It was a Sunday morning, the same day that the UK’s Prime Minister, Theresa May, announced that transgender people could use the NHS to receive gender-confirming surgery.
That news sparked a backlash, with many online calling it transphobic, and with some calling it “transphobic” and “anti-trans” hate speech.
That was only the beginning of the debate, however.
A trans person is someone who is born female and identifies as male, but identifies with the opposite gender.
Trans people are the largest group of people in the world who identify as trans, according to the Transgender Equality Network, and some of them have experienced prejudice in their lives.
“This isn’t a debate about who’s in the right, it’s a debate that is happening right now between the majority of trans people and those who oppose them,” said Sarah Harrison, a transgender activist and founder of the transphobia and hate speech watchdog trans-positive.
“The transphobe will continue to seek to silence trans people, but it’s the anti-trans who are the most targeted.”
While there are many ways to deal with this problem, there are two simple ways to end this kind of hateful rhetoric: Speak out.
“It’s not enough to say we’re transgender and get the word out,” Harrison said.
“We have to be able to say, ‘We are trans, and we are going to fight back.'”
There are also many ways trans people can support one another, but there is a lot of work to be done.
“If we’re not working together, we’re doing our community a disservice,” Harrison told Polygon.
“That’s why I’m so passionate about helping trans people be heard, because the bigger the movement, the more we can make a difference.”
Trans people are not alone in this struggle, of course.
The UK also recently passed a controversial law that would require trans people to live in the opposite sex.
A survey by the British Library found that one in five British trans people would consider going back to their birth gender.
That means that there are people living in fear of violence in their own country.
“There’s a lot that’s happening on the ground in the country and there’s a real lack of visibility and support for trans people,” Harrison added.
“People are living in poverty and there are very few opportunities for them to go into education and healthcare, and that’s really why we need to fight for this.”
In the UK, May also announced plans to give trans people the right to transition to female at the age of 18.
This would allow trans people who are already living as women to get on the male side of the sex ratio and, if they do, could be eligible to receive their gender-affirming surgery as a teenager.
“It’s a really important piece of legislation,” Harrison explained.
“For many trans people it is something that they have always wanted, and it is a great step forward.”
In addition to advocating for the rights of trans individuals, the trans-friendly movement also works to protect them from violence.
“This violence has to stop,” Harrison noted.
“When a trans person dies it is often a death that leaves a legacy of violence and hate that we need urgently to fight.”
For the most part, trans people are still invisible, said Harrison.
In the UK alone, the National Transgender Discrimination Survey found that only 15 percent of trans respondents felt they were treated fairly or fairly well by the police or social workers.
And in the US, just 9 percent of people of color report being stopped by police, according the New York Times.
While May has announced a plan to end transphobias in the U.K., trans people still face discrimination and harassment, and even more in the United States.
“Trans people and people of colour are often not given the same access to healthcare, education, or legal protections that other communities are,” Harrison concluded.
“These are very hard things to deal, and I think it’s important to try and do something about it.”