NOT SAFE TO BE ME
An Open Letter to Boris Johnson, Liz Truss, Dominic Raab and the UK government
By Trans Activism UK
The following outlines our mission statement for the upcoming protest to be held at Parliament Square on the 29th of June 2022, starting at 12PM.
On 16 May 2021, the government made an announcement headed by the Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss, alongside Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, that the UK were due to host a global event between 29th June - 1st July 2022, inviting countries around the world to discuss the UK’s work on LGBTQ+ rights, and what the UK could teach other nations going forward.
This event was later cancelled due to backlash from the LGBTQ+ community and an overwhelming majority of UK LGBTQ+ organisations. This was due to ongoing attacks on the LGBTQ+ community which included an unwillingness to implement a comprehensive conversion therapy ban that included protections for the trans community, strife with exploitable loopholes, and a negative and violent anti-trans and overall anti-LGBTQ+ environment that is being fostered by senior government officials. The UK government has failed to deliver on key promises which include implementing the aforementioned ban, their promised substantial reform for the Gender Recognition Act, and the failure to make moves towards the depathologizing of LGBTQ+ and trans medical care.
This however is not the only failing committed by the UK government. Minorities from across the UK have been impacted by an unsafe environment cultivated by our elected officials, from Muslims being attacked by our own Prime Minister with immature bigotry such as calling Muslim women “letterboxes”, to Black people being disproportionately targeted by the police under a government that claims not to be systematically racist, to migrants who have escaped harrowing situations being deported to Rwanda where their lives are at risk and the stark rise in anti-Semitism in the UK with the highest numbers of hate incidents reported in the last year.
Below we further outline how and in what ways it is not safe to be yourself in the UK for many minorities and how current and past affairs have impacted people and their lives, and in response to the UK’s proposed Safe To Be Me conference, we are protesting and letting the UK and the government know,
IT IS NOT SAFE TO BE ME.
LGBTQ+ rights in the UK have been negatively impacted by the rise of hate being perpetuated by the mainstream media, UK government officials and anti-LGBTQ+ organisations, and other marginalised communities have faced a similar impact, many of whom intersect multiple identities and minority groups. While this protest was organised by a group of trans activists, we recognise that the trans community is far from the only community for whom the UK is currently unsafe, and we want to make it clear that intersectionality, and standing alongside other minority groups facing hate, harassment, and legal fights, is vital if we are ever going to improve the state of inequality in the UK.
Hate is not experienced in a bubble. Black and Brown queer people face hate and barriers not experienced by many in the LGBTQ+ community. Autistic trans people face unique barriers to healthcare access. Disabled sex workers face unique barriers in accessing support they should be entitled to. So many minority groups, and intersectional groups, here in the UK are facing their own unique struggles, and deserve to be heard and to feel safe in the UK.
The UK needs to reckon with the fact that many of its institutions enact discriminatory practices that harm many of our most vulnerable community members, particularly those from intersectional backgrounds.
Police often use unnecessary violence, over-policing, and undue suspicion against BIPOC members of the community, particularly Black men, as ways to criminalise peaceful existence through bigoted generalisations. They also often treat neurodivergent people as inherently suspicious due to basing their system of assessing guilt being based on neurotypical behaviours and will treat harmless self-regulatory behaviours as inherently dangerous. Many minority groups in the UK are assumed guilty rather than innocent as a starting position, and as such, they perpetuate the very same bigoted beliefs they initially acted on.
However, the police are far from the only UK institution that has issues of discriminatory practices baked into their day-to-day operation. Black women in the UK regularly have their pain ignored by doctors, who will de-prioritise taking Black women’s reported symptoms as seriously, compared to White patients with the same issue on paper.
The Gender Clinic service in the UK discriminates against neurodiverse trans people, assuming for example that autistic people are less capable of understanding and consenting to transition, or that people with ADHD might just be experiencing a period of low impulse control, and using that as a barrier to delay access to a care system that already features huge multiple-year waiting lists for care.
From assumptions that disabled people are faking their disabilities, to structures set up to deny various communities in the UK upward mobility, the UK needs to confront the fact that multiple minority groups face structural discrimination from services we are meant to be able to rely on in an emergency.
