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Girls & Women

This Full Page Newspaper Ad Brings 100 Organisations Together for Trans Equality

Why Global Citizens Should Care
The UK government will soon conclude its public consultation into reforming the 2004 Gender Recognition Act, the law that defines how transgender people change their sex on legal documents in Britain — and over 100 organisations have joined forces to urge the public to have their voice heard. Take action here to support marginalised groups around the world.

While chaos and disruption roared through London’s train network on Wednesday, exasperated commuters were presented with a rare spectacle: a united front.

The free Metro newspaper is a staple on the capital’s underground, reaching almost two million people on a daily basis. And on Wednesday, Britain’s most circulated tabloid printed a full page advert featuring 100 of Britain’s biggest organisations, throwing their support behind the UK’s transgender community.

And it’s come at such a vital moment.

Take Action: Tell the UK Government: Help Create a World Where #SheIsEqual

The organisations included in the ad are some of the biggest banks, supermarkets, media corporations, and charities in the country — plus many, many more. Allies to the cause include eBay, Procter & Gamble, Tesco, Barclays, ITV, Amnesty, and Vice.

The campaign was orchestrated by LGBTQ+ rights non-profit Stonewall and DIVA Magazine, a monthly magazine for lesbian and bisexual women, to support transgender families, colleagues, customers, and friends and urge the country to #ComeOutForTransEquality.

“We are proud to stand alongside you in the fight for trans equality,” the advert reads. “We support your right to be yourself and you deserve to be treated with dignity and respect in all parts of daily life.”

“We will keep on playing our part to make that happen and we send you our support and strength in the face of the hostility directed at you,” it adds. “We are proud to come out for trans equality.”

The Metro was specifically chosen in response to another full-page advert that was printed in the paper just last week. Anti-trans group Fair Play For Women paid for an ad to be published on October 10, and tweeted it out saying: “do you think someone with a penis is a woman?” 

It later emerged that the group had reportedly sent tweets in November last year joking that scientific advances allowing trans women the opportunity to give birth will “proliferate like 1,000 cancers [evil grin]” and “invade their body like a virus.” The group’s director denied knowledge of the posts.

Read More: Transphobic Media Under Fire From UK Equalities Minister

Pink News described Fair Play For Women as “one of the largest and best-funded campaign groups working to oppose reforms to the Gender Recognition Act.” The Metro said the advert was “not meant to be transphobic,” and on Wednesday the Advertising Standards Agency confirmed that it would investigate the advert.

Both adverts are timed to coincide with the government’s public consultation on the 2004 Gender Recognition Act (GRA). It’s been long overdue; the consultation was first launched in July, a year on from the first promise made by former women and equalities minister Justine Greening.

The GRA allowed trans people to change their sex on legal documents for the very first time — but it’s still an arduous, expensive, and invasive process. 

First, you need to be diagnosed with gender dysphoria — the medical condition that describes when your sex and gender identity do not match — and participate in two years of “reflection” and psychiatric treatment. Then your application will be considered by a panel, that you will never meet, who will decide if you’ve presented enough evidence that you’ve lived with that identity for at least two years.

However a reformed act would allow self-identification, following a model in the Republic of Ireland that consists of one simple form that takes weeks, not years, to process.

Read More: The UK Will Finally Ban So-Called 'Gay Conversion' Therapy

Critics argue, however, that allowing trans women to self-identify will increase the probability that violent men could change their birth certificate — and therefore make it more likely that they might enter women-only spaces.

“I want the government to recognise me for my gender identity," Roy Darling, a 19-year-old trans man, told the BBC. "No-one should have to face such a dehumanising process just to be seen for who they truly are in the eyes of the law."

Often, hostility towards the transgender community in the media can fuel public harassment and abuse. A Stonewall report found that nearly a third of trans people have experienced a hate crime because of their gender identity in the last 12 months alone. Meanwhile, almost half of all trans pupils in the UK have attempted suicide, according to another Stonewall study, and 8 in 10 have self-harmed.

The public consultation is an important moment for equality — but closes on Friday. 

You can add your voice to it here.