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Gendered Intelligence response to the CQC report on the Gender Identity Development Service

NHS England has a duty of care to provide the best standards of healthcare to all children and young people, including children and young people who are trans, gender diverse and exploring their gender identity.

The CQC (Care Quality Commission) report shows that NHS England is failing to adhere to its own 18-week maximum waiting times limit for young people accessing Gender Identity Development Services and therefore must realise that these waiting times are not going to disappear without them acting.

Clinical staff, managers and colleagues within GIDS have been expressing their concern for some years about the increasing demand on the service and consequent waiting times. Parents and carers, trans and LGBT+ organisations as well as young patients of the service have each, repeatedly talked of the extremely long waiting times and the strain, distress and limbo that this leaves many of our young people in.

The NHS has a duty to support all children who have been referred to a specialist service within their own recommended timeframes.

The responsibility surely lies with the commissioning bodies rather than with the services that are trying to deal with the increase in demand.

It is a scandal that the waiting lists have been allowed to grow to such disastrous lengths, endangering young people who want and need access to the UK’s only NHS service for trans under-18s.

The voluntary sector is here to support the NHS by working alongside our colleagues and offering support to those who are waiting for their first appointment or when they are in between appointments.

Gendered Intelligence has been partnering with adult (ages 17+) Gender Identity Clinics for several years. We also deliver youth groups, residentials and mentoring to children and young people who are trans and/or exploring their gender.

Dr Jay Stewart, CEO of Gendered Intelligence, says:

“We need urgently to address the crushing waiting times currently in place at GIDS. GIDS can act as a much-needed reference and support centre for young gender diverse people and it shows from the CQC (Care Quality Commission) report that many families positively benefit from the service and are treated with compassion and kindness from staff.

At Gendered Intelligence, we never have and never would advocate for a rush towards any medical treatment for young people, and reiterate that these unacceptable waiting times mean simply that young people aren’t getting timely, robust guidance or professional direction with regards to an exploration of their gender identity from our National Health Service. We all intrinsically know that this cannot be right.”

Gendered Intelligence welcomes the Cass Review.

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LGBT literature media

2020 highlights

As we near the end of a tough year, we want to highlight some of the more positive developments from 2020.

5 Trans women continue playing rugby in England

Rugby Football Union went against the devastating World Rugby ruling and cleared trans women to continue playing domestic women’s rugby in England at all levels. We hope that in the new year this will be reflected internationally too!

4 #TrusstMe halted a further roll-back on trans rights

Although the GRA response was overall disappointing, we want to recognize the enormous campaigning efforts that stopped plans to further exclude trans people from public life. Over 44,000 people mobilised through #TrusstMe and contributed to protecting trans rights in the UK.

3 So many showed up for the trans and non-binary communities!

It’s quite reassuring that we don’t even know where to start! The Trades Union Congress, with 5.5 million members, came out for trans rights while condemning LGB Alliance. More than 200 UK and Irish Publishers signed a letter in support of trans and non-binary rights, and they were joined by over 100 major companies who came together to say that trans rights are human rights. Thousands of ciswomen wrote an open letter to Liz Truss to show their support and solidarity with the trans community. Many celebrities also stood up for trans rights, including Nigella Lawson and Melanie C.

2 Non-binary people are now protected by the Equality Act

Earlier this year an UK employment tribunal ruled that genderfluidity and non-binary identity are covered under the ‘gender reassignment’ protected characteristic of the Equality Act. This could be a ground-breaking precedent and mean that, for the first time, there is explicit protection for non-binary people from discrimination!

1 This year is FINALLY ending!

Frankly, we can’t think of anything better. We are ready for this year to be over! Thank you for all your incredible support, solidarity and energy during this difficult year.

Categories
LGBT literature media

Goodbye, 2020!

We have seen a lot of negative media coverage of trans people this year. But these stories are not the only ones that exist. As this terrible year comes to an end, we reflected on some of our favourite trans media from the last 12 months. This list is by no means exhaustive, but compiles 15 entries of our favourites, listed in no particular order. The suggestions were fielded from Gendered Intelligence staff members, volunteers, and youth group members. 

