The first non-binary mayor in the world, Owen Hurcum, has slammed the Tory government’s “rubbish excuse” for trans healthcare.
Speaking at a trans rights protest in London on 6 August, Hurcum also pointed to the lack of legal recognition for non-binary people like themselves as an issue that needs to be tackled.
“Trans healthcare is so important,” Hurcum told PinkNews. “I’m here because, just as trans people are being discriminated against, non-binary people aren’t even legally recognised.
“We can’t even get access – not that we’d want it – to that rubbish excuse for healthcare. We need proper healthcare, free at the point of entry, as the NHS should be, without the waiting times.”
NHS figures show that trans and non-binary people are waiting between three and five years for a first appointment at an NHS gender clinic after being referred by their GP, with more than 13,500 people languishing on waiting lists.
Treatment at a gender clinic includes psychological support, speech therapy, family therapy, hormone therapy and referrals for gender confirmation surgery. Trans people can only access treatment after they’ve had more than one appointment at the gender clinic, with LGBT+ groups clear that the waiting times are significantly negatively impacting on trans people’s mental health.
Hurcum added: “And it’s important to show that [trans healthcare is important], and to be here, be queer and be seen, and show the government that we’re here to stay because we’ve always been here.”
Owen Hurcum joined trans protestors outside Downing Street
Hundreds of trans and non-binary people and their allies were at the trans rights protest outside Downing Street in London on 6 August.
The aims of the protest, as set out by the organisers ahead of the event, included full reform of the Gender Recognition Act, legal recognition for non-binary people, the sacking of Tory equalities minister Liz Truss, a total overhaul of the failed trans healthcare system, protection for intersex people under the Equality Act and guaranteed access to free and timely healthcare for young trans people.
Protesters also demanded that any government ban on so-called conversion therapy include trans conversion therapy and that the government commit to ensuring trans people continue to be able to access the appropriate single-sex spaces.
Hurcum made history in May when they were elected mayor of Bangor, Wales, making them the “first ever openly non-binary mayor of any city anywhere”.
They have said they are proud to be a trailblazer in the political field – but being a public figure has resulted in them being targeted with vile transphobic abuse on social media.
“There have been times where I’ve got hundreds of online abuse messages in a day,” Hurcum told The Guardian.
“I find ways of dealing with it,” they added. “But I am pretty much desensitised to it now. If I wasn’t, I don’t know how my mental health would cope.”