Amnesty International Belfast Pride Lecture 2019

During the Belfast Pride 2019 festival, I was privileged to be invited to present the annual Amnesty International NI lecture, documenting and discussing trans rights issues in Northern Ireland and elsewhere in the world.

The lecture was streamed live on Facebook, and I’m now able to present it in full for those who missed it.

You can find the video below, as well as a full transcript of the lecture, which approximates 6,000 words.

Introduction

So, it’s fantastic to be here, thank you so much to Amnesty for the opportunity to speak and to present. My name as introduced is Ellen Murray, and I’m a trans human rights defender – which is the proper term for what I do. I have about 6 years of experience of working specifically with trans communities, and several years with working with international human rights mechanisms. My background though is in community work; I started founding a trans youth charity working with fellow young people at the time, and growing trans communities and networks here locally. It hasn’t been on the international stage from the word go – it’s been a natural development from work here at home. I’m a public appointment to the LGBT Advisory Panel of the Government Equalities Office, and as may not be a surprise to you, these aren’t the views of the UK Government.

So most of my work these days is based at international level, both at the Council of Europe and the European Parliament, but also at United Nations level. I’m planning to talk about a range of issues tonight – about the human rights violations that exist for our community both here and elsewhere in the UK and Ireland, and about how those may be addressed, and about how those connect into the wider human rights arena as well.

Over the past few years, I’m sure many of you have seen a massive uptick in the amount of media discussion and public debate surrounding trans issues here in the UK. Most of the discussion in the world at the moment is focused in UK media, as well as from some US-based conservative media outlets. I would argue that we’re currently in the middle of a backlash against LGBTI rights more broadly, and this is expressed here and in some other places around the world through a focus on trans right specifically. We’re seeing this in media discussions in the UK but also from far-right governments worldwide, from fundamentalist organising here at home, and from niches in academia.

Those of you who’ve been following trans issues for a number of years now may remember the Time Magazine front page in 2014 with trans actress Laverne Cox which stated that that year was the “transgender tipping point”. I would generally agree with that headline, but I don’t think we’ve had a tipping point towards rights, but rather tipping into a rather risky period altogether.

Even over the last 2 weeks in UK media, we’ve seen how “transgender motherlessness is a chilly fiction to impose on children”, how “England’s only sex-change clinic is misleading young patients”, and from the Guardian about how “highly-politicised transgender groups are putting children at risk”.

It’s worrying as someone with experience of and continued interaction with trans communities on the ground, in the same respect as the marriage equality referendum in Ireland had enormous impacts on LGBTI young people in 2015, we’re seeing the same impacts today. When people’s experiences and existences are debated in public, it can be very difficult.

I’m going to discuss what trans rights are, where they’ve come from, and where they’re going. I’m not a lawyer yet, although I’m about to start studying law, but I’m going to focus on the law tonight, and specifically on international human rights law. But because of my work at the Belfast Trans Resource Centre, and work with trans communities on the ground, I’m aware that rights on paper are not rights in practice. We talk about trans support organisations – you can support people without any rights. People can have extremely limited access to human rights but still be supported. Trans human rights defenders on the global level tend to frame things in terms of trans justice – you can have rights without justice, but you can’t have justice without rights – rights on paper alone are not justice nor equality.

History

It’s interesting and important for us to think about where trans rights have come from throughout history.

There’ve been people who we’d today describe as trans for a very long time, both around the world and here in the UK and Ireland. Regardless of the insistence of some, people have been messing with gender for centuries and millennia, and gender-nonconforming identity and experiences have reflected and adapted to the society they existed in. During some periods of history, certain societies celebrated and provided for gender-nonconforming and trans-presenting people, and in other times, those societies oppressed and punished them. There are also many indigenous communities around the world who have had and have social and legal recognition and celebration of non-binary or third gender categories, as well as special spiritual and religious positions for trans and gender diverse people in particular. We’ve seen an ebb and flow of acceptance and rights throughout the last two centuries too, with the early 1900s being a period of relative liberty for some trans people in Europe, to be brutally reversed in the 30s and 40s. On the 6th of May 1933, 60 years before I was born to the day, a massive attack on the Institute of Sexology was organised in Berlin, and a few days later one of the most famous images of Nazi violence was the burning of tens of thousands of books and records in the streets. What had been a pioneering centre for trans communities, trans medicine, and trans emancipation, had been murderously levelled by fascism.

