Slow, slow progress for transgender rights…

    Slow, slow progress for transgender rights…

     When people or society wants to effect or introduce change it can be frustrating at times, and we hear the oft-repeated mantra of ‘one step forwards and two steps back.’

    And so it is in the lives of transgender people around the globe; at work, in education and even in the entertainment world.

    A recent study by the Trinity Business School and Technological University in Dublin has revealed that transgender workers are less likely to be employed and more likely to receive minimal wage, with much of the employment and pay gap likely to be explained by discrimination, overt or subconscious.

    The Dublin research found that transgender people are 12 per cent less likely to be employed and 11 per cent more likely to be in low paid work, based on a sample of 440,000 respondents. Researchers studied the data with key variants such as family, education and health to see if they could explain the gaps in employment and pay.

    The findings revealed that, as well as individual work preferences, discrimination in healthcare, education and work opportunities can give transgender people a steeper hill to climb in life.

    Over in Italy positive steps are being taken by a country which is becoming increasingly supportive of LBGTQ+ rights, despite its society still being rather conservative and heavily influenced by the Catholic Church. In a 2016 survey of transgender rights in 23 countries, put together by the University of California, Italy ranked a disappointing 16th.  

    But the times they are a changin’ and the Ripetta School of Art in Rome has been the latest school in Italy to give transgender students the right to be known by a name other than the one they were given at birth. This reflects the growing awareness in Italy and throughout Europe, and will increasingly create environments where young transgender people can feel safe, happy and included.

    Some Italian universities already allow trans students to choose their name and gender in internal documents, but the arrival of enlightenment in schools is a more recent development.

    Meanwhile, here in the UK, an apparent act of vandalism has spoiled a mural celebrating the success of Bimini Bon Boulash from RuPaul’s Drag Race UK. The BBC show has a massive following and Bimini starred in the second series, finishing as runner-up to Lawrence Chaney.

    To mark their achievement, artist Knapple and transgender activist Sharpay Salazar produced a mural in Bimini’s home town of Norwich. With a back-drop of the trans flag the artwork depicts the queen wearing their Norwich City look which wowed fans at the beginning of the series. But last Sunday the mural was painted over to which the non-binary star responded by saying: “I’ll never shy away from living an authentically queer experience, even if there are other people that disagree with our existence. Trans rights are human rights.”

    Someone in Norwich doesn’t agree; then again maybe the perpetrator was just a bitter Ipswich Town fan!

    But when we will we ever truly get to our ‘live and let live’ dream? Maybe that time will come when citizens, throughout the world, can accept the person they see before them; with no judgement, but with a purely inclusive heart.

    In the meantime…all power to the Ripetta Art School and, of course, Bimini.

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