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Transgender rights got a boost in the United Kingdom today, with Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone announcing a plan to address hate crimes, workplace discrimination, and harassment in schools.
"Too many transgender people still face prejudice at every stage of their lives, from playground bullying to being overlooked for jobs or targeted for crime," Featherstone said, according to Pink News. "I am proud to announce the first government strategy to tackle the specific barriers facing transgender people."
The plan commits the government to raising the minimum sentence from 15 to 30 years for murders motivated by the victim's transgender status. It also includes in-school support for transgender students, transgender-inclusive recruitment advice for businesses, and the publication of guidelines for health care professionals treating trans people.
"Today is an important step, but I recognize that government can only go so far," Featherstone said. "So we will be working with schools, businesses and communities so that together, we can drive change and help consign transphobia to the past."
Activists welcomed the news. Said April Lauren, the first U.K. resident to undergo gender-reassignment surgery (in 1960): "I think there are so many support groups out there, unlike when I did my transition 52 years ago when there was no help at all. Today's announcement shows we are moving forward to breaking down barriers and educating people."
Jay Stewart, cofounder of the transgender group Gendered Intelligence, said the government plan came with input from that organization and other transgender activists. It "demonstrates a commitment across government to ensure fair treatment to transgender people" and is "fantastic news for our community," Stewart said.
Read more from Pink News and the BBC.