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Stonewall to campaign for trans equality

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Stonewall, Ruth Hunt, trans equalityHistoric move follows extensive consultation.

Lesbian, gay and bisexual rights charity Stonewall has announced that it will extend its remit to campaign for trans equality in a landmark report.

This historic move follows extensive consultation with over 700 trans people and will see the charity use its platform and experience to help create real change for them.

Stonewall was founded in 1989 by a small group of women and men who had been active in the struggle against  Section 28 of the Local Government Act.

People whose aim was to create a highly professional lobbying organisation to put the case for sexual orientation equality on the mainstream political agenda.

Some major successes include helping achieve the equalisation of the age of consent, lifting the ban on LGB people serving in the military, securing legislation allowing same-sex couples to adopt and the repeal of Section 28. More recently Stonewall has helped secure civil partnerships and then equal marriage and ensured the recent Equality Act protected lesbian, gay and bisexual people in terms of goods and services.

But at that time campaigners for trans equality were also concerned to achieve legal reform, but to do this they needed to focus on an entirely different set of laws.

Campaingers worked alongside each other to make sure that people understood the differences between sexual orientation and gender identity.

As Stonewall’s reach and influence grew, it began to develop campaigns and programmes to create change in schools, workplaces and in Britain’s public services.

At the same time the trans movement was changing. There were more diverse voices campaigning on a whole range of issues.

Many people felt that Stonewall had the ability to achieve positive change for trans people, but didn’t take this chance to open up a conversation about extending our remit.

Stonewall also made mistakes that meant many people didn’t trust it to include trans issues within its work. These mistakes happened because Stonewall failed to consult trans people and involve them in its projects.

In 2014 Stonewall started to talk to trans people about whether it might be able to play a role in campaigning for trans equality.

At the outset of that conversation Stonewall apologised for not taking this opportunity sooner, and for making mistakes in the past which have harmed trans communities. What followed was an extensive consultation which heard from over 700 trans people about their thoughts on the role Stonewall could play.

And after apologising for previous mistakes, Stonewall started looking at the most effective ways of working in the future.

Stonewall will now expand its current campaigns and programmes to include and involve trans people and also develop new work on issues that specifically affect them.

Over the next 18 months, the charity will take steps to make sure that trans expertise is reflected in its board of trustees as well as recruiting experts to work with Stonewall staff.

Stonewall will also work in partnership with trans organisations to avoid replicating work and focus on new projects so that all lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people can be themselves.

Ruth Hunt, Stonewall’s chief executive, said: ’Whether we’re challenging bullying in our schools, tackling hate crime on our streets or working to make our public services truly equal for users, we have a responsibility to use our voice and share our 25 years of experience.

‘This change marks a significant moment in Stonewall’s history. As a community we can achieve much more by standing together.

“This is an exciting but huge undertaking – we recognise that we are not instant experts, and will work closely with the trans community to achieve real change for LGBT people.”

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