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CEO Blog: Response to Conversion Therapy Ban u-turns

Updated: Apr 5, 2022

Yesterday was Trans Day of Visibility, a day dedicated to celebrating transgender people and raising awareness of discrimination faced by transgender people worldwide, but here in the UK it was yet another day of our Trans communities being dealt another kick in the teeth by our government.

After four years of promises of a conversion therapy ban by two Prime Ministers and included in the Queen’s speech, following lengthy delays and consultations, a leak stated that the ban would now not go ahead, and a few hours later a further announcement that there would be a ban but it would not include trans people. So-called ‘conversion therapy’ is recognised by every major human rights and health organisation (including The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims[1] and United Nations [2]) as an abusive and torturous practice and last night the UK government effectively said by implementing a ban for LGB people, but excluding trans people, that they consider it acceptable to abuse and torture trans people and that they are not deserving of the same rights.

While LGBTQ+ communities and allies are rightly shocked, angered and upset by this news, it is sadly not surprising. Only this week Boris Johnson, who previously referred to gay men as ‘tank-top wearing bum boys’[3] was openly making anti-trans jokes at a conservative dinner[4] just hours before Jamie Wallis came out as the UK’s first openly trans MP. The same government disbanded their own LGBT Advisory Panel after three members quit due governments inaction on LGBT rights, and scrapped their LGBT Action Plan[5]. Equalities minister, Kemi Badenoch was recorded referring to trans women as men[6] and fellow equalities minister, Liz Truss’s long list of transphobia [6] includes appointing an anti-trans board to the EHRC[7] resulting in the human rights organisation u-turning on their previously long-held position of supporting trans rights to actively campaigning against them. For anyone paying attention (and if you are trans or non-binary you are unlikely to have to luxury not to) we know that this government is not on the side of LGBTQ+ people.

Despite this the government is currently still pushing ahead with their upcoming ‘Safe To Be Me’ global LGBT equality conference, as sponsors, businesses, charities and high-profile individuals drop out due to their current record on LGBT rights[8].

We are living in a time where we have the highest level of hate crimes on record, with trans people disproportionately impacted, anti-trans articles featuring daily in the mainstream press and campaign groups actively trying to remove existing legal rights and health provision from trans people.

At SAYiT we support LGBTQ+ young people aged 11-25, and we see the mental health impact of simply trying to exist in a world where they are constantly told they aren’t accepted, that they are less deserving of rights simply for being who they are. We support young people to achieve their full potential despite those who deny that they exist or claim that they shouldn’t.

We see trans rights repeatedly being pitched as in conflict with women’s and/or LGB rights, despite these being hugely overlapping groups and that every major survey show that women and LGB people are overwhelmingly in favour of trans rights and inclusion. However for too long, those with transphobic views, despite being in the minority have often shouted loudest. We need to raise our voices, as LGBTQ+ community members and allies we need to loudly oppose those who seek to oppress trans people, we need to be vocal in our support and call out transphobia wherever and whenever we see it. It may not feel like it in the current climate, but there are many more of us on your side.

To our trans and non-binary young people, staff, volunteers and allies, we are and will always be on your side.

Heather Paterson

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