Today is the global Trans Day of Remembrance, marked since 1999 to commemorate the disproportionate number of trans people who are victims of violence, stigma and prejudice. Around the world trans activists and allies will be holding vigils, or other commemorative events, and keeping in-mind those we have lost.
This project is trans-inclusive – we work hard to ensure the “T+” at the end of the acronym in the project title is realised, as we have previously discussed. We are mindful that the researchers on the project all identify as cisgender, and work hard to be reflexive in our research practices, and have trans involvement via our advisory board membership.
Through the qualitative research package in this project we have spoken to over 30 trans people including transwomen, transmen, women, men, non-binary and genderqueer people. We have not fully analysed the data yet, but we can already identify emerging themes.
Many of the experiences discussed by our participants are those that have been highlighted by trans activists for decades: experiences in Job Centres of people laughing or giving them ‘funny looks’; having to explain to Job Centre staff what non-binary identities are; experiences of discrimination in the workplace which limited their incomes.
We also have to acknowledge the more positive stories – of DWP staff and others going out of their way to be trans-inclusive, and sometimes just not making an issue of gender at all and treating people as people.
We are also hearing about how the incredibly low incomes of people in receipt of welfare benefits, after a decade of cuts to them, make life incredibly difficult for trans people. The long waiting lists for gender-affirming medical care on the NHS mean that many people have to access private treatment, such as hormones, which are incredibly expensive.
Things like good-quality binders, or large feminine footwear, are out of reach for people as they struggle for basics such as food and energy. As we discussed in our blog post on housing, with increasing numbers of young people affirming their identities and coming out as trans, the cuts to local housing allowance for under-35s puts people in very difficult situations. Some of our participants have been lucky, and have been able to share housing with trans friends. Others do not have such networks, and find themselves living with their parents, fearful of living in a shared house with strangers who may be transphobic.
As Shon Faye eloquently argues in The Transgender Issue it is the intersection of cisnormative stigma and prejudice, and economic inequality, that compounds the inequities experienced by trans people. This leads them to rely on precarious work. As Faye and other trans activists have shown, this includes sex work that can put trans people at further risk of violence. Subsequently, the arguments to improve welfare benefits and rights to entitlement in Great Britain will benefit everyone, but importantly will also improve the lives of trans people.