This discriminatory behaviour is further evidenced by the handling of reporting on minority lives by the UK press. The press is routinely complicit in perpetuating harmful misinformation, often to the detriment of minority groups and those most vulnerable in society, with minimal oversight, regulation, or accountability.
From the UK media’s regular spotlighting of anti-mask and anti-vaccine rhetoric during a global pandemic, leading to a less safe society for the immunocompromised, to the BBC stating that they would platform flat earth views if they became a popular belief as a justification for their platforming of anti-trans hate groups, this has been an ongoing issue in the UK for decades with no signs of stopping, despite evidence of the harm that it causes.
Whether we’re looking at the fearmongering regurgitated in the 90s by newspapers implying that vaccines were potentially linked to the development of autism, to the 2000’s media fear-mongering of migrant communities, the UK press routinely highlights perspectives they know are incorrect for personal gain and uses minority groups as a rotating cast of villains on whom to blame society’s ills, and this cycle cannot continue. We hardly need to mention the similarities in today’s transphobic reporting that shockingly mirrors the demonisation of the gay community in the 80s, with AIDS fear-mongering and the painting of queer men as predatory child abusers.
Gypsy, Roma & Traveller (GRT) communities are protected under the category of ‘race’ in the Equality Act 2010. However, they have been routinely treated as second-class citizens by a government that has done little to stem the UK’s history of discrimination towards GRT citizens. The Conservative’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill directly enables lawful harassment and discrimination of a protected group, endangering their homes and their safety.
Though it is technically legal to be a sex worker in the UK, legal protections and general protections for this vulnerable group are basically non-existent, with the UK not allowing sex workers to work together to build a safe environment, forcing sex workers into isolation. They also face police brutality and discrimination with police regularly raiding homes and harming a vulnerable group with arrests for self-regulating their safety.
Sex worker discrimination goes deeper than government and police discrimination with discrimination coming from crucial societal establishments such as banks and financial systems, schools, digital discrimination and deplatforming, and of course media and societal stigmatisations.
The UK routinely misuses statistics and unfounded surveys and data from hate groups to deny issues affecting minorities. This can be seen when government officials such as the former Health Secretary misused Covid data during a global pandemic, to fear-mongering using fictitious or biased data to stir up anti-migrant sentiment. Another example is the BBC using a statistically flawed survey from a known anti-trans group which was neither quantitative nor qualitative.
The government has lied about the NHS using incorrect statistics, a service which the majority of people in the UK rely on. The truth is that the current state of healthcare impacts vulnerable minorities, causing suffering amongst our communities and even deaths either from lack of healthcare, suicides from long wait times or government negligence.
The UK has progressively over the past few decades increased the complexity of barriers standing between disabled people and their access to healthcare and financial support needed to survive. From the gutting of funding for NHS services, to the Department for Work and Pensions pushing out ever more strict and discriminatory requirements preventing access to support services. Disabled people in the UK are increasingly spending their lives on lengthy waiting lists, precariously close at any time to having their only source of income pulled with little recourse.
Disabled people in this country cannot marry without risking losing that income because of their partner’s income, and have their lives turned into constant paperwork battles just to receive basic support, and this needs to change.
We’ve known since the start of the pandemic that Covid inequality has impacted BIPOC people and communities disproportionately in the UK. This should not be a surprise, as historically the UK has a long-standing history of worse healthcare outcomes for BIPOC communities.
BIPOC communities are disproportionately working jobs in the UK which could not be done remotely, received higher rates of scepticism and worse care in hospitals, and were not given adequate consideration in the government’s approach to “opening up” the country “Post-Covid”.
From discrimination persisting within the NHS to a lack of proper financial support for those who needed to miss work after a positive Covid test result, proper steps were not taken to ensure that BIPOC communities were protected from receiving unequal health outcomes during a national health emergency.
Bisexual, pansexual and mspec individuals are also subjected to difficulties accessing healthcare, with many people reporting that healthcare professionals do not understand their specific health needs, and that they face inappropriate curiosity during medical appointments. The lack of education and visibility of issues that mspec people face means that the discrimination that they experience is often overlooked both inside and outside of queer communities.
