Woman begs UK to ‘do something’ about rising anti-LGBTQ+ hate after trans relative flees to Canada

London Trans+ Pride 2023

A queer ally has urged British politicians to “do something” about the rising tide of anti-trans hate in the UK, after family members of a transgender teenage relative felt forced to help her leave the country, along with her brother.

A British-based woman posted a lengthy thread on X, formerly known as Twitter, where she begged the UK public who are “on the fence” about trans rights to “listen to those of us telling you things are really bad here.”

She wrote: “Almost a year ago, my niece told us that she is trans. Today, she moved to Canada to get out of the UK. I’m relieved.

“Canada is lovely. Travel broadens the mind. They are charismatic, kind, engaging kids. But we won’t get their formative teenage years back, with them living 10 minutes’ cycle away. They won’t [do] homework on my couch after school.”

The woman explained that her niece and nephew left the UK because the country has become “intolerably hostile” towards her transition.

She specifically noted the difficulty in obtaining medically necessary puberty blockers for her niece, who, although under 18, had “expressed a desire for them.”

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Following the closure of the Tavistock Centre – the only NHS gender identity clinic for trans youth – the family were forced to pay for private healthcare.

“It’s challenging because not all GPs will agree to share care with private services, so you’re always hopping between two systems. It’s not cheap either. Just over £100 a month. Not a lot of families have that going spare right now,” she added.

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But it isn’t just systemic issues that compelled the family to flee the UK. The overwhelmingly negative perceptions of trans people in the media have made it dangerous to be out in public.

“She had a fantastic youth club for LGBT+ kids that has been such a fantastic source of support,” her aunt said. “Their windows have been smashed more than once.

“Newspapers regularly talk about the threat trans women pose to us. There was even a debate about it in parliament. It’s hostile here.”

LGBTQ+ rights in the UK have plummeted in recent years

Statistics show the staggering drop in LGBTQ+ rights and safety in the UK over the past few years, thanks to political attacks and media hostility.

A report from LGBTQ+ not-for-profit group ILGA Europe, which ranks countries based on their “legal and policy situation” regarding queer rights, showed that the UK fell from 14th in 2022 to 17th this year.

Britain was consistently ranked the most LGBTQ+ friendly place in Europe until 2016, after which it started to plummet each year.

More specifically, ILGA Europe wrote that the anti-trans rhetoric across the UK has caused “serious damage” to its ranking, which included “hostile reporting” by media outlets and former prime minister Boris Johnson’s handling of the conversion therapy ban, which has still to be implemented.

The woman wrote that the family “seemed keen” to leave in March after the controversy surrounding Gary Lineker being temporarily removed from Match of the Day for comparing the government’s asylum policy to Germany in the 1930s.

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Compared to the UK, Canada is believed to be one of the most welcoming countries in the world for LGBTQ+ people.

The community-driven LGBTQ+ rights index Equaldex lists Canada as the sixth most equal country for LGBTQ+ rights, landing just above Spain, which has self-ID laws, and just below The Netherlands.

According to statistics from Gallup, 89 per cent of Canadians believe that their local area is a “good place” for LGBTQ+ people. Meanwhile, 78 per cent of people support transgender discrimination protections, while 58 per cent support access to gender-affirming care for young people.

“Canada has a better healthcare system for trans people, and there, my niece can change her gender officially with a minor bit of paperwork,” she said. “Nowhere right now is perfect, but it’s better.

“So today, my niece and nephew left their home, their friends, their school, and most of their family, to seek a better life away from the UK.

“This is the cost of the rising tide of transphobia. Lineker was right. Having a chunk of your family uproot for their safety and well-being while being victimised by your government probably does feel reminiscent of 1930’s Germany.”

The woman urged readers who continued to feel ambivalent towards trans rights in the UK to “scratch a little deeper” at so-called gender critical talking points, which typically mask transphobia as protecting women and girls.

“That protection doesn’t extend to my niece. The question about her personhood left her without counselling, support or healthcare.

“And one day, when she is not a trans child but a trans woman, I don’t want her living somewhere that her identity is constantly sharing space with ‘just asking questions about rapists’, ‘dangerous men in dresses’, or discourse around whether she is allowed to pee outside her home.”

The woman added that she believed some of those pressing for “the marginalisation of a minority” share beliefs “with fascism.”

“One of the most infamous images of Nazi book burning is from the looting of Magnus Hirschfeld’s Institute of Sexology, which was leading research into trans and gay identities/sexualities at the time.

“Fascist powers don’t start with laws that say things like ‘kill all the Jews’. They are worded as positives. The first anti-Jewish law was the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service, barring Jewish and ‘politically unreliable’ people.

“So, when you see things framed as ‘protecting women and girls’ and ‘defending women’s sex-based rights’, ask yourself protect from who and at whose expense.”

She finished by saying she was left with a thought experiment given to her at school, which asked what would you have done if you had lived in that place at that time?

“Now is the place and the time,” she said. “Please, do something.”

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