Adventures in Time and Gender
http://adventuresintimeandgender.org/
Type: Podcast

Content warning: Mention of surgery
Recommended by Jay Stewart, CEO of Gendered Intelligence

In March 2019, a group of researchers held a series of workshops and conversation in Bristol for young trans and non-binary people. These meetings explored the ideas of the sexologists working in Europe and North America in the late 19th– and early 20th-century.  The young people also recorded oral histories with older trans people, to draw out how ideas formulated a hundred years ago still affect the way trans people are treated by the medical system today.

A group of young trans and non-binary people then worked with Gendered Intelligence’s Jason Barker to develop a script for a stage show based on some of the stories that they had encountered. Due to the pandemic, the stage show became a drama podcast, directed by Krishna Istha and featuring a cast of trans and non-binary performers, musicians and sound designers.

“…A young non-binary person and a talking Suitcase travel through time, space and Ikea in search of trans history…”

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/She-Ra_and_the_Princesses_of_Power

Type: TV Show
Recommended by Finn the Human, Director of Youth & Communities Services

2020 saw the 5th series installment of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, the animated story of Adora, a teenager who can transform into the heroine She-Ra. The show’s themes cover transformation, alter egos, and true selves, and have thus found favour among the LGBTQIA+ community. This fifth season also introduced the trans character of Jewelstar, voiced by transgender actor Alex Blue Davis. The show is currently available on Netflix.


We are here because of those that are not
https://blacktransarchive.com/

Type: Game
Content warning: Mentions of burial, lost history, deadnames, hormones, misgendering.
Recommended by Cara English, head of Public Engagement

London-based artist Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley’s latest project, WE ARE HERE BECAUSE OF THOSE THAT ARE NOT, is an interactive digital archive video game. Through its trippy and hypnotic landscape, it conveys themes of memory and loss to the player, based on the player’s identity. In the opening frame, it explains:

WELCOME TO THE PRO BLACK PRO TRANS ARCHIVE. THIS INTERACTIVE ARCHIVE WAS MADE TO STORE AND CENTRE BLACK TRANS PEOPLE TO PRESERVE OUR EXPERIENCES, OUR THOUGHTS, OUR FEELINGS, OUR LIVES. TO REMEMBER US EVEN WHEN WE ARE AT RISK OF BEING ERASED. YOUR OWN IDENTITY WILL DETERMINE HOW YOU CAN INTERACT WITH THE ARCHIVE, AS WELL AS WHAT YOU WILL BE ABLE TO ACCESS. THIS IS PRO BLACK PRO TRANS SPACE. THIS IS NOT YOUR SPACE. THIS IS OUR SPACE. 

Gender Explorers: Our Stories of Growing Up Trans and Changing the World, by Juno Roch
https://pigeonbooks.co.uk/products/gender-explorers-juno-roche

Type: Book
Recommended by Isa Sallinen, Youth Worker

Juno Roche’s latest book is a collection of interviews with young trans people, and offers valuable insight and advice into what has helped them to flourish and feel happy in their experience of growing up trans. As Roche writes, “I believe that children who are questioning and exploring their gender are the gender bosses that we all so desperately need. I believe that they are our future.”

Winter Support Hub, Sabah Choudrey
https://sabahchoudrey.com/2020/12/12/winter-support-hub/
Type: Blog
Recommended by Sasha Padziarei, Senior Mentoring Practitioner

Gendered Intelligence’s own Sabah Choudrey has created a winter support hub on their blog, built with queer, trans, people of colour youth in mind. It includes lots of handy support and links for help with mental health, self-care, gender dysphoria and much more. As it says on the blog: “…find what you need, take what you want and look after yourself.”

Trans 20.20s
https://www.studiovoltaire.org/exhibitions/archive/trans-2020s-juliet-jacques/
Type: Podcast
Recommended by: Cara English, head of Public Engagement

Trans 20:20s, is a beautiful eight–part series of podcasts created by leading writer, filmmaker and trans stalwart Juliet Jacques. The series features interviews with some of GI’s young people, looking at life for young trans, non-binary and gender diverse people from across the UK and beyond, at the start of the 2020’s. The series shows trans young people for who they are: the articulate, reasoned people we all knew they would be.

Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disclosure:_Trans_Lives_on_Screen

Type: Documentary
Age rating: 15
Content warning: transphobia, violence, sexual violence
Recommended anonymously.

