Saturday, 5 December 2009

Transphobia in the (Tory)Taxpayer's Alliance

The "Taxpayers Alliance", or should I say the "Torypayers Alliance" is made up of very rich people who pay a lower proportion of their incomes in tax than I do and in some cases no tax at all in the UK, but who donate a large proportion of their surplus cash to the Tory party.

Fiona McEvoy, of the West Midlands Taxpayers Alliance, has been complaining about the use of £1,000 of taxpayers' money to fund a training day for civil servants in Wolverhampton about transsexuals, as part of diversity training. I very much doubt that she would have complained if taxpayers money had been spent on diversity training for civil servants in dealing with black people, Asians or gay and lesbian people. So why is she getting her knickers in a twist about trans people?

I am a taxpayer, most of you are taxpayers. Including indirect taxation I probably pay over £10,000 a year in tax. Someone on average earnings will pay around £6,000 a year in direct and indirect taxes, depending on how much they drink, whether they smoke, if they drive a gas-guzzler, etc.

So the £30,000 transsexuals in the country should be paying around £180 million in tax every year. Include the non-transsexual trans people and you probably have a couple of Billion at least being contributed to the exchequer in tax by transgender people in the UK.

And the Torypayers Alliance is worried about £1000. I suspect that there is more to it than this and the Torypayers Alliance is deeply transphobic. I also suspect that they are campaigning to have Gender Reassignment Surgery removed from NHS funding since they seem to be digging up figures about the cost of GRS all over the place. If the Tories get in expect to have no access to GRS if you are poor...

However, Press For Change have done their maths for them. The cost of GRS to the NHS is, on average £9600. Sounds a lot but I pay for that every year (and, although I am not intending to have any surgery myeslf, I am happy to contribute to the funding of others' surgery). Once again, if you add up the £6,000 the average trans person is going to contribute to the exchequer over a 40-year working lifespan, you have nearly a quarter of a million pounds, more if they buy a house and pay stamp duty for example. Since a substantial proportion of transsexuals who are refused surgery either bcommitt suicide or are too traumatised to live useful working lives and as such become a greater burden on the NHS/social services, the £9600 suddenly looks like a really good investment. Just 2.5% of transsexuals' taxes will cover the cost of all GRS operations on the NHS.

The Torypayers Alliance will make a big deal of this, or their puppets in the Tory Party will, if the Tories are elected in May. The trans community needs to be ready to fight their transphobic hatred, bigotry and desire to rid this country of the diversity which we represent. These people are narrow-minded, bigoted bean-counters who hate people like us.

You have been warned.

Either the Torypayers Alliance is innumerate or they are a bunch of transphobic bigots who will use any excuse to attack trans people.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Out and About

The great thing about being trans is that fairly ordinary things can become a little more adventurous when you are dressed. The recent open house evening at the V&A was a good example of how going girlie makes the evening just that little bit more interesting, and it also gets people talking to you in a way which wouldn't happen if you were going in drab.

However my recent sojourn to a small town in Sweden for a conference was definitely a little more adventurous. Linkoping is a small town about 70 miles south-west of Stockholm and it is where they make Saabs. Small provincial industrial town, kinda like Derby...

Fashion note; For the outward journey I wore a denim mini skirt, blue T-shirt and a dark grey angora jumper over the top with 3" heeled boots and black tights. Pretty passable until you got very close.

I flew there on Ryanair to Stockholm Skavsta airport, and decided that, since the conference was about trans issues I would go as Natacha all the way there and back. It didn't start well, Ryanair at Stansted were chaotic and I barely made the check-in time, then I forgot to take off my bangles when going through the metal detector and had to be searched. But by who?! The female searcher was coming towards me and I didn't want any trouble so I decided, on the spur of the moment to turn to the male one instead. A little surprised, he realised I was trans when I got close and searched me, taking my bangles from me and giving the once-over with his magic detector wand thingy. After that however, everything went swimmingly. The flight was comfortable and arrived on time. I spent about an hour of it talking to a lovely young Swedish girl in the seat next to me. She came from the north of Sweden and wasn't looking forward to the 8-hour bus journey ahead of her.

When I got to Skavsta (which is actually a hut with a runway) getting through customs/immigration was achieved with a smile and a "Welcome to Sweden". I had brought a big puffy jacket with me in the expectation that it was going to be cold there but it was no different from London, quite warm for November. The bus ride to Linkoping was about an hour and a half and very pleasant, but it dumped me at the Fjarrbusterminal, the long-distance bus terminal, which entailed walking through a small industrial estate to get to the town centre. I thought this must be a bit scary but it wasn't as there were plenty of other airport bus passengers walking through it as well. I found my hotel easily; a lively traditional Swedish house painted...wait for it...bright pink!

The owner was there and was happy to speak to me in Swedish, which I urgently needed to practice, but eventually I ended up needing to ask for stuff I didn't know the word for such as an iron and the wifi code. His English was excellent of course and he was very helpful and welcoming, as was everyone that I met there.

The people I met in the conference were fantastic and it was great to be able to discuss trans issues in a context with others who were interested in trans issues. Loads of people were interested in the paper I presented about transgender children. There were some very interesting people there, including Stephen Whittle, Maria Sundin, a Lawyer called Lukas Romson, a transman from Denmark called Tobias, Del LaGrace Volcano and many more, Del gave an amazing presentation about intersex people. Linkoping was a great place, the university was wonderful and the conference has set up a new network of people interested in gender issues and I am looking forward to collaborating with people from all over Europe on research in trans issues.

Again, there were no probs on the way back despite the fact that I had been up all day and was coming back late, so my make-up wasn't as fresh as it might have been. The only downside was that I heard an English woman saying, as I passed, "Look at that..." If I hadn't been in a departure lounge, she would have got a very large dose of pure unadulterated vitriol. The whole time I spent in Linkoping, a provincial town in Sweden, near Stockholm, I had no hassle or harrassment at all. A couple of days ago I was hassled by some religious nutter here on the tube in London, he followed me all the way from West Hampstead to Green Park muttering some religious mumbo-jumbo, and came close to getting a stiletto in the face (in the end I ignored him so much that it really pissed him off).

Just goes to show what an inclusive, tolerant society we have here.