“Children who need to be taught to respect traditional moral values are being taught that they have an inalienable right to be gay.”
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Conservative Party Conference, 1987
Thatcher’s comments were applauded and the following year Section 28 was imposed, which prohibited the promotion of “homosexuality as a pretended family relationship” by UK local authorities. Officially, this meant state schools and public libraries couldn’t educate on LGBTQ+ lives and rights, nor support LGBTQ+ people. However, its reach stretched beyond the state sector and empowered other institutions, such as my private boarding school, to say nothing. Silence and neglect were my education and whenever I heard the word gay it was a slur. Section 28 was repealed in 2003 just around the time I was discovering an interest in guys.
Today, history is repeating itself as Conservative MPs such as Liz Truss (and most of the Tory PM candidates), journalists such as Janice Turner and famous novelists such as J.K. Rowling wage “culture war” on “Generation Woke”, reducing trans rights to a ‘debate’ and refusing to even acknowledge the existence of non-binary people. To this, I say bullshit. I’m older now and I don’t rely on my parents and teachers as I did as a child and adolescent, I can speak for myself. I will claim my inalienable right to be non-binary.
Trans rights are not a ‘debate’ they are human rights. Being non-binary isn’t about being ‘woke’, it’s about being a human. Fighting for my rights isn’t a ‘culture war’ it’s a fight for my fundamental right to exist. Just because I was born into an oppressively binaried system of gendering doesn’t mean I have to stay in it. For some this might mean expanding what it means to be male and female beyond the violent limitations of patriarchy. For me, it means stepping beyond the binary itself. I’m not strong because I’m male. I’m not kind because I’m in touch with my feminine side. I’m strong and kind because I’m human. I don’t oscillate between two poles of gender, i.e. male and female, I’m just me. And while I was profoundly shaped by my male upbringing it does not define me. It’s a part of me, absolutely, but it’s not all of me, and I’m excited to keep growing with the years.
The tactics of our oppressors are very familiar – bullying, neglect, abuse, ridicule, vilification – I recognise these from the playground. And I’ve survived them. I have every intention to survive them again despite the rising levels of transphobia in this country. I will meet their hate by loving myself and championing myself. I will meet their destruction by building a life for myself in which I am loved and championed for who I am. A world built of hate can only burn but a world built of love is beautiful and, after all, non-binary is beautiful.