5 UK-based trans writers to check out

Trans people are having a rather tough time of it at the moment. After it was leaked that the Trump administration were planning to legally redefine gender as a “biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth” a few weeks ago, trans people across the USA and beyond began fearing for their imminent erasure and further discrimination in all areas of life.

Fortunately, trans people and cis allies have risen to meet the growing opposition with great success in 2018. The #LwiththeT campaign showed the world that many cis lesbians are prepared to show their support to trans women and new feminist organisation Level Up started a campaign and public survey this month to help convince the government to make LGBT experiences compulsory in sex and relationships education in schools. Elsewhere we’ve seen more and more countries adopt gender self-identification policies and ‘third gender’ options on legal documents, making trans lives easier in places like IrelandIndiaCanadaArgentina and recently Portugal. So things aren’t all looking down.

So with all this going on right now, how do we all keep up? How can we explore and understand ourselves better as trans people in an ever-changing social-political landscape? Or how can cis people learn more about trans experiences to be able to continue to support us?

Inspired by Vogue’s recent article highlighting the work of transgender writers in the USA, we decided to make our own list of trans and non-binary writers in the UK keeping us up to date on trans issues and fighting back against anti-trans rhetoric in the media using only their minds and computer keyboards.

Travis Alabanza

Since first being published in ‘Black and Gay in the UK Anthology’ in 2015, Travis Alabanza has gone from strength to strength, building an international name for themselves as a writer and performer, highlighting the impact of colonialism and the epidemic of transphobic violence on queer, black, transfeminine people. Their first chapbook of poetry and art Before You Step Outside (You Love Me) explored their experiences of public harrassment, a concept taken further in their recent sell out show Burgerz which is currently on tour in the UK. They have written for Gal-DemPaper Mag and Huck among others and just last week won the Gay Times Honour for Future Fighters Award for their work.

CN Lester

Primarily known as a classical and alternative singer-songwriter, activist CN Lester also frequently writes and speaks in various contexts about transgender issues, often doing the still much needed work of explaining basic trans 101 for people wanting to support trans people. Since being included in The Independent’s 2013 Pink List for LGBT people making a difference, they have written for The New InternationalistHuffington Post and The Barbican and this year published their first memoir-come-manifesto book Trans Like Me: A Journey For All of Us

Trans Like Me cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruth Pearce

Ruth Pearce is an academic writer specialising in the grossly under-researched area of trans healthcare. For those of you who are into reading more in-depth about the experiences of trans people trying to access equal healthcare in the UK from patient interviews to autobiography, her book Understanding Trans Health covers a whole lot of it. She has also published many other articles that are available from her personal website. If 280-character bitesize chunks of trans opinion and reflection and outrage is more your thing, she is also a prolific tweeter. Her current project on trans pregnancy is still underway and looking for research participants so get in touch if you’re trans and have been pregnant!

Image credit: Mart Kochanek

Sabah Choudrey

A Pakistani trans activist who keeps their identity and community at the heart of their work, Sabah Choudrey gives talks and workshops around the world at Pride events, in universities, and at conferences, as well as writing on BAME/faith inclusion in LGBT spaces. The Trans Pride Brighton co-founder also has a TEDxTalk with over 35k views and has written a handbook for GIRES titled Inclusivity: Supporting BAME Trans People giving advice to organisations wishing to be more inclusive. Further writings on the exploration of ethnicity, faith and transmasculinity can be found on their websiteBGDGsceneHuffington Post and more.

Paris Lees

Given the massive strides trans people have made in actually telling their own stories in mainstream media in the last few years, it’s almost surprising (but not really) that there are still so many trans ‘firsts’ being made, and journalist/presenter Paris Lees seems to be at the forefront of some major ones. In 2013 she was the first openly trans woman to appear on BBC’s Question Time, and as a presenter on Radio 1 and Channel 4. Earlier this year she was the firstly openly trans woman to be featured in British Vogue. As well as having frequently written for The Guardian and Vice (not only on trans issues), she is also a consultant for All About Trans, a project that “positively changes how the media understands and portrays trans people.”

