Thursday, 22 May 2014

Trans Healthcare For Young People Saves Lives



Dear National Media Editors

The Mail on Sunday article last weekend regarding medical support for 9 year olds who suffer from Gender Dysphoria clearly shows that still many of you have a keen interest in the lives and impact of medical treatment on Trans people and so I thought  it would only be polite to share some of the realities you seemed to have (I am sure a simple oversight) missed in the article.

As a Trans woman who transitioned aged 21 I often wonder what it would have been like if I had been given access to medical support when I was a child to transition to be the person I am today. Here are some of the major upsetting events in my life that would of changed completely if at aged 9 I had got the help now available today:


  • I wouldn't of started cutting myself, pulling my hair out and self harming aged just 9,
  • I wouldn't of spent my whole childhood lost and upset hating myself and wanting to hide from the world for simply being me,
  • I wouldn't of spent half my life with counsellors and psychologists trying to put me back together after years of not being able to be “just me”,
  • I wouldn't of tried to kill myself with overdoses upsetting everyone who was close to me,
  • I wouldn't of had to be saved by a security guard when I tried to hang myself while struggling to access health care,
  • I wouldn't of spent endless nights crying on my own in my room wishing I hadn't been made the way I had,
  • I wouldn't of been left emotionally and sexually vulnerable seeking out affection where ever I could find it and now have the media seeking to shame me for it,
  • I wouldn't still wake up each morning having to plan how I hide years of testosterone damage just so I can leave my house,
  • and finally i'd of got to live 19 years of my life as me not just the 7 years I have had since my transition.


I know my life isn't important enough for you to publish the real facts about it and the reality is many trans people share these experiences too, however it is only fair that when you look to write about trans people and our lives you share with your readers the full reality warts and all not just a stark judgement based on a snap shot in a person’s life or a shocking headline about a medical pathway you know little about.  I just wanted you to know I am not ashamed about being me I haven’t always made the right choices in life but that is part of being normal and If you had shared mine or many other Trans people’s childhoods you may well of made many of the mistakes and choices I made too. If wanting to help others and make a difference in the world is a reason for you to want to shame me and any past mistakes I can't change that, but we get one shot at life and I’m grabbing it with both hands to spread love and peace to others.

So In future when you are talking about whether Trans people should get access to treatment at any age or you are looking to cherry pick scandalous stories from our pasts you might stop and look at what made them who they are and what are the real facts not just a shocking story you think would look good in a headline.

Yours Faithfully


Tara 
Trans, Human and Proud of my life warts and all

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Religious Freedom Under Threat




Today Pink News showed why there is so much work to do to tackle religious stigma in the UK

Pink News Article.

I value diversity which includes Age, Disability, Ethnicity, Gender, Marriage/Civil Partnerships, Pregnancy/Maternity, Religion, Sexuality & Trans. Diversity is about valuing all these different perspectives and recognising that different people hold different views and that what is important is finding a way for us all to live together in a tolerant positive community.

This is the response to Pink News Team's request for my views that they failed to publish. They instead decided to claim that I had targeted my views based on sexuality which is something I would never do.

"Hi,
 
I have given Ben my view and find it quite sad you want to turn it into an issue of sexuality.
 
I support same sex parents and value an ever increasingly accessible adoption system in the UK.
 
I have long opposed surrogacy for anyone because of the turning of a child into a commodity, the planning of a pregnancy with the sole intention to take away from the childs natural parents and the oppression of women that occurs directly or indirectly financially and emotionally when surrogacy takes place.
 
Its an issue that is a matter of conscience which we are all free to have our own opinions and perspectives on, that is simply my own.
 
Kind Regards
 
Tara"



Surrogacy is an issue which is often debated and recently YouGov publicised its own debate on whether paid surrogacy should be legal in the UK. The claim that this view is either extreme or directly homophobic is clearly wrong.

I have also been told by the Editor of Pink News Benjamin Cohen I should be embarrassed to be friends with Caroline Farrow a Catholic who is outspoken on pro life issues and personally opposes same sex marriage. I don't base my friendships on single issue politics and I am proud to be friends with someone as kind hearted and warm as Caroline. I would rather stand with someone who is kind hearted but opposes same sex marriage (a view I disagree with) than with someone who is in favour of same sex marriage but preaches hate.

