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Transgender Discrimination to be Scrutinized by MP’s Assessing Minority Rights

MP’s recently announced measures to investigate what is seen by many to be the institutionalised discrimination of those people within the transgender community. Areas such as criminal justice, health and education will be the subject of particular focus.

A full enquiry into transgender equality has been launched in an effort to redefine some of the language used to define the transgender community, as well as to understand the difficulties that transgender people face and possible legal changes that can protect them from victimisation.

As of yet, full equality for transgender folk has still not been fully recognised, something that the Parliamentary Women and Equalities Committee has indicated in a statement. Speaking in the Guardian, the chair of the committee and former equalities minister, Maria Miller, pointed out that “Many trans people still face discrimination and unfair treatment in their work, schools, healthcare and other important services.” She also went on to highlight that discrimination and hate crimes directed toward transgender people shows the extent of the problem that is being faced.

Legislation only recently recognised the rights of transgendered people, starting with the Gender Recognition Act in 2004, which legally recognised the right of the individual to identify with a different gender than that assigned to them. In 2010, laws were passed which prevented discrimination against transgender people.

Recently, the high profile case of Caitlin Jenner has brought the issue into the forefront of political and cultural life. Whilst many admire the decision to bravely live as a woman, there are unfortunately still segments of the demographic who express disgust, contempt and bigotry. According to researchers Neil Chakraborti and John Garland “transphobia can be described as as emotional disgust, fear, anger or discomfort felt or expressed towards people who do not conform to society's gender expectations.”

According to Genny Beemyn, who wrote The Lives of Transgender People (2011) “As adults, transgender people are frequently subjected to ridicule, stares, taunting and threats of violence, even when just walking down the street or walking into a store.  A U.S. survey of 402 older, employed, high-income transgender people found that 60% reported violence or harassment because of their gender identity. 56% had been harassed or verbally abused, 30% had been assaulted, 17% had had objects thrown at them, 14% had been robbed and 8% had experienced what they characterized as an unjustified arrest.”

After successful campaigns, racism, homophobia, sexism and other forms of bigotry have been legislated against in the United Kingdom. We have already taken the first steps to remove the fear in which transgendered people face in their daily lives. We now need to protect this minority’s rights even further. It stands to reason that institutionalised discrimination against those who wish to live their lives under their own self-definition is reprehensible and intolerable in our progressive society, and that our laws ought to reflect this truth.


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