Our LGBTQIA Liberation Officer, Lollie, speaks to Young Greens about issues facing trans youth in the Green Party and beyond. Opinions expressed are those of the interviewees.
I spoke to Kacey, a young Green student studying for their A-levels.
Hi, welcome and thanks for taking part in this with me. Maybe if we start just by hearing a bit about what you do with your local party and how long you’ve been a part of the Greens.
Thanks, yeah as someone who’s mostly just been involved throughout quarantine, I actually haven’t gotten that involved with my local party. But I have been working pretty much exclusively with LGBTQIA+ Greens for maybe a year. I’ve been supporting the greens for quite a long time and for a while I wasn’t sure about getting into politics, until things got to a point where I felt I had to get involved because, well, this is my future and I can’t just sit there and observe.
What does Trans Day of Remembrance mean to you? What do you feel should we hold the day as if we’re observing it?
There’s definitely an argument for it being a solemn day, to think on the people who have lost their lives to transphobia and the fight against it. Let’s talk about people’s stories and not let them be forgotten.
A big part of my EPQ was about a trans youth who killed herself, but in all of the coverage I could find to cite it she was misgendered. It was very hard to find a source that remembered her as who she really was and that’s a big deal. We should remember these peoples lives and keep them in our memory.
It shouldn’t just be a solemn day though, of course we should look back on these people who need to be remembered but I think we can also celebrate how far we’ve come, celebrate what they did. They died believing in something that as become real. We are in a better position than we have been in the past. It may not be a perfect position, but I think we can still look back on what we’ve done.
So what would you say is most important to you in terms of your rights right now?
As sad as it is, I would rather it wasn’t a part of my identity that I have to constantly clarify.
So, when I enter spaces at the moment, I often feel like I have to explain myself. I have to say I am a trans person. Because of my identity I feel like I am singled out. I have to constantly be afraid of how I’m presenting, like ‘I have to bind’ ‘I have to present a certain way’ because otherwise I’m not a ‘real trans person’ and that’s actually been said to me before, that I’m not really trans because I’m not on hormones etc. and I have to justify myself as a person consistently and I am questioned so much.
It’s important to me that trans people don’t have to constantly justify themselves to others. Not have to always be thinking about the potential reactions of other people.
Would it be fair to say you’d like to have a sense of identity that’s not beholden to the preconceptions of others?
Yeah, I’d like to be able to say to people that I am a trans person as like a fun ice breaker as something that I can just say and not have to expect further challenges all the time. Because I so often have to be on guard and think ‘is this something I can tell people’, like when I was filling out my UCAS form I really had to spend a long time thinking about it, and that’s not something anyone should have to do with a piece of their identity. It’s them as a person, it’s not something they can change.
That really resonates with me – that having to parse out pieces of yourself. As a lesbian I’ve often found myself having to think ‘is this part of me acceptable in this context’ and questioning what reactions am I inviting if I’m honest about who I am?
With that in mind do you have any feelings towards the rest of the queer community and how we’re treating trans people right now?
I think that a lot of the non-straight people who hold transphobic beliefs are very vocal but I don’t actually think it’s a big majority. I think that these people try to speak for the community when they don’t have the right to. Like the LGB Alliance – they speak for groups they don’t necessarily stand for. I don’t think they speak for the community. When they say things like ‘trans people are dangerous to lesbians’ it’s very much a thing that they’re saying this on behalf of a community they don’t even really understand.
I don’t think it’s a big conflict. The LGB without the T stuff is kind of very separate from what I see of the people who are actually standing up for Gay Rights and really standing in solidarity and doing good work.
Do you think it’s fair to describe the general attitude towards trans issues as a culture war? Is that a useful idea in your opinion?
I don’t necessarily think so. It’s not a culture war when one side is people’s livelihoods and identities and the other side is people who disagree with that lifestyle.
Referring to it as a culture war is reductionist. Trans people feel threatened by anti-trans rhetoric, it’s very much about people’s lives and comfort and who they are as individuals being not necessarily attacked but questioned.
I feel safe within LGBTIQA+ Greens and with the majority of the wider party but there are occasions where I try to do things and – it’s not that I don’t feel safe, I just don’t feel comfortable I suppose.
I think our country especially focuses a lot on if something is just an opinion then it’s not actionable. So, people voicing hurtful but not necessarily targeting views are not seen as really a problem.
There are a lot of dog-whistles, words that connote more than they actually say – people don’t see these as a problem, they’re just ‘opinions’ so they’re seen as just as valid as the opposing view. And that’s everywhere, it’s in the news, in a lot of the UK. Not something that the party can easily crack down on.
So why do you think we’ve got here? Why do you think this anti trans rhetoric has gotten so loud? What’s led us to this point?
I think it’s similar to how homophobia got so loud. A lot of it comes down to using progressive movements as a shield. Historically a lot of homophobia came from the basis of protecting people. Protecting children. It’s an awful way to frame it, but they always took a moral stance that they never rightfully had but they hid behind it.
I feel like that is happening again here, a lot of anti-trans groups will say that what they are doing is feminism, they use feminism as a shield. People feel more inclined to tolerate it when it’s framed this way. I think it’s only gotten this far because these people act like they’re fighting trans rights for the benefit of another group that’s under attack.
Mm. Yeah, that’s difficult because who doesn’t want to protect children? Who doesn’t want to defend women? It’s really difficult to argue with someone who’s saying these things and not be seen as a bad person.
Yeah. It feels like I have to clarify where I’m coming from all the time. Like I have to clarify as a trans person that I’m not a threat. Because they misread things and see me as a predator. And the fact that this movement has gotten to this point is not something that should be happening at all. I am a trans teenager trying to get through my A-levels, I am not a threat to women!
It’s honestly crazy to me. It’s why I’ve had to get so involved with politics.
Do you have hope that this will end and how do you see that happening?
It’s definitely possible. This has spiked, because there are so many very loud, very well known opponents [to trans rights] but I don’t think these people actually have the power to effect change even with their big platforms. I don’t think they’ll make lasting change, and I don’t think they believe that they will either.
There will need to be a lot of work [to promote trans rights] not just by trans people, or queer people, it takes a lot of support from allies.
This interview was held to mark Trans Day of Remembrance 2021.