PRIDE AND POLITICS
Welcome to our latest newsletter!
With fresh content on a whole range of topics from bisexuality, to trans health care and more. Including a few faces from the past...
We also have a reminder on our conference events, it's not too late to join! Tickets close Wednesday at midnight.
If you'd like to submit for future issues, please drop me an email with your idea at the link below.
Elena Rose Bunbury, Chair and Editor
Make Bi Awareness Week Count
By Jessica Zbinden-Webster
Former Lead for Women and Social Media, LGBT+ Conservatives
Bi Awareness Week ran from 16th September, with Bi Visibility Day taking place on the 23rd to see it out with a bang. Social media feeds were decked in the Bi Flag shades of pink, purple and navy, and LGBT+ figures and allies alike celebrated the occasion.
As a bi woman, I’m here for it! Bi individuals get their fair share of flack from people who either misunderstand us or want to harm us because of who we love.
We in the LGBT+ community know that discrimination against sexual orientation comes in as many shapes and sizes as our community embodies. For example, the trans community faces specific stigmas, such as deadnaming and misgendering, that are designed to insult an individual’s gender identity. Biphobic attitudes are similarly distinct from the umbrella term of homophobia. Generally, biphobia targets bisexuality by dismissing it and/or those who identify with it.
Biphobia can sound like any of the following comments:
- ‘Bisexuality doesn’t really exist’
- ‘Bisexuals are attention seekers’
- ‘Bisexuality is a phase’
- ‘Bisexuals are greedy and/or promiscuous’
Biphobia also comes in the form of stereotypes and misconceptions about the way bi people live their lives. These can include:
- If an individual is in a straight-passing relationship, they no longer ‘count’ as bisexual
- If a bisexual person isn’t equally attracted to different sexes, they’re not technically bi
- If someone claims they are bi but have only had romantic encounters with the opposite sex, they don’t count
These myths can be seriously hurtful to people who identify as bisexual. From feeling as though one’s sexuality is not valid enough to feeling as though it is being erased, being on the receiving end of biphobia is no laughing matter.
LGBT+ Conservatives is a safe space for me as a bi woman. The organisation continues to call out discrimination and will always have its members’ backs, no matter their gender or sexual identity. It’s also brilliant to see it spearheaded by Elena Rose Bunbury, an out bi woman who challenges biphobia, both inside and outside of LGBT+ politics.
If you’ve read this far, I ask you to make Bisexuality Awareness Week count by committing to challenge biphobia the next time you come across it. Whether it’s in a casual comment or disguised in jest, it’s always hurtful. Thank you in advance for your allyship!
For more information, you can head to Stonewall’s Bi Visibility Hub at https://www.stonewall.org.uk/bi-hub
THE TRUTH BEHIND TRANS HEALTHCARE
By Rhys McKavanaugh
When I hear people enraged by the NHS rushing people through operations to change their gender, I have to laugh, because if I didn't, I would simply cry.
I was 19 when I was first referred to a gender identity clinic (GIC). It was June, 2012. My GP started the process by referring me to Leeds GIC. While waiting for my first appointment, I moved to Oxford. In October 2013, I ask my new GP to check the status of my referral to Leeds GIC. She couldn't find my referral. I was rereferred, this time to Charing Cross GIC in London.
In 2014, I moved to Banbury so followed up with my latest GP, and once again found the referral had been ‘lost in the system’. Those famous words.
Again, I was re-referred.
It was September 2017 before I was finally seen by anyone in a gender identity clinic. Five years had passed between asking for a referral and actually being seen. That's five years of discomfort and pain. My experience was that GPs were nervous about referrals, nervous about taking over endocrine care, nervous about surgery, and distrusting of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines.
Sadly, my experience isn’t unique. In fact, it’s quite common. Of the many words that could be used to describe trans healthcare in the UK, “rapid” is not one of them; “nervousness” and “cautious to a fault” are terms I'd use.
Gender identity clinics painstakingly drummed into me the risks of losing my fertility, of the efficacy of bottom surgery for trans men like me, the difficulties some experience in their dating life, and many other less than pleasant things. I had hours and hours of conversations with psychiatrists, GPs, and counsellors, and not to mention friends and family too. I can't blame clinicians for being cautious; I too was cautious. I spent countless hours, days, weeks, months, and years running through the options, pondering all the risks of surgery: “Would I regret it?”; “Do I want children?”; “If I do, does it matter if they aren’t biologically mine?”; “Could I even cope with the high levels of gender dysphoria that the thought of pregnancy evokes in me if I wanted my own child?”
