Siân Berry, the Green Party candidate for mayor of London, has said a commission and action plan on trans rights will be “one of the first things” she’ll do if elected.
On Wednesday (10 February) the Green Party co-leader, who is vying to replace mayor Sadiq Khan in the May election, pledged that if elected she would set up a commission on the needs of trans Londoners and create an action plan to address barriers to healthcare, employment and housing. Her strategy, she said, is to make London the “most trans-inclusive city in the world“.
Berry has now said that her plan to improve the lives of trans and non-binary people in the capital will be “one of the first things” she sets into motion if elected.
She told PinkNews: “Setting this up is going to be one of the first things that I will get going and do, we’ll do the search for members of the commission, the search for people to help form the agenda.
“That will be got on with very, very quickly, because I think it is an urgent problem.”
Trans men are men. Trans women are women. Non binary identities exist and are valid.
I promise to do everything in my power to ensure that every single trans person in London has a safe, fulfilling and joyful life. pic.twitter.com/992kguaJ1i
— Sian Berry (@sianberry) February 10, 2021
Discussing a timescale for her plan, Berry said: “There’s no reason why something like this should take more than a few months to report back, and why the action plans shouldn’t be in place very quickly after that.
“It doesn’t take long to take on board conclusions, and start putting things in motion to act upon them.
“This isn’t something where we’d have to wait for the next budget or anything, there are budgets already… So there shouldn’t be any delay.”
She added that it was vital to involve trans and non-binary people in every step of the process, and said: “You just don’t know what you don’t know, basically.
“You should never do anything without involving the people that you’re trying to help, and you should never made any assumptions about the range of issues that might need to be raised.”
Green Party co-leader has seen a ‘growth in toxic transphobia’ during her time in the London Assembly
Since Siân Berry joined the London Assembly in 2016, she said she has seen the conversation around trans rights move in the “wrong direction”.
“When I first came into the London Assembly, I thought we were in a very good position with trans rights, sea changes had happened, that trans people were very normalised and that we were doing a tidying-up exercise,” she said.
“So, I came into the assembly with this mission, to clear the final things and just push the final barriers that there were.”
She said she worked on issues like expanding gender options on forms with the Greater London Authority (GLA), but that now “things have moved in the wrong direction”.
Berry continued: “Since I’ve been in London Assembly, there’s a growth in particularly toxic transphobia.
“Attempts being made at a national level to rollback trans rights, and objections to things that I would never have imagined could be objected to. Things like provision of gender-neutral toilets, it just seemed like common sense to me.
“There’s been an enormous amount of toxic rhetoric that I do not like… I just think it’s upsetting that we’ve seen anyone’s human rights pushed back on, but it’s particularly upsetting to me how toxic the attempts are that are being made at the moment to alienate and exclude trans people.”
She added: “It’s a case of sending a message to the rest of the world, to everybody, that London is a city that wants to be the most trans-inclusive in the world.”
Siân Berry found the transphobic backlash against Green Party Women co-chair ‘very upsetting’
In December, 2020, Kathryn Bristow became the first openly trans woman to be appointed co-chair of the Green Party Women group.
However, the transphobic backlash against her was swift, some of it coming from within her own party.
My fight for trans rights goes hand in hand fighting for women's rights.
They have never been at odds and making it out to be just weakens both movements. https://t.co/he8tJjcikE
— Kat Bristow (@KathrynBristow) January 25, 2021
Siân Berry described the reaction as “very upsetting”, telling PinkNews: “The Green Party Women group elected Kathryn to be their co-chair. My party is not transphobic, we have a clear policy.
“Now, there are a lot of people out there in the world who are seeking to attack trans women at the moment. Kathryn’s had this.
“There’s a very small number of people within the Green Party who are joining in with these organised campaigns, but it’s a tiny number, and I think the party is ready to stand in solidarity with Kathryn and make sure that we do deal with bad behaviour within our party.”
“When a line is crossed, a line is crossed,” she added. “If your values are not aligned with the Green Party, then you have to think about whether or not you want to be in the party… I stand with Kathryn every step of the way.”