Hello from Tara Morris

I would like to introduce myself. My name is Tara Morris, and I was elected as the new Trans Officer on LGBT Labour's National Committee at our AGM in November 2015. This is a great privilege after the three years of hard work put in by Anwen Muston in the role. I have the experience of working with Unison and the founder member of the Facebook group, Say No to Spouse Veto, which was later renamed Trans Rights UK. I also became the Chair for a charity group that supports Gender Identity / Gender Variance, Transcend.

As a Woman with a Trans history after starting my Transition back in 2010. I became aware of the inequality that Trans people face as well as the discrimination that we constantly face. I have always felt strongly about equality and civil rights, and this has been my main motivation for trying to get things done. Having done a lot of work for both Transcend & Unison, I was asked by LGBT Labour activists to get involved. Since than I have developed a thirst for activism - and there is a lot of work to be done.  

There has never been a more important time for fighting for Trans Rights. There have been recent, high-profile incidents of Trans women being sent to male prisons, as well as an acknowledgment of the flaws in the Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), and transphobic hate crime going unreported. This led to Parliament undertaking the Transgender Enquiry, which was published in January 2016. However, despite a recognition of the key issues that Trans people face today, there still appears to be a lack of action within Parliament to resolve these issues. Part of LGBT Labour's remit is to voice the concerns of the Trans community in the hope of securing change and gaining fairer policies for equal rights around Gender Identity / Gender Variance.     

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The Trans Manifesto

I am pleased to inform you that LGBT Labour, at it’s recent National Committee meeting, has officially adopted the sentiments of the Trans Manifesto 2014 which has been prepared by a number of trans organisations, supported by the LGBT Consortium

Indeed, this supports one of LGBT Labour’s initiatives that the membership endorsed at last November’s AGM - to talk to Labour Party MP’s on how we could formulise the Parliamentary Forum on Gender Identity. A Forum that is accountable to our community (Nothing about us without us) and a forum properly resourced in the same way as other parliamentary forums are resourced and attended by MP’s from all the political parties that have parliamentary representation.

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Mapping My Journey Exhibition

Located in the Community Gallery, Birmingham Museum, B3 3DH.

Until: 20th March 2014

As LGBT Labour Trans officer I attended the exhibition  launch event, I thought the display was very comprehensive and very well presented this is an outstanding achievement which portrays the trans community very well through both visual and sound and in my opinion is very worthwhile visiting.

This exhibition explores and celebrates the living memory and history of the transgender community in Birmingham and the West Midlands.

Through compelling sound, photos, video, artwork, poetry and artefacts, ‘Mapping my Journey’ brings to life the places, events and personal journeys - for some decisive and swift but for others spanning decades - which makeup the heritage of the West Midlands’ transgender community over the past sixty years.

These stories represent part of our community’s heritage and aim to capture, record and preserve unique individual experiences of being transgender.

At the recent private viewing, keynote speaker, Rev. Rachel Mann stated that “Mapping My Journey was an unimaginable event 20 years ago” and added that this exhibition meant that “in trans terms Birmingham is not the second City, In trans terms Birmingham is now the first City for equality.”

Erika Godwin (Chair of Gender Matters) commented: “This project has been about people. It has culminated in this fantastic exhibition, but goes far beyond it. I must thank the Lord Mayor for opening the exhibition, but more importantly, perhaps, all the people who have contributed to make this such a success.”

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Nikki Sinclaire, a trans role model? Not for me

Recently there have been a number of plaudits from trans people suggesting that Anti-Europe MEP Nikki Sinclaire should considered be a trans role model. I beg to differ.

Ironically, it was just as I was heading to a meeting in Brussels which resulted in the creation of “Rainbow Rose”, the European equivalent of LGBT Labour that will enable LGBT Labour to work with Socialist and Social Democratic parties in the rest of the EU that Nikki Sinclaire, anti-Europe MEP came out as trans. Just as LGBT Labour was committing itself to greater involvement in Europe for the benefit of LGBT people here and on the Continent, another trans woman was selling us the snake oil of complete withdrawal from Europe.

Nikki Sinclaire, a former member of UKIP, now an independent anti-Europe MEP came out as trans a few weeks ago, apparently after others threatened to out her as trans. However it is not for this reason that I consider her to be a bad role model for trans people; it is her politics; the policy to which her single-issue party subscribes; dumping the UK out of Europe. However there are four words which undermine her policy significantly; Nissan and Goldman Sachs.

