportunity for us to really be able to allow trans and non-binary people to feel like they’re being seen and heard.
As a non-binary person, and someone who is a part of one of the most uplifting, beautiful and courageous communities, I urge you to take your time to fill out the GRA consultation before it ends tonight at 11pm.
Stonewall UK, one of the UKs largest LGBTQIA+ organisations has amazing guidelines on how to fill it out to ensure that it reflects the changes that we all want to see, if you find yourself stuck. This is a once in a lifetime position we are in, and it can really change people’s lives and allow younger generations to grow up and thrive in a more inclusive and aware world.
Jamie Windust is the editor in chief of Fruitcake Magazine
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