Tougher sentences for hate crimes, support for transgender pupils in schools, and tailored recruitment advice for businesses are just some of the actions in the first transgender equality plan launched by the government today.
Statistics show that 70 per cent of children who are uncertain about their gender are subject to bullying, 88 per cent of transgender employees experience discrimination or harassment in their workplace and a recent rise in hate crime against transgender people of 14 per cent.
The plan addresses some of the obstacles faced by transgender people in every aspect of public life, as well as identifying wider cultural issues. It provides a framework for communities to work with the government to challenge and overcome persisting inequalities.
Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone said:
'Too many transgender people still face prejudice at every stage of their lives, from playground bullying, to being overlooked for jobs or targeted for crime.
'I am proud to announce the first government strategy to tackle the specific barriers facing transgender people.
'Like everyone else, transgender people have the right to be accepted, to live their lives free of harassment, and to be free to achieve any ambition they choose.'
The announcement follows extensive engagement by the government with the transgender community, public bodies, practitioners and the voluntary sector, which identified a number of issues which the Plan aims to address. Among other things it commits to:
reform Health services to ensure greater consistency in commissioning gender identity services
publish a clear and concise guide for health practitioners, including GPs and Primary Care Trusts, on the treatment and care available
amend the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill to raise the starting point for murders motivated by hostility towards a transgender person from 15 to 30 years.
Lynne Featherstone added:
'Today is an important step, but I recognise that government can only go so far. So we will be working with schools, businesses and communities so that together, we can drive change and help consign transphobia to the past.'
April Ashley, who in 1960 became the first Briton to undergo sex-change surgery, said:
'I think there are so many support groups out there unlike when I did my transition 52 years ago when there was no help at all. Today’s announcement shows we are moving forward to breaking down barriers and educating people.'
Jay Stewart, co founder of Gendered Intelligence, which works to tackle transphobic bullying in schools and across communities, said:
'The transgender action plan demonstrates a commitment across government to ensure fair treatment to transgender people. It's fantastic news for our community. We must now work together to educate people about what it means to be transgendered.
'The plan came about through working with the trans community, and this includes young trans people. I am delighted that Gendered Intelligence has played its part and that the voices of our young people have also been heard.'