Since the second world war, we’ve seen mostly an improvement across the board for trans rights in Europe, moving out of institutionalisation and criminalisation towards rights and representation in law. However, that road to rights has been hard fought, hard won, and hard lost along the way. The effects of the anti-LGBTI Section 28 law in Great Britain set back trans communities by decades, and the closure of asylums and decriminalisation of homosexuality improved conditions in law for trans people measurably.

We’ve seen significant steps forward in trans rights in the UK and Ireland over the past few decades. From case law in the 1970s allowing trans people to marry, to inclusion in anti-discrimination law across the UK, to the Gender Recognition Act 2004, there’ve been a number of good legislative movements that promote trans rights.

More recent still in 2015, Ireland introduced one of the most accessible legal gender recognition systems in the world, leapfrogging the UK comprehensively. Debates that are currently going on in the UK press about gender recognition and how the sky will fall if people are allowed to merely self-identify their gender in law conveniently ignore the realities of the other bit of this island. Get the X1 bus from the Europa Buscentre and you’ll end up in self-declaration land pretty quickly.

Since self-declaration gender recognition was enacted in Ireland, there have been no safeguarding concerns raised by women’s or children’s rights organisations in the South, and in fact, there’s widespread sector support for improving the law, removing the lower age limit and providing non-binary people access to recognition in statute.

So, why are we currently embroiled in rights debates in the UK right now?

International HR law

At the international level, the European mechanisms have been important sources of trans rights protections for many years. It was the European Court of Human Rights which required the UK and Irish governments to introduce gender recognition as a measure for trans people to access their private and family life rights, and it was the Council of Europe which came out with some of the strongest soft law declarations for trans rights in the world in 2014.

I’ve been working with the United Nations Human Rights Council now for several years, and the progress we’ve seen at global level have been incredible too. Since 2010, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination and Violence Against Women has included trans women, and now routine examinations of countries include trans issues in areas as diverse as the prohibition of torture, refugee and asylum law, and disability rights.

It must be noted that at the international human rights law level, trans rights discussions are years ahead of where we are in the UK. Countries like Argentina have had world-class trans recognition and healthcare laws since 2012, and our European neighbours have been quick to overtake the UK in recent years, most closely right on the border on this island.

It’s been both inspiring and depressing to work at UN level on trans rights. On the one hand, you see how wonderfully other parts of the world are doing compared to us, and on the other hand, you see how things do not need to be like they are here in the UK and Ireland. From giving access to healthcare on the basis of informed consent to providing legal recognition to minors, these are established principles of law in other jurisdictions.

You wouldn’t think that, looking at UK public media discussions in the past year in particular – in fact, you wouldn’t think that settled UK law is settled UK law. Debates on trans women accessing bathrooms are everywhere, despite trans women having accessed bathrooms on the basis of self declaration in the UK for decades. Debates on trans healthcare that suggest care shouldn’t be given just because someone says they’re trans, despite the fact that self-reporting to services is literally the only way to ascertain whether someone need trans healthcare. The current discussions are portrayed as wanting to limit future advances for trans rights, but they’re actually framing the present reality as a future risk, and are arguing for the rollback of existing protections.

In fact, it’s gotten so weird and hostile in the UK in the past few years that I recently had a Brazilian trans rights defender currently working under the Bolsonaro presidency say that it’s incredibly worrying to see how bad things have become here in public discussion, because it’s giving fuel to the fire for far-right governments worldwide. It’s seen by some as if the liberal lefty Europeans think this trans stuff has gone too far, then other countries must be right to clamp down too, he suggested. Closer to home in Poland, the open hostility to LGBTI rights in far-right politics that’s grown stronger recently is also emboldened by the work of anti-trans actors in the UK and USA.

Current discussions in UK media on the need to restrict trans rights have context, they don’t operate in a vacuum. We need to be so careful with this.

Disability rights

So, since my own disability has impacted my life more and more, I’ve become increasingly interested in the study of disability rights. This study has made it clear that LGBTI, and trans rights, share a long and storied history with disabled rights struggles. If you think about it, this does make sense – for a long time, diverse sexual orientations and gender identities and expressions have been seen as disease symptoms, as pathologies, as mental illness. The World Health Organisation only declassified homosexuality as a mental health disorder in 1973, and only did the same for trans identities very recently in 2019. Trans related stuff is now in the new chapter on sexual health, alongside things like contraception. Healthcare services still do, to varying extents, see LGBTI people as inherently pathologised to this day, especially in the case of trans people.

