Hate crimes against trans people have gone up by 81% in the UK.
This Transgender Awareness Week, we must reflect on how much further we must go.
The profile of trans issues is higher than it ever has been, yet we are no closer to trans people being treated as equals.
Our system is ill-equipped to meet the needs of those who are transitioning. It is a long, arduous and expensive process.
We must do more to help those who wish to transition.
But this is by no means the worst situation facing the trans community.
Horrifyingly, a recent report stated that hate crimes against trans people have gone up by 81% in the UK.
This is an appalling statistic.
Unfortunately, it is hardly anomalous. The most recent Trans Report by Stonewall makes for disturbing reading. From those trans people interviewed:
These statistics illustrate how far the trans community is discriminated against. There is so much more that we all must do.
Yet the government continues to drag its heels on this issue.
The Liberal Democrats continue to be allies of and advocates of the trans community.
Last year's consultation on the Gender Recognition Act descended into dangerous farce. The media circulated wildly inaccurate and misinformed newspaper articles. These fanned the flames of vitriol against the trans community - any goodwill around the consultation was all but undone.
Since then, the government has been largely silent on the issue.
In recent weeks the Prime Minister has used increasingly inflammatory rhetoric. This has doubtless made a bad situation worse.
The trans community is one of the most marginalised in our society, and most at risk. The fact that our government would stoke the fire of unrest, knowing the damage it might do to those in danger, is shameful.
But the Liberal Democrats continue to be allies of and advocates of the trans community.
We will continue to push as hard as possible for reforms to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA). At conference this year, the Liberal Democrats voted to remove the Spousal Veto from the GRA. Baroness Liz Barker has since raised this as a Private Members Bill in the House of Lords.
We will continue to push for it to be swiftly passed through Parliament.
Removing the Spousal Veto is only a small part of GRA reform, but it will be the first step towards more widespread change.
The Liberal Democrats will continue to live up to the values as we set out in our Constitution:
"The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience and their right to develop their talents to the full…."
Being advocates and allies of the transgender community is at the heart of that message.
The Liberal Democrats will fight to give hope to our friends in the trans community. Together, we will build a brighter, more inclusive future.
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