A big topic of conversation in the UK right now is the ban on conversion therapy. The ban fails to be truly effective and inclusive due to only covering a limited selection of queer folks, and containing easy to manipulate loopholes. However, a matter that is not widely discussed is the lack of protection for Asexual people who are at great risk of domestic as well as religious conversion practices, and even “corrective rape”.
The UK has downplayed the harm inflicted on Intersex people, with the House of Commons claiming, in 2016 that “intersex medical interventions” were a thing of the past and denying to the UN that same year that we even had such practices for Intersex children. This is an outright fabrication, as proven by Intersex organisations and even the NHS, who in the same year provided statistics that resulted in the UN committee expressing concern at, “medically unnecessary surgeries and other procedures on intersex children before they are able to provide their informed consent, which often entails irreversible consequences and can cause severe physical and psychological suffering, and the lack of redress and compensation in such cases.”
The next year the UN called on the UK to abolish all legislation and practices that would allow any form of forced intervention or surgery. Five years later and the UK still has not done this.
In 2015 Intersex status was specifically included in the protected characteristic of sex in Jersey to protect Intersex people from discrimination. The UK has not followed suit.
Several countries in Europe allow Intersex people to change their sex marker on identification documents on a basis of self-identification. The UK does not.
To summarise it is NOT SAFE TO BE ME. It is NOT SAFE for many communities and people in the UK to not only exist but also to thrive, for more reasons than we can possibly list. The UK, its institutions, its mainstream media and its government have been continually failing the people it has sworn to serve. Recently the government announced amendments to the Human Rights Act, a vital piece of legislation protecting our rights. This serious attempt at removing the protections the Human Rights Act provides will set a dangerous precedent and will be used to discriminate against the UK populace. Further evidence that it is not safe in the UK is the several reports and equality indexes published in recent years that show that the UK is drastically regressing in its protections and provisions for the safety of its citizens, with this hostile environment primarily impacting minority groups.
Reports show the highest ever recorded anti-Jewish hate in 2021 for London with a rise of 37% from the previous year. UK bodies who monitor racism in the UK reported that race and nationality-based hate crimes rose by 73% in 2021, with a 12% rise in racially aggravated offences recorded. Further damning evidence for the UK, while the government declares that it is safe in the UK for people to be themselves, is the ILGA Europe’s Rainbow Map & Index 2022 publication that reports the UK was the country with the most dramatic drop in the index, losing 11% of its points and falling from 10th to 14th place in a year, which marks our third year running of a decrease in points.
In highlighting all this we hope that this statement and protest urges UK bodies, the media, government officials, and individuals in the UK populace to re-evaluate their positions and do more to protect those most vulnerable in our society, to ensure we are moving towards an equal society rather than falling behind, to combat the rise of hate and violence in the UK and to make sure it is genuinely SAFE TO BE ME, in the UK.
I sign this letter to offer my full support and solidarity in calling for the government to acknowledge their failings and put in place better practices to ensure the safety of marginalised communities in the UK.
Sign Here: https://forms.gle/LDggGLH4tfQgijY19