Jaca Freer volunteers for Gendered Intelligence and is an agender musician and activist who spends most of their time teachingdrums, performing with their queer feminist band Colour Me Wednesday, and organising music workshops for beginners with First Timers

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Understanding Gender Identity with Future Learn

New online course on Understanding Gender Identity with OU and FutureLearn

In October the Open University launched the UK’s first ever online training course focusing specifically on gender identity, developed in partnership with Gendered Intelligence.

The two-hour short course – Understanding Gender Identity – has been created to help organisations become more trans-inclusive and understanding, after it emerged that one in eight trans employees has been physically attacked at work in the past year.[1] 

The course is based on our 90 minute training session and is aimed at a new audience of professionals and students who are keen to access their learning online.

The course is led by author and academic Dr Meg-John Barker and Dr Jay Stewart, co-founder and CEO of Gendered Intelligence, and will be hosted on FutureLearn, the social learning platform. It costs just £25, and is open to all individuals and employers looking to increase their awareness of trans identity.

The key topics highlighted in the programme include: the core contexts of gender awareness and trans identity; an exploration of key terms and use of language; a basic understanding of legislation around rights and responsibility around trans identities; and an introduction for employers on how organisations can become trans-inclusive. The interactive content includes quizzes and video role-plays showing how to be a trans ally.

This course is the first in a series being developed by The Open University to tackle workplace bias. Other short courses will look to address similar areas of bias and discrimination, including sexual harassment, sexuality, age, race, culture and religion.

Dr Meg-John Barker, Senior Lecturer at The Open University, said: “Few people have a good understanding of gender identity, and they can be negative or overly conscious in their approach as a result. Many trans people face discrimination every day – and it’s time for this to change, which is why The Open University has developed this short course on Gender Identity.

“This is the first in a series of short courses on bias. Bias is everywhere, and it’s essential that employers and individuals take responsibility for addressing it. By increasing awareness and understanding of the key issues both workplaces and society will become safer and more inclusive.”

Jay Stewart, co-founder and CEO of Gendered Intelligence, said: “We are very excited to have partnered with The Open University to develop our training sessions for a new audience who are keen to access their learning online. At Gendered Intelligence we are experiencing huge interest from a wide range of professionals working across public, private and third sectors who are keen to learn more about how they can ensure their organisations are inclusive of trans and gender diverse people. This short course is an affordable way to address gaps in knowledge from organisations who have only a few employees and to those with tens of thousands.”

[1] Stonewall (2018) LGBT in Britain: Trans Report

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Young people at Gendered Intelligence

Young people and the Gender Recognition Act

Gendered Intelligence’s stance on gender recognition reform for young people

When the Government announced its consultation on the Gender Recognition Act in July of this year, what we were hoping for was a robust enquiry into how we can best reform legal gender recognition in the UK for the benefit of all trans people, including young trans people.

With our work at GI being centred around young trans and gender diverse people, we were disappointed that there were no questions explicitly about their experiences of dealing with the Gender Recognition Act (GRA). This seems like a missed opportunity to meaningfully explore options for gender recognition with young people whose current and future well-being depends on updates to the GRA, especially in the current climate where increasingly vocal, transphobic rhetoric questions  trans people’s very existence. If Scotland can ask these questions, why couldn’t England and Wales?

It’s so important to get the biggest and most useful change for the most amount of people, taking special consideration of those who’d otherwise be ignored or left behind. We need to get this right, or we’ll be waiting another 14 years before there’s any hope of reform again.

If you’re a young person or ally

There are a few opportunities to shoehorn answers into the consultation response by young trans people or their allies. Questions 10 and 11 are the most obvious, where the interaction between age and the GRA is talked about. We’ve some guidance here on what we might write for these questions, but the best answers will always come from the heart and from direct experience. There are other opportunities throughout the consultation response, such as questions 1 and 2. Question 5 asks about documentary evidence of gender, which is something many young people are going to struggle to get, and this is just another one of the many places where young people’s experiences can be talked about.

