Over the past year I have watched with increasing horror as the welsh independence movement has been embroiled in a bitter debate over the issues of transgender rights.

As a non-binary person, logging onto social media everyday, to witness my rights be debated with such bitterness and contempt, to questions of whether transgender people should be welcomed, embraced and supported by the independence movement has been draining and dehumanising.

I have been harassed, doxxed, and been sent death threats - all because I have refused to remain silent over the treatment of transgender individuals within the movement.

I refuse to remain silent whilst my transgender siblings are abused and harassed because of who they are. I refuse to allow grassroots organisations and political parties continue to ignore the issues that transgender people in Wales face and continue to platform transphobic candidates.

The rights and dignities of transgender people to live a life free of prejudice and intolerance are more important than the cause for welsh independence, because none of us are free until we are all free. It is clear that the welsh independence movement has a transphobia problem. It is growing, festering, and will not go away whilst we stand silently by hoping it will blow over.

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Action must be taken to ensure that everyone is safe within the movement - regardless of the way they identify. Grassroots organisations and political parties must reassure their LGBTQ+ members that they are safe and welcome within their organisations; not through words, but through actions. The time has passed for empty words and statements. The rights of transgender people are not up for debate.

Transgender women are women. Transgender men are men. Nonbinary people are nonbinary. This is not up for debate. We are deserving of the same human rights, dignity and respect as every other human being, regardless of the way we identify. Whilst our rights come under threat from other spheres of life; the government, health care, politics, it is imperative that organisations and political parties pushing for independence ensure that the rights of LGBTQ+ people, particularly transgender individuals, are respected and upheld in the new Wales we wish to build.

What is the point of a progressive, independent Wales if the rights of all those who make Wales their home are not respected? What will we have achieved if the rights of LGBTQ+ people are pushed to the side and ignored in favour of the ‘greater cause’? A free and independent Wales will only be successful if it is a Wales for all.

Discrimination and prejudice are not the values and principles on which an independent Wales should be built. The foundations for an independent Wales must be built on inclusivity, tolerance and respect for all, regardless of sexuality, gender, race or ethnicity.

The battle for Welsh independence and LGBTQ+ rights are intertwined because LGBTQ+ people live and exist in Wales and if the welsh independence movement is to succeed, it must incorporate all those who make Wales their home into their movement.

YesCymru has recently been criticised for allowing transphobia to fester within the welsh independence movement and amongst its members, failing to protect its LGBTQ+ members, many of whom have left the organisation, and the movement, as a result of YesCymru’s refusal to stamp down on transphobic and queerphobic rhetoric.

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Earlier this month YesCymru LGBTQ+ was set up in the wake of several episodes of transphobia within the movement. Transgender members no longer felt safe; some have now left the movement entirely, others have deactivated their social media to avoid attacks.

I have been contacted by many LGBTQ+ people worried whether they are safe and welcome within the movement. This group was set up by concerned LGBTQ+ members of YesCymru hoping to give LGBTQ+ people within the movement a comfortable and safe place to discuss concerns and becomemore involved in promoting the cause for Welsh independence. To combat discrimination and harassment in the movement, direct action must be taken to ensure that transphobia does not become embedded within the movement and its grassroots organisations and political parties.

They must be held accountable for the transphobic actions and rhetoric that their members espouse. YesCymru has begun this process through its announcement during Pride Month of a three step initiative aimed at ensuring the independence movement is as inclusive as it can be.

The development of anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies, trans rights graphics highlighting the struggles LGBTQ+ people in Wales face, as well as mandatory diversity and inclusion training for all committee members is a big step forward in terms of dealing with intolerance against the LGBTQ+ community.

Whilst this is a step forward, I am told by several sources that the development of this initiative did not involve any transgender voices - again, I must stress; LGBTQ+, particularly transgender voices must be listened to when dealing with LGBTQ+ issues, the same way people of colour must be consulted on issues of racism, and disbaled and neurodiverse people on issues of accessibility.

To be successful, this initiative must rapidly implement robust anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies which must be strongly enforced to protect its members from increasingly hostile social media harassment and ensure that LGBTQ+ members are safe to be involved within the movement.

The voices of LGBTQ+ people must also be listened to - it is their voices that matter within this so-called ‘debate’. We must learn from the mistakes of our brothers and sisters in Scotland. As Nicola Sturgeon has said, we cannot remain silent any longer.

Emrys Price-Jones is chair of LGBTQ+ YesCymru