I counted 25 MPs present.
Maria Miller (Con MP) stated that there are 650,000 trans people in the UK to open the debate, equating that to 1,000 trans people per constituency. Maria Miller showed her dismay at her colleagues when they asked why this debate was important, by stating these figures and that it is indeed an important issue. So this is why I was surprised by the tiny number of people there.
Maria Miller and those present are obviously invested in the debate, and bring up very valid points and play devil’s advocate very well. Caroline Flint brought up the valid question of criminals violating the system of gender neutral toilets and preying on women. Maria Miller again rebutted with the example of gender neutral toilets on an airplane.
The issue of transgender rights is important. Why? Because so many people do not understand it. I personally am not afraid to admit that a lot of the time, I don’t know what the proper terminology is, and that for many years I did not understand something as simple as the right to use the toilet you felt most comfortable with. Many people don’t completely understand it and that’s fine, but surely the people who should understand it are the MPs of our country. They need to understand it, to be able to fight for equality education, and stamp out life destroying things such as bullying. If we educate our young minds issues such as transgender equality can be eradicated in our lifetime. We shouldn’t have to have a debate on transgender equality, it should just be equal. The cause does not ask for a lot, merely for some small concessions and not to be bullied, treated differently, or be a victim of violence.
Trans people have been marginalised, and the debate is designed to better cope with transgender rights as the years go on. Parliamentary debates surely aren’t designed purely to pass laws, and for MPs to have something to do. Purely by watching that debate I learnt a lot of things about transgender rights that I didn’t know. The simple right to choose your gender, or not have it written on a public document like a passport are key to trans people, and it’s something I took for granted. If I am a relatively progressive member of society, and I learnt a great deal, surely some less progressive MPs would have had a think too.
I think people calling for such a simple right deserve for more MPs to be present during a debate on it. If such simple rights are being called for, surely the changes are simple enough. Surely a large number of MPs could put laws and bills into effect that instantly change the life of 650,000 people. Is a backbench debate with 25 attendees, three of which looked like they were asleep, fair on trans people, or is it more like a slap in the face. I understand it is a new issue, and a lot of people will say there are more pressing issues, but surely the simple equal rights of such a misunderstood community is paramount in the eyes of the people?
Check your privilege Parliament.
words by Frazer Worboys
Link to the full video of the debate: http://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/bc6244d0-4cfe-43e5-8677-f929b7db0a08?in=12:03:00&out=14:03:00
full transcript available here : https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2016-12-01/debates/D4F283FB-2C02-4C8C-8C7E-BEAB889D1425/TransgenderEquality