Trans people must be free to live without the fear of violence

Today marks the 15th International Transgender Day of Remembrance. Yet life remains difficult for many trans individuals.

Siobhan MacMahon is spokesperson for the LGBTIQ Greens and co-chair of the Young Greens of England and Wales

This year sees the 15th International Transgender Day of Remembrance. Vigils and memorials will be held up and down the country and across the world in remembrance of those killed or driven to suicide for being trans.

It is unacceptable that we still live in a world where there is violence towards anyone on the basis of sex or gender identification. No one should be killed or driven to suicide just for being themselves.

The Trans Murder Monitoring Project last week reported that 238 trans people were murdered across the world in the last 12 months. And these are just the number that have been publicly recorded. The actual figures are thought to be much higher, as transphobic crime is so underreported.

These hate crimes are not alien to the streets of London. Just this year we finally saw the murderer of Chrissie Azzopardi brought to justice. Chrisse, Kellie Telesford and Destiny Lauren; each are Trans women murdered across London. London is still not a safe haven for trans people. The police recorded 50 transphobic crimes in 2012/2013 in London.

Yet the level of underreporting is very high, when individual trans people anecdotally report over 50 incidents a year, in a report by Galop. Their report highlights a lack of action by too many boroughs on trans hate crime, it’s time for that change. The names of those who have died over the past year will be read out at these events, along with poems and songs.

It is not only important to acknowledge these deaths, but to celebrate the lives of those people that were cruelly taken away. These lists of names starkly show how far some people are from acceptance and the need for education, promotion of understanding and respect of difference. Trans people not only face this fear but massive discrimination and inequality every day at the hands of the law and society.

It’s why levels of poor mental health remain stubbornly high in trans people. The hate and exclusion of trans people is a directly causal factor of feelings of anxiety, depression and suicidal thought. Without a more inclusive society we will see levels of depression, self harm and suicide all too high.

We know there is a need for action to assist in dismantling discriminatory behaviour and to protect trans people. All people should be free to live as they are without fear of violence, and to be an equal part of society.

Yet getting a job, finding a home and getting an education remain difficult for too many trans people. The plan for action on advancing transgender equality, published by the coalition government, spelt out how bullying at school and work is endemic for trans people. Society must tear down these barriers that allow for trans people to be equal citizens, to get their fair chance to live their lives.

The government must be held to account and make sure it is continuing to progress the steps spelled out in the Transgender Action Plan, and progress the project. Too many people’s lives are in the balance for it to be an empty promise. At the end of the year the government will be launching a consultation on the steps taken thus far, I urge everyone to use this opportunity to make their voices heard.

I and many of my Young Green colleagues will be joining the memorials for Trans Remembrance Day. These events provide an opportunity for trans and gender diverse people as well as allies to come together and honour the lives that have been lost and show that it is intolerable that people have lost their lives because of ignorance and hate.

The event in London is being at held at University of London Union- ULU in Malet Street, WC1E 7HY, from 7pm on Wednesday November 20th. I urge you all to join us and take a stance against hate.

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