What Gendered Intelligence has been doing

When the Scottish Government undertook its own consultation on Gender Recognition Act reform, it asked for feedback on its proposed options for young people. Our view now is the same as then: that young people know who they are, that approaches that affirm their gender are the best for young people and the people they know, and that the baseline for respect and recognition needs to be much higher than it is.

Our policy officer has been meeting the young people we work with at their youth groups, asking them what their first-hand experiences are with the GRA and how the process might be improved. By and large, they said the same thing over and over again:

  • This isn’t rocket science.
  • We know who we are.
  • Fix it and fix it now.
  • Make sure everyone who needs access to the process can get it.

Gendered Intelligence’s take on young trans people and the GRA

Whilst we’re all too aware that this isn’t being explicitly consulted on, we need to be making a stand and speaking up for those the reformed Act may continue to leave out.

It seems so obvious that 16 and 17 year olds should have full, autonomous access to the GRA process that it needn’t even be mentioned, but here we are! At 16, a person can change their name, receive any medical or even surgical treatment they want, and can even marry. There would be absolutely no logic to deny extending the GRA to 16 and 17 year olds, and ultimately we don’t see any real pushback to this.

None of the options given in the Scottish Government’s consultation for under-16s were perfect, but some were better than others. Obviously there needs to be some system in place, and some of these templates could be easily mirrored down in England and Wales, making for a seamless system across Britain.

Gendered Intelligence is asking for a system of legal gender recognition for under-16s through parental application, with the option of application by a capable child where parental consent can’t or won’t be given. A system of parental application might be best as it works under the assumption that the young person will have parental consent and support, which is ultimately one of the biggest factors in how successful and happy a transition is for a young person and their family.

Of course, the reality is that many young people of all gender identities don’t have much parental support, so there has to be something in place for them. We’re asking for a system of ‘application by capable child’, wherein a capable young person can access the GRA process by providing a statutory declaration. Application by capable child as the only option would make the process longer and should only be as a fall-back option where parental consent isn’t granted.

Young people’s access to a system of legal gender recognition that works for them must be guaranteed. Their right to recognition cannot be muted or discounted simply because of their age.

Making a better future

Having worked with young trans and gender diverse people over many years, we see them for themselves  – the full range of young people just being themselves, in their own unique ways. There can be no doubt that they should have the right to be recognised in the gender they know themselves to be.

Now’s the time to refuse to be belittled, to refuse to be silenced, to speak truth to power and make the world a better place for young trans and gender diverse people. I hope you’ll join us.

Gender Recognition Act 2004 in Scotland

What does Scotland think about gender recognition?

The Scottish Government have released an update following their recent consultation on the Gender Recognition Act 2004 which closed in March 2018. The letter published on their website includes a brief analysis of the results to some of the key questions posed to the public. Gender recognition is a devolved area of law in Scotland and reforms to the GRA 2004 are an ongoing conversation in both Westminster and Holyrood.

The first results from the consultation are positive and suggest that a significant number of people are in favour of making gender recognition less restrictive, to include young trans people under 18 and non-binary people.

Over fifteen and a half thousand responses were received, including submissions from 162 organisations covering a wide range of interests from trans and wider LGBTQ community groups, women’s groups and religious bodies. Excitingly, a majority of people who responded supported the Scottish Government’s proposal of a demedicalised model of gender recognition that does not rely on the approval of a panel of “experts”.

Under this model, Scotland would introduce reforms similar to those seen in Ireland and Canada where people do not need evidence from a medical professional to change their legal gender. The model that we would be most likely to see in the UK would be statutory declaration, where people would sign a legal document in front of a witness such as a solicitor.

There was also an encouraging result for young people aged 16 and 17. A majority of submissions agreed that these young people who are old enough to marry, join the army and vote in Scotland, should also be able to change their legal gender.

For children up to the age of 16, less than a third of respondents said they should remain excluded from being able to have their legal gender changed, with this figure rising to just over a third for children under the age of 12. Almost a quarter of people thought a capable child under 16 should be able to apply to change their gender and a similar number of people thought children should be able to apply with parental agreement.