Felix F Fern (Trans Activism UK)
Shaira Bambi Choudhury (Trans Activism UK)
Laura Kate Dale (Trans Activism UK)
Amelia Adam Decruz (Trans Activism UK)
Libby Baxter-Williams, Biscuit
Mark Summers casting director
Eva Echo (Head of Communication & Engagement at Birmingham Pride, Crown Prosecution Service hate crime LSIP member)
Jamie Wareham, Founder and director, QueerAF
Barry Boffy, Inclusion & Diversity Thought Leader
Dr Natacha Kennedy
Dr Phoenix Andrews
Ejel Khan (Coordinator) Muslim LGBT Network
Lo Shearing, Bi Survivors Network
Deenah al-Aqsa (Journalist/Programmes Officer for Hidayah LGBT)
Prof. Stephen Whittle, OBE, FAcSS
Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants
Florence Schechter, Director and Founder of Vagina Museum
Nicola Rose - Stephs Place UK
jane fae, Chair - Trans Media Watch
Mo N (IT Officer, Hidayah LGBT+)
Osman Mohammed (Outreach Officer, Hidayah LGBT)
Joseph Adams B.Sc. (Hons) - Civil Servant and PCS Union Rep
Peter Shillito (Radio Presenter/Cat 107.9)
Jamie John King
Margaret J Evans
Anya Jayne Deedee Tremayne
Sofia Marinos - UWE Bristol Student
Elliot Brunsdon (transyouth4transyouth)
Judèé Époh-Éèduj Hopè
Zoey Boon -Proud parent and ally
Lana Kirsten Smith
Toni Jacobs (Derby Pride)
Alexia Pepper de Caires- owner Back To Books
Beth Gould (Trans & Non-Binary Physicists)
Dr Charlotte Thorley
Niklaus Tambaoan (he/they ; bisexual transgender non-binary) , an upcoming college student
Helen June Crumpholt
Mika Rice Jones
L Thynne - Teacher
David Devereux (Tin Can Audio)
Nigel The Ancient
Rory da silva
Tom Alyx Morton
Esther "Ed" Murphy
Matthew Jennifer Tinn
Kat Orr (NHS, queer, angry)
Raina Henlan, Freelance Writer
Sophie Le Blanc
Claire Prosho, Founder, Claire's Trans Talks
Taten B Janes
Phoenix Luxx Lloyd
Ethan Cooper-Alico Long
Phoenix David Leolin
Zak Jane Keir
Rachel-lee Mackenzie She/They (LGBT+ Liberal Democrats)
Róisín Pitman - Security Services
Hannah (Aitch) King
Kimberley Ashley Kerr
Manchester Pride Protest
Jessica Rose Samson
Shea Coffey Medway Pride Radio
Craig Anderson (HotScots Football Club)
Samantha P (ally to the trans community)
Alexis Chilvers (Epsom & Ewell CLP LGBT+ Officer)
Roz Kaveney. Writer
Erwin van der Stap
E Ageeva, Software engineer
Emma Siobhan James
R. Wells (boot maker)
Matthew Robert Livingstone
Daniel Jones (Social Worker and Trainee Psychotherapist)
Ashleigh Blair McConville
Dr. Samuel H B Roberts
S. Joyce, Retired SO17/PADP/PSD/PCS HoC Rep
Mr James B Warner
Thomas Loughnane (Student - UCA)
Bernice Elaine Roust
Nikolai Alexandr Irwin
L B J Breslin (Trans ally)
Emma du Maurier
Dawn Chen-Yang Li Assoc CIPD
Melissa Langridge (NHS Worker)
A G Breese-Tovey
Fae Cain Fáelan
Sharon Shaw (she/her, neurodivergent queer parent)
Debbie Catherine Jones
Dr Jack Lopez Medical and Social Anthropologist, University of Bradford UK
Anne Isabella Coombes
Steve Keith (Founder, The Queer Student Awards)
Sophie Morgan Knapman
David Douglas James Chan
Julian Corlett UNISON
Jamie Angus-Whiteoak Professor Emeritus at The University of Salford
Faith Elisabeth Lilley
Daisy T - GenderPride.co
Katie Neeves (Founder of Cool2BTrans)
Avril Clark (Co-Founder TRUK)
Lucy Clark (Founder TRUK)
Rachel Sally Browne
Allie Howard Cooper (They/Them)
Willow Herring (Polarity works)
Mr Roy C Isserlis
Octavian St. John Starr
Owen J Hurcum
Claire Baker Donnelly
Evie Lynne Patmore
David Samantha Devlin
N Marie Stevenson
Haitch Vallance Montero Mars Plane
Laura Leigh LFB Retired
Phoenix F. O'Neill
Lucy Barnes (She/Her/Hers)
Elio Fantini- former BCYC LGBTQ rep
H. E. Pickering
Andrea K Simpson
Sue in Brighton
Chloe Michelle Turner
Maggie Jones retd Specialist Nurse
Jasmine Thompson (Transgender)
Douglas Clements EngTech
Alessa Catterall (SNAP Leadership Panel)
Evie Rose Ansell
Hywel ap Dafydd
Ginella Williams (Counsellor & Director TRUK Listens CIC)
Rebecca Alice Hills MChem
Christian van den Bosch
Lydz searle (Access 27 Ltd.)
Hannah Carter [she/her] (Access 27 Ltd.)