The struggle for disability rights has often centred around bodily autonomy, family rights, and the right to equal legal representation. Whether it’s ending forced sterilisation or indefinite imprisonment of mentally ill people, or gaining legal rights to raise a family, many disability rights struggles have parallels and analogues in trans rights.

It may be a surprise to many of you what human rights abuses exist for disabled and trans people in the Europe in 2019. Autistic and learning-disabled people in the UK can be and are routinely detained in effective solitary confinement for years, and trans people in many European countries must be sterilised to have legal recognition, to give an example of both.

We’ve seen both LGBTI and disability rights shout common demands for decades – for the right to make our own decisions about our bodies and relationships, for our ability to safely exist in public spaces without intimidation and violence, and for the right to equal access to public services, bathrooms, and safe travel.

It’s not a coincidence that these parallels exist – it’s specifically because for many purposes, being gay, being bi, being trans – were mental illnesses in the eyes of society. Although things have improved enormously, many clinicians still see being a lesbian or being a bi man as a symptom of a pathology, which is a reason why conversion therapy is alive and well today. Mental health services in Northern Ireland see being trans as a specific mental health issue as a matter of course, and although it’s not usually referred to as this, the psychosexual model that we use for trans healthcare here generally impedes trans people from transitioning if their identity is seen as a symptom of a psychosocial disability.

Now, lots of trans rights activism has rightly focused on the fact that being trans is not a mental health condition and has gone about that in many ways to various levels of success. Campaigning to remove trans identity from the chapters of diagnostic manuals is a noble effort and one I support wholeheartedly, but it’s not enough on its own to protect trans rights for everyone.

Something you may have seen in the past year is an increased focus on disabled trans people, and disabled trans people being specifically used as an argument to roll back access to trans healthcare more broadly.

A particular example of this is that disabled people – Autistic folks, people with ADHD etc, are more likely to make the wrong decisions when it comes to accessing trans healthcare.

The wrong decisions. Put a pin in that one.

It must be noted that a lot of arguments against young people coming out as trans – or indeed mixing with other trans young people – mirror arguments used in decades past against lesbian, gay and bisexual people. The theory of social contagion, of peer pressure, of unnatural acts involving their bodies and indeed of much darker accusations of sexual predation and grooming long predate the current flurry of tabloid discussion.

In the UK, the main sources of anti-rights arguments against trans young people come from a fairly small number of academics, social commentators and media figures. The nature of the lobby groups presenting anti-trans arguments to the national press are hard to tell for sure, but they are evidently of very limited size, and are supported by an increasingly interesting – and indeed suspicious – pattern of funding and institutional support from elsewhere in the world – namely, the United States.

Lesbian, gay and bi people have experienced decades of being maligned by public policy and the media as – if not outright involved in the sexual predation of children and young people – then certainly associated with it. This was an informing argument in the legislation known as Section 28 in Britain, which prohibited schools and local authorities from in any way “promoting” LGBTI subjects or issues. The idea that young people would be prevented from harmful information that would otherwise cause them to make bad decisions and enter disordered lifestyles was a successful argument for legislative restrictions at the time. The idea that LGB people were a risk to children activated the “think of the children” impulses in many people.

Doesn’t… doesn’t that sound familiar?

The longstanding caricature of trans women being individuals of sexual perversion, of sexual risk, and perpetrators of sexual abuse is a common factor in the contemporary arguments around protecting children. Whether it’s the sensationalism of men being allowed to enter women’s bathrooms to assault girls, or that the very nature of being trans is inherently devious or inappropriate for kids to be around, these “think of the children” impulses are being relied on heavily in current arguments around rights.

It’s a reality that a large number of trans people are disabled. A lot of us have chronic illnesses, a lot of us are neurodivergent and are autistic or have ADHD etc, and lots of us have mental health conditions, so when arguments involving disability come up, that involves a lot of our community.

So, when the main trans youth healthcare provider in the UK publicly suggests disabled trans people need longer assessments on top of the 3+ year waiting lists, the multi-year assessments, what is that a comment on? Is that arguing for restricting trans rights, or disability rights? I’d argue it’s more of the latter.