Whatever we may think of these companies, both have warned that they are highly likely to leave the UK if the UK leaves the EU, and plenty of others will be thinking the same way. It is even distinctly possible that British Aerospace could move much of its production from Lancashire to Toulouse if we leave the EU, in order to maintain its share of Airbus production. Indeed some business estimates have suggested that the net result of a British exit from the EU would be a net loss of 2 million jobs countrywide, from the City of London to Strathclyde. It is also worth adding that, if we leave the EU, then most people employed in companies that leave the UK will be unable to move with them to their new bases in France, Germany, Spain, Holland or wherever because UK citizens will no longer have the right to live and work in Europe. These arguments are where the loony right of the Tory party, UKIP and others campaigning to leave the EU start to fudge their answers or change the subject.

Yet one of the main problems facing trans people in the UK, as it is everywhere, is always unemployment. If unemployment here rises by two million, trans people will be hit harder than most.

So this is why I believe Sinclaire should not be regarded as a role model for trans people. The main point of her involvement in politics – leaving the EU – is something that will greatly harm trans people and others. An increase in unemployment of two million would not merely harm trans people, although it would harm trans people most, it would harm millions of others. It is in this way that she should be judged, and it is here where her politics is not merely dangerous to trans people, it is dangerous to many others also.  

For some the idea of a peddler of naïve, pat, easy solutions, someone whose political existence is founded on a policy that will damage the interests of British trans people as well as others, is worthy of being considered a positive role model.  Personally I consider that to be a profoundly mistaken attitude, and one which ignores the dangers her simplistic, right-wing politics hold for all of us.

Yet I believe that considering Nikki Sinclaire to be a positive role model for trans people, just because she is trans, and ignoring the likely harm her politics will cause trans people, is, in its own way, transphobic.

Sinclaire did not go into politics as a trans woman, she went into politics because of what I believe are mistakenly held but seemingly deeply founded convictions about Europe. To consider her a role model for everything but that is to disrespect her as a human being involved in politics. Judging her on anything but her politics; the main reason she has become a public figure, represents an objectification that is, in my opinion dehumanising and dismisses her passionate beliefs as irrelevant.

In disagreeing with her, arguing against her being regarded as a positive role model and criticizing her because of her politics, I am also respecting her as a politician above being a trans person, I am not objectifying her as trans, I am respecting her politics enough to oppose them, and oppose them with at least as much passion as she espouses them. I profoundly believe that she is wrong, I believe her politics are simplistic, naïve and will harm large numbers of trans people and others. My disagreement with her is nothing to do with her being trans, it is everything to do with her politics. 

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Shadow Minister blog on Transgender Day of Remembrance 2013

I am honoured to be the first MP to contribute to the new LGBT Labour Trans Action website, and welcome this new space for Labour’s transgender members and supporters to debate issues that matter to them, and hopefully develop the transgender-friendly policies that Labour should be pursuing. I’ll be checking back regularly, and I look forward to seeing those debates flourish.

But today is a day to look back, and to remember those in the worldwide transgender community who have paid the ultimate price simply for seeking to be themselves – men and women who lost their lives because they had the courage to be who they wanted to be.

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In Memoriam: A poem for Transgender Day of Remembrance

Over 238 Trans people have been murdered in the past 12 months simply because they were Trans. Although most of these were in North & South America there has been a least 1 murder of a Trans person in this country. There have also been several suicides in the UK because of the pressure put upon trans people by society & the press.

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Coming Out

In recent days a wonderful TED talk has been doing the rounds; Lesbian Ash Beckham spoke movingly about coming out as a “difficult conversation.” She listed other difficult conversations people have also, like telling your relatives you have cancer.

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Welcome to the LGBT Labour Trans Action Blog

LGBT Labour, and the other political LGBT organisations have a major part to play in advancing transgender equality through the political system within the United Kingdom.

Politicians at all levels whether it’s a Member of Parliament or Councillors within Local Authorities, these individual people are elected by the people of this country to make decisions, and to decide what goes into legislation and what will make a good policy.

How can we expect our politicians to make informed decisions, without proper information and understanding of how those decisions effect and impact on the transgender community?

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