An important milestone for trans equality
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 Phillippa Scrafton

An important milestone for trans equality

This week the Trades Union Congress voted unanimously in favour of Gender Recognition Act reform, Phillippa Scrafton shares what this means to her.

For the last few months in the main I’ve kept my own counsel about the ongoing debate on reform of the Gender Recognition Act (GRA). 
 
Mostly in the hope that common sense will emerge, tempers will cool, and I will get through the vitriol unscathed mentally, emotionally and dare I say physically… 
 
However, as anyone who has seen the narrative currently dominating timelines and headlines you will know, it’s not easy … it’s really not easy.
 
I’ve cried quite a lot at the words I’ve read and heard in the last few months. 
 
I’m a private person deep down so I just try to let it go, but it’s a challenge for trans people living openly. But I’m not ashamed to cry. 
 
I’ve ranted a lot more though, mostly to myself in an empty room but also in the office. That’s the trade union activist in me! 
 
On occasion I’ve removed myself from environments where it gets too much. 
 
I’ve done this for no particular reason other than when I’ve seen the comments, attacks and horrendous abuse - often from former colleagues - my soul has simply cracked from the hurtful barrage, not even levelled at me directly. 
 
It gets to you over time, it’s bound too. We are only human, regardless what the hateful voices may say.
 
A unanimous vote in support, from the whole conference was incredible. 
 
Today, I cried again. Strange when you think I cried over watching a debate, on a screen from TUC Congress for their motion to support GRA reform. A unanimous vote in support, from the whole conference was incredible. 
 
To put it into context, as the General Secretary pointed out, that’s over six million trade union members speaking with one voice, supporting trans equality and GRA reform, quoting Stonewall research from the rostrum. 
 
So why was I crying you may ask? 
 
Well this vote is worth putting into further context. 
 
It is part of a much longer and personal journey for me.  
 
Back in 2003 I had just started to live as Phillippa permanently. 
 
I was still very much involved in UNISON as a regional activist here in the North East but not nationally. 
 
Back then full LGBT inclusion was not even an aspiration. 
 
At that time bi and trans people did not have a formal voice in the union structures, it was only lesbian and gay members who could influence policy. 
 
Back then full LGBT inclusion was not even an aspiration. 
 
So, in 2004 I joined part of a very small group who wanted to change that. We were just three visible trans activists in a union of 1.2 million members, along with a handful of allies. 
 
We wanted to include bi and trans voices at the highest level of the union and to do that we needed a 2/3 majority at their National Delegates Conference, where 3,000 delegates had the power to say yes or no. 
 
To get to the point where we could change the rules we needed support across the union, and despite our best efforts in 2004 we were defeated badly, we ended up with less than half the votes we needed. 
 
We dusted ourselves off, gritted our teeth, dried our eyes and tried again the following year. 
 
This time we went to every conference we could. 
 
I remember calling for support from the rostrum and being booed so badly at a women’s conference in Bournemouth the chairwoman halted the preceding and I had to start again. 
 
We toured the UK, in our spare time, for months! 
 
Finally, in Glasgow in 2005, we did it. 
 
Trans and bi voices were formally heard at the TUC for the first time in its history. 
 
There really are no words to describe the feeling when we achieved this, even today.
 
From that point on it was a decade of arduous work done by so many people to develop trans and bi inclusion across the union. 
 
During this time, I was elected the first trans person in their history to co-chair the national committee. (I cried then too).
 
The work that’s gone in to achieving this result, the speeches, and the passion in the current discourse, is inspiring.
 
I’ve stood at the rostrum so many times over the years, it’s daunting, frightening and exhilarating all at the same time. 
 
The vote at TUC Congress was incredible. The work that’s gone in to achieving this result, the speeches, and the passion in the current discourse, is inspiring. It shows we are making a difference, however slowly if feels.
 
You too can play a part in helping achieve trans equality by completing the Government’s public consultation into GRA reform.