Conservative Party member Tara Hewitt has written a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, thanking him for supporting equal marriage in the face of heavy opposition from his party.
In her letter, she also welcomed the fact that trans people will soon no longer have to annul their marriages in order to change their gender, as part of the reforms.
Dear Prime Minister,
I am writing to you not as a Conservative Party Association Chairman or other quasi elected party official, but as an ordinary member of the Conservative Party, an activist, a campaigner and someone who joined over a year ago thanks to seeing the direction you have taken the party and reforms you have made as party leader.
I’m a Bisexual and Transgender women, those labels don’t define me but instead are relevant because when it comes to equal marriage the proposals affect me personally.
As a conservative I believe in freedom and liberty, values I know you share as do many other members young and old. At the heart of these freedoms should be personal liberty and religious conscience. For too long the state has interfered in the loving relationships of same-sex couples across the UK and in religious practice through the “banning” of same-sex marriage. No religion should be forced to carry out ceremonies they do not feel in their own conscience they can conduct and no one should be forced to accept same-sex marriage in their own religious institution. However no religion should be told by a conservative lead government and state that they are not allowed to carry out a religious ceremony, in this case same-sex marriage if they so wish.
These freedoms are at the bedrock of conservative ideology and policy and are values we should hold up before all others. This debate is not simply one of equality but of ignorance blinding the values that the majority of conservatives hold. We need to show that by supporting the rights of loving couples we are delivering on the values that we can all support as a party regardless of our own individual views on same-sex marriage.
The family is also at the centre of most Conservative members’ political make up. Marriage with commitment brings stability and structure to help families grow and to provide a positive environment for the bringing up and caring for children too. Whether a family is built around a same-sex relationship or one of the opposite sex we should be empowering families to give that commitment to each other and provide good homes for themselves and the next generation of children in the UK.
One thing that has not been discussed in the media is the positive effect the changes are going to have for transsexual people. When Labour introduced Civil Partnerships they left transsexual people out in the cold where they were forgot about when the legislation was drawn up. When a transsexual person transitions from the gender that was assigned to them at birth to one they ‘truly’ are, they may be lucky enough to gain the support of their long term married partner (many transsexual people face isolation and relationship break ups when they transition) but despite this support they will face the difficult and traumatic experience of having to tell their husband or wife that in order for them to “change their gender” they have no legal choice but to annul their marriage or they will not be entitled to receive a gender recognition certificate (new birth certificate). Having talked to transsexual people who have experienced this it can be traumatic isolating and distressing for all involved and at a time when they may be very vulnerable and experiencing mental health distress this adds to their suffering. It’s great that under the equal marriage bill transsexual people will no longer have to annul their marriage in order to change their gender, an inclusion I know myself and most members of the transgender community welcome immensely.
I know that this letter will not get the same level of recognition and media attention as the 23 Conservative association Chairman that have today handed you a letter opposing equal marriage, but as a loyal supporter, proud conservative and hopefully future Conservative Councillor or MP (Offices I aspire to achieve during my lifetime) I hope you will take time to read it and take my comments on board.