Healthcare

The central core of trans rights defenders’ work is bodily autonomy – the right to decide what we do and don’t do with our bodies. Healthcare services for trans people in the UK and Ireland developed during the criminalisation of homosexuality, where trans identity was seen as a serious mental illness, and was treated with forced electroshock therapy and institutionalisation. The healthcare services we see today are an echo of that dark past, and their invasive assessments, insistence on conformity to gender stereotypes and the continued treatment of trans identity as a mental health condition harms our communities, young and old.

Now, I’m going to be talking about NI trans healthcare, but this is nothing against the specific staff working at the coal face of gender identity services here. This is about the structure which requires their work to be so out of date.

Waiting lists have spiralled over the past number of years, and the adult service in NI hasn’t taken new patients in over a year. What we’ve seen this turn into on the ground is trans people being forced into expensive private healthcare and unregulated self-medication out of desperation and has an enormous toll on the mental health of trans community members across NI. Lives are put on hold, dreams are set aside, and suffering is let to fester because of an expensive and inefficient healthcare system based on the model that puts more emphasis on preventing transition for the wrong reason than actually promoting the rights of the community that needs it most.

The way trans healthcare in the UK and Ireland works is through a detailed psychiatric examination and assessment of gender identity, life experiences, relationships, work and education. This is usually after an extended stint on the waiting list, which in Northern Ireland is currently indefinite for adults.

That assessment can and does involve trans people’s experiences with family, domestic and sexual violence, housing, mental health and suicide, and about their sexual fantasies and activity. These subjects are extremely personal and private for many people, and they can be extremely difficult to have extended assessments about as a requirement for healthcare.

If people do complete the assessment, they’re generally offered access to trans healthcare if suitable. This usually includes an endocrine intervention like hormone blockers or cross-sex hormones, and other services like fertility care, dermatology, speech and language therapy and similar support.

However, there’s a catch to all this. There’s a requirement in services here that trans people be out to everyone in their lives when they start accessing physical interventions, which means they need to be socially transitioning. To get access to an oestrogen prescription for example, the same pills that women going through menopause are prescribed by their local GP, trans people need to put themselves at enormous risk of social and financial instability to get. This is called Real Life Experience, and it’s ostensibly so you can experience what it’s like to live as a trans man or woman in society. Well.

Coming out as trans can be a long-term thing. But socially transitioning can be extremely quick too – as soon as it’s clear to your landlord, to your employer, to your parents whose house you live in that you’re transgender, things can change quickly. At the Belfast Trans Resource Centre, we regularly see people made homeless by landlords or family, have zero hours contracts dissolved by employers and experience hate crime as a direct result of coming out before they were comfortable to.

If your choices are accessing healthcare you desperately need and putting yourself at risk by changing your name and how you dress before you’re ready to, or going without urgent care, it makes sense that people bite the bullet. However, in our community consultation exercises in the past 5 years, we’ve yet to find someone who said the requirement for RLE benefitted their mental health. For most, it damages it.

Now, I argue that this is a breach of trans people’s rights to private and family life. If our choices are hate crime and healthcare, or nothing, and it’s the health service forcing us to make that decision, that is a human rights violation by the health and social care trust.

In other cases, people with mental health problems who urgently need trans healthcare often misreport their mental health as good to gender identity services, because to be honest would unduly delay or deny them the gender-affirming care that would itself help their mental health. It’s a cruel Catch 22 for many. Unfortunately, this means that during their time being assessed at gender services, some people feel unable to access mental health care at all, leading to worsening mental health and risk to their lives.

If you’re not in employment or full-time education, you can be refused healthcare because even if you socially transition as required, if you’re not actively going out and interacting with people every day, it doesn’t count. Imagine how that impacts on disabled people. Imagine how that feels for people with anxiety who’ve just had to turn their whole world upside down overnight just to tick a box.

We’ve lost trans community members in the last few years because of health service failings. I’ve lost friends, and we’ve lost siblings as a community. They were failed, and their memory can be kept alive by making things better.

Trans people have a right to the highest attainable standard of health just like anyone else. Clearly, the way we’re doing things here isn’t providing that, so where else do we turn?

Well, luckily we have a wealth of different options for how to run trans health services. If we look across the water to the US and Canada, we see dozens of service providers from Planned Parenthood to community initiatives which run accessible and non-stigmatising services for their communities. If we look to Argentina, we see a legal system which supports trans health rights at the highest level, and bans psychiatric diagnoses for trans identity being used. Argentina is a world leader on trans health rights. If we look at New Zealand, or to Australia, or to community initiatives in the Netherlands, or to Spain, we are actually surrounded by better ways to run this stuff.

