If the Tories think they can stop people being trans, they’re in for a rude awakening

Try as they might, the Tories cannot stop trans people identifying as trans by banning discussions of it in sex education – but they can cause untold damage to young trans people along the way, Amelia Hansford writes.

While homosexuality was technically decriminalised in England and Wales in 1967, discrimination and prejudice remained rife in the late 20th century, and actually spiked during the 1980s as the Aids Crisis as a moral panic gripped the nation.

Homophobia wasn’t just rife in the Conservative Party – and, let’s face it, in politics as a whole – it was the party line, with an institutional hatred of LGBTQ+ people fuelling legislation such as Margaret Thatcher’s Section 28, which banned the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality by local authorities.

Much of that hatred was built on the deeply misunderstood belief that being gay is a choice, and that, for example, if a child says that they are gay, it is a choice that has been thrust upon them by some nefarious, malignant person with some sort of agenda.

I implore you to re-watch to Margaret Thatcher’s infamous 1987 Tory Party conference speech: listen to how brazenly she refutes the idea of the people having an “inalienable right” to be queer, as though she thinks it goes against nature itself and every sane person should agreed with her.

Margaret Thatcher speaking in 1987. (Getty)

Many view the early 2000s as a turning point for such views, believing they are a thing of the past. But this is exactly the kind of prejudiced belief system that has justified Gillian Keegan’s short-sighted amendments to sex education guidance in England.

The amendments to the relationship, sex and health education (RSHE) guidance, which schools must follow by law, include a ban on sex education for children under nine and complete censorship of gender identity discussions across the board for England’s pupils.

It was clear during the wave of interviews that the education secretary completed following the announcement that she both doesn’t understand what is currently being taught and has a warped view of what being transgender is that borders on incompetence.

Factually inaccurate claims that students are being taught there are “72 genders” during sex education underscore a fear-mongering rhetoric and intense bigotry that deems naturally-occurring gender incongruence as abnormal, or somehow dangerous.

The way she talks about ensuring “childhood innocence” is preserved by censoring the very real identities of a sub-section of society is a disgusting inference that exploring a person’s gender identity is immoral in some way.

Gillian Keegan. (Getty/Canva)

The lines trotted out repeatedly by government figures in the media this week directly echo the views of homophobic politicians in the 1980s and before. The Tories clearly believe, as they did with being gay, that identifying as trans is a choice, and one that can be transmitted through mere exposure.

Try as they might to convince the British public to go along with a policy that clearly does more harm than good – and the stats show the public are not buying it – what Keegan, prime minister Rishi Sunak and the rest of the Tory Party don’t understand is that trans kids are going to be transgender whether or not they’re formally educated about it.

Far from being “inappropriate”, LGBTQ+-inclusive education is about giving children the tools and the language to grapple with things they are going to learn about on their own – from their peers, social media or the internet – regardless of whether it’s in the curriculum or not.

The Tories’ big plan to curb recognition of trans lives misses one crucial fact: being transgender is innate, and silencing education around it only further isolates and hurts those dealing it with.

What education can do, however, is help those young people – whether the transphobes in parliament like it or not – understand why they are having those feelings. Education can be powerful. It can literally save lives.

The post If the Tories think they can stop people being trans, they’re in for a rude awakening appeared first on PinkNews | Latest lesbian, gay, bi and trans news | LGBTQ+ news.