As a cautious person, I can sympathise with the laborious NHS process for transition. However, what I cannot stomach is the press narrative that the NHS is currently encouraging people to transition on a whim just because they’re not the stereotype of their assigned gender. If you are a woman with short hair who likes sports cars, or a man who loves Madonna and wears make-up, you are not being encouraged to transition, least of all by the NHS! I cannot sit in silence when I know how long it takes to transition and how many British trans people suffer due to the lengthy process.
At 28, having surgically and hormonally transitioned, the only thing I regret is how much I hesitated, and how much I doubted myself, now that I am finally 100% comfortable in my own skin.
AUGUST: NOT THE MOST HALCYON OF OUR DAYS
By Aaron Richard Earl Boasman-Patel
The month of August usually conjures up happy memories for most of long summer days, picnics in the park and Pride celebrations up and down the country, yet this August has been marred by a spate of attacks on the LGBTQ+ community across the United Kingdom. On 16th August at 06:30am, Ranjith Kankanamalage, known as Roy, was found dead in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park. The 50-year-old man had severe head injuries and a post-mortem examination confirmed that they were caused by blunt force trauma. His death is being treated as a homophobic hate crime.
Only a day earlier on the 15th August, two gay men, Rob and Patrick, in their 30s were attacked outside the Missing Bar, Bromsgrove Street in Birmingham’s Gay Village. Homophobic abuse was shouted at them from a car and the pair were then assaulted with bottles. On 30th July, a married gay couple were punched, kicked and spat at as they walked down a busy city centre street in Edinburgh.
Since 2015, hate crimes related to sexual orientation and gender identity have increased year on year. In the latest statistics I could find (Home Office Hate Crime report) hate crimes recorded by the police for sexual orientation rose by 25% in England and Wales in 2019 whilst Transgender hate crime rose by an astonishing 37%. The Guardian newspaper reported that in the year to March 2020, hate crime rose by a further 19% to 15,835 and transgender identity hate crimes by 16% to 2,540 – averaging more than 50 reports each day.
For far too long, the LGBTQ+ community has been attacked and stigmatised. It is critical that the government take urgent action to address hate crimes against us. After many long-hard fought battles to gain marriage recognition and to achieve equality in society, these shocking attacks in August show us that we still have a long way to go.
The government need to make sure that they have the right policies in place to protect the LGBTQ+ community and that the police have the right resources to tackle and prevent these heinous crimes. It is not good enough for the government just to pay lip-service, they need to act, and act now to protect us, to allow us to live our lives free from fear, and free from violence.
COUNCIL MEMBER OF THE MONTH
"Luke has been an absolute asset since he took over the role of Comms Lead. This month has seen him hard at work creating all of our wonderful conference event posters, and assisting with the organisation of our conference programme. Alongside this he has been busy training up our social media volunteers and assisting with the day to day posting. He's stepped up to take the position of Conference Director, so you'll be seeing even more of him over the next few weeks."
COME ALONG WITH CLLR. COPE
Cllr. John Cope, Director of Strategy & Policy at UCAS
How are you enjoying life as a councillor?
It's a huge privilege, but also quite the shock to the system when you've got a full-time job. Being a councillor is one of those roles that can be a small amount of time, or basically a full-time job itself, and you have to work out how much you can do as you go along. The number of committees, surgeries, casework, and campaigns soon stack up. Absolutely no complaints though - I love every moment.
What are your main aims for your residents?
It's all about coming back together after a bizarre two years of isolation. That means helping local businesses, improving green spaces, and getting funding for community projects. Having just become Leader of the Opposition on the council, my other main aim is holding the pretty feeble and unambitious administration to account - especially as they manage to charge one of the highest council taxes in the country. We’re also up against the Liberal Democrats mainly who will literally say anything to anyone to get elected – even if it’s the opposite of what they’re saying in the next town.
Slight claim to fame so far is managing to ban the giving of live animals as prizes throughout the entire borough. It was a shock to find out this was still happening in Elmbridge, but one swift motion later and banned!
How do you balance being a councillor and your job?
It's tough at times, but you just need to be organised and explain the times pressure to your employer. I'm lucky that mine understand that I might disappear for an hour or so during the day, but will catch up in the evening.
I do think that councillors should be paid a reasonable allowance though so it doesn’t end up just the retired and wealthy that can do it – we should drastically cut the number of councillors across the country at the same time so it doesn’t cost taxpayers anymore.
Why is it important to have LGBT+ representation in elected positions?
Given we make up about 5% of the population, there would be something very wrong if LGBT+ people didn't get elected. Local government is all about delivering services for people in their area - doing that means the Council chamber needs to have people from all walks of life and perspectives.
What are your main policy aims for the LGBT+ community?
Within a few weeks of being elected I was asked what Elmbridge did to celebrate Pride - a few questions later and I swiftly found out absolutely nothing. I was too late to get anything done this year, but I am working on it for next year! It's vital there is a public visibility of LGBT people - I sorely wish there had been when I was growing up. It would have made life so much easier.