I understand everyone doesn't share my views and I respect their position. But too often issues are not debated due to the oppression of religious freedom and stigma which in the end damages society as a whole.



Friday, 18 April 2014

Pro Abortion Lobby Don't Like Debate



Abortion is a topic I have written about in the past, but in recent times I have become more vocal in my support for the reform of abortion law within in the UK.

Abortion is an issue I have always felt emotionally attached to following my adoption as a baby in the 1980s. The child of a young couple not yet ready to start a family, I often wondered whether if my mum had been pregnant today whether as a result of the abortion culture we see she would of chosen abortion and not adoption as her way of dealing with a pregnancy she wasn't ready for.

Throughout university I gradually moved into more equality circles a socialisation which ultimately led to the career I have today as a Diversity Consultant. Whilst in these groups I would hear time after time that being pro equality, pro women and a "nice" person meant one thing and one thing only you had to be pro choice and in fact in most cases it meant you having to be involved in an ever increasing "I am incredibly more pro choice than you" rhetoric, an awful radicalised one up manship that was worn as a badge of honour by some vocal feminists.

I often felt uneasy at this one dimentional view forcing people to accept one perspective without thought or reason, often driven from an increasingly radicalised group constantly looking for further ways to claim to enhance the "pro choice" mandate in society by the removal of all other options from women other than that of abortion.

The complete hypocrisy of a campaign that used the term "pro choice" but that so often worked hard to remove women's ability to have any choice but abortion made me seriously consider what my views actually were and whether in fact "pro choice" was probably best replaced with "pro abortion" as that was much closer to the truth.

Whilst at University I saw woman after woman labelled a traitor to their sisters for daring to hold true to either their religious or moral values "that all life is precious and should be protected". I watched men labelled as sexist and evil people for expressing their personal view on the rights of a pre born babies to live rather than for abortions to contiunue.

Only now as a confident conservative woman in politics, hoping one day to stand up for my community by standing to be an MP, do I feel confident enough to join those brave pro life voices. I feel its important to express my view that women deserve a real choice and can be supported to choose life instead of the rail roading abortion agenda we have seen develop as a result of the current commercialised and marketised agenda of pregnancy and children that exist within our society today.

As a bisexual, trans woman working as a diversity consultant I know I am far from the "traditional image" of a pro life campaigner. Although I was christened when I was younger I'm not currently a practicing christian (although exploring my faith), but the values of protecting life and the vulnerable in our communities are strong christian values that have always stayed with me and still guide me in my life today. I feel more than ever that its important for me to face down the abusers that target all pro life supporters and to stand up with many other mums, dads, men and women to give a voice to those babies that have not had a chance to be born and for those who are genuinely too scared about being targeted by the pro choice lobby to speak up..

Most pro life campaigners have no intention of hurting, abusing or targeting anyone personally with their views however the mere mention of the topic on social media or within any group setting will get those accusations labelled and directed at you quickly closing down the debate.

I have never gone quiet and backed away in the face of abuse or challenges no matter how small the cause has been. Life is one of the most precious and important causes you can ever stand up for and so you can be sure I will continue to speak up for it, continue to call for reform of UK abortion law and work with other men and women who feel the same.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Most of society are not bigots, but being overly zelous in the name of equality can make you an abuser



This week we saw the resignation of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich after an intense campaign from Mozilla employees and some equality campaigners calling for his resignation. You might therefore expect that Brendan Eich had come out and banned the employment of disabled people at Mozilla or labelled all gay people as paedophiles or other abuse towards a minority group? In fact Brendan was being condemned for making a small donation to a campaign which supported the idea of traditional marriage in the USA, a donation made before he even became CEO at Mozilla.

As a bisexual and trans woman working as a diversity consultant I passionately campaigned for many years alongside other equality campaigners for the introduction of equal marriage in the UK and work hard to promote the culture of respect, engagement and freedom where ever I go. It is for these very values that I speak out now to say the abuse Brendan Eich has received and his ultimate forced resignation is not a victory for equality but instead a defeat for freedom and simply the vicious backlash of some who believe if you don’t agree with their perspective that gives them the right to label huge chunks of society as bigots and homophobes.