Disclosure is a documentary directed by Sam Feder and executive produced by Laverne Cox, exploring the history of trans representation on screen. Clips from films and television depicting trans people are played, and trans activists and artists provide nuanced and critical responses to them, including how race, colonialism and capitalism intersect with trans issues. The documentary offers necessary context on how the current norms of trans representation came to be, how they’ve changed, and how much is still to be done. Trans people were prioritised in every aspect of production – for roles where they were unable to find a trans crew member, a cis crew member would mentor a trans fellow. It’s currently available on Netflix.

Are You a Boy or a Girl?
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000p7b3

Type: Radio show
Recommended by Susie O’Connor, volunteer

Radio Four Series (available on BBC Sounds app) by comedian, Sarah Keyworth. A funny and sharply observed exploration of gender identity in modern society, Keyworth explores her personal journey with gender fluidity and androgyny to shed light on why gender still remains such an important issue in the 21st century.

Euphoria: Trouble Don’t Last
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt10636622/
Type: TV program
Age: 18+
Content warning: partial nudity; references to drug use and addiction; strong language.
Recommended anonymously.

A gritty teen drama following a young woman experiencing addiction, and her girlfriend, who is trans. This follows on from the series released in 2019, with a young trans woman as a main character in a darker, grittier version of Skins (but with good acting, and good direction and script). In this episode, it focuses on the cisgender main character and her relationship with drug use. All of Euphoria is really well done and some really well written trans stories. It’s hard to describe in a way that sounds good, but just watch it and see for yourself!

First Day
https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episodes/m000ly4c/first-day
Type: TV show
Recommended by Susie O’Connor, volunteer

A beautiful Australian drama about a twelve year old transgender girl, Hannah Bradford, as she adjusts to high school at the start of a new year. She must navigate the social and personal issues of her early teenage years, while also dealing with the pressures of her gender identity, which is largely private at the beginning of the series. Overriding themes include the focus on identity and belonging, and the exploration of trans rights.

Gender Reveal
https://www.genderpodcast.com/
Type: Podcast
Content warning: Each episode has relevant content warnings in the description
Recommended by Beth Easton (Gendered Intelligence Activist Network & Trans Spokeperson)


Gender Reveal explores the vast diversity of trans experiences through interviews with a wide array of trans, non-binary and two-spirit people. The show interviews trans artists and activists, answers listener questions, analyzes current events, and aims to get a little bit closer to understanding what the heck gender is. The show has been running since 2018, but 2020 saw interviews with Addison Rose Vinvent, Daniel M. Lavery, Morgan Givens, and many more. 

How top surgery works, by NOAHFINNCE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPrtb5-dqxQ
Type: YouTube video
Recommended by Ollie, volunteer
Content warning: Mention of surgical processes, scarring and colloquial words. May be uncomfortable for some.

This is a very informative video about three common types of top surgery: double incision, peri-areolar and keyhole. Throughout the video there is visualisation of where scarring would occur after surgery, which is very helpful to see! Whilst Noah isn’t a medical professional, he clearly outlines what all three processes entail, as well as the main pros and cons of each method and who it may be suitable for. This is a great video for anyone considering getting top surgery, or for those who just want to learn about the process. There were even things about my own method of surgery that I didn’t know about!

The Last of Us, Part II
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_of_Us_Part_II

Type: Playstation Game

Age range: 18+
Content warning: graphic violence, swearing, deadnaming, transphobia, misgendering
Recommended anonymously.

The Last of Us, Part II is a survival game in a world infected by a zombie-ish plague. During the story, the player encounters a young trans person (voiced by a trans actor) and the character joins the team. The game received some criticism from trans people at the time as it contains some retelling of trauma (including deadnaming of the character) and the game is violent and graphic. However, the story is ultimately told in a sensitive way, thinking carefully about gender in an imagined post-apocalyptic context. 

Little Girl
https://www.curzonhomecinema.com/film/watch-little-girl-film-online

Type: Documentary
Recommended by Susie O’Connor, volunteer

A touching French documentary movie about a young trans girl. Society fails to treat 7-year-old Sasha like the other children her age – in her daily life at school, dance lessons or birthday parties – her supportive family, and in particular her doting mother, leads a constant battle to make her difference understood and accepted.

T, by Laurel Uziell
http://material-s.blogspot.com/2020/10/laurel-uziell-t.html
Type: Poetry book
Recommended by Georgie, Administrator
Content warning: Mention of ‘gender critical’ arguments and terminology; some strong language.

