Remember the lurid tabloid stories from 2017 about Soham murderer, Ian Huntley wearing a blonde wig and asking to be called Nicola or Lian?

Two years later came the inevitable press corrections, but it was too late. In the minds of a misinformed public, Huntley was all set for a sex change and on the way to a women’s prison.

The predatory trans woman was born and the persecution of trans women, surprise, surprise, got even worse.

Leading trans rights campaigner, Crash Wigley, paints a stark picture: “A lot of people are trying to legitimise and launder ideas that would hugely set trans people back.”

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According to Stonewall, two in five trans people experienced a hate crime in 2018. Trans people are routinely attacked and bullied in work, forced to wait too long for medical treatment, more likely to be homeless and at greater risk of self harm and suicide.

The UK government’s Equalities Office survey found that trans people are much less satisfied with their life compared with the general population.

Yet despite all the hostility, which should engender sympathy and support, trans people get ridiculed and abused.

Trans youth charity, Mermaids, reported that, from 2012 to 2019, the number of press articles characterising trans people as “demanding or aggressive” jumped from five to 334.

In 2012, there were no references to the ‘trans lobby’. In contrast 2018-19 saw 151 mentions of this term, over 90% of which were negative, some going as far as labelling trans people as “deranged”.

Take the disinformation and the continuous furore on social media around the perceived threat from trans people using public toilets. Once again fears are whipped up and once again we find they are baseless.

Rachel Isaacs of the Equality Federation USA says there are “so many places that prohibit discrimination [against trans people] where this has never come up. This is a red herring.”

The problem is that myths and red herrings are costing the lives and livelihoods of people who simply want to take their places in society and live without fear or favour.

In the past right-minded men and women fought alongside gay people who simply wanted their rights. Remember how gay men were painted as perverts and a danger to children? Society wouldn’t accept that portrayal now, so we mustn’t allow these tropes to be said about trans people either.

In fact we must stop talking about trans people and start listening to their lived experiences and learn from them.

The courage and tenacity of trans people is indisputable but they can’t win the battle without our support. And that battle must be won. Not just for trans people themselves but for us all, because no one is free until we are all free.

You can listen to Crash Wigley for more insights into these issues on my next podcast out on Monday, November 1.

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