Unstable lives and unsafe streets: Campaigner says treatment of trans people in UK is driving people to brink of suicide

  • By Natalia Jorquera and Ryan Ramgobin at the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool

It is impossible for trans people to lead a stable life in the UK - with it still unsafe to walk down the street in a majority of places, a campaigner has told ITV News.

Joni Cohen, a trans-feminist political organiser, said the trans community is "ravaged" by mental health problems.

She said much more must be done to help those who commonly become cut off from their families, jobless and homeless.

"It's no wonder that transgender people have such a high suicide rate," she told ITV News.

"50% of transgender people have attempted suicide in their life. We face violence in the street, we face harassment in the street.

"In the majority of places in Britain it's unsafe for a visibly gender non-conforming person to be walking down the street."

Joni Cohen said radical action is needed to help trans people. Credit: ITV News

She added: "Probably the worst part of being trans in the UK is the impossibility of leading a stable life."

Those mental and physical troubles are notably prevalent among teenagers.

The most recent Stonewall School Report found eight out of 10 young trans people have self-harmed and almost half have attempted to take their lives before they leave education.

Ms Cohen said the trans and non-binary community must demand to have access to fundamental human rights given to the rest of the population.

In July the government announced a public consultation of the ground-breaking 2004 Gender Recognition Act to make the system for applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) less dehumanising, a move welcomed by Labour.

At present trans people must be diagnosed with a mental illness before applying for a GRC, while non-binary people are not recognised.

Speaking to ITV News outside the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool, Ms Cohen said she was sceptical that politicians could deliver all the necessary changes and adamant that the Conservative Party could not.

She instead urged a "radical Labour government" to provide greater funding and provisions for trans people - and a greater level of personal support.

A recent government survey found 'considerable misunderstanding' about the requirements of applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate. Credit: PA

Asked what change she believed was needed, she said: "Having trans healthcare democratically run and consulted with trans people so that it’s not simply a management of trans people, a management of who is trans and who doesn’t get to transition.

"It’s care of the trans community for each other and of the wider community for trans people."

The Labour-supporter insisted the change would only come from the left.

"Trans-liberation will never come from a Conservative government, their very existence is anti-trans," she said.

"If I wanted a piece of legislation from the Conservative Party - I would say legislate yourself out of power."

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