Finally, almost two thirds of respondents agreed that non-binary people deserve legal recognition in Scotland. This would also mirror reforms seen in places such as in Australia, New Zealand and parts of the USA. A similar figure also thought the Equality Act 2010 should be amended to include all non-binary people in its protections against discrimination. Currently, the protected characteristic is ‘gender reassignment’, not gender identity, which was written to cover people undergoing a medical pathway of transition and is therefore not inclusive of all trans people.

The results of the Scottish consultation are an encouraging indicator that there is an appetite to reform laws to better include trans and non-binary people in parts of the UK. 14 years ago, the GRA 2004 was one of the most progressive pieces of legislation for trans people in the world. The results from this consultation show that spirit of inclusion is still alive and that change is possible.

There are only a few weeks until the English consultation closes. It is so important that trans people, their families and their friends make sure their voices are heard. We have a once in a generation opportunity to make legal gender recognition easier, more affordable and demedicalise the process.

If you haven’t yet submitted a response but are finding the process a little confusing, we will be running a drop in on the 6th October where you can fill out the consultation with support from our staff and volunteers. We also have online guidance to help you respond to the key questions.

One month left to take part in the Government’s GRA consultation

Copy of GRA Drop in Twitter

There is a month left before the Government’s consultation on reforming the Gender Recognition Act 2004 closes.

It is so important that trans people, their families and their friends make sure their voices are heard. We have a once in a generation opportunity to make legal gender recognition easier, more affordable and demedicalise the process. 

The GRA was the first piece of law in the UK allowing trans people to change their legal gender and their birth certificate by applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate. It was a groundbreaking piece of legislation 14 years ago but now we’ve started to fall behind other countries. The process here is long, expensive and requires evidence from two medical professionals. What’s more, it excludes those under 18 and non-binary people.

Ireland recently passed a law allowing trans people to self-identify their gender. Many trans people and organisations are campaigning for a similar process for the UK, where people can sign a statutory declaration, which is like a more official deed poll that has to be signed in front of a witnessing solicitor.

The consultation document is quite long and can be confusing. It’s also easier to access online, which can be difficult if you’re not the best with technology! To make sure everyone gets the chance to have their say, Gendered Intelligence are running two GRA workshops on 15th September  and 6th October, from 12 noon to 6pm. All trans people and allies are welcome to come along to these drop in sessions.

We’ll also be running workshops in our youth groups this month so that our incredible young people can comment on a process that will have a huge impact on their future.

For the Saturday drop ins, we’ll have staff and volunteers available to explain the wording of the questions and to act as a soundboard for your ideas.

We’ll have a number of computers available for people to use, along with paper copies of the form that we can post back to the Government for you. But if you’re coming and have a laptop, it would be helpful if you could bring that along with you. There’ll also be snacks and teas and coffees available to sustain you while you’re deep in thought!

In our youth groups, Cara, our Policy Engagement Officer, will give a short presentation on what the GRA is, what it means and what we have been doing as an organisation through the whole process. Then we’ll have a discussion about some of the issues which will also give our young people the opportunity to ask more detailed questions.

This is a great opportunity for us to hear thoughts from more members of the community, including our young people. This will help inform our responses, ensuring we’re properly representing our community and working for the best outcome for everyone!

We’ll be hosting the Saturday workshops in Central London and you can book a slot to come along here: https://gra-dropin.eventbrite.co.uk

Gendered Intelligence calls for the age limit of legal gender recognition to be lowered to 16

Gendered Intelligence, a community interest organisation that aims to increase understandings of gender diversity, welcome the launch of the consultation on reforms to the Gender Recognition Act, but are concerned that the scope of the reforms isn’t wide enough.

In line with progressive legislation in other countries such as Ireland and Malta, Gendered Intelligence are calling on the Government to reduce the minimum age for a person to have their gender legally recognised from 18 to 16. We are disappointed that the Government has fudged the consultation with regards to young trans people, failing to properly and transparently include a question around the age limit of gender recognition. The GEO fact sheet on Trans People states that the government has no intention of lowering the age limit to under 18.

Penny Mordaunt, Minister for Women and Equalities, has stated that the starting point for the consultation is the fact that trans women are women and that gender recognition processes should support those going through transition rather than add to their stress. This is a positive starting point, but the concerns of young trans people must also be at the heart of the consultation process.

