On Saturday I had the pleasure and honour of opening the 7th Sparkle in the Park in Manchester. Sparkle is the biggest event of its kind for the transgender community.

The transgender community as a group suffer a great deal of discrimination. It is a community that is small and little understood by the population at large. That most basic of questions when a child is born – is it a boy or is it a girl – is something that most of us never question or even have to think about.

But for those to whom the answer to that question is less clear as they grow – a lifetime of trying to exist in a binary gender system when those descriptions conflict with feelings – is what is born.

But things are changing.  Sparkle, which as I said is in its 7th year, is a public statement from the community that they are standing out there and standing proud.

The Equality Act gives protection to the transgender community from discrimination in the same way as it gives  protection for gender, sexual orientation, disability, race and other protected characteristics. But protection under the law is one thing. Hearts and minds need to follow – and whilst much has been achieved – there is still a hugely long way to go.

The trangender community suffer from a great deal of hate crime, discrimination at work, access to public services and generally a lack of understanding about what it means to be transgender. Whilst it is often joined to the LGB agenda as LGB&T – there is a world of difference between sexual orientation LGB (lesbian, gay, bisexual) and T (transgender) which is about gender identity and quite separate from sexual orientation.

Currently we (the government) has a consultation going on all the issues for the transgender community because we recognise that there are issues that need addressing separately from those that are addressed by our LGB&T workplan. We have had over 1200 responses so far – making this the largest ever in the UK.

These responses will form the basis on which we can make informed decisions about what changes are needed. I can’t promise that every aspect can be met – but we will use the information to do as much as is possible.

When I left Sparkle, having given the opening speech and met a number of those taking part and organising the day, the sun had come out – and Sparkle was sparkling. The turnout for this event in the park was huge. And it was striking that in a park where only a few years ago the transgender community wouldn’t have even dared to walk – now they were holding a party in that same park.

A huge thank you to Bella and her team for all the organisation – and a thank you for inviting me to share the day.

0 thoughts on “Sparkle

  1. Lynne you seem to spend 100% of your time as Parliamentary Under secretary for equalities either talking about women, trans people or occasionally homosexuals.

    You do absolutely nothing for the other 47% of the population and have actualyl admitted to this in your total politics interview. The onyl logical conclusion anyone can come to is that you’re a sexist.

    It’s no wonder Fathers 4 Justice are outside Cameron’s house now give his disgusting comments and I can see why you got appointed now seeing as you clearly have a lot in common with his disgusting views. We kicked out the likes of Harman for her sexism yet what we get is such a tiny improvement as to be irrelevant.

    The Lib Dem’s produced an entire men’s manifesto at the last election. Now I realise you’re in coalition and can’t introduce all of it, but exactly what have you done for men and their children?

    Why won’t you fight for equality for everyone instead of solely your pet groups? I think you’d really benefit from visiting some of the superb pro equality charities out there that do such important work with almost no resources. I strongly recommend a visit to the likes of the Mankind Initiative, a brilliant organsiation. I think that would really open your eyes to what equality actually means and what your job is supposed to be.

  2. Lynne,

    thank you so much for opening a great event and thank you for taking time out to visit our social housing stall and band of helpers.

  3. Dear Lynne,
    You gave a really heartening speech that confirmed your commitment to support trans people and the government’s determination to advance their equality through a a cross government action plan. Thank you for launching the Sparkle celebration. It wasn’t all play. We also got some serious work done on the trans community’s own statement of need.
    Kind regards, Bernard Reed OBE
    Trustee, Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES)

  4. Dear Lynne,
    I really enjoyed your opening speech at Sparkle, for which I enjoyed a prime position and joined the later meeting where the equalities office made a presentation.
    I was a little confused by the “focus on health” bit and asked a question at the meeting to clarify. The reply seemed reassuring in that other issues, especially employment and discimination, were still included in the year-end target.
    I made a point that I’m not sure was fully understood – that a cheap and effective option in those areas would be to introduce blanket gender identity and expression protection with no need to declare anything upfront. It still seems hard to break the gender binary paradigm that says you must declare yourself to be “man” or “woman” by reassigning. Why? The current legislation ignores the huge number of gender variant people. Why can we not present as we wish within a gender-neutral set of rules at the workplace? Why do we require any kind of permission in order to be protected? One does not have to get permission to be black, white or mixed race. “Men” and “Women” are equal – the law says so – therefore an employer employs a person, not a “Man” or a “Woman”.

    I believe you appreciate this better than any other politician I have encountered but I’m not 100% sure the Home Office has a completer grasp just yet.

    Please keep it all up Lynne, because you are marvellous.

    Kind regards

  5. Thank you so much for lending your support to the transgender community. It is really refreshing to have a minister take us seriously for once.
    However, I am a little confused with your statement that “The Equality Act gives protection to the transgender community from discrimination in the same way as it gives protection for gender, sexual orientation, disability, race and other protected characteristics.”
    As I understand it, a gay man can not be fired for being gay, a woman can not be fired for being female, and an asian can not be fired for being asian and yet a cross-dresser CAN be fired for being a cross-dresser.
    I also believe that no other patient has to follow a set criteria BEFORE they receive treatment for what ails them… apart, that is, for someone who suffers from gender identity disorder.
    Surely these are areas of discrimination where The Equality Act allows people to treat the transgender community different to everyone else?

  6. When is the government going to scrap the Single Equality Act or amend the current one, as the right £Excemptions) to discriminate against transsexuals that exist within the legislation clearly shows that the Equalities office isn’t doing its job to protect vulnerable minorities from discrimination.

  7. Hi Lynne,

    I was so pleased to see that you have made clear the lack of understanding about what it means to be transgender.

    Personally I feel that tagging T (transgender) along with the LGB (lesbian, gay, bisexual) agenda serves to add further to that lack of its true meaning.

    It gets even worse when we add I for (intersex).

    Transgender and Intersex is definitely about gender identity but so often the terms becomes “lost in translation”.

    As this wonderful dialogue gains momentum in the public eye, it becomes necessary to seize this as an opportunity to increase understanding for the betterment of society.

    Is it necessary?
    Unfortunately yes, it seems to me that these tags are an attempt by society to create a socially constructed category by those who see themselves as normal.

    Does it have to be?
    No, have we not progressed now to a society with a greater understanding of the many variations between Black and White!

    We are all human beings who deserve equality in Society and Law.

    “It is never too late to give up your prejudices”
    Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862)

    Once again thank you Lynne for your dedication to equality for all.

    Transgender living in New Zealand, English born and proud to be me!

    PS: Any chance British nationals living overseas might be able to be included in the surveys on this subject.

  8. Pingback: Sparkle « Angie's Aspirations

  9. I have just read what you said at Sparkle. Thank you so much for your support. I hope the consultation goes well.