2022 was a year of change for the community, much of it positive. Here are some of the changes that we are hoping to see this year!
Better Inclusion of Non-Binary People
In the past decade, there has been a lot of progress regarding trans rights. Trans people are more acknowledged, and their rights have become part of mainstream discourse. This does not mean that we have reached trans equality in 2023. However, many countries have stepped forward and fought for trans rights.
Nevertheless, in 2023, trans people who do not identify within the binary of male and female are often excluded from much of the discourse.
In December 2022, Switzerland rejected the idea of introducing a third gender option on official documents. Although neighbouring DACH countries Germany and Austria allow for an option besides male and female, the Swiss government seems to be stuck in their ways. The Federal Council simply stated that ‘the binary gender model is still strongly anchored in Swiss society’. Therefore, non-binary people continue to wait to be recognised as human beings by the Swiss Constitution.
Similarly, in the UK, trans people can legally change their gender but only in a binary way. Non-binary people continue to be exposed to further marginalisation. Non-binary people exist and should be recognised by the state this 2023.
Legalisation of Same-Sex Marriage in 2023
While many more countries have legalised same-sex marriage in the past decade, there is still a lot more to go. In 2021, Switzerland legalised same-sex marriage and same-sex adoption. Over two thirds (64.1%) of the population voted in favour of it.
India’s Supreme Court has also decided that they will hear arguments in favour of the legalisation of same-sex marriage in the South Asian country. In January 2023, the top court will listen to same-sex couples who will explain why their marriage should be recognised by the state. In 2018, India also decriminalised homosexuality. Therefore, change is possible. Let’s hope that in 2023 the country will decide to legalise gay marriage too.
We need to stop denying LGBTQ+ people the right to get married. It is a basic human right for their marriage to be recognised by their respective country. While not every queer and trans person wants to get married, they should have the opportunity to – just like everyone one.
No Medical Diagnosis Requirement
We are looking forward to the abolishment of a medical diagnosis requirement for a legal gender change in 2023. Too many countries continue to require a medical or psychological examination for trans people to legally change their gender. Some countries, such as Finland and Sweden also require a medical diagnosis for trans people to access gender-affirming healthcare treatment.
Medical diagnoses pathologize trans people, reducing their identity to an illness. While discussing the issue of gatekeeping, jurist and bioethicist Florence Ashley explained how focused our society is on the negative aspects of being trans. Yes, gender dysphoria is a serious problem and many trans people are forced to endure severe mental distress due to long waiting lists and inaccessible gender-affirming healthcare. However, not all trans people experience gender dysphoria. Most importantly, we should focus on the endless joys of being trans.
Instead of looking to diagnose a person with gender dysphoria to seemingly prove they are trans, we should ask trans people about the potential gender euphoria they will experience if able to access gender-affirming treatment. Therefore, it is best to remove the requirement for a medical diagnosis altogether. Trans people know they are trans. They should be able to self-identify as such and legally change their gender without additional, complex barriers.
Gender-Affirming Healthcare Should Be Funded by the State
A significant issue that many trans activists have brought up is the ‘trans tax’. The trans tax refers to the invisible tax that trans people have to pay in order to be themselves. Trans people have to pay for gender-affirming healthcare treatment. This often life-saving care should be free and taken over by the state.
In 2023, in the UK, you can access mostly free gender-affirming medical care through the NHS. However, the waiting times are increasing and many trans people cannot afford to wait this long. Many turn to private healthcare. However, not everyone has the same luxury. In Ireland, the only public gender identity clinic, the National Gender Service, does not even offer surgeries.
Nevertheless, in 2022, Malta announced its plans to cover the costs of gender-affirming surgeries for all trans and gender diverse people. The UK banks HSBC and NatWest also confirmed that they will pay for their trans employees’ gender-affirming treatment.
We are aware that it is not enough for gender-affirming healthcare to be funded by the state. Each country also needs to ensure that the waiting times are cut. More progress is needed in 2023 to cut down the ‘trans tax’ and better the lives of trans people everywhere.
Banning Conversion Therapy for All LGBTQ+ People in 2023
Last, but certainly not least, every country should ban the horrific practices of conversion therapy for ALL LGBTQ+ people in 2023. This needs to include the trans and gender diverse community. Conversion therapy is not a valid form of therapy. It only seeks to convert queer and trans people to cis-heteronormativity through inhumane practices.
Belgium stepped up last year by deciding to ban all conversion therapy practices. This new legislation proves that Belgium continues to be a pioneering country regarding LGBTQ+ rights. They have also introduced the gender marker ‘X’ on identification cards so that non-binary citizens would be able to identify as someone else besides male or female.
However, in 2023, countries like the UK, still exclude trans people in their ban. Last year in April, the UK government had announced that they will ban conversion therapy for queer people. But this ban excluded trans, non-binary people and LGBTQ+ people over the age of 18 who are assumed to give consent over their participation in these practices. Conversion therapy needs to be banned for the entire LGBTQ+ community.
There are many additional issues that need attention, such as the disproportionate violence trans women of colour experience, the lack of intersectionality when it comes to discrimination, housing and workplace, and how the prison system fails trans people. However, this list is to shine light on a few important, on-going topics that might see more progress in 2023.