‘By voting, we add our voice to the chorus that forms opinions and the basis for actions.’
With the general election in full swing, wannabe PM’s flitting from town to town telling the local populous what they want to hear, I thought about my place, my voice, my say.
There are laws in place to protect trans folk of course but we are all aware of the issues around employment, discrimination, NHS support and societies general assumptions. I decided to take a closer look into the three main parties plans or promises on changing perceptions and how they plan to get to the heart of the issues we deal with everyday.
From their LBGT Labour website, there has been a history of equal rights within the Labour party as far back as the mid-seventies. They are clear in their support on equal rights and have made new pledges in their manifesto.
1. Tackle the discrimination that holds LGBT people back
2. An education free from homophobia, biphobia and transphobia
3. Leadership on LGBT rights around the world
4. Accessible and supportive health services
5. Fairer and more diverse representation in public life
This is obviously a very positive step and their manifesto has specific aims, although no plans in how this is to be achieved. There is mention of shaking up the NHS to bring it in line with the huge issues surrounding access to services by engaging the trans community. It is good to see this added to their manifesto I just worry it could be lip service to gain the trans vote without any actual plans to implement them.
Labour do boast 35 openly-LGBT candidates standing for Labour on 7 May although no information on how many are actually trans. It is good to see a party that is aware and willing to engage us and the problems we encounter, although vague in their plans the pledges made and the pride in having LGBT candidates is positive.
The Conservatives have taken a different approach and decided to not have a separate LGBT manifesto. They are taking the approach of including everyone together and this is explained on their LGBT website.
‘The Conservative Party has put LGBT people at the heart of our manifesto; there is no separate LGBT manifesto, just a plan that works for everyone.’
They are trying to take out the separation and are possibly trying to show some form of equality. I understand this approach but the cynical among us might see this as an easy cop out and not fully understanding that our problems are real and important. Their manifesto is not specific in dealing with trans issues, but on their website there was some encouraging commitments.
- Ensuring schools and the NCS are an inclusive and safe environment for everyone including trans people
- Tackling transphobic bullying
- Support all transgender job seekers and provide additional pre-employment support
- Provide better guidance on pension entitlements and the implications of gender assessment for tax purposes
- Ensure all NHS commissioners and delivers comply with the Equality Duty and take active measures to create a care market more responsive to diverse needs and patient choice
- Develop a new national suicide prevention strategy and consider specific transgender interventions
There are a good range of topics listed above and do appear to get to the heart of our problems, but without the detail in the manifesto it is unclear how any of this can be implemented.
The Tories boast 38 candidates this time around who identify within our the LGBT community but as with Labour we have no number on actual trans representatives. They feel this is the biggest spread of all the main parties and shows their commitment to diversity.
The Lib Dems website boasts a very long heritage of promoting equal rights as far back as the mid-seventies, similar to Labour. They feel their LGBT arm is far more influential over the party then their counterparts.
Their main aspect of policy surrounds equality, focusing on same sex marriage and improving societies views on the LGBT world in general.
- Allow the Church of England to conduct same-sex marriages, should it decide to do so.
- Introduce Mixed-sex civil partnerships
- Ending the Spousal Veto and restoring stolen trans marriages
- Promoting EU-wide recognition of same-sex marriage and civil partnerships
- Ending the Blood donation ban
- Ending LGBT conversion therapy, including extending the existing NHS Memorandum of Understanding to cover trans people
- Tackling LGBTphobic bullying in schools
- Ensuring inclusive sexualities’ in advertising, media, and sport and positive images of transgender individuals in central government publications
- Introducing “X” gender markers on passports
- Removing the requirement for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria in order to obtain legal gender recognition
- Ending deportation of LGBT people to countries where they face LGBT-based persecution.
- Leadership Programme
As with the other main parties this is all very positive and they have gone further by explaining their pledge concerning the Trans Manifesto. The Lib Dems do appear to have drawn a hard line to seek ‘real’ equality for transfolk but with their waning appeal since creating the coalition it is worrying that this will become hot air without substance in the real world.
The Lib Dems have a page that shows their 38 LGBT candidates AND their orientation/gender. They have one candidate who identifies as trans, Zoe O’Connell, who’s blog is a good read. Also this is a great article about her. It does state that the information may be incomplete so there may be more of us among the list!
So looking into the three main parties shows that while they were all committed to equality, as you would expect, they do want to take a different paths or ideals on what this actually means. One thing was similar, however, no party had specific plans on how to achieve their promises. The Lib Dems at least cite specific laws that they want to amend or repeal but seem to focus more on their history of support. The Tories have lumped our problems in with everyone else without really identifying our issues, but want show that we are equal not separate. Labour want to improve societies vision of the community and health care but are lacking details on how to achieve this.
Feeling somewhat disappointed I decided to look at two of the fringe parties to see what their views on the trans, and wider LGBT community, were.
United Kingdom Independence Party
My research skills may not be as sharp as some but there was no specific manifesto or pledges from UKIP’s official literature or websites concerning LGBT issues. Please correct me if you know of any and I will edit.
Their manifesto was encouraging and similar to the Lib Dems in reaching for true equality and awareness of the issues facing us today.
- Legislate to remedy inequality in pension inheritance for same-sex marriage partners and same-sex civil partners.
- Consider reducing the 12-month blood donation deferral period for men who have sex with men, based on individual risk assessment where the donor is identified to be not at risk of passing infections into the blood supply.
- Apologise to and pardon all 50,000-100,000 men convicted of consenting adult same-sex relations under anti-gay laws that have now been repealed.
- Provide mandatory HIV, sex and relationship education – age appropriate and LGBTIQ inclusive – in all schools from primary level onwards.
- Require every school to have an anti-bullying programme that explicitly combats homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying.
- Combat homophobic, biphobic and transphobic violence by ensuring uniform legislation against all forms of hate crime.
- End the cuts to the NHS which have undermined HIV services and made it harder for trans people to access gender reassignment services.
- End the detention of LGBTIQ (and other) asylum seekers and the culture of disbelief that often denies them refugee status.
- Challenge criminalisation, discrimination and violence against LGBTIQ people in other countries and work in solidarity with campaigners there.
- Press the Commonwealth to grant accredited status to a Commonwealth LGBTIQ Association and to urge all member states to end the criminalisation of homosexuality and to protect LGBTIQ citizens against discrimination and hate crime
This is all good and well but again it lacks detail on how they will achieve the improvement in NHS service issues that is vital to the trans community. It is refreshing to see they want to go beyond the UK and tackle issues in other Commonwealth countries.
With this brief overview and research I am not sure that any of the main parties are overly concerned with winning me over and I do worry they have not been able to truly grasp the issues we deal with. It is to be expected being a minority but I feel deeply disheartened about society not catching up with us. However, there is progress from 2010 and with time politics may give us a voice one day.
Do you know who you are voting for? Are you engaged with your local party representatives? Would love to hear others thoughts on this topic.