Comment: We still have more work to do to tackle transphobic violence

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Labour councillor Osh Gantly, currently the only elected politician in the UK who is openly transgender, writes for for the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

As most readers will by now be aware, November 20th marked Transgender Day of Remembrance, a special global day when we take time out to remember all trans and gender-diverse people who have lost their lives through violence, either because they were trans*, or simply perceived to be trans*.

As a Londoner, I am privileged to live in the greatest city in the world, a city where it is relatively safe and comfortable to be openly trans*. So, can’t we all just sit back on our laurels? The answer to that question is an emphatic NO!

It’s true that across this great country trans* people are becoming more visible and more vocal as each day goes by and increasingly we see positive depictions of our community in the media. Yet, many trans* individuals still face violence and discrimination on a daily basis.

I recognise that tackling violence against the trans* community is not just about tougher criminal laws and policing – although more needs to be done. If we are to prevent violence against trans* communities everywhere, we must work together to foster understanding and mutual respect between people based on valuing gender diversity and on shared respect.

To this end, I was pleased that Islington Labour’s 2014 manifesto made a commitment to build on our unrelenting approach to transphobic bullying in schools, including online bullying. As a council, we work closely with schools to ensure that children learn from the outset that bullying and discrimination in any form are not acceptable. I would urge all Local Authorities to make the same commitment.

At a national level, we still have much work to do. Labour’s Gender Recognition Act, for example, is clearly well intended legislation, but in the light of evolving standards now needs reform. Argentina, on the other hand, has the most liberal gender recognition laws in the world.

But there’s yet more to do. My comrades in LGBT Labour have drafted a comprehensive set of 27 proposals on how to further secure equality and inclusion of trans* and gender variant people. The proposals are significant, realistic and achievable, and could be actioned by an incoming Labour government. They range from improvements to the Equality Act through to working with housing charities to support victims of transphobic violence. Whatever your political colour, they are definitely worth a read.

You can download a copy of the LGBT Labour proposals here:

Your comments on the proposals are welcome here: [email protected]

Whatever the outcome of the next general election, prevention of transphobic violence and securing equality and inclusion for trans* and gender-diverse people will only happen if we work together. While I will always respectfully remember our fallen trans* brothers and sisters, I look forward to a day when Transgender Day of Remembrance is no longer necessary.

Osh Gantly is a Labour councillor for Highbury East in Islington.

As with all comment, this does not necessarily reflect the views of PinkNews.