An interesting news article popped up in my twitter feed yesterday, from the “Lesbian & Gay Foundation”. The item was “Talks with @lfeatherstone ‘positive’ as LGF table the views of the LGB&T community on the future of civil partnerships“, linking to this news story. It’s odd that the LGF might include “LGBT” in the news item when their name implies clearly that they represent Lesbian and Gay people and trans people only incidentally where we happen to be Gay or Lesbian as well. Is this just another L&G organisation trying to be inclusive in their press releases and attract more funding by saying “LGBT” and not just “Lesbian and Gay”? I thought I’d do some digging and the truth turned out to be somewhat worse.
The linked-to story states that there were “representatives from lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans organisations” present at an informal meeting with the Minister for Equalities and the Home Office on Wednesday to discuss Civil Partnerships. I hadn’t seen anything from the usual T sources, so I asked them specifically via Twitter: “Who was at yesterday’s CP meeting from the T community?” The answer can roughly be summarised as nobody: “We tabled comments from T people who got in touch, for list of people who were there see Pink News“. Uh, so there wasn’t any trans representation there after all? It’s likely the Trans people who got in touch happened to identify as Lesbian/Gay too, so it’s unlikely to be a balanced view. I checked directly with Lynne Featherstone: “No – this was only LGB“.
It looks like we’re being “represented” by the Lesbian and Gay community now, but really we’re being silenced. The Home Office could now table a Bill that ignores the problem of state-mandated divorce for married transitioners and claim “But we consulted with the trans community on this!” because a random L&G organisation claimed they were acting on our behalf. It is entirely possible that the LGF put forward quite a reasonable argument, but they should not have done so as the trans community could end up being denied the chance to make contacts within the Home Office and not be consulted on some future issue. We need a replacement for the Gender Trust and Press for Change, as those organisations seem to have died out, but that is not going to happen if we’re shut out of conversations with the decision makers.
As a community, we’ve been quite loud voicing our opinion to the Equalities Minister – Perhaps too loud. As a result I would hope that we will not be ignored when it comes to new legislation, but that’s no thanks to the Lesbian and Gay community.
Please – if you want to help, don’t try to represent us or claim in press releases that you did. You know where we are, just point people in our direction and we’ll speak for ourselves.