The Government’s consultation on the Gender Recognition Act 2004 was launched by Penny Mordaunt, Minister for Women and Equalities. The consultation invites individuals and relevant organisations to share their vision for reform of the 2004 Act. Under current legislation, applicants for a Gender Recognition Certificate have to be at least 18 years of age and transitioning from one fixed, binary gender identity (‘male to female’, ‘female to male’).

 Through its youth work programme, Gendered Intelligence works with over 500 young trans, gender diverse and questioning young people and their parents every year. The ability to have their legal gender recognised would allow those 16 and 17 year olds with diverse gender identities to have their gender respected at school, college and at work. Research shows that respecting trans people’s preferred pronouns and name drastically decreases depression and improves outcomes. Young trans people are currently facing an extreme level of discrimination. Research shows that more than four in five (83 per cent) trans young people have experienced name-calling or verbal abuse; three in five (60 per cent) have experienced threats and intimidation; and more than a third (35 per cent) of trans young people have experienced physical assault.

 Dr. Jay Stewart MBE, CEO of Gendered Intelligence said:

“As a sixteen year old, you are able to marry, join the army and work full time, yet you cannot have your gender legally recognised. Increasing numbers of young people are transitioning, with the full support of their parents, and would fulfill the conditions of gender recognition, yet are blocked from changing the gender on their birth certificate simply because of their age. Those under 18 are at risk of discrimination and harassment in education and work because they do not have the option of their birth certificate reflecting the gender they live as. It is simply unjust to deny young people the human rights that we afford adults just because of their age.”

Cara English, Gendered Intelligence’s Policy Officer said:

It is time for the UK to catch up with Ireland and Malta and give 16 and 17 year olds the right to have their gender recognised on their birth certificate. The UK was a thought leader on LGBTQI issues when it launched the original Gender Recognition Act, and we need that radical thinking back if we’re to make things fair and equitable now. We have a once in a generation opportunity to improve the Gender Recognition Act for all trans and non-binary people and we have to make sure that young people are not left out of the conversation. Gendered Intelligence will ensure that young people’s voices and views are included in the consultation process. Young trans people continue to experience disproportionate bullying, discrimination and poor mental health outcomes. The government needs to take action to address these inequalities. The ability to have their gender legally recognised will give young trans people safety and privacy in education and at work, and absolutely needs to be a priority for the Government”

In the coming weeks we will be sharing suggestions to help those who are taking part in the consultation to make sure the experiences and needs of young trans people are reflected in their submissions.

 

What are the single sex exceptions in the Equality Act?

Today several mainstream media outlets have claimed that trans people do not have a legal right to access single-sex space, according to the government.  After weeks of media confusion over the scope of the Gender Recognition Act 2004, it seems that it is now the turn of the Equality Act 2010 to be misconstrued.  Inaccurate information about legislation relating to trans equality is unhelpful to organisations and businesses, and moreover, potentially harmful for trans women who stand to suffer an increase in harassment when accessing single-sex services.

Earlier this month, the Government Equalities Office released a statement in response to a petition from an anti-trans group to halt the planned reform of the Gender Recognition Act.  Use of single sex space is legislated in the Equality Act, and the government confirmed that it has no intention of changing any aspect of this Act. In short, this means trans people – covered by the Protected Characteristic of “gender reassignment” – continue to have the legal right to access facilities appropriate to their gender. Discrimination against trans people as customers and service users is still unlawful.

Today’s inaccurate media claims mainly come down to one point – the single sex exemptions in the Equality Act.  Under normal circumstances,  if service providers provide single or separate sex services,  trans men and women should be treated in accordance with their gender and access the services most appropriate for them. However, in limited circumstances, there are exceptions to this.

The “Services, Public Functions and Associations: Statutory Code of Practice” (EHRC, 2011) document provides useful guidance to the exceptions to this rule. It says service providers can provide a different service, or exclude a trans person, but this will only be lawful “where the exclusion is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”.  To clarify the nature of this exception, it says , “any exception to the prohibition of discrimination must be applied as restrictively as possible and the denial of a service to a transsexual person should only occur in exceptional circumstances”.

