A UK Trans(sexual) Action Group?

It’s become obvious that something is needed. That something is a successor to the older organisations that no longer seem active or have lost grass roots support over the last 2 or 3 years. There is a seed of doubt here, if it’s so obvious and so needed why hasn’t someone done it already?

But someone has to be first. Why not here, why not now?

Here’s the idea. A group of Trans folk and perhaps people who we might invite in to help, that can respond to consultations for parliament and other bodies, by going out there to the transsexual community and saying “hey, what do you think?”, putting all those responses into one place and giving them to the lawmakers. We saw it happen on a small scale with Dr. Julian Huppert’s piece on ID cards, but we can’t always expect politicians to come asking. The easier we make it for them, the more chance we have of being heard. There was nobody from the T community present at the recent Home Office chat about Civil Partnerships and I can’t help but suspect it’s because we’re just not loud enough right now. Plus, if you wanted in invite someone to represent the community right now, who would you ask? I can’t think of any good, willing candidates whom one can say have a grass roots mandate to do this work.

A group to put out press releases and publicise grass roots activism and protests, as happened with the S’onewall protests in 2008.

A group to nominate spokespeople to go to posh media events and help eat all those troublesome but sadly inevitable canapés.

A group to do all the usual publicity tricks that the establishment LGB has learnt to do over the past couple of decades. Don’t like a nomination for some 2011 award? Well, let’s have our own and nominate UK Trans Ally and Trans Villians of the year in 2011. We may not get the funding for a pink carpet and be able to hire out halls, but we can at least generate some press coverage.

In honesty, I don’t know how to get these things started, except one way – sheer momentum. Start it, get enough people interested and make enough noise in the right places and we’ll generate enough political awareness that issues will start to find us, rather than the other way round.

I already have a couple of things in the pipeline that will need some backing and discussion. So, if anyone wants to be involved or even just be kept informed, comment here and publicise this on Twitter, Facebook and in real life. Even if people don’t like this set of goals or think I’m not the right person to coordinate this, it will at least get interested people in one place with the will to do something and to do something now.

23 comments

  1. I think the issue of which type of trans this group would cover needs thinking about very early on. There’s a huge amount to be gained by working together, not just by having a large group but by the various different trans communities starting to understand each other better. Us transgender people need as much representation as transsexual people, and it seems really stupid to duplicate efforts provided we can actually work well together.

    We also need trans awareness courses running by representatives with multiple perspectives on trans and gender identity. There are some decent people running sessions on trans issues, but at best they can only talk about their own experiences and at worst they can present other groups in a bad light. To have training provided by a group of people from various parts of the trans community would make a really big difference

    1. My initial thought about “which type of trans” was “probably transsexual only”, hence the (sexual) in brackets in the title. However, the main drive behind that was the very point you hit upon yourself – “…only talk about their own experiences…”. Personally, prior to transition I only ever dabbled with TG a little back at university in an entirely unremarkable androgynous goth stuff context – my actual transition journey was somewhat rapid without a phase of crossdressing in the middle. As such, I don’t feel I can speak for non-TS TG folk much (Probably less than an “average” TS person) and I’m keen any organisation should not to try to speak for those who haven’t given it a clear mandate to do so.

      However, I’ve had quite a few people say the same thing you have. It’s clear there *is* a desire for a wider trans organisation so I think it’s something we can make work.

      Although I know it’s often hard and inappropriate to assign labels to these things, how do you feel you identify yourself in terms of transgender? Just trying to get a feel for which portions of the community would like representation and which are less interested. (Feel free to email me or DM me on Twitter if you’d prefer)

      1. I think the desire for a wider trans organisation is based on the fact that we can only support our own subset of trans and the realisation that all trans people get a pretty bad deal at the moment.

        I have yet to come across a label I feel able to use to describe myself in terms of transgender. Neutrois is kind of ok in terms of my mental space, but not quite right in that I’m making few attempts at actually passing as Neutrois. So right now I’m just an Alice, and I’m proud to be an Alice.

