Thursday, 21 June 2018

Stand up to Trump and the Rise of the Right

Tonight I spoke at a rally in Oxford which was to stand up to Trump and the Rise of the Right. I add my transcript below (as, for a rare treat, i actually planned what I would say!) 

I am here to represent a number of LGBTI+ groups in Oxfordshire. 

I am here as someone concerned by what I see in other countries, and worried that the UK is not as distant from these views as we would like. 

Trump’s administration is doing so much to undermine human rights.

This is a group who thinks it is ok to separate children from their parents
Who shuts down any news they don’t not like as fake news, whilst tweets ‘facts’ with no basis in reality
Who think that coal is the cleanest energy, and is happy to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord
Someone who finds it funny to talk about grabbing women by their pussy

Someone who thinks that discrimination equals freedom. 

In Egypt it isn’t illegal, but well documented that there has been a crackdown on homosexuality of late: Police, state-aligned media and the religious establishment all regard it as a public duty to combat the spread of homosexuality.

In 2013 Russia introduced laws banning the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” i.e. homosexuality. 

It emerged last year that gay men were being detained and tortured in the Russian republic of Chechnya. We see the evidence, yet Russia and Chechnya deny they even have any homosexuals to persecute, never mind that they are actually doing it.

What about countries that we consider more similar to our own? 

Last year in Australia, posters were put on bus shelters that said ‘stop the fags’ and showing ‘statistics’ that “show” that 40% of gay men are sexual predators in an attempt to prevent same sex marriage. 

In Northern Ireland same sex marriage is still illegal. As, it should be pointed out, is abortion.

In his term, Trump’s administration have:

Said that firing of LGBT+ people is not legally discrimination (people who were at last year’s Orlando Pulse massacre were fired and kicked out of their homes, legally, once it was discovered that they were gay)

Removed all members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, a medical issue that disproportionally affects the LGBTI+ community

Rescinded a ban on being trans in the US military just after being allowed to serve openly and legally for the first time, despite advice from within the armed forces not to

What about the UK…

National findings relating to LGBT+ young people indicate they are at increased risk in terms of safeguarding.  Stonewall’s school report (2017) found that:
        Nearly half of LGB pupils (45%) including 64% of trans pupils are being bullied for their gender identity or sexuality
        22% of LGB young people and 45% of trans young people have attempted to take their own life.
        Nearly one in ten trans pupils (nine per cent) are subjected to death threats at school
        Almost half of LGBT pupils (45 per cent) who are bullied for being LGBT never tell anyone

I stand here now as a member of the LGBTI+ community, a woman with a trans history, and someone who is respectably and without contest harassed for who I am. 

I stand here as a member of one of the most at risk groups of people in the UK, both from harassment and abuse on the street, online and in the press. Where it is open season from academics and the media to portray trans people as monsters. 
We are accused of trying to indoctrinate young people when talk about understanding. When using our freedom of speech to speak out against those who voice homophobic and transphobic views, we are seen as shutting down free speech. 

I stand here and speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves. For fear of recrimination, reprisals, abuse, ridicule. Those who receive abuse at home from family and carers. Those who receive abuse at their school, place of study or place of work. Those who receive it from ‘respectable’ adults on their phones. 

I stand up for the parents of LGBTI+ young people who just want to do their best for their children, who want to look after them and keep them safe. That want to protect them from bullying. Who want to help their children grow and be the best version of themselves. To help them, stop them feeling pain and shame about who they are. 

For the survivors of physical, sexual and mental abuse because of something they cannot help. Because they know they are not the gender they were assigned or because their sex or sexuality falls outside of the binary understanding of many.

The right is on the rise, abroad and at home. Hate crimes are on the rise in the UK. Racism is becoming acceptable. We saw the Nazi salutes on our streets in London last week. These people are bolstered, motivated, given the courage to do what they do by those who oppose the rights of others by way of excuses: claiming decency, protection of children, academic merit. Meanwhile we have academics who argue on TV that colonialism was good for the countries ruined by it. And does so whilst maintaining that he is not racist.

We have those who claim to fight for womens rights, but so easily throw under the bus sex works and trans people. So easily do they dismiss us, claiming we are not normal, not natural, that we are predators and rapists. Or mentally ill. Suggesting we should be happy to discuss whether we should have rights and dignities. Acting like school yard bullies. You claim not to be transphobic. Guess what, you are. I know, because it is me you are attempting to bully and harass.

We are so interested in finding the differences between us. We are so quick to forget our similarities. We sterilise the issues, try to take away our words. We claim that words like homophobe, transphobe, racist are an affront to their rights. They twist the meaning of free speech, using it to shut down dissenting or different voices. We do so in the name of academic freedom, whist ignoring facts or reasoned debate. 

Our armchair warriors who give respectability and weight to views that would be ignored when only shared by UKIP or the EDL. People who mutter how terrible Trump is then spend the rest of the evening writing an article explaining why I should not be able to pee in a safe location whilst they sip a glass of Shiraz. 

And the right amplify the hate, turning us against each other.

Meanwhile we are taking away the busfare of our young people with additional needs who want to stay in education, we have a significant amount of people living in substandard housing at elevated costs and parents having to skip meals so their children can eat, we have young people being beaten, abused or thrown out of their home because they are LGBTI+, we have people sleeping on the streets in freezing weather conditions and we have statues of slavers on our High Street. 

Yet it is the people fleeing war who are the terrorists.

All we care about is ourselves. The noble warriors fighting against oppression by oppressing others, trying to keep our hands clean, hiding behind false names on the internet and just plain ignoring the voices of those in our community who are doing what they can for the weakest and most vulnerable are fighting real fights. Be it LGBTI+, religion, race, disability or class. 
When you ignore these issues, turn your back on those asking for help; you need to ask yourself. How long until we vote in our Trump.


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