Living in a country that recognises the rights of all
Sara Turkington, Equality and Inclusion Advisor at the college, has written this blog post for Scottish Trans.
Scottish Trans are holding events across Scotland to bring people (aged 16+) together to develop ideas, explore skills, share knowledge and build confidence in taking forward trans equality activism.
They will be in Ayrshire – at our Kilmarnock Campus - on Tuesday 10 September between 6:30pm and 8:30pm if you would like to take part. Find out more info here.
"Living in a country that recognises the rights of all.
"That is a country I want to live in. That is a country I believe we can all live in. That country can exist and it can be Scotland.
"In 2016, I wrote a blog post as part of LGBT History Month. In it, I shared my experiences of growing up in a time when there was a real lack of LGBT+ visibility.
"At that time, I probably didn’t think much of it. I didn’t really know what it meant to be ‘gay’. I often tell the story of when my friend and I were walking to school and a girl called us ‘dykes’. We were about 15 then. That girl never called us ‘dykes’ again.
"Why? Because I challenged her to a fight. Of course I did! We never did have a fight but, the threat of it, was enough.
"I grew up in Kilbirnie, a small town in North Ayrshire. It is a place I still care about immensely. But I had nothing else to respond with. That moment has stayed with me. It has motivated me to want better. I want better for me, for people like me and for people who aren’t like me.
"Equality is not given to one in place of taking from another. I respect the opinions of others. But opinions that translate into harmful actions, I can never respect. It goes against the fundamental truth of us – we are human.
"And so, when my good friend Oceana from Scottish Trans asked me to write a blog in support of trans rights, it was an easy decision to make. They warned me I might open myself up to criticism and worse.
"Healthy debate is important. I agree and accept that. I am not sure though, how far trans rights should be debated. By that, I mean specifically the questioning of a person’s very existence. It feels that’s where we are with regards to trans and non-binary people. Their entitlement to rights, legal recognition and acceptance as is, is up for debate it seems in a way that is currently unprecedented.
"For me, the discourse around trans rights here in Scotland, the UK, and globally is straying into directions that are divisive. We should be careful and watchful of this. Discrimination is insidious. It spreads. And inevitably, it will affect us all.
"When I was a Modern Studies teacher, I had a lesson where I played the song ‘If You Tolerate This, Then Your Children Will Be Next’ by the Manic Street Preachers. It remains a powerful song – I urge you to listen to it.
"I stand with Oceana and all trans and non-binary people and their families. I do not tolerate or accept the discrimination, abuse and harassment you face. I do not believe my rights are greater than yours nor do I believe my rights are under threat as a result of you getting yours. Instead, I believe that we are the creators and protectors of inclusive villages, towns and cities across this land that is ours. We are one."