What is the world coming to where holding a view not even passionately expressed but merely the small donation to a cause results in you losing your right to stay in a job or to not be vilified or spat at in the street? I do not spend long nights planning campaigns and diversity training to just deliver a world where others freedoms are oppressed simply for my equality goals to be delivered, equality through oppression is no equality at all.

I find the culling of badgers intensely cruel however I know that others disagree and believe it is an important measure in the protection of UK farms and livestock. Does my strongly held views on badger culls and my view that the practice is cruel and inhumane mean I would never employee someone for example as an equality trainer who held the opposing view? No it does not, as to create a world where only my views are accepted is one to exclude the talents and skills of others and to believe that I never make mistakes, which as humans we all make. Diversity of views and constructive debate within the workplace is a positive not a negative and ensures your outcome is one which has been tested and contributed to by the broadest possible skill sets and perspectives.

Are some people who oppose equal marriage homophobic? Yes they are. Have some of the campaigners against equal marriage been abusive and upsetting towards those that have campaigned for it? Yes they have with the describing of gay and bisexual people as paedophiles and victims of abuse some of the views expressed have been beyond the pale and I have condemned in the strongest possible terms. But are all those that oppose equal marriage homophobic? No they are definitely not. Many make their case in as respectful and as engaging a way as many of those people in the equal marriage campaign have done basing their argument around their religious view of how marriage is carried out as they believe it is not about the state definition but that marriage is an actual spiritual union and thus a decision for spiritual leaders and not the state. Does this mean they are right and I agree with them? No again I strongly believe in the right for all people in the UK to gain the benefits of marriage and will continue to support this right being extended to other nations around the world.

I have been in the past, I am right now and I will continue to be a campaigner for equality, fairness and freedom in society not just for those who I agree with but for everyone. I believe passionately that a society without debate, a society without freedom and a society without justice for all and not just for the few is a society based on oppression and not the equality I and others are campaigning for.

Stop the hate and start celebrating the love is my message to all!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Marriage should always be about love not hate



Last Weekend we saw a historic occasion in the UK the first Same Sex marriages took place up and down the country. For the first time Husband and Husband and Wife and Wife were sharing their vows and becoming legally united in marriage in the eyes of the law.

As someone who has campaigned long and hard for equal marriage it was a happy moment to realise that if I ended up in a relasionship with another woman that we would have the choice to marry in the same way I would have if I had a relasionship with a man. Love is an empotion and a value that should be valued in society and marriage is an important insitution that creates stability and focuses committment, which are all positive outcomes that those in a marriage and wider society benefit from. I want everyone regardless of their sexual orientation to be able to benefit from the advantages marriage brings and for us as a society to also benefit as a result of their choices.

However the cloud was not all lined in gold. There are some people who still fundementally object to the concept of the term marriage being changed in law, an objection based on their strongly held religious beliefs and the definition and very basis of marriage itself. This being the case it is not suprising that on the launch of the first same sex marriages in the UK that they may wish to share their views and concerns the same way any of us would when those views are strongly held and important to our values and life. Caroline Farrow is one of those people who has a strongly felt objection to the change in the meaning of the term marriage and the introduction of same sex marriages into the UK. On Thursday Caroline expressed her views on air during the BBC Question Time show in a way that was direct passionately delivered but not directed in a hateful or personally attacking manner to anyone. Many people who hold Caroline's views feel scared and too threatened to voice their views and have welcomed Caroline's contribution giving them a chance to have their opinions form part of the ether of our national debate and discussions.

That might of been it; a passionate campaign about love and a simple belief that the legal definition of marriage discriminated against same sex couples. A campaign won by changing culture and years of campaigning by many from across the community. Then on the other hand a strongly held religious view based on the theological and not legal basis of marriage, voiced by a few confident and directly spoken individuals aired in the ethos of free speech and along side the implementation of the new same sex marriage law which is now in force.

But it was not it.

You might think having won the campaign for same sex marriage some campaigners might be content to let those that disagree with their view have their say just like they have had their say during the campaign.

You might think that a campaign with the aim of allowing the equal celebration of love would stay built on love and compassion and not hate.