 Far from the blanket ban that today’s media suggests,  in general the exceptions can only be used where every way to enable full inclusion has been explored and no other option can be found. Under no circumstances should an organisation treat the exceptions as something it should do. An exception is a last resort.

The EHRC guidance advises that the needs of different service uses are weighed up, but that ,”Care should be taken in each case to avoid a decision based on ignorance or prejudice.  Also the provider will need to show that a less discriminatory way to achieve the objective was not available.

The onus is clearly on the service provider to demonstrate that a decision was not taken based on ignorance or prejudice, which begs the question – what is actually left when we have removed ignorance and prejudice from the equation?  We have seen many other groups denied rights on the basis of (often) essentialist arguments that are now clearly seen to be based entirely in ignorance and prejudice.

Single-sex exceptions to the Equality Act 2010 are generally applied in sensitive services, such as rape crisis and women’s refuges. In Scotland several women’s services are explicitly trans inclusive and offer guidance to similar organisations. Women’s services have to balance the needs of service users – both cis and trans – who are often extremely vulnerable and traumatised. They do vital and often harrowing work, in a sector that is increasingly underfunded. If they are able to model good practice, there is hope for all organisations to welcome and affirm trans people.

The existing Equality Act is far from perfect – for one, it provides no explicit protection for non-binary people. However, it is irresponsible, and indeed immoral, for the media to twist legislation to suggest that trans people can be lawfully barred from every day facilities and services. This kind of rhetoric empowers those who seek to harass and exclude trans people, especially trans women, from public space.

GI Statement on High Court ruling on “X” passports

Campaigner Christie Elan-Cane has lost a High Court action against the Government’s policy on gender-neutral passports.  Elan-Cane’s case argued that the Government policy of obligatory female or male gender markers on passports was “inherently discriminatory”.  High Court judge Mr Justice Jeremy Baker refused to rule the government policy as unlawful. However, the judge was satisfied that, “right to respect for private life will include a right to respect for the claimant’s identification as non-gendered.’’ It is the first time that a judge in a UK court has make such a statement about non-binary gender in reference to the right to a private life.

Sascha-Amel Kheir, non-binary activist and Gendered Intelligence’s Volunteer Coordinator gave the following statement on the ruling:

“I’d firstly like to thank Christie for the time, effort and emotional labour that not only must have gone into this case but the three decades of campaigning leading to this point. It is an issue that affects many people personally, including myself, and something Christie has fought tirelessly for many years.

While the decision from the court is not the best case scenario, it is also not the worst. For the first time a court in the UK has recognised that forcing people who identify outside of the gender binary to choose a M or F marker for documentation violates one’s right to a private life under the European Convention on Human Rights*. It was noted that the Government is currently conducting a review of gender recognition policies with the long expected consultation on the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and this seems to have been important for the court when drafting its judgement.

Hopefully, the judgement will be considered during the GRA consultation process, especially now that it has been found to be a human rights violation. If not, it at least sets a strong foundation for strategic litigation if the consultations do not lead to the necessary changes in policy and legislation.”

You can read more about the ruling on Christie’s own blog.

 

New guidance for LGBTQI fans at the World Cup

New guidance for LGBTQI+ fans travelling to the World Cup in Russia

In the next few weeks, the 2018 FIFA World Cup will be held in Russia. Fans travelling to Russia for the World Cup can find guidance specifically for LGBTQI+ people in the Football Supporters’ Federation’s Free Lions Guide. The guide is a collaboration between FSF, the FA and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. A number of LGBTQI+ organisations, including Gendered Intelligence, were consulted on the content of the guide.

To assess the risks for travelling to Russia for the World Cup, it is useful to know more about the situation for LGBTQI+ people there.

Five years ago the LGBT propaganda law was passed which prohibits the promotion of “non-traditional” values to children. The bill is purposefully vague and its use is highly unstandardised. At its extreme, it could be used to effectively ban the queer rights movement and any expression of queer identity in public. There are also no anti-discrimination laws or specifics protections for the community so while being LGBTQI+ isn’t criminalised and people aren’t persecuted against in the vast majority of the country, life can be extremely difficult.