‘T’ is a long form poem from Laurel Uziell covering the ‘debate’ around trans rights, and the consequences of those arguments on the ambiguity of trans life in the UK. The poem morphs from parodies of legalese, to quoted excerpts of police ‘gender sensitivity training’, an imagined dialogue during the Rebecca Riots, and even a play entitled ‘the gender (mis)recognition, act x’.

“…Real Life is obviously fucking horrible. Just like real men, real women, real abstraction, the real economy, really existing socialism, real sex, real hair, real hip bones, reality TV, real extensions of our real limbs, real pronouns, real community, real terror, very real threats, real data, real desire, real jobs, a real family, real citizens, the real deal, fake real, the real world, which is made up of everything real and everything which is not real forced to face each other even as their backs are stuck together with real glue (which is a metaphor), holding on to the borders that could make this real, you must submit yourself to this: it is called Experience, it is not something you have or own but that which is thrust upon you even by yourself and it is real or not real and it is your fault and when you stop for even a moment it catches up with you and collapses on your throat in real time…”

Categories
bodily autonomy policy trans rights trans youth

Bell v Tavistock outcome

Today’s judgment may initially appear disappointing for under-16s, but goes some way in confirming that 16 and 17 year olds are presumed to have full legal capacity to consent to medical treatment. Importantly:

“Doctors can continue to prescribe puberty blocking treatment if the patient is Gillick competent. The court found that the patient must understand not only the consequences of puberty blockers, but also the consequences of later, optional treatment which they may choose not to have when the time comes” (link).

The judgment will cause anxiety for people currently undergoing this treatment and their families, but we would like to reiterate that the Trust has stated it will continue to support patients. What this will look like remains to be seen, but it is not hyperbolic to say that it would be inhumane to abruptly cease any treatment. Clinicians have a duty of care to continue prescribing for those young people who have started hormone blocking treatment, and to offer support routes for any person denied treatment as a result of this ruling.

Our reading of the judgment is that:

  • For anyone 13 and under, it is theoretically possible to commence hormone blocking treatment, but is practically impossible through the GIDS pathway
  • For 14 and 15 year olds seeking to commence hormone blocking treatment through GIDS, it will be a very difficult journey and they may have to go to court to seek permission
  • 16 and 17 year olds are less likely than younger people to face difficulties in access, but they may too have to seek court permission if a clinician deems it necessary

NHS England has updated its service specifications around this already.

As with so much of what is discussed about trans young people, the judgment seems to come from a place where a transition of any kind is a last resort, something entirely medicalised and highly stigmatised. This is not what we know to be true at Gendered Intelligence. From our trans youth service and mentoring support work in schools, as well as from our lived experiences as a trans-led organisation, we know that being supported socially is most important, along with building wider understandings of what it is to be trans.

The judgment claims that “it is the role of the court to protect children, and particularly a vulnerable child’s best interests” as though a child’s being trans is in and of itself a vulnerability. This is not just offensively ill-judged, but attempts to render all trans young people as in need of protection through virtue simply of being trans. Whilst we would say that being trans, in a systemically transphobic society creates places where you could be vulnerable to damaging discourse, a trans child is not inherently vulnerable. To the contrary, most trans children we know are incredibly strong, resilient, intelligent and understanding. What they need is timely, robust, and less onerous access to healthcare, not to be patronised and stonewalled by judges who believe they know better than medical doctors and clinicians.

What we do know is that the bar is so high, that the only people who can currently access hormone blockers are those who present as in extreme distress, and as extremely knowledgeable about what the potential outcomes could be for them following treatment. These are the young people who are likeliest to have not just parental support, but the financial ability to fall back on accessing puberty blockers through the grey market. These young people are of course likeliest to be the ones to go on to take cross-sex hormones, through virtue of their existent absolute surety as to who they are — this does not mean that one leads to the other on a straight path for all people. It must be understood that transitions, social and medical alike, are unique and individual – some will decide that cross-sex hormones are the right choice for them, and others will cease hormone blocking treatment entirely. There is no one way to come to personal and individual realisations of one’s relationship to gender and transition, as much as this judgment suggests this were the case. What we need is a better support process for young people to explore all their options and implications of medical intervention with adults they trust and are, in turn, trusted by society.

It is a good thing of course that young people are armed with as much information as possible so as to make informed and rational decisions about their own healthcare. The problem arises when a paternalistic judgment states that “it may be that Gillick competence cannot be achieved, however much information and supportive discussion is undertaken” and this is applied across the board. There will be people who cannot ‘achieve’ Gillick competency and those who can — a clinician is the best person to resolve this, not a judge with no obvious understanding or qualification in trans matters.