You might think that those that campaign for equality and respect of individual rights would also respect the rights of people who hold religious views in a non abusive and personally attacking manner.

However this has been far from the case.

Following Caroline's comments on BBC Question Time last week she and other people who oppose the introduction of same sex marriage have been subject to the most horrendous and truly horrid abuse, personal attacks and threats. The level of this abuse has shocked many including myself despite my fundemental disagreement with those that oppose same sex marriage. I am truly ashamed of any LGBT person or ally that has felt the way to further equality or to celebrate the introduction of same sex marriage is to abuse, attack and threaten any other person simply for holding a differing view.


If we can't live in a society where we can passionetly disagree, debate and critique but still value one and other then we lose the meaning of the term civilisation and have lost the very basis of hunmanity which we should hold so dear. I want a society where respect engagement and positive debate is the norm no matter how much we may disagree with those around us.


I might be an LGBT Woman, I might be a campaigner for LGBT issues but I am also a fellow human and work hard to help make society one where everyone single person feels valued and I hope other people will join with me in working towards that goal.






Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Keep Calm and Do Whatever It Takes



Like many people across the country who are lucky enough to not be facing flooding right now, I can't imagine what its like to face such horrendous conditions and the risk of losing my home. We have seen parts of the UK face the highest level of flooding for nearly 200 years and still the storms and rain blow in from across the Atlantic. I think its important that we stand united as a country behind our fellow citizens when we have a natural disaster. What ever it takes we need to help get families and businesses back on their feet the security and the support of people across the land has to come before party politics and any other issue of the day.

What ever our agenda for a future Britain the foundations need to be built on safe and secure homes, strong businesses and sustainable land we live on. Why it's vital we ensure the resources get to those hardest hit fast and we get Britain back on its feet.

As we clear up the floods of the future and face the prospect of a new era of climate in Britain (for what ever the reason man made or natural) we need to face the prospect that ignoring the weather is no longer an option. We need a clear and positive plan for securing the future of vast parts of the UK which are now at risk from flooding based on a mix of protect, support and restrict provisions which best utilise the resources we need to give flood protection if we are going to maintain the security of the nation and the homes of thousands of our citizens in the UK.

It's ironic that at a time of such natural crisis and families struggling to have the basics that parliament was debating on whether introducing an unenforceable law regarding smoking in cars was the biggest problem and threat people faced. I'd suggest we all focus on the matter at hand and hopefully we see that the bigger issues need solved, before we begin to micro manage the lives of people who would prefer government was left to providing support in time of crisis instead.


Sunday, 9 February 2014

Zoos Gone Bad - The Killing of Marius the Giraffe



Dear Bengt Holst

I am writing as a human from another country but one who values our humanity and our ability to empathise across the world, with life and the animals around us.

Your decision to kill a healthy Giraffe "Marius" on the simple basis of "strong genes" brings shame on the credibility of all zoos but also that of our humanity which should stop us carrying out such barbaric and cruel acts of naturalistic vandalism.

Nature is indeed a cruel place and in the wild animals are killed and die everyday but at least have the chance to roam free and live the life nature intended. In captivity that is denied to animals either in the name of conservation or simple entertainment for the masses. The Trade off should be that we treat these animals with the utmost dignity and respect that values the sacrifice they are making to bring pleasure and joy to those who visit the Zoo and also the learning through the study of animals in captivity can lead to.

You were given options and offers from other zoos around Europe and yet you decided that death rather than life was the only option putting academic attitudes above the life and dignity of another living being.

Your simple dismissal of the opinions attitudes and out cry from people within Denmark, Europe and the rest of the World is pure arrogance and all I can say is I hope that you are hit where it hurts most by your bank balances and others with better ethics have the option of taking over in your place.

I hope these strong words and those of others you will have undoubtedly received in the thousands, make you re consider your actions and decide to give a full apology. Whilst not changing your dreadful actions it would at least prevent such a travesty happening again.

Yours Sincerely

Tara Hewitt

Learn more about the Story here:

BBC News -Surplus' giraffe put down at Copenhagen Zoo

I hope you will take a few minutes like me to email the zoo to share your concerns. Their email address is: zoo@zoo.dk

Thanks