This question has been coming up more and more online in public spaces and 9/10 its not in good faith. Cis people who lean towards anti-trans rhetoric or are out and out transphobes seem to think trans people are equal to them, or indeed that we have more rights socially and legally.
In this blog I aim to address this and add to the community knowledge base. I will try to stay emotionally uninvolved, even though these issues affect me personally.
- Gender Affirming Care
- Anti-discrimination Law
- Gender Recognition
- Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault
- Trans Broken Leg
- Toilets and Changing Rooms
- Dress Codes
When cis people get married, they provide identification and then give notice of intent to marry. This is regardless of sexuality.
For trans people to get married in a gender other than the one assigned at birth, we require a Gender Recognition Certificate. This requires months of work, medical transition which can and does take years and then approval by a panel of cis people who have not and will never meet you.
Nonbinary people aren’t legally recognised in the UK, so they aren’t able to get married as a gender other than the one assigned to them at birth.
If the person officiating the marriage believes you are trans and you haven’t jumped through enough hoops, or if you are in a religious establishment that doesn’t support marriage equality and/or trans people, they can refuse to marry you and you will be removed from the premises.
If you are already married and then medically transition, to remain married you will also have to jump through hoops if you are transgender.
Gender Affirming Care
Cis people can access gender affirming care whenever and however they like. For example a cis man can access viagra and a cis woman can also access HRT (eg oestrogen for menopause) at the chemist. Not to mention puberty blockers for precocious puberty in cis children, breast reduction or enlargement for cis women. (The list for gender affirming care that cis people can access is immense by the way.)
Trans children in the UK can’t currently access any gender affirming care due to the closure of the the only NHS clinic that would prescribe puberty blockers. This is under review and may change. However, before it’s closure the waiting time for getting on puberty blockers was three to five years, meaning that quite a lot of teenagers would age out of the service having had the trauma of going through the wrong puberty. Some don’t make it.
Trans adults in England and Wales have to convince a cis doctor that they are trans. Then you go onto a waiting list of three to seven years to get in front of another cis doctor who you have to convince you’re trans. Then you may or may not get various forms of gender affirming care, for example HRT. Sometimes they then take that away if there’s a change in your circumstances or a transphobic practice manager starts at your surgery.
No trans person can legally access gender affirming care without going down a gate-kept, medical pathway.
Nonbinary people aren’t recognised in UK law so technically aren’t covered by any anti-discrimination protections.
(I will cover the recent discussions on the Equality Act later.)
If you happen to be sentenced to time in prison as a cis person, you will automatically go to the prison with the facilities that match your gender without question.
If you are nonbinary, you will go to the prison dictated by the assigned sex on your birth certificate because UK law does not recognise your existence.
If you are transgender and have managed to acquire a Gender Recognition Certificate, you will not automatically be sent to the prison that matches your now legal gender. Each prisoner is assessed on a case by case basis. This includes risk assessments relating to other members of the prison population. If you don’t have a GRC, even if you have medically and socially transitioned, you will sent to the prison dictated by the assigned sex on your birth certificate.
Transgender people as a % of the UK prison population: 0.28% ( 230 declared trans prisoners out of a prison population of 79,514.)
Gender Recognition Certificate
When cis people say who they are, society automatically believes them.
Trans people on the other hand have to acquire a GRC. This requires months of work, medical transition which can and does take years and then approval by a panel of cis people who have not and will never meet you.
You can then mostly access the services you need as the gender you are. (There are exceptions under the Equality Act and are likely to be more going forward.)
Nonbinary people aren’t able to acquire a GRC.
Some things are quite strangely not covered by a GRC. For example, if you are transmasculine and have a GRC stating you are a man, you are still not able to inherit your father’s estate or any hereditary titles as a cis man would.
Cis people apply for a passport by filling in an application form and providing identification.
Trans people can only apply for a passport in the gender that they are, if they have medically transitioned and if a medical professional approves of the transition and will write a letter to the passport office stating that we are who we say we are.
