London trans activists call for boycott of sham demo on October 17th
We are a group of trans activists who wish to make known our concerns about a demo, claiming to support the depathologisation of trans people, in London on 17th of October. The facebook group for the demo can be found here:
The description of the event reads:
"Being transgendered is not a mental illness. We are simply part of the diversity of humanity. Gender Identity Disorder is therefore not a valid diagnosis. Homosexuality we removed as a mental health diagnosis diagnosis in 1987. For us to achieve true liberation and recognition we need to throw off this unjust stigma. We are not ill, just different"
A large number of people were invited by the demo organiser, a non-trans man by the name of Dennis Hambridge, and some of us were initially concerned by the rationale for the demo. In particular, we were worried that campaigning for the removal of Gender Identity Disorder as a medical diagnosis without proposing an alternative mechanism by which transsexual people would be able to access medical transition resources was premature and dangerous, especially in a climate where NHS primary care trusts need only a minimal excuse to deny funding for our hormonal and surgical procedures. We do not support the labelling of our gender identities as disordered, and realise that our relationship with the medical community is far from ideal, but do not wish to support a movement which may give the impression that we seek complete divorce from the medical community.
These concerns were put to the Facebook group by a number of trans activists. Rather than address them, Mr Hambridge entrenched his position, making claims that gender dysphoria was an artefact of society and the medical community, and that removal of any form of classification of gender dysphoria by the WHO was "non-negotiable".
In moves more reminiscent of the actions of transphobic radical feminists than supposed allies of trans people, Mr Hambridge started deleting some of the comments from those trans people who were concerned about our future access to hormones and surgery. Subsequently he banned a number of those trans people from the group, silencing them in that space.
To reiterate - Mr Hambridge, who is organising a demo which is allegedly supporting the rights of transsexual people is using his position as a group organiser to silence and shut out the voices of the very people he claims to support.
In light of Mr Hambridge's intransigence and refusal to listen to the voices of actual transsexual people, we are calling on all activists who support the concept of transsexual people having a say in our own medical care to boycott this demo. We further call on Mr Hambridge, who is not trans himself, to stop claiming to speak on our behalf when he is ignoring our protestations and silencing our voices, and to call off his demo.
Please spread this open letter widely.
I'd like to add some personal commentary on this. As some of you know, I will be moving to the UK after I graduate university. Thus, this issue matters quite a lot to me. I'm already concerned about the fact that treatment in the UK is more gatekeeper-oriented than in the US because of the fact that the National Health Service (NHS) is an organised, unified health system unlike the situation in the US which is at best a mash of health systems. Thus, I am able to get my hormone treatment through my GP here while I would most likely need to see a gender specialist in the UK (which means I might even have to be rediagnosed, with a possible interruption of treatment). As the letter says, without a diagnosis in place, I would not be able to continue treatment at all. I would have to see about obtaining hormones illicitly, which I would like to avoid because of concerns about quality and lack of health monitoring, not to mention the legal issues. That's my stake in the matter. I wish I could do more than simply repost this letter, but that's all I can do for now. Please do as the letter asks and spread this widely, especially if you are in the UK.
Update: I have been informed that because of the cancellation of the protest, the counter-protest has been called off as well. Apparently, members of Dennis Hambridge's STP facebook group received the following message:
After due reconsideration and-> most valued advice from Transpersons, Intersexual persons or those who work in conjuntion with them, in majority<-it as been agreed and/or decided to cancel the above rally for this years STP 2012 campaign.If you reposted this letter, please pass along this information.