  2. I am a happily transitioned, post operative transsexual and i doubt that you will publish this, but here goes. I do not wish to be associated with men who like to dress up.If you like your genitalia, then you are not transsexual and should not be given a gender recognition certificate.
    There is a huge anti-transsexual backlash coming ( just wait and see how the coming Civil Liberties bill dismantles much of the already weak Gender Recognition Act. eg we will no longer be classed as women but as a “transsexual person”) and this is not helped by the understandable confusion felt by the public when asked to treat transvestites as women.
    I would not want to use the same toilets as someone who is happy to retain their male genitalia, neither, i suspect would many other women.Transsexuals, who have a genuine need to present as women, already face enough opposition from natal women in this respect.Asking them to share with transvestites is too much,judges around the country are inctreasingly supporting the denial of work place toilets to transsexuals.
    Transsexuals should be standing up and distancing themselves from transgenders.More importantly we should be distancing ourselves from the L.G.B group.Firstly, being transsexual is nothing to do with sex.Secondly, many transsexuals are called ‘queer’ or ‘faggot’ in the street- clearly showing where the abuser’s real disgust lies and also that an education programme is needed.Thirdly, some of the most outrageous transphobia out there comes from the L.G.B.group.

    1. If history teaches us anything, it’s that “divide and rule” tactics are seldom good for the divided. If we start fighting amongst ourselves, it makes us weaker, distracted, and easy for those who wish to deny us our rights to pick us off.

      Furthermore, describing non-operative women as “men who like to dress up” is really unhelpful. To those who would deny us the very right to exist,*all* trans women are “men who oike to dress up”. Perhaps we should avoid doing the bigots’ work for them, eh?

      1. Lumping us all together is what has given the bigots most fuel.You are wrong to think that all bigots think of transsexuals as “men who dress up”.On the council estate that i live on, many of the local scum are perfectly aware of the difference.In addition,i,like many of us used to do a very rough,male job.Many of the people i worked with hated queers and classed ( wrongly i know ) transvestites as the same.However, many of these people saw that transsexuals were somehow different and showed some sympathy.Some even remained friends.
        It is bigotry from parliament and pressure groups that we have to worry about.By being associated with transgenders and the L.G.B. group, we only give our enemies a larger target to hit and an easier one to knock down.

    2. One of the reasons I put Trans(sexual) in the title is I’m uncomfortable with the sex part, something you touch on too. Sadly, there isn’t yet an acceptable alternative term that doesn’t sound too contrived.

      I’ve not had anyone from the TV/CD community who seems to thing they need representation, so there’s little chance of that at the moment. What I have had is people who identify as less gender-binary who may or may not have transitioned but face similar issues and I think there’s enough common ground there to work with on policy issues.

      In terms of the “transsexual person” issue you mention, do you mean the Equalities Bill 2010? It’s already been passed, although does not come into law for a few months yet IIRC. That’s a good example of common ground – if one can be discriminated against because one is trans, the *suspicion* that you’re trans because you’re gender-variant (Butch dyke for example) could also be used, given it’s effectively impossible to prove you’re cisgendered.

      The genitalia issue is a non-starter. Whatever ones beliefs, it’s just too hard to legally figure out the difference between someone who is non-op through choice, for medical reasons, financial reasons, because they’ve been screwed over by the NHS, they’re intersex etc, etc. People shouldn’t be going around waving their genitalia at people in changing rooms or bathrooms anyway and I know plenty of cisgendered women are shy enough about their bodies that someone who doesn’t want to get naked in front of other people is hardly unusual.

      As one of the people who protested outside the V&A back in 2008, I agree with you on the LGB front. There’s crossover between the two groups and we’re affected by much of the same legislation so we’ll have to work *alongside* them but at the moment they’re speaking for us and that’s not an acceptable position IMO.