What those services mostly centre around is the concept of informed consent. That services are provided in consultation with and centring of the patient. Through conversation, their needs are established and their needs are addressed through medically appropriate interventions, once they’ve been given the information they need to understand the upsides and downsides of undergoing and not undergoing it. There’s no detailed psych evaluations, there’s no arbitrary waiting times, and there’s certainly no obligation to give your abusive landlord a reason to kick you out. You can come out when you feel ready, and be supported as you do so.

Now, I’m not going to pretend that these services are perfect – they’re not. They’re still mostly centred around big cities, they’re still often not great for trans people with atypical experiences or identities, and they can sometimes still deny disabled people access. But the core idea of their work is of bodily autonomy, of bodily integrity.

In healthcare, you can’t give informed consent if you’re coerced into something. But current practice coerces people to lie about their mental health, to put themselves at physical risk by socially transitioning not on their own terms, and to conform to typical narratives around being trans.

These pressures aren’t usually explicit in current practice in the UK, but they’re strongly implied and enforced regardless.

Informed consent trans healthcare listens to trans people. It acknowledges that trans people can be experts in their own care, can be knowledgeable about what they need, and can give consent in the first place. Competency is assumed.

Informed consent trans healthcare acknowledges that trans people can be sexual beings and that their sexual activity doesn’t make their gender a pathology or autophilia. It recognises that the workplace and housing are dangerous topics for trans people, and that healthcare often makes work and finding safe housing easier.

Informed consent services allow people to get on with their lives, and not put their adolescence or adult lives on hold for multiple years while they fester on waiting lists or in assessments. They’re far more efficient to run, and they’re an order of magnitude cheaper, for any healthcare commissioners in the room, hit me up after.

We have experiences of doing this in Northern Ireland. Sexual health services for LGBTI people here are based in the informed consent model, and they were pioneering when they were introduced. They addressed a crisis, and they today respect rights and identities.

The takeaway message on healthcare from me is: people have invented these wheels. There is no need to reinvent them.

We just need to build some closer to home.

Children

I’ve so far neglected a very important group of trans people – young people. One of the most furious areas of public discussion at the moment is on “letting” children and young people come out and transition. Now, an important starting point here is that trans adults were children once – personally I didn’t drop out of the sky in 2011 as a fully-grown adult.

Current debates centre around the ability for young people to consent to things that will affect the rest of their lives, and about when and how that is ethical and acceptable. Ignoring the massive elephants in the room that is the existing mechanisms like Gillick competency and the Fraser guidelines for sexual and reproductive health which provide children and young people with ways to consent to treatment themselves, it can be scary for some people to imagine that children are being railroaded through hormones and surgery before they can even comprehend what that means.

Add a third elephant to the room and it’s now quite crowded – trans healthcare for young people is almost exclusively hormonal treatment, not surgical, so it’s by nature fully or partially reversible. Even cross-sex hormones are partially reversible. If they weren’t, trans adults wouldn’t be able to transition.

There are areas of trans youth healthcare that need more research, just like youth contraception and youth mental health. However, we know, for sure, that denying trans young people the care they need when they need it, has measurable and documented harms, particularly for mental health, social isolation, and long-term happiness and success. For all the pearl-clutching by some at trans men having chest surgery on “perfectly healthy tissue”, which is an odd way to look at bodily autonomy, healthcare for trans youth can change what people need as adults, including removing the need for major surgery.

Aside from this, children have a human right under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to respect to their evolving capacity as young people. Gillick competency doesn’t have age limits, it takes each child as an individual and works out when and how they can understand and consent to care or the removal of care. Under the same principles, we shouldn’t be setting arbitrary age limits on young people access gender affirming care, because this ignores the very real lived experiences of those young people. If we’re talking about young people’s rights, we first have to start by listing to those young people.

Think about that pin from earlier – on making the wrong decisions. When we’re talking about young people and disabled trans adults making the wrong decisions, what metrics are we using? What clinicians think is right? What carers think? What that person is likely to think in years to come? Like many other areas of bodily autonomy, when someone understands their situation and what might help, the best way to help them is to listen to them. For the small minority of people who end up experiencing regret due to rejection by families and peers or the smaller minority who simply regret the decision, this approach also helps them access more suitable support in future. This is true across healthcare and is not a unique problem in trans healthcare – far from it.

