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16 February 2015

Stonewall to begin campaigning for trans equality

A new report lays out how the organisation seeks to change their approach to trans people and begin advocating for their rights.

By Stephanie Boland

In a historic move, Stonewall have announced they will begin campaigning for trans rights.

Founded in 1989, the organisation seeks to make a case for sexual orientation equality in mainstream political thought. Until today’s report, they have campaigned for lesbian, gay and bisexual rights but avoided approaching trans issues. Stonewall have previously faced criticism for their actions towards trans people – some of which have been particularly galling given the significance of trans activists in the 1969 New York riots from which Stonewall takes its name.

Their new report, however, suggests this will change. Chief executive Ruth Hunt, appointed last year, began meeting with trans campaigners in August. She publically apologised for Stonewall’s behaviour:

We recognise the impact of mistakes we have made in the past. We are aware that we have missed opportunities to open up this conversation far sooner. We apologise to trans people for the harm that we have caused.

In the following consultations with over 700 trans people, Stonewall identified key trans issues they intend to campaign on, including employment protection, improving portrayals in the media and advocating better mental health support for trans people who have experienced social persecution.

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The report also mentions specific legal challenges faced by trans people, such as the Gender Recognition Act, which has been accused of failing to accommodate those who wish to gain a Gender Recognition Certificate while staying married.

As well as advocating for trans people, Stonewall will also take on paid trans experts to help amend their publications and educate their staff. The report lays out extensive training requirements that will be implemented alongside current activities. Appendixes include a glossary and a note outlining the importance of honouring names and personal pronouns.

For many, the change to Stonewall policy will be long overdue, but welcome. Campaigner Christie Elan Cane was quoted in PinkNews as saying “It is good news for the trans* community if Stonewall can get this right. Too often trans* issues are side-lined and we suffer at the hands of policy advisors who fail to understand there is a T in LGBT. I am encouraged that Stonewall wants to move forward as a trans* inclusive organisation.”

The response online has also been largely positive:

Stonewall are inviting responses using the hashtag #transtonewall. So far, the most frequently used word seems to be “finally”.

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