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Olly Alexander says ‘trans women are women,’ after being asked about women-only spaces

Ella Braidwood July 5, 2018

Olly Alexander in the video for Years & Years' track "Sanctify," which features on the band's upcoming album. (Years & Years/YouTube)

Years & Years’ Olly Alexander has defended the rights of trans women to be included in women-only spaces.

In an interview Channel 4, the frontman was questioned about his views on trans women and women-only spaces.

He responded: “I do believe that trans women are women, so I sort of get confused where those two issues, how they are supposedly meant to conflict with each other.

“Because I think trans women are women and they need safe spaces too.”

A number of trans-exclusionary feminists have recently argued that trans women should not be allowed in women-only spaces, with some mocking transgender people’s gender identities and arguing against the government’s proposed reform of the 2004 Gender Recognition Act. 

Speaking to PinkNews in May, a number of trans campaigners rebuked a group of women, who claimed they were ‘self-identifying’ as men for the day, after they jumped into the men’s lido at Hampstead Heath in protest against a new rule allowing trans women to swim in the women’s pool.

Alexander also discussed the results of the government’s LGBT survey, published on Tuesday, which revealed that more than two thirds (68 percent) of LGBT+ respondents said they avoided holding hands in public with a same-sex partner for fear of a negative reaction.

Responding to the results, Alexander, an outspoken supporter of LGBT+ issues,  told Channel 4 News: “You ask any gay person, they’ll tell you that it doesn’t feel safe to hold hands with their partner in public, really, I mean I know that, I’m a gay person.

He added: “So I’m not surprised by the results of this survey, I think it’s just highlighting an issue that’s been there for a very, very long time.”

The survey also showed that seven percent of LGBT+ people had been offered or undergone gay ‘cure’ therapy, and that seven in ten of respondents had avoided being open about their sexual orientation because they were afraid of a negative reaction.

More than 100,000 people responded to the survey, making it the largest national survey of LGBT+ people conducted in the world to date.

Alexander continued: “How do you undo, sort of, like, decades, if not longer, of oppression, I suppose, and discrimination? And feeling like you aren’t, it’s not comfortable for you to be your authentic self, or that the wider world doesn’t accept you. 

“You aren’t going to flick a switch and suddenly everything’s okay.”

He added: “It’s undoing a lifetime’s worth of TV shows, of seeing people in public, you know, like growing up in a culture that tells you you have to be one way and not another. So I think we’re still suffering from all that.”

Following the results of the survey, the government also published its LGBT+ action plan, pledging to end conversion therapy.

However, Alexander said gay ‘cure’ therapy “should have been banned a long time ago.”

Commenting on the LGBT+ action plan generally, the frontman said: “I’m happy to see that it’s been put out there. But, reading through it, I just feel like, especially this government, will just say whatever they like, and actually I have yet to see the actions sort of, you know, the follow-up actions take place.”

Olly Alexander - BBC Three - Growing Up Gay
Olly Alexander said he was “not surprised” that more than two thirds of LGBT+ respondents in the government’s survey said they were afraid to hold their partner’s hand in public. (BBC)

Asked what improvements he would like to see, Alexander responded: “I’d love to see a commitment to LGBT+ inclusive sex and relationship education across all schools.”

Alexander’s second album with Years & Years is out on Friday.

More: LGBT action plan, Olly Alexander, years and years

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