Nonbinary people can’t have a passport stating they are nonbinary.
Domestic violence & Sexual assault
The majority of domestic violence and sexual assault services in the UK are still gendered, with the vast majority of funding going to women who are victims/survivors, and men who are perpetrators.
Amongst these services, there is a divide in which some services will welcome and be prepared for trans women, some services have banned trans women, and some services mean well but are not prepared at all.
For nonbinary and trans masc folks, this information is even less clear. Some services have moved to be gender neutral, but a huge amount are still aimed at women.
In the event of needing to flee a situation, emergency services are focused on cis women who have been abused by men, and struggle to understand anything else. Emergency placements are, a huge majority of the time, only available to women.
Trans men are often excluded from women’s refuges due to being masculine and therefore triggering other residents – trans women’s placements are often reduced to how well they ‘pass’.
Trans people are more likely to be victims of domestic violence and sexual assault and yet, the services available to us limited and sometimes put us in another dangerous situation. (LGBT in Britain, Page 14)
(Please note that I agree that these services are also lacking for cis men but that falls under societies patriarchal structure and toxic masculinity and not something I’ll be addressing here.)
25% of trans people have experienced homelessness in their lives.
Homelessness services and hostels also contain a lot of gendering, with different pathways and services being available to women or men.
In a lot of ways, being ‘stealth’ will save you in these situations – as long as nobody ever finds out – but if you are anything but a passing binary trans person, you are in trouble. Nothing exists for you and you will often have to take your chances.
Trans Broken Leg
Mostly when cis people go to the doctor with a problem they aren’t treated as if their “decision” to be the the gender they are, is the cause of all their problems.
Trans people on the other hand are often told it’s because they are on oestrogen/testosterone or have had particular surgeries. For example I could go the doctor with a bad back and the doctor will say it’s because I’m taking testosterone and ignore anything else, esesentially telling me I have to detransition if I want to be taken seriously. We call this, “trans broken leg syndrome.” It’s similar to what fat cis people experience with everything being blamed on them being fat. Goodness forbid you’re fat and trans…..
Toilets and Changing Rooms
Under the Equality Act 2010, trans people can use the facilities that match their gender. You don’t need a GRC or to have undergone any medical transition.
The current government is looking at removing this protection for trans people, essentially meaning we will only be able to leave the house for as long as our bladders can hold out, or use the wrong toilets and risk physical assault. (You of course also risk physical assault if you don’t “pass” as the gender of toilets you are in.)
Nonbinary people have to make difficult decisions and are only truly safe with gender neutral toilets.
Cis people can mostly use whatever facilities they like without fear and without the government legislating them out of public life. The exception to this is gender nonconforming cis people who continue to be the victims of gender stereotypes. For example butch women being chased out of the female toilets because they look too masculine. (Transphobia hurts everyone it seems.)
Dress Codes & Safety Wear
Work uniforms can be needlessly gendered, which hurts everyone, but especially hurts trans people who aren’t catered to. For example my work requires me to wear safety gloves. All the people who do my job are cis men so therefore they tend to have bigger hands. All my safety gloves are too big for me, putting me at risk.
No one should have to wear things they don’t want to wear, but trans people shouldn’t have to wear clothes which dehumanise them and often this is the case if you want to continue your employment. For example all male employees get to wear a shirt and all female employees are given a blouse. Now imagine telling your boss you’re a man and he insists you wear the blouse or you’re sacked. It’s nonsense, but it’s dehumanising none the less.
If the current government decide to strip trans people from the Equality Act, the list of rights we don’t have legally will grow quite considerably and therefore our social rights will also diminish.
Having spoken to other members of my community and from a personal perspective, trans people want gender to stop becoming an issue in social situations, to stop constantly being in the news for made up culture wars sticking points, to stop being the victims of violence, have our mental health taken seriously and have the right to exist peacefully.
Trans rights are human rights!