I’m a political commentator and activist who has been around a while. Let’s just say I’ve built up a fair amount of cynicism towards politics and politicians. But even a politico as cynical as me has to admit that, of late, it seems British politicians are genuinely wanting to take transgender people far more seriously. In our quest for social justice for transgender people we are finally being heard.
Last week I was attending the vigil for Lucy Meadows outside the offices of the Daily Mail. I was utterly astonished to receive a tap on my shoulder from Member of Parliament (MP) Kerry McCarthy who had managed to take time out and bring along Graham Jones who was Lucy Meadows local MP.
Lucy Meadows was a transgender woman and teacher. She was hounded by the likes of the Daily Mail after the primary school she worked at sent out a letter to parents informing them Lucy would be returning to school as a woman.
It’s still unclear whether Lucy took her own life. What is clear is that the Daily Mail needlessly assisted in making her life unpleasant. So it was great to see that there were at least two Members of Parliament who were prepared to come out on a freezing cold night and take a stand with the transgender community against this.
I’ve already written for GSN about Kerry McCarthy advocating for transgender people in parliament, but Kerry isn’t the only MP who’s taken an interest in the issues facing transgender people.
As a member of the Green Party, I’m duty bound to point out that my party’s leader, Caroline Lucas MP, has campaigned for social justice for transgender people and was involved with supporting a motion in parliament concerning the misrepresentation of transgender people in media.
One would expect that of a political party like the Green Party which has traditionally been progressive on LGBT equality. The Labour Party, to their credit, have a proven record in government in making serious strides for LGBT equality. But Greens aren’t likely to form the next government and Labour are currently in opposition.
I hate to add a note of cynicism about Labour, but I can’t help thinking some of their MPs are only interested in trans issues now because they are in opposition and it will be a different story when they’re back in government. When in opposition Labour is good on civil liberties, but in government, the MPs seem to change their tune.
Is not as if I’m not grateful to Labour Members of Parliament such as Kerry McCarthy and Graham Jones, I’m just wisely guarded as to the motives of politicians in taking an interest in anything or anybody. But Kerry and Graham have impressed me by advocating for transgender people in parliament – I hope it long continues and I will be doing all I can to ensure it does.
It’s also very welcome that the new level of interest in transgender issues is not just restricted to the political left-wing. I now hear that Conservative MP Crispin Blunt might be prepared to get involved in advocating for transgender people too.
Trans Media Watch has helped secure three hours in the UK parliament for MPs to debate how the media represents trans people and that’s great to hear.
It does seem something is happening with politicians are more willing to listen. But whether it will lead to greater respect, equality and social justice I can’t say as the winds shift very swiftly in politics.