Intersectionality Week: LGBT+
Posted 19 January 2021LGBT+ Students' Rep, Beth, talks about intersectionality from a LGBT+ and Trans perspective.
LGBT+ Students' Rep, Beth, talks about intersectionality from a LGBT+ and Trans perspective.
It is known that different groups of people will face different types of discrimination due to many characteristics (race, disability, gender, sexuality etc.) and while some types of discrimination may be difficult for many people to understand, nevertheless it should not be diminished.
Like many groups, there has been a long and difficult fight for LGBT+ rights and equality and the fight is far from over.
Intersex babies are still unnecessarily operated on at birth, people are still discriminated against at work for their sexuality or gender, conversion therapy is still legal in the UK, and hate crimes have been increasing over the past several years; the number of issues people in the LGBT+ community face extends so far past these few examples.
As for transgender people, if they wish to medically transition, their choices are the NHS or having private surgery. With NHS Gender Identity Clinics becoming increasingly backlogged, some people are having to wait at least two and a half years for the first appointment which doesn’t even qualify a trans person to start Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). They need another appointment to start HRT. Even then, they often have to pay for their prescription which many cannot afford. This isn’t even considering the time it takes for the appointments needed to secure their surgery. Overall, it can take over 7 years for trans people to get the surgery they need. With recent legal changes to trans HRT and further ongoing pushback from anti-trans groups, it is likely that the waiting times will increase and the wellbeing of trans people will continue to suffer. Using private surgery is not an option for many trans people, as surgery alone can cost up to around £15,000. This is ignoring the appointments before surgery and HRT.
Things are only expected to get worse in the near future as Brexit has many implications to the things LGBT+ people could lose. The UK is no longer using the EU Charter of fundamental rights in British law. Unfortunately, it was this charter that provided a lot of legal protection for LGBT+ people against discrimination, especially in the workplace.
In the face of these difficulties, both new and old, the LGBT+ community have banded together to form safe spaces in which to socialise and talk about these issues openly.
However, even within these groups, there is almost always a hierarchy of privilege. A working-class gay black woman is still going to be discriminated against more than a middle-class gay white man in the LGBT+ community. Even if those two people belong in the LGBT+ community, they will still experience very different forms of privileges and as such the LGBT+ community has been shaped by those with more privilege, creating more obstacles and conflict to the path to equality.
The best way to improve these issues within the LGBT+ community is to create more spaces for all types of people, for example having places for QTIPOC people to meet and discuss issues specifically impacting them. Statistics from Stonewall show that in 2018, 51% of QTIPOC had experienced racism in the LGBT+ community. Of course, this is not just an issue for QTIPOC people, similar issues are present for disabled LGBT+ people and working-class gay people etc. Equal spaces need to be created for them, as well as more opportunities for those people to take charge when pushing for change.
To truly overcome the discrimination that these groups face, an understanding of intersectionality is vital and an important step towards solidarity. Solidarity can then lead to change.
It is by no coincidence that one of the most famous acts of solidarity between LGBT+ groups and the working class - Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners - was so successful. The support these groups gave the miners during their strike helped the workers support their families and was not forgotten by the mine workers, who went on to be one of the strongest supporters of the LGBT+ community as they protested Section 28. This solidarity between gay people and the working class shows that understanding and willingness to be an ally to groups that face different issues can have huge positive outcomes for everyone involved.
This, apart from the clear moral reasons, is why we need to stand together to enact positive change. Not just for our own community but for everyone facing unjust difficulties in our society, we are stronger standing in solidarity than we are standing alone.
Sources and further reading:
About Brexit and LGBT+ people:
LGBT+ and trans issues mentioned in this post: