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Caution! Uneven Ground: How Polarisation is Affecting Transgender Lives in the UK

Person holding sign painted as the trans flag with the text 'trans rights are human rights'

Content Warning: This article contains mentions of transphobia and political themes which might be distressing to some readers.

The number of LGBTQ+ people is growing, with 2 out of 5 Gen Z identifying using LGBTQ+ labels, but polarisation in the media and politics has led to a decrease in support for transgender people in the UK.

The numbers in a trans-unfriendly nutshell

Britain finds itself in the bottom half regarding supporting protections and healthcare for transgender people according to an Ipsos survey that polled 30 countries worldwide. Less than half of British respondents supported teenagers’ access to gender-affirming care and most did not support transgender people’s access to single-sex facilities that match their gender identity. Similar was the response to a third gender option on official documents for those who do not identify as a binary gender. These results made the UK one of the lowest scoring countries of the survey, highlighting what Ipsos considers to be caused by transgender rights having become a polarising political issue in this country.

These are not the only concerning statistics that have recently been reported. ILGA Europe found that reports of transphobic hate crimes in England and Wales increased by 56% in 2022, rising to 87% in Scotland. LGBTQ+ charity Just Like Us reported that 72% of transgender and 70% of nonbinary young adults said to have been a victim of verbal assault.

Tug of war with trans lives

Polarisation is becoming a bigger issue, both publicly and politically. Scotland passed its Gender Recognition Reform Bill, commended by the United Nations, but Westminster vetoed the act in a historic use of section 35. This controversial action has put transgender people in a difficult position. In a statement released regarding this decision, Stonewall UK said:

Transitioning to a better future

Although the UK has made a lot of progress over the years, and has been among the highest ranking countries on Rainbow Europe’s yearly index, these past few years have seen a steady decline. This is largely due to the UK falling behind on support for transgender people. While this remains a highly debated topic, it is important to remember that these discussions directly affect transgender people’s lives.

This Pride Month, people continue to fight to improve transgender lives in the UK despite the risks that people may face. Organisations, charities, and communities are still dedicating themselves to making the UK a better and safe place for transgender people. There is a long way to go, but the future still looks bright.


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