'Scared, Tired And Alone': This Is The Real Human Impact Of The Tories' Trans Policies

"Enough is enough," charities told HuffPost UK.
Rishi Sunak and Steve Barclay have taken aim at the trans community recently
Rishi Sunak and Steve Barclay have taken aim at the trans community recently

The Conservative government has upped its anti-transgender rhetoric recently, leaving people “scared, tired and alone”, charities have told HuffPost UK.

As hate crimes rise, concerns about the safety of this very small group are growing.

So, we looked at the Tories’ recent policies about the trans community and spoke to charities about the real-life impact of the government’s policies.

Tories’ latest comments about the trans community

Last week at the Tory Party conference, prime minister Rishi Sunak claimed the general public were being “bullied” into thinking “people can be any sex they want to be”.

He claimed: “A man is a man, and a woman is a woman, that’s just common sense.”

Last year, Sunak was also caught on camera laughing about the concept of “women having penises”, and mocked Liberal Democrats’ leader Ed Davey for supporting trans rights.

It’s not just the prime minister, either.

The health secretary Steve Barclay used the Tory conference to announce that he wants to introduce a policy where trans women would be banned from female-only wards.

Five other cabinet ministers took aim at the community too, with home secretary Suella Braverman lashing out at “gender ideology, saying it was one of the “highly controversial” ideas “presented to workforces and the public as if they are motherhood and apple pie”.

Tory London Assembly member Andrew Boff was even kicked out of Braverman’s speech when he said, “there’s no such thing as gender ideology”.

The last week was just the latest development in the Conservatives’ ongoing attempts to take on the trans community – which is actually incredibly small.

A bit of important context...

The 2021 census, published in January this year, found 262,000 people in the UK say their gender identity and sex registered at birth were different.

Just 48,000 people identified as a trans man, and 48,000 identified as a trans woman.

Yet, transgender hate crimes rose by 11% in the year to March 2023, according to the latest Home Office figures.

The briefing itself also mentioned – for the first time – a potential link between MPs’ comments and the rise in issues: “Transgender issues have been heavily discussed by politicians, the media and on social media over the last year, which may have led to an increase in these offences, or more awareness in the police in the identification and recording of these crimes.”

Last year, the Home Office cited social media discussion for the uptick in hate crimes towards trans people.

‘Mental health of my community is in tatters’

HuffPost UK has spoken to charities which advocate for trans rights about what impact the pile-on from the Tories has had on members of the trans community.

Danielle St James, the chief executive of trans+ charity Not a Phase, told HuffPost UK that this is not exactly a new tactic from the Tories.

She said: “Margaret Thatcher brought in Section 28 towards the end of her time in power as a way of distracting the public from her failed tenure.

“Section 28 was introduced to solve a problem that the Tories had intentionally created, the victims of this fear tactic were gay men.

“Here we see Sunak and co adopting the same playbook but with trans women as the target. It’s not difficult to anticipate the devastating impact that the current anti-trans rhetoric will have on the community. ”

She added: “The reality is that right now people are scared, tired and alone.”

Her organisation aims to give people a place to go, and seek solace, through regular meet-ups.

She continued: “We have reached the point where the mental health of my community is in tatters, this seems to be of little interest to a government which is continuing to use us to distract people from the real issues which it has created: from the NHS reaching breaking point, to the worst cost of living crisis since the 70s.”

St James claimed that the Tories are “openly refuting our very existence” and giving the public “permission to hate us”.

She pointed out that over the past five years, hate crime has increased by 186%, adding: “That only reflects those who feel comfortable going to the authorities when they are targeted.”

St James said these “hate tactics” in the run-up to the general election are “excruciating” – but will only worsen if they win the election.

“It seems impossible right now, but we have seen so many examples of what so many of us thought was impossible coming to pass,” she said.

“And who knows what will come next if they are emboldened by a win having employed these tactics to further marginalise an already marginalised community.”

A protester holds a 'No trans debate' placard during the demonstration in Piccadilly Circus. Thousands of people marched through central London during Trans Pride 2023.
A protester holds a 'No trans debate' placard during the demonstration in Piccadilly Circus. Thousands of people marched through central London during Trans Pride 2023.
SOPA Images via Getty Images

Trans people are being ‘scapegoated for systemic issues’

Mermaids, a charity which supports gender-diverse kids, told HuffPost UK that “trans women are women and they have been accessing single-sex spaces, including female hospital wards, for years without issue”.

It added: “There is no evidence to suggest this should change now.

“In banning trans women from female hospital wards it ostracises trans women and effectively legitimises the persecution of the trans community as a whole, which sends an extremely harmful message to trans children.”

The organisation said the trans community “is being scapegoated for systemic issues” for the long-running problems within the NHS, including consistent issues with care for all women.

“Whether it’s black women being five times more likely to die in childbirth, punitive policies for queer women accessing IVF, or trans women taking their own lives while waiting years to access gender affirming care, enough is enough.”

Mermaids also pointed to “the general lack of supportive measures around trans young people accessing trans healthcare”.

Trans people in England generally wait up to seven years for an initial NHS assessment, according to the BBC.

The charity hit out at “the flurry of bans we’ve seen on elite trans athletes” too, claiming this can lead trans young people to feel ostracised from taking part in grassroots sports.”

Last year, then-PM Boris Johnson said he does not “think that biological males should be competing in female sporting events”.

The charity, which has just decided to stop using X (formerly Twitter) altogether, because its “guidelines and company ethics” do not align with Mermaids.

It has also called on the government to take firmer action to maintain wellbeing of people on the platform.


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