The 2021 TransActual Trans Lives Survey is aptly titled Enduring the UK’s Hostile Environment. As one of this year’s largest direct surveys of the trans experience in the country, the data uncovers the abhorrent levels of discrimination faced by trans and non-binary Brits on a daily basis, as represented by nearly 700 respondents.
It’s no surprise to the trans community that transphobia has ripple effects which seriously endanger trans and non-binary people’s mental and physical health. Predictably, the survey shows that this danger becomes even more grave for disabled individuals and those with little proximity to whiteness, to the extent that they are nearly 10% more likely to have been homeless compared to the general trans population.
In the midst of a global pandemic it’s especially concerning that 45% of trans respondents said that their GP did not have a good understanding of their needs as a trans person, with 55% of non-binary people reporting similar issues. Overall nearly 90% of those answering said this had impacted them somewhat, a figure which rises to 95% and 92% for BPOC and disabled people respectively.
Rico Jacob Chace, Director at TransActual UK:”Members of the community, unfortunately, have been living and breathing these statistics for generations and are acutely aware of their validity but now with this survey we can prove it. Transphobia is quite literally cutting people’s lives short but when coupled with racism, ableism or other forms of prejudice there are very few safe spaces.”
The relentlessness of recent anti-trans media ‘discourse’ only adds to the torment. Sensationalist headlines, clickbait coverage and language such as “transphobia row” carelessly reduces the humanity of trans people to a topic up for debate, thus delegitimising trans identity and leaving the trans community open to abuse and maltreatment.
Chair of Trans Media Watch and TransActual’s co-director Jane Fae, says: “The real scandal here is how comprehensively the media have conspired to ignore this situation, preferring, instead, to produce tens of thousands of words on the largely imagined consequences of reform to the Gender Recognition Act.
We are not at all surprised to find that 70% of respondents said that media transphobia has impacted their mental health. In addition, 93% reported that media transphobia had an impact on their experience of transphobia from strangers on the street, while 85% said it has impacted how their family treats them.
The bottom line is: transphobia impacts all aspects of daily life for trans people, from relationships with our friends and families, to healthcare, and even listening to the radio. This report is essential reading for anyone working in healthcare or in the media, as well as for policy makers and employers, and we hope that it provides food for thought…Your actions (and inactions) have a profound impact on all of us.”
The impact on healthcare is such that a staggering 98% of trans people responding do not think that NHS transition related care is completely adequate; 57% of trans people reported that they avoided going to the GP when unwell because of lack of understanding and more general discrimination and an even more worrying 1 in 7 survey respondents reported that their GP had refused to provide care or treatment on account of their trans status at least once.
The data also shows that despite the fact that 65% of non-binary people want to access ID that affirms their gender, 78% of them don’t have it, alongside 37% trans men, 38% of trans women. Non-binary respondents also reported higher rates of transphobic harrassment at work (80%) whereas Trans women were found the most likely to be subject to transphobia from strangers on the street. Depending on the intersection of trans and/or non-binary identity a person occupies, transphobia in the UK is it’s own specific, fresh hell but it’s safe to say that bullshit, self-aggrandising sentiments like the ones expressed in this recent viral tweet make things worse for everyone.
It’s clear that it may be a long time before trans and non-binary people are widely treated with deserved respect which is why it’s all the more important that we rally to protect and nurture trans and non-binary people in queer communities. Through financially supporting transgender rights organisations such at TransActual, showing up for the trans and non-binary people in our lives and speaking out against any transphobia that we come across, we can collectively create a safer country so that trans and non-binary people can exist with more peace.