Ms R. Cronin
Dr LJ Potter (therapists against conversion therapy and transphobia)
W Maxwell L Jeffery
MR ANTHONY MARSHALL
Leeds Sisters Uncut
Michael R. Hurlimann
William Smith, Therapist/Counsellor
Kris Black LLB (Hons)
Laurie M. Atkinson Psychotherapist
Ezra John Woodger
Dylan Lewis-Creser, Secretary of LGBTIQA+ Greens
Joseph W Mandry
George Cheal (The Bonsai Treehouse)
Chris Thody, Gardener, Bradford
Caterina Lai Cullinane
Mx B Eiles
Rebecca Milton, University of Kent
Jack Smith (xe/xem)
Alice Shelley Forbes (of northumbia, tyne and wear.)
Harvey Jones, BA(Hons)
Lucy Stardust Booth
Ase Faun Davey
amandine de schaetzen
Leigh Crawford - Ally
Branwen Blackshaw BA (Hons)
Chris Northwood, Manchester Liberal Democrats
Jem E MacKenzie
Luke Le Moignan
Peter Scott, Web Developer
Christine Jayne Finch, Therapies for Life Counselling
Rebecca Jones (Liberal Democrat)
Sophie L (@RexogamerS)
Lauri Howes (NHS worker)
Emma Hacking, counsellor
Blue Avery Wheeler
Leslie Francis Walker
Andie Davidson (Chair of Trustees, Clare Project, Brighton)
Alex Quayle CEng MImechE
August Boukhetam Winward
Marc kershaw (Deputy Chair Hidayah LGBT UK)
Kyle Mitchell BSc
Charles Hargreave Mawson
Elijah P Jefferson
Leanne Collier-Wilson (Mental Health Practitioner)
Rowan Gavin (Co-editor, The Norwich Radical)
MR RM BLABER
Ash Bainbridge (they/them)
Chloe James, school librarian
Pip Harrison Josey
Dr Giles R. Greenway
Dr C McGlynn
John G. (London Bisexuals Meetup organiser)
Isobel Gray (Care worker)
Sandra Baker Donnelly
Jon Cornejo (he/they)
Jack Mason-Goodall - psychologist and trainee psychotherapist (UWE)
Oliver W Cadman, Rotherham, UK
Alexandros Bardis, Trainee Clinical Psychologist, University of East London
Finn James Carney
Iain McKinnon-Waddell (Registered Nurse)
William Frederick McDouall
Helen Leigh - Partner of a trans woman
IR Bell Webb
Lexi Rachael Crowley
Evan G Locke
Shaun Martinez (Human Rights Expert)
Erene Hadjiioannou (Integrative Psychotherapist)
Oliver Kosc RGN NHS
Ash (Someone too scared to do anytging for fear of marginilisation)
Emilio Camacho Erice
Gareth Andrew McKnight RN
Leo Jesse Rimmer
Phil Ruddock, Playhouse Theater, Derry.
Mark (Moo) Rodgers
Kerry Jayne Jowsey
Amie M Marie
Enda P Guinan
Becky Gillam, NHS RMN
Harrison. R. Potter
Adrian Brian Thompson
Chris Webb (IT Engineer)
Felix Theodore Pyne
Izzy M-R (forensics specialist)
Bartlomiej Apanasionok, Consultant Data Engineering
Wyatt C Elliano
Kevin O'Neill, Bears Against Bigotry
Dr Alexandros N. Constansis
Blake Rose Janet Green
Alfie Mowatt, (Social Care Worker)
Elliot WR (TransYouth4TransYouth)
Dr Irene Zempi (she/her) Criminologist NTU
Connie Firtree (Retired Intercity Train Driver)
Alexander Rose Blake (They/Them)
Lexi (Peter) Bendall-Dixon (She/her) Cert Ed
Kenzi Sapphire Mabel Stardust Palmer
Rebecca Shaw (Genderversity Leicester)
Lisa .c. Stephenson
Reay Stoddart Isaac
Gail Love Schock
Heather Paterson, CEO, SAYiT
Susi Woods (Stealthed to Survive abuse)
Rebecca R (she/they @bodyposirope)
Dr M Mellor
Claire Patricia Hickey
N M Marshallsay
Andrew Day (librarian)
Andrew Day (librarian)
Stevie Ford (Transgender Woman)
Cai Foster (they/he)