It is those who have no parental consent and no financial resource that the system has historically failed, and upon which this judgment delivers another devastating blow. Whilst hormone blocking treatment is likely to continue regardless for a determined few, via channels other than GIDS, our concern is that this simply pushes people into a grey market where they cannot undergo robust medical monitoring. Trans young people without access to hormone blocking treatment either via GIDS or from the grey market are not going to become any less trans. They will simply become disillusioned with the understanding that the press, the judiciary and the commentariat did not speak up for their right to autonomy when they could and should have.

We anticipate that the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust will appeal the decision, bringing the challenge to the Supreme Court as a next step. If the appeal is granted, we expect the process to take at least a year until a judgment is reached, which may simply confirm the judgment as laid out today.

As a trans-led organisation, let us say that we are not just in shock at this decision, but appalled. It seems that for each step forward we take as trans communities, we take two steps backward in turn. At some point in the near future, the judiciary will have to level with the fact that trans children aren’t going anywhere, and that the best thing for all parties is to allow space for individualised decisions to be made by experts, not roll out confused diktats. Until then, know that Gendered Intelligence stands with all trans people, young and old alike, and will offer any support we can to keep our young people with us. If you need to speak to a dedicated youth worker, please email: youthwork@genderedintelligence.co.uk


Categories
allies trans rights trans youth

NHS Legal Challenge to Address Trans Young People’s Waiting Times

Today the Good Law Project announced it was to launch legal action in an attempt to ensure NHS England adheres to its own 18-week maximum waiting times limit for young people accessing Gender Identity Development Services. At the moment, waiting times are as high as four years, more than just a touch over the legal limits. This has been a longstanding issue that existed before the pandemic exacerbated waiting times further for all people.

Trans young people, as with all people accessing any NHS service, are entitled to an appointment within 18 weeks from a referral. It is a scandal that the waiting lists have been allowed to grow to such disastrous lengths, endangering young people who want and need access to the UK’s only NHS service for trans under-18s.

We are proud to be working with The Good Law Project on this and any potential future actions that come from this legal action, and stand with Stonewall, Amnesty International UK and Liberty in asking that these waiting times are urgently addressed.

Dr Jay Stewart, CEO of Gendered Intelligence, says:

Gendered Intelligence warmly welcomes this necessary intervention to address the crushing waiting times currently in place at GIDS. We never have and never would advocate for a rush towards any medical treatment for young people, and reiterate that these unacceptable waiting times mean simply that young people aren’t getting timely, robust guidance or professional direction with regards to an exploration of their gender identity. We all intrinsically know that this cannot be right.

We know too that whilst the pandemic has certainly exacerbated these cruelly long waiting times, the issue existed well in advance of the virus’s arrival in the UK. GIDS can act as a much-needed reference and support centre for young gender diverse people, and these waiting times serve only to place further, major obstacles to going through those proper and legal channels.

Cara English, Head of Public Engagement at Gendered Intelligence, says:

The aim of our involvement at Gendered Intelligence is to highlight the waiting times and their illegality and to have this properly addressed so that trans young people can get on with their lives in peace.

NHS England have to realise that these waiting times are not going to disappear with no positive action on their part, and that forcing people to wait for years for a first appointment is an unacceptable outcome for all.

We know of and welcome the Cass Review, and would highlight that whilst the review will hopefully raise recommendations on what can be done going forward, this legal action is about the here and now.

We need to do better for our young people. As trans communities we need a wholesale understanding of our healthcare needs, and at Gendered Intelligence we believe this intervention is a key first step to achieving and prioritising just that.

The Good Law Project has launched a ‘Legal Defence Fund for Transgender Lives’ which will aim to tackle similar injustices being levied against trans people through legal advocacy and action.

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A more empathetic understanding of the world: ‘This Book Will Make You Kinder’

In his most recent book ‘This Book Will Make You Kinder’, Henry James Garrett explores how empathy and kindness shape society and the world.

Cara English, Head of Public Engagement, chatted with him about what role empathy can play to overcome barriers to trans liberation and social change.

Cara: You talk about how your anxiety around interacting with strangers can be an obstacle to actually bringing about the positive, empathetic changes we all want to see in the world. What do you think are some easy steps people can take, without necessarily having to leave their comfort zone?

