Every November 20 we celebrate Trans Remembrance Day, a commemoration promoted by activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith in memory of Rita Hester, a trans woman murdered on this day in 1998. Since then, this date has served to raise awareness throughout society about discrimination and violence that people still suffer in the world due to their transsexual or transgender condition. People who are denied renting a home because of their way of being, who have to endure insults on the bus, assaults on the street, harassment on social media, job discrimination and humiliation in the most unexpected moments of their lives everyday. Brave people, who, without a doubt, it would be easier to keep quiet and remain invisibility, but who have taken the path of freedom, authenticity and commitment to themselves. And we cannot leave them alone.
In Spain, unfortunately, trans people are not immune to this daily discrimination that results in unequal opportunities. 85% of trans people are unemployed and have a very difficult time finding a job. Violence is also a common reality for this group. According to a study by the FELGTB, 58% of trans students have been victims of bullying, assaults or harassment at school. This violence sometimes has fatal outcomes, of which our country is a sad example: according to the project Trans Respect, Spain is the second in Europe with the most trans people killed since there are records.
This year, however, the commemoration of this day has tinges, if possible, even more bittersweet. Although, for that reason, it is also more necessary than ever. Because during these months we have witnessed statements that we believed were buried in the past, but that we have discovered with amazement, and much sadness, that are still very present among certain political and social sectors. It is still paradoxical that the same year in which a series such as Poison, created by Javier Calvo and Javier Ambrossi, which describes the life and difficulties of the multifaceted Cristina Ortiz Rodríguez, one of the trans personalities who achieved more public notoriety thanks to television, there is an open and even aggressive questioning of people trans. And we are not just talking about her daring to question her right to equal treatment, but that there are even those who dare to deny the trans reality itself.
Honestly, I never thought that I would get to hear from political representatives some of the statements that have been heard in recent months in relation to trans people. Nor would I ever have expected to see the signing of a vice president –and former Minister of Equality– and a PSOE minister in a libel, because only in this way can it be described, against trans people. A document that arose, I quote literally, in the face of “growing controversy regarding the use and confusion, sometimes self-serving, of some fundamental concepts in feminism, such as sex and gender.” The text expressly pointed to the trans collective, whose ideas, it affirmed, are “gaining ground in the academic and activist world.” Something dangerous, the document implied, since the trans movement, supposedly, “denies the existence of biological sex, so it blurs and blurs the reality of women.”
However, the socialist argument did not remain in the theoretical debate: his position had clear practical implications regarding the fit of trans people in the legal and social order. It cannot be more forceful when the argument of the PSOE sentences: “We are against the positions that defend that the feelings, expressions and manifestations of the will of the person automatically have full legal effects. The so-called” right to self-determination of the sexual identity “or “right to sexual self-determination” it lacks legal rationality. “As if this were not enough, the following are bizarre examples of some” risks “that the recognition of the right to self-determination of gender identity would entail.” Could an abusive man point out that he feels like a woman and therefore not be able to be tried for this crime? How does it affect parity and balanced representation policies? “. Faced with a reality that every day excludes 10,000 trans people throughout Spain from society, these are the great concerns of the PSOE, which was once a pioneer in promoting equal marriage in Spain. Seeing is believing that, regarding the rights of trans people, PSOE and Vox think exactly the same. Seeing is believing that prejudices and dogmatism dominate the debate of ideas in a party that calls itself progressive, but in which Carmen Calvo ends up pontificating about who can be a woman and who cannot, who can be a mother and who cannot, which women they have the right to decide and which ones are not, as in the case of altruistic and guarantee surrogacy.
Those who write and endorse this argument to the cause of equality in general and the fight for the rights of trans people in particular do a disservice when they paint the reality of their gender identity as something that anyone can agree on. pure whim. Not to mention the little confidence they have in the criteria of our Justice and its professionals, capable of falling without more into such frivolous and crude manipulation.
The reality is that, behind all this pseudofeminist terminology, what is hidden is a denial of substantiality to the gender identity of trans people that, ultimately, supposes a denial of the very existence of a trans reality by which no one should suffer any discrimination. Do those who have written this really know any trans person? If so, how lightly could they affirm that the reality of the identity they live and feel is something ethereal? What is not real? Or maybe it is, but they are confused? And here, at this point, is where these critics converge with those who point to trans people as mere deranged.
It is also surprising that United We can, a formation that had always maintained a clear position in favor of the rights of trans people, has not had the interest or the courage to disavow this argument and publicly distance itself from the position of its coalition partner. We have only seen dialectical pirouettes and, more recently, a smoke bomb in the form of a public consultation of a supposed “Trans Law”. An artifice that can be presumed will never, in the best of cases, be considered by the Council of Ministers. Unless what is finally approved is a proposal in which, in coherence with the socialist argument, does not appear anywhere “the so-called” right to self-determination of sexual identity “while “it lacks legal rationality.”
I would like to be very clear on this point. Ciudadanos will never be on the side of those who seek to deny trans people something as basic as their own existence. Because we will always be next to the freedom and equality of all people: women, trans, and all those who, due to their sex, their sexual orientation, their gender identity or expression or their sexual characteristics suffer any kind of rejection, discrimination or violence. We will not tolerate the dialectical trap that some seek to impose: no one loses when fighting for equality. It is a cause of the whole society and in which everyone always wins. Because, paraphrasing a benchmark in the defense of Equality, Pedro Zerolo, with whom I had the honor of sharing work spaces years ago, before entering politics: in our world there is room for trans people and, even if it weighs on us, also trans people. transphobic people, even those who define themselves as “feminists.” But in the latter, and in light of their argument, in that of the PSOE now, it does not seem that trans people fit, and perhaps neither do those of us who defend their right to be able to live according to the identity that they themselves feel.
This November 20, as I said at the beginning, we have much to claim to continue this fight for the equality of all. And from Ciudadanos we have been demanding for a long time the need for a state and comprehensive Law for Social Equality of LGTBI people, depathologization of the trans reality and protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression or sexual characteristics . A law that establishes a homogeneous legal framework that establishes a common guarantee of rights and freedoms throughout the country. That addresses this reality of sexual and gender diversity from a comprehensive, transversal, open and plural approach. That it recognize, first of all, the right of every person to self-determination of their identity and the free expression of their felt gender, as an inalienable part of their constitutional right to the free development of their personality.
Because in this matter there is also an important way to go, which does not imply in any case ignoring the advances that have occurred in this time. Since 2009, 12 Autonomous Communities have already approved their own legislation on equal treatment and non-discrimination of LGTBI people and for the depathologization of the trans reality. These rules establish, among other guarantees, the prohibition of treatment of aversion, conversion or counterconditioning of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. Spain is not the only country in which these therapies are carried out, hence other countries have also passed laws for their prohibition, the most recent of them being Germany, which this year passed a law in this regard.
Although all regional laws contemplate some kind of reproach to this type of practice that takes us back to darker times, only in four is this prohibition accompanied by sanctions. One of them is the Community of Madrid, whose regulation was approved thanks to the decisive impulse of my party, Ciudadanos. This community can proudly claim to be the first to have imposed this type of sanctions: in April 2019, with a fine that amounted to 45,000 euros to a clinic that offered to “cure” homosexuality. Proof of Citizens’ commitment to this cause, the fine was announced by the already regional vice president, Ignacio Aguado. The outcome, however, carries a lesson: paid the fine, the clinic moved to Toledo, in neighboring Castilla-La Mancha, to continue with its pseudotherapies and escape the penalty. What party governs there with an absolute majority? Indeed, the PSOE. What better example to show why we need a State Law.