    3. First bit of sense I have heard in 30 years ,exactly what I have been saying for donkeys years ,keep at them Clare, allowing TV,S broke up SHAFT years ago , have always thought if you have GID you do something about it at the earliest opportunity, not wait till you are 65 and retired

      There are organisations specifically for Transvestites I

  3. For some of us, and i am involved with a group of transsexuals who are seeking to dissociate with transgenders/L.G.B, the phrase “non-operative woman” is just plainly ridiculous.A “non operative woman” is a MAN.
    You are right to say that many women see all transsexuals as “men who dress up”, and as such will always oppose us using female only spaces.Can you not see that the number of hostile women will increase if you ask them to accomodate transgenders?
    Furthermore,some transgenders/transvestites will be heterosexual men.This would lead many women, myself included, to not want to share private spaces with them.
    Do you assume that all transsexuals/transgenders are decent, non criminal people.How do you imagine the public would react if a transgendered man raped or indecentlyassaulted a woman in a private space such as a toilet or changing room?Would the backlash not affect all of us, even those of us physically incapable of rape?It would probably only take one incident.
    A positive course of action for all of us, would be to write to our M.P.s asking them to ask the Equalities minister for clarification of the position transsexuals will be in after the Civil Liberties bill becomes law.Especially with regard to the publicly unannounced ammendments.
    I see on the news today that the shadow of “Maggie Thatcher,milk snatcher”, has caused the government to backtrack over free milk.Perhaps we can shame the government into providing real support for transsexuals by asking them if this is Cameron’s clause 28 ( he did initially vote in favour of this, i think).

    1. “A “non operative woman” is a MAN.”

      That’s not only horribly transphobic, it’s also ridiculous. How many people do you encounter and gender daily without ever seeing their genitals?

      We absolutely must strive to get past genital essentialism.

      1. What is transphobic is to try and foist psychobabble terms on us.Obviously the natal women who object to us sharing private spaces judge our sex by our appearance.My point is that the number of women objecting to transsexuals sharing these private spaces will increase if they are expected to share with some people who claim to be women but are happy to have a penis.
        Why can you not see that natal women would be more comfortable if they could be sure that they were sharing private spaces with only those who had, or were intending to have, reassignment? Why can you not see that asking them to share with men is a lot more difficult?( Most people i have spoken to and who are supportive, see surgery as the transitional point between male and female.This is especially true of heterosexual males, in my experience. The feedback i have got from people of all ages is that if you are happy to retain your male genitalia, then you are a man.) Incidentally, the term ‘non operative woman’ was met with a variety of reactions, from falling about laughing to really quite cold anger.Not one person,from a diverse cross section, gave a positive response.
        Given that natal women have only our outward appearance to go on, i would have thought it obvious that lumping us together with transvestite men is only going to make things more difficult for us.
        I have ‘leant against the wall’ in my area for some time ( for the last 25 years), and have achieved some successes in making life easier for others in my area.I have an extensive feedback network within my local council, and can tell you that i am receiving a disturbing increase in reported hostility to transsexuals by local employers and even amongst the council.The vast majority of this hostility is directly to do with accepting male transvestites into private spaces.
        It has been a slow process educating people about brain difference and getting them to accept that transsexuals are a distinct group.It is sad to see that the destructive efforts of anti transsexual pressure groups, journalists and M.P.s are being compounded by the actions of people such as yourself.
        You are accepting the weakening titles foisted upon us and promoting them as good things.As it says in the song “Forget the agression from everyone else, while we still do a wondeful job opressing ourselves.”
        I see the government has announced a transsexual commision is to be set up next year.I wonder if this is to strengthen our position, or the position of our enemies?

        1. I absolutely cannot and will not support you beating up on pre/non-op women, nor your divisionary genital essentialism. If we fight amongst ourselves, no progress will be made.

          How does it end? First you throw pre/non-ops under the bus, then who? Lesbian trans women? Anyone wo transitioned later than 18? Anyone who has children? Anyone with size 9 feet? All trans men? What?