Henry: My comfort zone, due to anxiety both general and social, is a tiny place. I don’t think I could actually do much good without putting at least a toe outside of it. But, I would say that it’s worthwhile for all of us to think about our personal strengths and weaknesses while trying to make the world kinder. What you tend to find is that there are actions that would be scary for someone else that you find easy, and the things that you find scary are well within the wheelhouse of some other people. So, we definitely don’t have to all be doing all the types of work and guilt around that can be unhelpful. I’m sure with the campaigning work that you do at Gendered Intelligence, there would be a lot of people who would find putting all the information together, and learning how policy gets made, far too intimidating; and that while that work is necessary, it’s perhaps just as important to have those long-term, reliable people who respond to every single one of your calls-to-action, who fill out every consultation, email their MP every time, and donate whenever it’s needed. I think in bettering the world everyone thinks they have to be a leader of some sort, and that they’re not doing as much good if they aren’t, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. So, I’m not saying stay in the comfort zone, because there’s definitely a lot of uncomfortable work to do (particularly required of us privileged folk who never do a smidgen of our fair share), but I am saying that we have different comfort zones, and different barriers, and it’s ok to recognise and work with that.

Cara: I loved what you said about the potential evolutionary motives towards empathy. What do you think are the barriers to people being able to work towards a more empathetic approach or understanding of the world?

Henry: So the book (spoiler alert) employs this notion of empathy-limiting mistakes which I posit (ambitiously) as the source of the bulk of human cruelty. I also suggest that we could understand moral facts as facts about what we would be motivated by empathy to do if we were making no mistakes that altered our empathy. That’s basically the whole book premise right there, so I hope you still want to buy it. To get more specific, I suggest that when we believe something false, don’t know enough, don’t imagine things fully, or arrive with a warped or limiting conception of morality, those things can all stop us from empathising as we otherwise would; those things stop us from experiencing that very basic aversion to the suffering of others. Of course, we make those sorts of mistakes all the time with people we know directly, but the largest-scale examples of mistakes like those are the product of incentivised ignorance on the part of a powerful group. The barrier is often that it just suits the more powerful group to not empathise with those whose suffering they cause and benefit from. I think as our societies have become more complex, and the causal routes between our actions and their consequences have become more convoluted, it’s gotten easier to be cruel (though we’re still culpable for that cruelty) because it’s become easier to maintain that ignorance that allows us to justify our actions to ourselves. A lot of our cruelty is mediated through bureaucracies that hides it from view. So it’s about how we make ourselves and others look at things head-on.

Cara:  It felt poignant when you recalled that you’d historically been contributing to a sexist culture, and the role—however indirect—you felt you had to play in undoing this. Is it this kind of rallying against wider injustices and cruelties which you imagine underpin a lot of what we call ‘empathy’?

Henry: Yeah, I’ve definitely been guilty of contributing to a lot of oppressive culture, and I’m sure I still am in ways I’m yet to spot. I definitely think that the starting point for many of us in our moral, political, or empathetic work (whatever you choose to call it) will be looking at the ways we are participating in cruelty, or not doing enough to disavow and deconstruct cruelty perpetrated in our name, particularly where we hold privilege. And, of course, we need far more people to rally against those injustices that don’t affect them with that vigour they would exhibit if they did.

Cara: What effect do you think vectors of huge amounts of information, such as social media, can play in the shaping and reshaping of more empathetical understandings of society?

I think social media is one of the ways in which cruelty has become easier as mentioned above. It makes it far easier for people to maintain their ignorance (to exist in little mutually-reinforcing ignorance bubbles) and it also makes it easier to practice cruelty; it’s so much easier to believe that the people we’re talking about, and to, aren’t really people with feelings just like our own when we’re in online spaces (particularly when they’re part of such a small minority that we may not have met anyone who shares their identity in real life). 

But social media can also do wonderful things. Online, you can seek out the voices of people you might not have otherwise heard from. And you can listen to people from marginalised communities without demanding that they personally educate you, and because people mix their activism with their more personal life on social media, you also get a more whole picture of people than you would if you just went and heard a talk say; you get a sense of what someone is like outside of their role as an activist or educator. Social media can be very humanising in that way. Personally, a lot of the learning I’ve done has been online, so I have to say I’m really grateful for the existence of that form of social media education.

Cara: How important is it in being a better person that you learn how to really listen to others?

