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Emily Brothers, Labour’s first transgender Parliamentary Candidate who stood in Sutton and Cheam last year, has welcomed today’s Transgender Equality Inquiry Report published by The House of Commons’ Women and Equalities Committee.
Ms Brothers - who is also blind and hard of hearing, is now seeking election to the London Assembly - said:
“An Inquiry into ‘transgender equality’ has been long overdue, so I really welcome the initiative that Maria Miller has taken to set out a clear roadmap for securing change. The balls are now in the Government’s court, so I want to see them respond positively in a co-ordinated way and to act with a sense of purpose.
“There is no place for complacency. With half of young trans people and a third of trans adults attempting suicide.....I know, I was one of them....., things have to change. That means self identity, not a complex and bureaucratic process. It also requires action to build knowledge and capacity in primary care and specialist Gender Identity Clinics, instead of a postcode lottery and long illegal referrals making transitioning so intolerable for so many trans people.
“Whilst some progress has been made by the NHS in recent years, the Government needs to commit to undertaking a root and branch review. Gender identity is a sense of self, not a mental illness, so services need to change with that in mind.”
The landmark Parliamentary Inquiry identified serious concerns of trans people about media portrayal. The report cited (para 325-7) Emily Brothers being treated in a ‘prejudicial and pejorative manner by Rod Liddle in The Sun when she ‘came out’ in December 2014, becoming Labour’s first transgender Parliamentary Candidate. Ms Brothers feels the Committee’s findings are too light touch. She commented:
“I’m hardly surprised that MP’s concluded that trans people have little confidence in bringing complaints before IPSO, as it is simply an industry body led by editors, not an independent regulator. Trans people aren’t alone, as we see time and time again newspapers treating people who are different with incredulity.
“Whilst IPSO upheld the complaint in my case, it failed to deal with subsequent victimisation. That’s why we need Leveson compliant regulation, ensuring that trans people are not treated contemptuously.”
Speaking about legislative changes, Ms Brothers said:
“I welcome proposals to widen the scope of the Equality Act (2010) to cover gender identity, build on the Gender Recognition Act (2004) and strengthen hate crime provisions. As someone with both a disability and woman with a transsexual history, I think this is a missed opportunity to seek implementation of the dual discrimination clause. I’m also disappointed that the Committee hasn’t recommended removing the ‘spousal veto’, essentially confining marriage to the traditional gender binary.
“Since ‘coming out’ just over a year ago, I have spoken extensively around the country. I’ve been really struck by the numbers of young people who are non-gendered in some way. The Committee has also tapped into that changing dynamic, not least with their recommendation to provide an X option on passports. With barometric and other identifying factors, I don’t really see the need for gender markers, so they haven’t gone far enough - failing to recommend that gender should be removed from passports.
“Whilst the Inquiry recommendations deal with much of the immediate concerns of trans people, it fails to address the economic and social inequality trans people experience. Today’s report focuses on our sense of identity, protection and transitioning. After all that, we need to get on with living. For too many trans people that means poverty, poor housing, employment discrimination and wider prejudice. That’s why much more will need to be done in improving the life chances of trans people.”

Notes to Editors
1. Emily Brothers is a Labour London-wide Candidate for the Greater London Assembly Election to be held in May 2016. She was Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Sutton and Cheam at the 2015 General Election. Emily is a former Programme Head – leading on health and social care – with the Equality and Human Rights Commission. She is a longstanding campaigner on disability rights and since ‘coming out’ to wide acclaim in December 2014, she has worked to promote the rights of trans people.
2. The House of Commons Women and Equality Select Committee have published its Inquiry Report into ‘Transgender Equality’ today, Thursday 14 January 2016. The report is here:
The report (para 325-7) noted the representative complaint made by Trans Media Watch about Ms Brothers’ portrayal by Rod Liddle in The Sun on 11/12/14, asking: “being blind, how did she know she was the wrong sex”. The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) found this to be ‘prejudicial and pejorative’ and there decision was published at https://www.ipso.co.uk/IPSO/rulings/IPSOrulings-detail.html?id=131 on 28/05/15
3. Media Contact: emily.brothers@btinternet.com / www.emilybrothers.com / www.twitter.com/ebrotherslabour / Mob 0776 506 0864.

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