Anthony Watson, Labour’s lead LGBT+ adviser, demands show of solidarity following Stonewall’s trans row and calls for ‘safe spaces’ for trans people, in particular trans children.
The Labour Party’s lead LGBT+ advisor and British entrepreneur, Anthony Watson, has issued an open letter – backed by high profile personalities – in an attempt to unite gay men in solidarity with the trans community. Trans people are the most at risk segment of the LGBT+ community.
The equality tsar’s rallying cry comes as Stonewall – Britain’s leading LGBT charity – was embroiled in a toxic trans row. The debate about the nature of gender versus sexual orientation has led to controversy within the LGBT+ movement and beyond, with key allies of Stonewall publicly withdrawing funding over the issue. Stonewall’s Chief Executive, Ruth Hunt, resigned from the charity – but said she stood by Stonewall’s work on trans rights and recognised that ‘reconciling’ peoples needs across LGBT communities ‘has not always been a comfortable conversation’.
Shoulder to shoulder
Mr Watson, a tech entrepreneur, a member of the Board of Directors of GLAAD (the world’s largest LGBT+ media advocacy organisation) and a Patron of Diversity Roles Models (the UK largest LGBT+ anti-bully charity) also chairs Dawn Butler MP’s diversity board, wants gay men to stand shoulder to shoulder with transgender people and hopes the signatories – who all identify as gay men – will reassure them that they are not alone and that there are high-profile gay men that support their cause.
The letter, which has attracted names from the worlds of media, celebrity, politics and community activism, says:
“I am writing this letter alongside many other gay men of different privileges. Just as lesbians have shown their support through #LWithTheT we now stand in public solidarity with our trans siblings.
As gay men we have watched in horror at the cruelty inflicted upon the trans community. We are outraged. The most vulnerable people in our society are marginalised, scared and endangered. Trans communities, and in particular trans children, are under attack on a daily basis.
What do trans people want? They want the right to live their lives in peace, to be free from violence and discrimination, and to enjoy equal protection under the law. What they want, in short, are the same basic protections and rights we as gay men enjoy.
How quickly we forget. The iconic Stonewall riots of 1969 that galvanised the gay rights movement were guided by trans people. Trans women fought for our rights when few others would. Now, on the fiftieth anniversary of Stonewall, we need to answer the call of our trans siblings.
We support trans communities. We support the proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act 2004 which seeks to de-medicalise trans people and give them the freedom to be recognised in law with the same ease as trans people in Ireland, Malta and Argentina.
All trans people want to be able to live without fear or harassment as they go about their daily lives. Whether trans men, trans women, non-binary people, fluid, queer or unsure. As gay men, we applaud others’ quest to define themselves and to find their own happiness.
No community should – or can – be expected to withstand the personal and unyielding public scrutiny and demonization of their existence. Media coverage of trans people is toxic, relentlessandinaccurate. It is creating an extremely hostile environment for all trans people, and in particular trans children.
We, as gay men, must stand with them. Being an ally requires more than passive support. Today’s transphobia is yesterday’s recycled homophobia. We all remember and feel the impact of the pernicious Section 28. We are reminded of Martin Niemöller’s poem “First they came for the for the…”. Gay men cannot afford to sit out this fight. Transphobic people aren’t just coming for trans rights; they’re coming for all of us.
Every gay man owes, in no small part, the rights and privileges we now enjoy to the courage and sacrifice of our trans siblings who came before. Now we must stand alongside them as they lead the fight for theirs.
Don’t let our trans siblings stand alone. Add your name to this campaign – GwiththeT.com and tweet #GwiththeT
Speaking about the letter, Mr Watson said, “Gay men for far too long have been silent on the issue of trans rights. We need our trans siblings to know why stand with them in solidarity as they lead the fight for their rights. We are in this fight with you”
“LGBT+ broadly, and trans people in particular, are already seen as a minority in British society. We have to fight harder than anyone else for our voices to be heard and to be taken seriously.”
“Trans people are by far the most at-risk section of our community and Media coverage of trans people is toxic, relentless and inaccurate – having a devasting affect on our trans siblings.”
“There has been a lot of venomous and erroneous noise recently around the nature of gender versus sexual orientation. I want to be absolutely clear: Trans men are men. Trans women are women.Non-binary identities are valid. Trans rights are human rights.”
“I have issued an open letter, which has the support of influential gay men in our community, to express our solidarity with trans people and their fight for equality. We don’t want trans people to feel demonised or as though they are on the fringes – we want them to know they are not alone. I hope the letter sends a strong signal to our trans siblings that we stand in solidarity with you. Too often trans people are forgotten and even more marginalised than their lesbian, gay and bi-sexual counterparts. We need to come together and stand in solidarity with one another.”
The signatories (alphabetically) to Mr Watson’s letters are
Pav Akhtar – Director, UK Black Pride.