Women’s rights

Another area of public discussion at present is trans people’s access to public spaces and wider society, and to sex-segregated spaces. Again, this is something that trans people have been doing for a very long time, and for decades have been included by and supported various parts of society, women’s organisations, sporting bodies and minority communities.

Let’s acknowledge it though, most of this discussion centres around trans women, folks like me. About our access to bathrooms, about our participation in politics, in recreation and sport, and in society generally. Some people think we’re innately unsuitable to be around children because the word transsexualism contains sex. But most of the arguments framed currently are pitched as reasonable concerns, and are sometimes in good faith.

A major concern is that if gender recognition laws are made more accessible in the UK, that women’s spaces will be compromised. This is a fundamental misunderstanding or misrepresentation – gender recognition has very little to do with access to spaces. Trans people are protected from discrimination and in goods, facilities and services from as soon as they intend to transition, and have been for many years. My access to bathrooms isn’t decided by what my birth certificate says, and it hasn’t been for decades. If gender recognition law was brought in line with Ireland tomorrow, this still wouldn’t change this. Access to spaces and freedom from discrimination, and updating your birth certificates are different areas of law.

Along the same vein, comparatively few things in our lives actually rest on our birth certificates. Trans rights in society are mostly not derived from these documents, and are instead guaranteed through social, political and cultural rights stemming from international law and are enacted in the UK through antidiscrimination statute and inclusive guidelines for organisations.

The life and times survey released this month found that a vast majority of women in the UK are OK with trans women using their gendered spaces, and indeed, this is corroborated by the vast majority of trans women’s experiences.

Lesbian and bisexual women’s organisations and spaces, rape crisis and domestic violence services, social groups and sporting bodies across the UK and Ireland have welcomed trans women in for years, not out of fear of legal repercussion, but before rights were extended and because it was seen as the right thing to do.

Although I had people in my twitter mentions last week insisting that I’d never experience sexist harassment and intimidation, I’ve so much love in my heart for the women – and it was mostly women – who supported me through a terrifying experience of intense stalking and intimidation in 2017.

Feminist organising on the island of Ireland, from the 60s and 70s on through the Troubles and into current day abortion rights activism, has long included trans people in various ways, and has strongly improved in recent years too.

This makes sense – abortion rights are about bodily autonomy, as are trans rights. As a trans woman, I don’t have a direct risk of abortion restriction, but fertility and reproductive justice is wider than abortion, and pro-choice activists here have known this for a very, very long time. I’m proud to stand beside my sisters and siblings campaigning for abortion decriminalisation and for reproductive justice, and I’m warmed and encouraged by those same people standing beside us in our own struggles for bodily autonomy and reproductive justice. Together, we will win for all of us.

Trans rights are human rights

To bring this back to the title of today’s lecture, trans rights are human rights. Trans people can be disabled, can be women, can be children. Large parts of the world are getting on with the work of making society and the law better for human beings generally, including trans people.

Trans rights are human rights, but as we’ve explored are also disability rights, are also children’s rights, are also women’s rights.

Far from being a zero sum game, a pie to be divided, a war of advancing sides, rights for one group can secure and promote the rights for all, and the fundamental injustices that trans people experience in our society are based, like many things, in misogyny, in disableism, in disgust.

But arguments from disgust don’t work, and the world is moving forward. Amongst the ever-growing risk from the far right, the violent anti-LGBTI campaigns across Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and the continued efforts of the tabloid press here at home, bodily autonomy campaigners and trans rights defenders are stronger than ever, are dreaming of justice and peace, and will see massive successes yet to come in our lifetimes.

I look to the communities we’ve built here in Belfast and across Northern Ireland, and see increasingly determined and passionate advocates and activists demanding rights, demanding justice. I see trans young people growing up and just living their lives, and having happy childhoods and teenage years that they will grow up to look back on fondly. I see trans people forming happy and loving families, succeeding in doing what they love, and just living in spaces that don’t hate them, don’t see them as diseased or broken, but celebrate their lives as cherished members of society.

We have so much to do. We have so much to look forward to.

For more information

Many thanks to Patrick Corrigan and the Amnesty International NI team for having me present this annual lecture. Thanks also to Alan Meban for his stellar video and streaming work.

If you need this lecture in another format or would like to use it or parts thereof, please get in touch.