Henry: It’s everything. The line from my book is, “under the view of kindness and morality presented in this book, listening isn’t some nice add-on to being a good person; it’s the essential starting point. Through failing to listen, we cultivate the ignorance that limits our kindness. It is only by putting in the work of good listening that we can prevent empathy-limiting mistakes and reliably do the right thing.” The crucial points though are: Who are you listening to? And, are you listening with a view to believing what they have to say?

You can get a copy of This Book Will Make you Kinder on Henry’s page, or take part in our Instagram giveaway!

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Uncategorized

‘Small changes, new direction’ following Government’s GRA response

Cara English, Gendered Intelligence, Head of Public Engagement says:

“After years of hand-wringing, the Government has today laid out its intention to make surface-level changes to the Gender Recognition Act. This won’t come as a shock to most interested parties, but it is nevertheless disappointing in its scope.

“We welcome the step in the right direction to lower the financial barrier facing people wishing to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate. But reforming a piece of legislation which is fundamentally broken does not and cannot mean slapping a discount sticker on it and expecting great results. Historically poor take-up of applications through the GRA is unlikely to be improved in any meaningful way, with such fundamentally inhumane vectors of gatekeeping as the Gender Recognition Panel still in place. The indignity of having to explain — in detail — your personal and private life to a group of strangers will remain. The required diagnosis of gender dysphoria (by two doctors) will remain.

“Following years of public ‘debate’, no one was expecting a response to be made which addressed our communities’ concerns in good faith, and so most of us were prepared to be met with these platitudinous changes. The collective frustration is where we were told democratic tools of engagement such as consultations would be respected, only to be later told that the 70% of responses to the consultation demanding positive change amounted to not very much at all.

“The good news is that the wider rigmarole around the GRA is over for now. We can breathe a collective sigh of relief and move attention onto issues which more directly affect our material conditions. However, having a protracted, internecine struggle foisted upon our communities for what is ultimately a slight relaxation in cost means faith in the UK Government’s ability to protect trans people is at a particularly low ebb. Our priorities as trans communities in the UK remain improving our basic healthcare, tackling discrimination and hate, and improving our position within society. We at Gendered Intelligence hope that the Government’s commitments to reduce waiting times at trans healthcare services are a step in the right direction, and we will do what we can to ensure this becomes a reality.

“Earlier this year, trans communities in the UK were facing much worse: mooted plans to further exclude trans people from public life and robust healthcare were repeatedly ‘leaked’ to the press. In response, Gendered Intelligence launched #TrusstMe, a campaign to write to the Prime Minister, MPs and Ministers to push back on this. Over 44,000 people mobilised around this, helping make sure that as a country we don’t go backwards, even if we’re not exactly going forwards. Thank you to everyone who wrote and called their MP, and everyone who otherwise rallied around trans people.

“Baby steps seems to be the name of the game, however frustrating this piecemeal approach to change may be to all of us. But change truly is afoot.

“The coming months and years will see improvements to the lives of trans people in the UK, regardless of seeming slowness. Working together and with a collective voice, trans people and trans-led organisations will ensure that barriers to our full participation in society are removed. From Gendered Intelligence, we wish to say thank you for being with us on this long journey”.

ENDS

Amendment for clarification: the changes to the Gender Recognition Act process apply only to England and Wales. Scotland has a separate and continued consultation process. Where we are able to work with our colleagues and friends in Scotland to improve on this devolved piece of legislation when the Scottish Government makes an announcement, we will do so proudly.

Email: cara.english@genderedintelligence.co.uk

Phone: 07938 502 510

Categories
allies Gender Recognition Act guidance trans inclusion trans rights

Where we are as an organisation and as a movement

In the past few weeks, Gendered Intelligence has been able to mobilise almost 45,000 individuals to write to the Prime Minister and/or their MP. That’s not even counting people who have been writing en masse using theyworkforyou.com, and other organisations’ excellent guidance around the importance of writing to decision-makers. As much as the word has become a cliché in the pandemic, this really is unprecedented. We are enormously grateful to everyone who did this, including our allies, and ask that you do not stop now.

We want you all to know that our work ‘behind the scenes’ hasn’t stopped there. Our GIANTS project is helping build stronger and empowered trans communities up and down the country, providing capacity for grassroots work led by our communities with the ultimate goal of wider trans liberation.