Ryan Atkins – Professional Football Referee.
Matt Bagwell – Executive Editor, HuffPost UK
Damian Barr – Author.
Richard Beaven – Former Trustee of Stonewall.
Michael Berg – Chief Marketing Officer of the H Club.
Dustin Lance Black – Academy Award-winning screenwriter and LGBT+ Activist.
Jonathan Blake – HIV activist.
Simon Blake OBE – CEO of Mental Health First Aid England and Deputy-Chair of Stonewall.
Matt Boyles – LGBT+ Personal Trainer and Campaigner.
Benjamin Butterworth – Journalist, Political and LGBT+ Commentator.
Matt Cain – Author and Journalist.
Benjamin Cohen – CEO, PinkNews Media Group.
Charlie Condou – Actor and Equalities Campaigner.
Henry Conway – Author and Journalist.
Patrick Cash – Writer.
Russell T Davies OBE – Television Scriptwriter and Producer.
Simon Dunn – Athlete and Activist.
Max Emerson – Author, Model and Social Media Influencer.
Colin Macfarlane – Director of Stonewall Scotland.
James Frost – Entrepreneur and Publisher of Gay Times Magazine.
Jordan Luke Gage – Actor and West End Performer.
Dylan Geick – Social Media Influencer, YouTube Host and LGBT+ Rights Activist.
Ian Green – CEO, Terence Higgins Trust.
Scott McGlynn – Writer, Podcast Presenter and LGBT+ Rights Activist.
Liam Hackett – Founder & CEO of Ditch The Label.
David Haigh – Human Rights Lawyer and Former Managing Directors of Leeds United Football Club.
Brett Haran – Original Member of Lesbian and Gays Support the Miners.
Daniel Hughes – Publicist.
Adrian Harrop – Medical Doctor and LGBT+ Campaigner and Activist.
Ian Massa-Harris – Executive Producer of Pride in London.
Matthew Hodson – CEO, National AIDS Monitor.
Christopher Howard – Co-Lead, Intertech LGBT+ Diversity Forum.
Ian Howley – CEO HERO (Health Equality and Rights Organisation).
Matt Horwood – Assistant Director of Communications, Albert Kennedy Trust
Owen Jones – Journalist, Political Commentator and Equalities Campaigner.
Simon Jones – Publicist.
Lesley Jordan – Author and Emmy Award Winning Actor.
Riyadh Khalaf – Author, Documentary Film Maker and BBC Podcast Host.
Charlie King, Reality TV personality.
Pete Lawson – Screenwriter.
Thomas Lawson – CEO Turn2us, Chair FTB Lawson.
Hernan Lopez – Founder & CEO of Wondery Media and Former Board Member of GLAAD.
Andy Legon – Commentator and LGBT+ Activist.
The Rt. Hon. The Lord Mandelson PC, Former MP, Secretary of State and EU Trade Commissioner.
Sheldon Mills – Stonewall Trustee.
Daniel Newman – Actor, Model, and Musician.
Anthony Nicodemo– Teacher, Varsity basketball Coach and New York State Politician.
Greg Owen – Co-founder #IwantPrepNow.
Krishna Omkar – Lawyer and LGBT+ Activist.
Andrew Pakes – Stonewall Trustee.
Jonathan Phang – Author, Documentary Film Maker and Television Presenter.
Olly Pike – LGBT+ Children’s Author, Illustrator and YouTube Host.
Suki Sandhu OBE – Founder & CEO of Audeliss and Involve.
Omar Sharif Jr – Actor, Model and LGBT+ Rights Activist.
Dr Ranj Sing – Medical Doctor, Television Presenter (and Strictly Come Dancing star) and Author.
Tim Sigsworth MBE – CEO, Albert Kennedy Trust.
Steven Smith – Author and Journalist.
Sanjay Sood-Smith – Director of Empowerment Programmes, Stonewall.
Ethan Spibey – Founder Freedom to Donate and Member of the Advisory Board for the Terrance Higgins Trust.
Terry Stacy MBE – Chair, Albert Kennedy Trust and Former Leader of the London Borough of Islington.
Darren Styles OBE – Publisher and Owner, Attitude Magazine, Ambassador of the GREAT campaign.
Jonny Swift – Dentist and Campaigner.
George Takei – Actor, Author and LGBT+ Campaigner.
Marc Thompson – Co-founder Perpster.info and Co-editor Blackout UK.
Tim Toulmin – Stonewall Trustee.
Paul Twocock – Executive Director of Campaigns and Strategy, Stonewall.
Andy West – Writer and Broadcaster.
Andrew White – Director of Stonewall Cymru.
Anthony Watson – Entrepreneur, Board Member of GLAAD and Patron of Diversity Role Models.
Hon. Shaun Woodward PC – Former MP and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
Mohsin Zaidi – Stonewall Trustee.