Transgender Day of Remembrance

Today (20th November) is a chance to commemorate those who have been victims of transphobia, as well as those that lost their life to suicide.

I’m sure we are all aware of political and media debate around transgender issues, which has become increasingly polarised. In fact, one survey found that whilst the country is becoming more liberal overall, in the case of transgender people, the recent public debate about the law on gender recognition appears to have resulted in attitudes becoming less liberal than they were just a few years ago (NatCen, British Social Attitudes Survey, 2023). This is having a negative impact on the trans community.

Hate crime is a name for abuse, violence or intimidation targeting someone just because of who they are. Statistics show that transgender people are more likely to experience threats of physical or sexual harassment or violence, compared to the rest of the LGBT community (Government Equalities Office, 2018). In 2022- 2023, there were a staggering 4,732 hate crimes reported against transgender people – a rise of 11% on the previous year (Home Office, 2023). This is put down to transgender issues being discussed  by politicians, the media and on social media, as well as better identification and recording of these crimes. This discourse is becoming increasingly toxic, and overtly debates trans people’s right to live their lives freely.

Here at Healthwatch Essex, we are a Hate Incident Reporting Centre (HIRC). This means individuals can report hate incidents and hate crimes, either as a victim or a witness to us by speaking to a member of our team. You can also report LGBTQ+ hate incidents and hate crimes using the   app. By using the app, you can help Galop and Stonewall to monitor rates of hate crime, and access support from Galop afterwards. Currently, only 1 out of 8 hate crimes are reported (Hubbard, 2021).

On this day, we also remember those who have taken their own lives. The extortionate waiting times for Gender Identity Clinics have resulted in the suicides of many transgender people, including Alice Litman and Alexandra Greenway. Alice’s parents described how helpless she felt when she could not access the gender affirming care she so desperately needed, and that earlier support could have prevented her death  (Weisz and Mureddu-Reid, 2023).

Our latest research project aims to understand the lived experience of those who are seeking, or have sought, access to GIC (gender identity clinic) services. The lengthy wait faced by many can cause significant stress and impact on people’s lives, as it prevents them from accessing the timely support they need. Understanding and addressing these concerns is critical to providing high quality care and reducing health inequalities. Through our study we want to understand what support mechanisms people find helpful during this waiting period so that these can be shared with others.

Sarah Krauze (Research Associate)