The understanding of what “non-traditional” could mean is crucial for understanding the impact of these laws and policies on people’s lives. For example, there are mechanisms for trans people to change their names, however, if a trans man wanted to change his name to one regarded as “traditionally masculine” there would be a slim chance of his attempts being successful. Whether or not he succeeded would be determined by the officials overseeing the procedure and be subject to their views. Likewise, applications to change one’s legal gender vary depending on the court overseeing the case. To change one’s gender, a medical diagnosis of “transexualism” is required but this is also one of the “mental disorders” that can be used to deny someone a driver’s license. For non-binary people, there is no form of recognition available outside of the gender binary.

In addition to the issues at the state level, the mainstream view of the general public is much more hostile to the community than in the West. However, this does vary considerably by region and thus, so do the experiences of LGBTQI+ people from different parts of the Federation. St Petersburg is the most liberal city in Russia and there are LGBTQI+ venues, although like in the West, most are aimed are cis gay men. On the other hand, the situation in the North Caucasus and Chechnya in particular is completely different.

While the Chechen government’s persecution against (perceived) gay cis men has been well documented, it has affected people of all gender and sexual minorities. Trans women have been subject to similar levels of violence as gay men. From the society’s perspective, they are seen as one and the same and denied their womanhood. As is normal around the globe, their stories have received much less coverage in the media. Queer cis women have also been targets of violence and persecution, however this is much more likely to come from within their own family in the form of honour-based violence rather than from the authorities. This is a different experience to most gay men and trans women who have been targeted more heavily by the regional government. There is no readily available information concerning the experiences of trans men and non-binary people.

As always, trans voices are going unheard and there is a danger that the experiences of trans people in Russia, and the hardships they face, will be forgotten amid the excitement of the World Cup. Instead there must be continued pressure on the Russian government to lift the propaganda law and properly investigate the atrocities perpetrated in Chechnya. While interest from the general public has waned, there is ongoing effort to change the situation such as lobbying from Amnesty International and work to support and evacuate LGBTQI+ people from Chechnya by ILGA-Europe and the Russian LGBT Network.

All those attending a game in Russia will receive a copy of the FSF’s Free Lions Guide guide with their tickets and it is also available here.

To see the latest update from Amnesty International on the Chechen Purge click here.

To support ILGA-Europe or the Russian LGBT Network click here or here.

Celebrating volunteers at Gendered Intelligence

Our Volunteer Coordinator Sascha Amel-Kheir reflects on the important role volunteers play at Gendered Intelligence to introduce Volunteer Week 2018.  

TodaNCVO Vol week Logo 2018 colour with tagline largey is the start of Volunteers’ Week in the UK and this year we at Gendered Intelligence will be showcasing some of our volunteers’ stories and experiences from volunteering with us. Their contribution to our organisation is not only vital to the work we do because it supports our team of staff, helping us achieve far more than we could on our own, but each volunteer brings a unique perspective that enriches the programme of services we provide.

I joined GI in February as the first full-time Volunteer Coordinator and although it has only been three months, it has been fantastic getting to know our existing volunteers, training and welcoming new volunteers to the organisation and developing new ways for our volunteers to support our work.

Volunteering is not only important because of the benefits it provides to organisations, but because of the many ways it can be of benefit to volunteers. Whether it’s through combating social isolation with opportunities to meet new friends, teaching people new skills with the chance to practice them in a professional environment and also providing a space for a diverse community of staff, volunteers, service users and their friends and families to develop around our service provision.

Next week, we will be sharing 5 stories from people across all aspects of

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Volunteers Peter and Jacqui running a stall at NEU’s LGBT Educators Conference 2018

 the Gendered Intelligence Volunteering Scheme; those who have been with us for many years to those who have only recently joined, trans people who attended our youth groups in their teens and cis allies to our community and experiences across our volunteering programs. People from all different walks of life give so much to GI and the trans community and we’re excited to highlight their achievements with us!

If you are interested in volunteering with Gendered Intelligence please visit our website for more information and complete our anonymous application form.