A report released earlier today by Stonewall and YouGov explores the discrimination faced by transgender and non-binary citizens in the UK.
Over 800 participants took part in the survey, which has found that two in five trans people have experienced a hate crime in the past 12 months. The report also highlights the discrimination they face in the workplace, universities, and in healthcare.
Worryingly, younger trans adults are at the greatest risk. Stonewall has revealed that 53% of trans and non-binary people aged 18 to 24 have experienced a hate crime in the past year, as a direct result of their gender identity. This may include verbal or physical abuse or being discriminated against in public spaces such as bars and restaurants, as well as accessing public services such as toilets. Four in five did not report this hate crime to the police and in many cases, this was due to a lack of adequate support from police staff. As Leo, 53, stated: “I talked, they listened, but it was their attitude and I got the impression that it was not being taken seriously.”
The workplace is another space in which trans and non-binary people face discrimination, the report states. As well as facing bullying and hurtful comments, one in eight trans employees have been physically attacked by colleagues or customers. In higher education, more than a third of university students have endured negative comments directly from staff. A student named Sophia, 20, suggested that: “At university, people have refused to refer to me with the proper pronouns because they “don’t see me as a woman” despite me fully presenting myself as such.”
Accessing healthcare for treatment during transition is also proving difficult. Two in five of the participants suggested that healthcare staff lacked understanding of specific trans health needs and seven per cent have been denied treatment because of their LGBTQ+ identification. Crucially, waiting times for treatment extend into years, which exceeds maximums set by law for NHS patients. With 45% of participants suggesting that they do not have the financial means to undergo treatment sooner, private healthcare is proving to be an inaccessible option.
Coming out as trans or non-binary can often have a significant impact on family relations. More than a quarter of trans people in a relationship have faced domestic abuse and one in four have experienced homelessness, which is due to several complex factors, including familial rejection and unemployment. In a positive move forwards, the UK Government announced that they will be reforming the Gender Recognition Act (2004), which is still a severe cause of anxiety for many trans people. The process of legal recognition as a transgender citizen requires invasive medical evidence and still treats being trans as a mental illness. Non-binary people still cannot have their identity legally recognised, although Scotland is taking steps towards rectifying this issue.
The report does note some of the positive changes that have been achieved in the struggle for trans and non-binary equality. 44% are optimistic about where the direction LGBTQ+ rights are headed in this country. As Jo, 22, states: “The progress [that LGBTQ+ activists have made] has made me feel more comfortable in being open with who I am, both my gender and sexuality. I am finally able to be myself.”
What needs to be done?
Stonewall recommends that:
- Police forces need to be educated on LGBTQ+ hate crime so that reports receive the serious consideration they require.
- Employers need to develop a zero tolerance policy on trans- and queerphobic bullying in the workplace.
- Universities need to emphasise trans inclusivity and educate staff on anti-discrimination policy and correct pronoun usage.
- The NHS should provide diversity training for staff and make services required for transitioning more accessible.
- The UK government needs to consult with LGBTQ+ groups so that the Domestic Violence and Abuse programme is inclusive of trans and non-binary needs.
- Homeless shelters and charities must be inclusive of LGBTQ+ people.
What can you do?
- Join the Stonewall ‘Come Out for LGBT’ campaign and stand up as a trans and non-binary ally.
- Support reforms to the Gender Recognition Act which will become less intrusive and more inclusive as a result.
- Report and call out transphobia and queerphobia in all aspects of life, when appropriate and safe to do so.