Yesterday the UK Government hosted a debate on a petition asking for non-binary identities to be legally recognised by Gender Identity panels.

It went about as well as you might expect from a government who okayed conversion therapy for trans children, with three Tory MPs spending the time dangerously attacking the trans community and espousing myths, falsehoods and dog whistles.

Mark Drakeford’s government has committed to making Wales “the most LGBTQ+ friendly country in Europe", even starting to look at how it might create its own ban on trans conversion therapy.

Drakeford's promises cannot come soon enough.

I had low expectations going into yesterday's "debate" - triggered by a 140,000-signature strong petition - but as it turned out, they were still too high.

I'd expected to see the non-binary community misunderstood, misrepresented, lambasted and targeted (and don’t get me wrong, that still happened), but what this event turned into was nothing more than a platform for several serving Tory MPs to spout anti-trans bigotry.

Just six MPs made contributions to this debate.

The National Wales: Owen Hurcum was the UK's first openly non-binary mayor.Owen Hurcum was the UK's first openly non-binary mayor.

Four were Tories: Nick Fletcher MP (who once claimed women in TV and film were causing young men to turn to crime), Miriam Cates MP (an evangelical Christian with a history of attacking the trans community), Tim Loughton MP (who voted against same sex marriage) and Mike Freer MP, who responded for the Government.

The SNP's Kirsten Oswald and Labour MP Annelise Dodds rounded out the six who spoke.

Fletcher, Cates and Loughton - the three opening speakers - all spent the entirety of their speeches not actually addressing the petition at hand - legal recognition for non-binary people in the gender identification process - but attacking the trans community.

I’ll reproduce the lowlights here.

Nick Fletcher decided to roll-out all of the anti-trans classics: "Leave our kids alone," he said, arguing that trans and non-binary people are a new “trend”, and that those of us who say we are trans under the age of 18 cannot be trusted on that matter.

He went so far as to tell parents that if their children come out as trans, they are to “push back” and not accept them.


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"Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind," he added.

This is incredibly dangerous and will have huge ramifications for trans people should their parents listen to this "advice".

As insult to injury, Mr Fletcher ended his statement by saying “we are a tolerant nation”.

Things would not get better from there.

Miriam Cates just flat out denied the reality that trans people exist - we are instead just biological men or women suffering “gender distress" - before going on a truly unhinged rant about how trans people are targeting children with autism.

Yes, she really did, as an MP, to a House of Commons debate, state that she thinks autistic children - along with children who are gay, and those with "other mental health conditions" - will be “drawn in by adults” who will “show them how to inject cross sex hormones” .

"In many cases, it's indoctrination," she added.

I think this anti-trans bigotry speaks for itself.

Tim Loughton would double down on this prejudice, with wholesale repetition of falsities espoused by the other speakers, before going on to describe all trans people under the age of 18 as “badly damaged children”.

Fortunately, Kirsten Oswald MP would challenge some, but by no means all, of these bigoted statements.

UK Labour's Anneliese Dodds would offer a more neutral and lackluster showing, and Mike Freer was the epitome of a Government Spokesperson - offering very little to the debate except facts on the current state of trans healthcare, and an insistence that his government would almost certainly not do anything about recognizing non-binary people except some research – whatever that might be.

The entire thing can be watched on YouTube for those so inclined, but it’s a hard watch if you don’t hate trans people.

This issue needs to be discussed from a Welsh perspective.

Drakeford has promised the people of Wales that our country will be the most LGBTQ+ friendly nation in Europe – something completely incongruent with the direction of Westminster, as highlighted by that "debate".

LGBTQ+ equality worldwide will always be the aim, though for those of us here in Wales, we have a leader who seemingly has the political willpower to achieve this for us sooner rather than later.

Watching Tory MPs speak yesterday, I could not help but think how impossible it feels for a UK Government to ever step up for us - though of course I will (alongside countless queer siblings) always be part of the fight to achieve equality across these Isles.

LGBTQ+ rights are seemingly becoming a wedge between Wales and Westminster, one with the potential to push devolution further and - if taken up by its proponents - even independence.

The safety of queer people in Wales - and specifically for this debate, the legal recognition of people like me and my non-binary siblings - cannot be guaranteed by a Westminster engaged in demonizing our community.

It will have to come from our Senedd.

As I said, there is a huge amount to be unpacked from this debate, and I’m sure many an op-ed and article will.

My takeaway? Wales needs to get on and fulfill our First Minister’s promise.

Owen Hurcum is the former mayor of Bangor, and was the first openly non-binary mayor in the UK.

They recently released a book, "Don't Ask About my Genitals: An Introductory Manifesto for Trans and Non-Binary Equality".

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