Press photo of Kemi Badenoch,, who likened trans people to a disease and is a candidate in the tory leadership race and who knew of LGB Alliance's anti-trans lobbying before meeting with them
Press photo of Kemi Badenoch, a candidate in the tory leadership race

In the middle of a Parliamentary committee Kemi Badenoch likened trans people to a disease and then immediately tried to pretend she didn’t. Clips of the outbust have been circulating online with the trans community sharing their outrage – we should be angry, I just don’t think Badenoch is really the right target for this one.

Without a doubt Kemi Badenoch is a lousy bigot in the pocket of right wing think tanks. You don’t have to look far to find her ties to groups like Institute of Economic Affairs, Policy Exchange and other Tufton Street network groups. Some of which have even issued their own reports about trans issues which amount to doing a ‘thread unroll’ on some random bigot’s Twitter feed and then prettying it up a bit.

Kemi Badenoch has a lot of form for anti-trans behaviours from her time under Liz Truss in Government Equalities through to now; where she runs the show. We’ve seen it all already, horrible policies, horrible beliefs and horrible voice recordings where she’s a horrible person about trans people. So it’s no surprise to me that she would eventually do something as horrible as liken trans people to a disease.

Which she definitely 100% did despite calling Kate Osborne MP a liar for saying so during the Parliamentary committee. Transphobes are flooding into the mentions and community notes of Osborne and others to distract from the objectively horrible thing that was said and act like she somehow didn’t liken trans people to a disease. But she did. That’s just what the words she chose to use mean.

I don’t care to hear or rebut arguments that try to suggest otherwise. Kemi Badenoch likened trans people to a disease; its a fact. Hell, I wouldn’t even be talking about it if it didn’t give me the opportunity to talk about something I think is more important. Which is the fact that technically… she’s right.

Trans people are currently recognised in the International Classification of Diseases. Specifcially a condition called “Gender Incongruence” (HA60)” which was formerly “Gender Identity Disorder” (F64). These entries in the big book of diseases have subheadings such as the one I was diagnosed ie F64.0 – Transsexualism. Sidebar: Does this mean I have the “diagnosis of gender dysphoria” Badenoch et al are pushing to retain as a requirement to access the GRA? Nobody knows!

It is a fact that under the UK healthcare system, under the World Health Organisation’s classification of diseases even, that trans people are considered to be a disease. When Kemi Badenoch likened trans people to a disease in her bigoted screeching recently the anger was palpable across social media. So it should be! But Badenoch perhaps isn’t the main issue here.

The main issue here is the pathologisation of trans lives. An issue which is so pervasive and has had a major hand in allowing health care organisations to treat us like crap. Example; My GP is able to ship me off to a specialist while claiming he’s not qualified to monitor my bloodwork because of how trans lives are structured within a healthcare setting. He has no problem monitoring the bloodwork of cisgender people who are taking the exact same medications as I do.

We are not treated as if we are just people who happen to be transgender. We are treated as though we are cisgender people with the disease of transgenderism. That is how healthcare organisations view us, such as the WHO, even despite their attempts to reclassify us between ICD10 and 11 to reduce stigma.

Many writers have discussed depathologising trans lives in various different ways and other ways we can view the trans experience. Friend of Writes Jess O’Thomson even made it their thesis to discuss trans as a kind of disability which I haven’t read yet but I will make time for! Whatever the case is; sometimes people in the trans community can get a little bit worried that depathologisation means no more support for their healthcare.

No one needs to have likened trans people to a disease for us to receive healthcare. An amputee for example might require medications for pain management – they don’t have a disease but should still be able to access the healthcare that improves their quality of life. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t be the same for trans people, though I would personally make a more harm reduction styled argument.

The short story of that being that many trans people are going to seek medical or surgical transition irrespective of anything else. These things can be dangerous if not done correctly or managed properly, it can even lead to lifelong complications which the NHS would then likely end up having to pay for. Therefore it makes absolutely zero sense to not provide safe pathways for transition to those who desire it. Pretty simple! No disease classification necessary!

When Badenoch likened trans people to a disease you were right to be angry. You should be furious about that and all of it’s connotations. You should fight back against it. I just don’t think Kemi Badenoch and her bigot rantings are the real problem here – they go much deeper than her hopefully short career will ever reach.