Who is your LGBT+ hero/idol?
Such a hard question. There are so many to choose from that I'll go for someone that's really stood out for me recently - Lil Nas X. It's the total authenticity, the bravery, the lack of ego, and giving no damn whatsoever about the homophobia he faces for doing things considered totally normal when a heterosexual artist does them. That's what LGBT+ rights and Pride is all about - demanding the same as everyone else & and not accepting the ‘I’m fine with LGBT, but please keep it private’ crap that still goes on.
What do you like to get up to in your free time?
What is a free time?
What's your favourite biscuit?
Total custard cream addict.
Fancy being featured in our next spotlight serires? From MPs, to AMs, to Cllrs, we want to hear from you!
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
For more information and to book, click here.
CANDIDATES FUND RECEPTION
Date: Oct 27
Time: 18:30 - 20:30
Location: Marylebone area, address will be confirmed to ticket holders.
The LGBT+ Conservatives Candidates' Fund continues to support candidates across the country and in the 2019 General Election supported many candidates thanks to your generosity.
With pandemic restrictions now easing, we are delighted to invite you to join us for the first LGBT+ Conservatives fundraiser of 2021 in aid of the Candidates' Fund, which will help rebuild our war chest for the next elections - whenever they come!
Join us on Wednesday October 27 2021 for an evening of celebration, pride and politics as we return with this in-person gathering in the heart of the West End, kindly hosted by Cllr and Mrs Glanz.
We are delighted that the Prime Minister's Special Envoy on LGBT rights, Rt Hon Lord Herbert CBE, will address the event. Appointed earlier this year, Nick's work brings together the Government’s domestic agenda combatting harassment and violence against LGBT people and spearheading the UK's global leadership on LGBT rights. He will chair the ‘Safe to be Me: A Global Equality Conference’ in June 2022.
We will also joined by some of our parliamentary patrons and colleagues who have benefited from the Fund's support.
HERE TO HELP
Can you help us campaign for local LGBT+ Conservatives? Let us know here: https://forms.gle/SywUfmh1umsiVfBH7 and we can help match you up!
Is there an LGBT+ Conservative candidate in your area we can help? Or you a candidate looking for help campaigning?
Let us know here: https://forms.gle/67cfEpZbaUd3oaTf7
KEEP IN TOUCH
REGIONAL FACEBOOK GROUPS
Join Your Region!
Your regional co-ordinators have been setting up local groups that will be used to organise local meet ups, discussions and even just general chat.
North West, Rhys McKavanagh https://www.facebook.com/groups/816368052401162
Yorkshire and The Humber, Joe Pattinson https://www.facebook.com/groups/2643493459291460
East Midlands, Tom Hulme https://www.facebook.com/groups/1976771362479200
North East, Barry Flux https://www.facebook.com/groups/1560930810659130/?ref=share
London, Niall McDougall - https://www.facebook.com/groups/lgbtconslondon/
Scotland, Andrew Jarvie- https://www.facebook.com/LGBT-Conservatives-Scotland-105687351823720
South West, Simon Davies https://www.facebook.com/groups/290284349553138/?ref=share
South East, Andrew Buchanan - https://www.facebook.com/LGBTSEConservatives
Keep an eye out, we have even more regions to come!
Want to be more involved?
Do you have social media skills, or experience working in policy?
We want to hear from you!
We have launched LGBT+ Conservatives Volunteers group, this is a facebook group in which we will post opportunities to help out. Tasks such as help securing speakers for events, participating in policy focus groups, social media projects, and more will all be posted in the group on an adhoc basis.
If this sounds good to you then you can join the group here - https://www.facebook.com/groups/195140478740212.
Any paid-up LGBT+ Conservative member is welcome to join the group, then it’s up to you to put yourself forward for whatever projects you think suit you. There will be no pressure to give a certain amount of time or help on specific projects, it’ll be entirely up to you what you want to get involved with.
We look forward to working with you!
IN THE BAG
There is no better campaigning assistant that this excellent Drawstring Bag - e.g. Delivery Bag!
Be sure to order yours here in time for our Big Day Out!
(proceeds go to supporting LGBT+ candidates)
Do you have a mentor? If so, you will know mentorship is a great way to make better progress towards your career goals.
LGBT+ Leaders is a network of people within our Party that are committed to nurturing future talent all whilst being understanding of the barriers LGBT+ people face in politics. Lots of MPs are already signed up, but all roles are represented from Association officers to Lords. The best part is, as an LGBT+ Conservative member, it is completely FREE.
Why not check out the platform and sign up at: https://www.pushfar.com/employee-register/LbVpgiCEL9/