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Photo – Emily Speaking at London School of Economics at the LGBT History Debate

Photo – Emily Speaking at London School of Economics at the LGBT History Debate

Speaking last night at The London School of Economics (LSE), Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Sutton and Cheam, Emily Brothers welcomed Stonewall’s decision to encapsulate transgender rights in their work. Ms Brothers said:
“I welcome Stonewall’s strengthened interest in transgender related issues. It is an organisation that has positive influence for LGBT people, having made progress on legislative reform, not least with equal marriage.
“I’m pleased that Stonewall are planning to ease into their new role and have indicated that they intend to compliment the work of transgender specific groups at both national and local level. It is important that those groups do not feel threatened, but they feel supported by a new and powerful player entering into transgender politics and service delivery.
“It is important that Stonewall don’t just add on Transgender issues to existing products like the Workplace Equality Index, but work over time to gain the trust of people with a transgender history to take forward policy solutions - on the Spousal Veto for instance – in a knowledgeable and authoritative manner. That’s why Stonewall’s leadership will need to include people from across the transgender community.
“For me, as a gay woman and as a woman with a transsexual history, there is a lot of symmetry in bringing together gender identity and sexual orientation, even though they are different characteristics. That’s likely to be different for a woman with a transsexual history, but identifies as heterosexual. Stonewall will need to get their heads around those dynamics, not just the language that describes our social narrative.”

Photo – Emily with Amy Ashenden (Southampton University) and Louisa Acciari (National Union of Students)
Photo – Emily with Amy Ashenden (Southampton University) and Louisa Acciari (National Union of Students)

Emily Brothers was joined in a panel discussion by Amy Ashenden (freelance writer and languages students at Southampton University) and Louisa Acciari (former researcher for the National Union of Students on transgender issues in higher education). The discussion hosted by students from one of the foremost social science universities with global reach was held to mark LGBT History Month.
Ms Brothers and Ms Ashenden spoke about the under-representation of LGBT people in both politics and the media. Emily Brothers who is bidding to be the first woman with a transsexual history to be elected to any national Parliament in the world said that:
“Significant steps have been made since Chris Smith ‘came out’ 30 years ago. It isn’t news to ‘come out’ as a gay politician in the way it would be for a footballer today. Little has been said in the media about my identity as a gay woman, but many column inches have been given to my gender transition.
“There are too few LGBT people in politics. In particular, there is a long way to go for the transgender community. That’s why it would be an incredibly powerful message if I’m successful in getting elected in Sutton and Cheam, that we can play an active part in representing our communities.”

Photo – Emily with Other Panellists at London School of Economics for LGBT History Debate
Photo – Emily with Other Panellists at London School of Economics for LGBT History Debate

The panellists touched on stereotypical ways in which the media can portray LGBT people and a lack of understanding from many politicians. They agreed that getting better representation in politics and the media would help.
The panel went on to talk about bullying within the LGBT community itself, whether to ‘come out’ in the workplace and the future for the LGBT community. Ms Brothers said:
“I’m quite new to the LGBT community, so not really well placed to talk about bullying or victimisation within the community itself. However, I’m aware that transgender people sometimes feel dismissed by the wider LGBT movement. Following Stonewall’s announcement last week to work more with the transgender community, Owen Jones wrote in The Guardian that he had previously ignored this group. That kind of dismissive attitude would probably have continued if Stonewall hadn’t taken a lead. It is striking that he listened to the LGB group, but not the transgender community directly. Hopefully, Stonewall will be able to help in that regard, not as a conduit but increasingly as a representative voice.
“We need supporters to work alongside us, so we are no longer ‘outsiders’, simply another strand in life’s rich tapestry of diversity.
“Significant steps have been taken in recent years with legal recognition, such as equal marriage. Yet, we shouldn’t be complacent as there are some who would like to go backwards to re-capture so-called traditional values. My take on change is quite the opposite, to move forward ambitiously so that LGBT people can fully participate in society and be happy.”


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