We’ve been speaking with sector leaders about where we go from here as a collective in this political moment, but it’s very important for us at Gendered Intelligence that we let everyone who’s come on this journey with us know where we’re up to and what you can do to help our communities.

Frankly, we still don’t know what will or will not be announced by the Government in the coming weeks with regards to the Gender Recognition Act or continued inclusion in single-sex spaces. We do know that the bigger issues facing trans communities – discrimination, lack of access to robust healthcare, housing — are of more acute urgency than any potential reform to the Gender Recognition Act, especially in the wider context of the ongoing pandemic. We’re not taking a ‘one or the other’ approach, but as a small charity with limited capacity we have to pick our battles wisely. This is why it’s more important than ever that we galvanise our communities to keep speaking up.

Where we all may have (albeit limited) ability to collectively shape the discussion around matters, it’s important to do so – this is why we’re asking you still get in touch with your MP, the PM, Ministers; anyone who may be able to ensure we don’t take a massive step back in the UK for trans people.

This is a wider movement with no centralised ownership, leadership, or hierarchy. Trans liberation will be achieved by everyone who believes that trans rights are human rights, that discrimination and stigma against our communities need to end and who are prepared to put their head above the parapet for us. The call to action is carried to all trans people in the UK and our allies. Where we as individual organisations and charities are able to amplify our messages to be heard in the corridors of power, we will of course take those opportunities.

We’re working defiantly and tirelessly, in hope that our existing protections as trans people will not be curtailed. As a trans-led organisation working to improve understandings of gender diversity and material conditions for trans people, we find ourselves quite inadvertently at the coalface of a movement.

We do not speak for you but, we hope, with you. At Gendered Intelligence, we will leave no one behind on our mission towards trans liberation.

Categories
allies bodily autonomy Gender Recognition Act GEO policy

Our message to the PM

To write directly to the PM, please use our form here.

Dear Prime Minister,

I’m writing to you today as a UK citizen deeply concerned about proposed rollbacks to safeguards for trans dignity and safety in this country. On 14th June, The Sunday Times had as its front page an article on how the much-needed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act were being shelved. Compounding the trans community’s worries about this was that in the same article, prospective plans were revealed that would tighten the screw of exclusion for trans people from single-sex spaces.

The consultation period on the Gender Recognition Act was very difficult for the trans community – trans lives and dignity were debated as though a minority’s right to existence itself was up for debate. Still, 70% of respondents were overwhelmingly in favour of positive change. To ignore this would send a clear message to the country that engaging through democratic means does not lead to positive changes for the most marginalised. This would, of course, be a worrying message to signal from yourself as Prime Minister and I would urge you not to greenlight it.

The threat of rollbacks to trans rights, dignity, and legal protections in the UK cannot be overstated. I’m asking you to carefully consider the direction you wish to take with regards to the dignity of one of the most marginalised groups in this country. Please do not allow trans lives to be used as a pawn in a game they didn’t ask to play – trans people simply want to get on with their lives in safety and in peace.

Unduly excluding trans people from public life would be a huge step in the wrong direction, and a monumental loss to the UK’s proud human rights record. Please do not allow this to happen under your watch.

Categories
allies bodily autonomy Gender Recognition Act international mental health trans inclusion trans rights

Response to the reporting that GRA reform to be dropped

by Jay Stewart, CEO

The Sunday Times front page announced today that the, “PM scraps plans to make gender change easier”. The article details alleged plans to abolish amendments to the GRA.   

If true, this is deeply concerning.

We need reforms to ensure all trans people have access to legal gender recognition without the unnecessary barriers of expense and bureaucracy. All trans people should have the right to be recognised and treated in their gender.

The UK is falling behind other countries on this matter.

Remember the reform that we are looking for has already taken place in Ireland, Norway and Colombia and many other countries. Whatever the fears are, people should be reassured that they have not happened in these countries and that they won’t happen here.

What’s more 70% of the 100,000 responses to the consultation agree that reform is the right way to go. It is undemocratic to disregard these responses.  

In the context of #BLM and C-19, this is added upset to our communities.

Our health system is failing us with critically long waiting lists that will only get worse; hatecrime is increasing and our mental ill-health is being exacerbated.

At Gendered Intelligence we want a world where all gender identities and expressions are respected, understood and celebrated. If I have a message to trans, gender diverse people and our allies everywhere, I wish to channel Maya Angelou:

You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”