Zoe Kirk-Robinson is a transgender Conservative Cllr for Westhoughton North and Chew Moor in Bolton.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) is an annual remembrance day for all members of the transgender community who have died as a result of anti-transgender actions; be it murder, suicide or something else.
Every year, the list of the dead is enormous and it can feel like it gets bigger each time; especially with the media using anti-transgender stories and “opinion pieces” to garner sales and bring in clicks online. It’s hard to see how things will ever improve, but they can - and if we continue to fight for equality, battle prejudice wherever we find it and work hard to change society’s attitude, we will eventually prevail.
Changing attitudes is important because, as much as it is painful for a political group to admit, the politics and laws of a country don’t always effect a person on a daily basis - but social interactions do. This is blatantly obvious whenever a transphobic assault happens in the street and the attackers shout the same transphobic lines they heard on the TV or read on the Internet the night before.
It became unacceptable to broadcast racism in the UK. It became unacceptable to act racist in the street. Neither of these things should have ever been acceptable but at one time a lot of people would let them go without a comment. Now we don’t, society got better. The same can - and eventually will - for transphobia.
But until then, we must continue our work. We must continue to campaign to change peoples’ minds; and to make the law more protective of trans rights. That’s why the Conservative Government launched its consultation on reforming the Gender Recognition Act 2004. The Act was a big step forward for trans rights but it’s over a decade old now and it doesn’t do everything it needs to, so the Government wants to improve it. That’s another step in the right direction.
But as we remember the hundreds of transgender people who have died simply because other people didn’t like that they are trans, we have to acknowledge that there is a still a mammoth task ahead of us. We have a lot of hearts and minds to change; and that means we can’t rest on our laurels.
It’s time to roll up our sleeves and press on in the hope that next year’s list will be empty.