SWU statement in support of the transgender and non-binary community

The transgender flag (five horizontal stripes: two light blue, two pink, and one white in the center) and the non-binary flag (four horizontal stripes: yellow, white, purple, and black)

The SWU Executive Committee were deeply saddened by the tragic murder of Brianna Ghey, whose family described her as “a much loved daughter, granddaughter, and baby sister. She was a larger than life character who would leave a lasting impression on all that met her. Brianna was beautiful, witty and hilarious. Brianna was strong, fearless and one of a kind.”

Before her death, Brianna was bullied and beaten at school, simply for being herself. This is not an isolated incident; it occurred within the context of transphobic narratives being perpetuated by the media and senior politicians and a sharp increase in transphobic hate crime. The Trans Lives Survey 2021 found that 85% of trans women reported being subjected to transphobic street harassment from strangers, with 71% of trans men and 73% of non-binary people saying the same. Official statistics from the Home Office show that Transphobic hate crimes have increased by 56% over the last year, although the National LGBT Survey found that more than nine in ten of the most serious incidents went unreported, suggesting the true figure is much higher.

In the workplace, 80% of non-binary people reported having experienced transphobia from colleagues, compared to 73% of trans men and 73% of trans women. Trade Unions have an essential role to play in tackling all forms of discrimination, including transphobia, which is defined as but not limited to –

  • Attempting to remove trans people’s rights
  • Misrepresenting trans people
  • Abuse
  • Systematically excluding trans people from discussions about issues that directly affect them
  • Other forms of discrimination

The consequences of transphobia and the increasingly hostile environment in the UK mean that trans and non-binary people are struggling to live safely and openly in our society. The central social work principles of social justice, human rights, collective responsibility, and respect for diversities compel us as social workers to stand in opposition to oppression, social exclusion, and stigmatisation of the transgender and non-binary community.

SWU and those who represent it are committed to acting with integrity and principles in line with the BASW Code of Ethics. SWU recognises the BASW Position Statement on Social Work with Transgender People as an important step in supporting social work practice, and is committed to work in partnership with the transgender and non-binary community to promote respect and dignity for diversity and challenge oppression and social exclusion.

SWU Chair Dave Callow said, “I’m delighted that SWU has coproduced this statement of solidarity with the transgender and non-binary community and give it my full support. Voices from marginalised communities need to be heard and their lived experience must inform our work towards a more caring and inclusive society. Solidarity, now and across future generations of social workers, is key to developing partnerships and relationships with marginalised communities to ensure that no one is left behind.”

We will continue to offer support for our trans and non-binary members who may be experiencing harassment or discrimination work. SWU stands in solidarity with the transgender and non-binary community.