So now it’s law – same-sex marriages will be legal. Up and down the land lesbian and gay couples are rejoicing – and rightly so. But I can’t muster up the enthusiasm for joining in.
In March 2011 I spoke with Lynne Featherstone who explained to me her plans for bringing forward equal marriage so that trans people in marriages, like me, were no longer forced to divorce to get gender recognition. The optimism she engendered, and that we further discussed inside the garden of Number 10 in July 2012, was so cruelly dashed only a few months later when the government’s bill introduced the concept of spousal consent for people like me. Far from being treated as equal, we were still subsidiary – a group of people whose life circumstances were apparently so difficult to understand that government felt it needed to protect our spouses from being forced into a relationship they didn’t want. At a stroke they spectacularly misunderstood the dynamics of most of those relationships, but didn’t think to actually speak with any of them to see whether their proposals were actually wanted by those they sought to protect.
It’s difficult to explain why, in the middle of so much rejoicing, there’s a deep despair in my core. It’s not just that the government has, perhaps deliberately, missed a tremendous opportunity to right so many wrongs – in the end it chose to end just one and a half of the seven wrongs that were pointed out to them by many people. It’s mixed with a sense that, now only a few hundred people are affected, there simply won’t be the political motivation to move this forwards any more. I’m trying desperately not to see the buffers that mark the end of the line.
To try to keep the light alive, I remember the conversations I’ve had with Kate Green and Baroness Thornton – both Labour front-bench politicians who are simply appalled at the situation the government has created. While I may hope that both of those ladies will be government ministers from 2015, the latest sets of opinion polls don’t offer much solace in that regards. Instead the population seems to prefer capping benefits for the poorest in our society – creating scales of worthiness based on wealth, and making its decisions based on repeated, distorted tabloid representations of benefit claimants – and the Labour Party seems to be running alongside that particular wagon so that it can jump on-board to remain electable.
I was so hoping to be joining in the celebrations today. Instead all I can see is more fight, more argument, more hurtful language thrown at people like me.
Maybe it’s simply time for a break.