Labour delivered for me and for people like me

23rd December, 2014 4:48 pm

I’m a scouser and we tend to have long memories. One of my childhood memories is of a whip-round on a picket line at my Dad’s factory to pay for me to go to London to see if Moorfields eye hospital could save my sight. Sadly the answer was no, but the surplus money was used to buy a Braille machine which I still use for drafting attacks on the opposition.

I also share the deep disgust felt by Merseysiders at the Sun’s coverage of the Hillsborough disaster. I recall sitting in a pub that terrible night with a few hundred people watching TV in silence, until Margaret Thatcher appeared on the screen and the place erupted in collective anger. Whilst this was both a frightening moment, it was so symbolic of the destruction and isolation felt in the 1980’s by Tory rule.

Emily's Biography 140316A - Photo Emily Head Shot 3 - Yes_Yes_JMP0333

Part of my reason for my recent decision to go public about the fact that I’m a woman with a transsexual background was that I didn’t want to be “outed” by a powerful newspaper with the inevitable negative spin they would put on it. The papers I had in mind were the Mail and the Sun.

So you can imagine the satisfaction I got from writing a column which was headlined “Emily Brothers: We want respect … stop the mocking.”

Their introduction said “the equality campaigner says why the vulnerable should always be treated with respect.” They printed precisely what I wrote:

“Many disabled people live in fear of hate crime, bullying and harassment. I know because I am blind and I have been a campaigner for the rights of the disabled all my adult life.

“Several years ago I went through the transitioning process to align physical characteristics with how I have always felt – living legally as a woman. The climate of fear particularly affects disabled people and those changing their gender identity.”

I explained that I’d come out because “I didn’t want the decision forced on me – to have a powerful newspaper hold me up to ridicule and notoriety.” Surprisingly, this was printed in one of those powerful newspapers.

The column had come about because of widespread protests at comments by Sun columnist Rod Liddle, asking how a blind person like me could know their sexual identity. I retorted with my own question – whether he knows he’s a man when he turns the light out:

“I believe strongly in press freedom. But it should hold the rich and powerful to account, not mock and undermine the vulnerable and disadvantaged. So I support transgender campaigners who are calling for a more effective press code to ensure papers show respect and sensitivity.”

Liddle has apologised, but wrongly suggests it was a joke. The Sun hasn’t apologised or accepted responsibility. Offering me the column suggests contrition and we can only hope they heed the calls to show respect to vulnerable people – although a paper that supports Cameron’s bedroom tax with all it’s awful consequences for disabled people and the poisonous changes that have put the NHS at the mercy of the market has a long way to go.

The NHS is at the centre of my campaign in Sutton and Cheam. The sitting Lib Dem MP, Paul Burstow is a man with his prints all over the Health and Social Care Act 2012. As health minister in the Coalition government he piloted it through the Commons before being sacked by Nick Clegg. Andy Burnham’s promise to abolish the internal market – for which Paul Burstow is a strong advocate – is a big plus for Labour’s campaign.

I “came out” because in an age when trust in politics is low, I need to be honest with the people of Sutton and Cheam about my background. I am passionate about getting fairness and justice for ordinary people – and my own experience shows what a positive difference that a Labour government makes.

That’s true of Labour’s great creation the NHS – I spent a lot of time in hospital in my early years as doctors and nurses tried to save my sight

It is also true of all the legislation on equality and diversity, including the Gender Recognition Act (2004). The gender transition journey is both a medical one and a legal one. Aligning physical characteristics to one’s sense of identity enabled many of us to be affirmed in the right gender. The possibility of having those changes reflected in official documents such as birth certificates and social security records has made a real difference. For those who go through gender reassignment it ends our sense of incongruence, bringing inner contentment and happiness.

The last Labour government delivered for me and for people like me. Now Britain desperately needs Change and that can only happen with a Labour Government – to deal with the many injustices that still exist, especially the unfair Coalition cuts that have hit women, disabled people and other disadvantaged people hard.

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  • treborc1

    I’m glad that labour has done this for you, we all have our crosses to bare and our issues to find answers for .

    I worked from 1966 to 1996 and then after a massive fall which should have killed me, I was taken to an NHS hospital which was in turmoil under Thatcher, one doctor on duty, the ambulance crew who picked me up lied to cover there mess , the ambulance had been out on another call, it was then sent to me in a filthy condition with blood on the floor and seats, no spinal board no neck brace and no pain killer air and gas.

    The crew was a porter and an ambulance driver who use to take patients home they were not trained when they saw me they panicked. When they got back to hospital they told a nurse I was drinking, drunk and they could smell it on me, my work mates said rubbish he is sober he does not drink but they pulled the nurse away and I was pushed into the ladies toilet to wait, three hours later I was seen by a doctor who said you can go home do not drink any more and take some paracetamol and rest for a while. On the way home in the back of a car I had a number of fits and a stroke then taken to another hospital where I under went emergency treatment including sorting out two broken legs broken ribs broken arm and broken shoulder.

    They all missed the broken back and damaged spinal cord so to day I’m paraplegic with other issues like chronic pain.

    yet I was classed as a scrounger work shy not giving back to society labour had decided and they still do that working and work is the main way of being part of society. Miliband speaks about hard working or working people, then pretends that this was labour ideology when the party was set up.

    The problem is today I do not see labour as being socialist it is without doubt a party which would fall back to New labour in a flash if it thought it would win an election.

    New labour has damaged the party it’s lost it’s way it’s lost it’s ideology , today I will not be part of the labour party because of ATOS because of the rhetoric of hard working not working class . It talks about building houses to sell not houses to rent labour has become a middle class middle of the road party which is full of people who do not speak for me but speaks about me.

    Labour hand picked it’s people it’s MP’s and Progress are now doing it even in Wales , so no thanks, but I’m glad you have found something in the party you can fight for.

    • Daniel Speight

      Season’s greetings Robert.

      • treborc1

        And to you and your family…..

  • Daniel Speight

    Good luck to you Emily and best wishes for the new year.

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