I’ve run my own software company for the last 13 years. While still small, we have looked for new markets for our software. Two years ago I started looking at expanding into Europe – it was close, we had contacts there, and the trading rules were clear, so it wasn’t going to be hugely expensive to try something.
Then the Brexit Vote happened. Apart from dealing with the collapse of business confidence, the uncertainty of what the rules of dealing with the remaining EU countries will be means that it’s currently impractical to spend any time researching options further. Apparently business owners like me are now supposed to look into other markets, like the USA.
Trump’s appalling discriminatory announcement earlier today, banning trans people from serving in the US military, comes on the back of various American states making it illegal for trans people to use the appropriate toilets, or refusing trans people legal recognition. Trans peoples’ hard-won rights Stateside are being rolled back.
For a few years now, it has not felt safe for me to even visit the US – a key requirement if I’m looking for opportunities to expand my business there. The US has joined a small but significant list of countries that it’s either dangerous or illegal to be trans in. In my line of software, the Middle East is a key marketplace, and another one that is closed to me.
This closure of markets has a serious effect on those UK businesses run by trans people. We are being discriminated against, and I want to know what the UK government is going to do about it. This doesn’t just affect me, it affects all those who work for me. If we are going to walk away from our friendly EU marketplace, and the signs so far are that this is an option which isn’t being closed down, then its important that our government makes sure those new markets are truly open to all businesses, not just those run by cis, heterosexual people.
Fine words on gender recognition are good. Actions to ensure that trans people aren’t disadvantaged in other areas of life, like business, are also essential.