Ed Miliband has said he is proud of Emily Brothers, the new Labour candidate for Sutton and Cheam. She hopes to become the first visually impaired woman to be elected to parliament. Not only that but this week she has come out as Trans*. If elected she will be the first ‘out’ Trans* woman in the House.
I feel the whole Trans* community should be immensely proud of Emily Brothers, even getting selected must have been difficult enough but then to ‘come out’ as Trans* takes a special kind of courage. I would imagine that being visually impaired makes it even harder. But the thing that must considered is that, here in the UK, we as Trans* women (and men) are lucky to live in a society that is reasonably tolerant of LGBT issues. Lesbian, Gay and to a lesser extent Bi-sexual people have gained wider acceptance than Trans* which in the opinion of the writer, and many others, still lags behind LGB by many years. Many Trans* women (including myself) have been vilified and insulted by the gutter press in the past few years one of which led, in a recent case, to the suicide of lady involved.
As I have said we are lucky to live here in the UK as we live in a reasonably tolerant society, although there have been cases of Trans* people that have been beaten or murdered because of hate.
I say lucky because every year hundreds of Transgender people, throughout the world, have their lives taken from them . Killed by shooting, strangulation, beaten to death, even being drowned in a toilet bowl. Their murders often not recorded because of lack of interest by the authorities. But murdered they were. Murdered simply because they were Transgender, murdered simply because (like myself) they needed to live their lives in the gender in which they should have been born.
Every year, the 20th November is Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR). At venues all over the world Trans* people and their friends gather to remember those whose lives have been taken from them or have taken their own lives because of hatred and harassment. Their names are read aloud, poems are recited, candles are lit for a vigel and prayers are offered. I have attended many TDOR events over the past few years, I’ve read my poems, lit my candle and prayed ‘there but for the Grace of God go I’. Unfortunately next year there will be a few hundred more names added to that list .
So I wish Emily Brothers every success, the publicity she has generated will be great positive for raising Trans awareness even if she is unable to gain a seat in Parliament. I just hope the press don’t get their teeth into her.