          1. No, just people who are happy to remain physically male.I have no problem with transvestites or non conforming transsexuals ( lesbian transsexual women), i just don’t want to share private spaces with people who are happy to keep their penis.
            In the post to which you are replying, i clearly said “…those who had,or were intending to have,reassignment?” Perhaps you should read what has been written and not just make a very juvenile knee jerk response based on what you have assumed i had said, rather than what i actually said.
            I would have thought that the feedback i get from the local council/police would have shown you that the public in my area are increasingly uncomfortable.Your attitude will sink us all.
            By asking us to accept gay male transvestites, you are asking us to accept a group in whom it has been shown that there is no brain difference.
            Why is no-one answering the point i made earlier? i.e. By asking us to accept heterosexually functional male transvestites ( NOT (( neccessarily )) pre-ops), you are asking us to accept a group of people amongst whom there will be rapists.(This is fact, not cojecture).So i ask again – what do you think the public reaction would be if just one natal woman was assaulted/raped in a private space such as a toilet by someone presenting as female and in posession of a gender recognition certificate?
            Are you so naive as to think that the public reaction would be selective? It is foolish to think so, we would all feel the backlash fueled, no doubt, by certain sections of the press. This is just one reason why we should be fighting for ourselves and only ourselves.
            As i have said before, by attatching ourselves to the L.G.B group, we are attatching ourselves to a group that has demonstrated open hostility to transsexuals on many occasions – ‘toiletgate’ being just one example.

            1. Do you have any examples of trans women actually (Not theoretically) sexually assaulting anyone in female toilets? There are plenty of examples of the reverse, you mention toiletgate yourself for example where a transwoman ended up being sexually assaulted after being made to use the male bathrooms. What you seem to be saying is that the rights of ciswomen trump those of transwomen.

              You also seem to imply (I’m not clear on this point) that you would not want to share space with “lesbian transsexual women”. If that’s the case, do you feal the same about cisgendered lesbians?

              1. Sorry if i didn’t make myself clear – I most certainly do not have a problem sharing toilet facilities with lesbians, be they cis or transsexual.
                I didn’t say attacks by trans women, i said transgendered man. Please don’t try to put your language, which i do not accept, into my mouth.
                The rights of transsexual women are equal to those of cis women.The rights of both these groups are much more important than the right of a cross dressing man.
                Your foolhardy attitude, however, will lead to the rights of all non cis women being curtailed.
                Do you think the abomination that is the Human Right Act came about by chance.Can’t you see that this is just the begining. Or are you clinging to the hope that the new commission will actually help us?

            2. I have been sexually assaulted in a female toilet.

              It was a cis women who did it.

              Perhaps you should be liaising with your local police and council about banning them from the loos?

              1. In 1985 a woman was raped in a toilet in the Caledonia Rd area by a male transvestite.He got away with it because the girl committed suicide before it could come to court.
                This girl was one of my best friends, so please keep your snide remarks to yourself.

            3. «By asking us to accept heterosexually functional male transvestites ( NOT (( neccessarily )) pre-ops), you are asking us to accept a group of people amongst whom there will be rapists.»

              I would actually say that by asking to accept people, you are asking to accept a group of people amongs whom there will be rapists.

              Anyhow, ok, you want to make distinction, but personally, while I find usually myself quite able to make the distinction between a male transvestite and a trans girl (pre- or post-op) just by looking (or talking sometimes), I am not usually able to check whether someone is pre- or post-op without committing sexual assault.

              So, well, not sure this is the appropriate parameter to make a distinction…

              1. Ecxept, of course, that a post operative transsexual in incapable of rape. Wheras, a male transvestite, sorry, a “non operative woman” (sic) is.

              1. You should hide your ignorance rather than shout it proudly.
                In the standard language used by gender identity clinics a “Conforming” transsexual ( mtf) is someone who identifies as lesbian when pre-op but as a heterosexual female when post-op. A “non conforming” transsexual is someone who identifies as a heterosexual female when pre-op but as a lesbian when post-op.
                This terminology was explained to me first by Ashley Robin and susequently by Richard Greene.

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