The Welsh Liberal Democrats are marking Transgender Awareness Week on Wednesday by leading a landmark Welsh Assembly debate on issues faced by Welsh trans people.
It is thought to be the first time this topic has been discussed in-depth by the National Assembly for Wales. It is estimated there are over 31,300 trans people in Wales, yet there are significant problems relating to adequate healthcare and housing provision. Welsh Lib Dem Assembly Members will be raising these issues, in addition to the perception of trans people in Wales and what can be done to further raise awareness of gender equality issues in order to reduce stigma.
The Welsh Lib Dems are calling on the Welsh Government to identify a Minister to be given specific responsibility for transgender issues, and for that Minister to report back to the Assembly within 6 months with an action plan to address the concerns raised.
Kirsty Williams AM, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said:
"This is a long overdue debate, and I'm pleased that the Welsh Liberal Democrats are giving these issues the attention they deserve. Trans people are subject to so much prejudice throughout their lives, and there's so much more we can do to support them access public services.
"The Welsh Labour Government claims there isn't enough demand for a gender clinic in Wales, but are doing so without any solid basis for their claim. Given that estimates put the number of trans people in Wales in the thousands, it's astonishing to think that there still isn't a single gender clinic in Wales.
"Trans hate crime has also been recognised as a concern by the Welsh Labour Government, yet there isn't any publicly-funded LGBT safe housing in Wales for those facing bullying or persecution on the basis of their sexuality or gender identity in the same way that there would be for people experiencing domestic violence.
"This is yet another issue where Wales is falling behind compared to the rest of the UK. I sincerely hope the Welsh Government will take the opportunity to take action and put in place these services as quickly as possible."
Peter Black AM, the Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Equalities Minister, added:
"A number of high-profile trans people such as Kellie Maloney and Chelsea Manning have helped bring transgender issues closer to the foreground of public debate, but there is much more to be done in order to improve the awareness and understanding of gender issues.
"It is widely believed that ignorance breeds fear, and this often translates into hatred and discrimination against minority groups. We need to do much more to help people understand trans issues, so they will be more widely taken into account when designing services or implementing policy."