'Without your rights I can’t have my rights': Dawn Butler on the importance of intersectionality at the UK’s first transgender conference

Yas Necati

Minority groups must stand together in the fight for one another's rights, the shadow secretary of state for women has said.

Dawn Butler used her keynote speech at the UK's first transgender conference, titled #StillHere, to speak of the importance of solidarity in the effort to advance transgender rights.

“I know that after this I’m going to get quite a lot of abuse,” the Labour MP said on Saturday, “but it’s nothing compared to what you get on a daily basis.”

She said: “You have to know that there is a flood of voices behind you… that’s here to stand up and support and stick up for your rights. Because without your rights I can’t have my rights and I quite like my rights and I’m still struggling to get my full rights."

“We have to fight for each other,” she added.

The conference aimed to provide a space where transgender people and allies could discuss prominent issues and network with one another.

Journalist and campaigner Jane Fae, who had the initial idea for the event, said she also hoped to “provide a boost to community spirits … after a year of unprecedented hostility towards the trans community.”

It covered topics including getting older while trans, sex while trans, policing, mental health, education and the Gender Recognition Act; legislation that, if passed, would make it easier for transgender people to change their legal gender.

Ms Butler criticised the Conservatives for slacking on transgender rights, and called for all MPs to do better.

“When I hear talk about re-introducing another form of section 28 for the trans community, I think – you’ve got to be kidding,” she said.

“All of that pain that a whole community went through, you want to put another community through that pain? Why the hell would you do that? It’s outrageous.

“So we have to stand up and fight against that, and campaign against that and make sure it never happens,” she said.

Ms Fae thanked Ms Butler for “coming along to show solidarity and giving a speech that was well received all round and, we felt, put new heart into folks who had felt very much abandoned by over-cautious politicians over the last 12 months.”

Others involved included organisations Mermaids, Gires, LGBT Consortium and Camden and Islington LGBT Forum, and the conference organisers are planning #StillHere 2019, to take place in Manchester.