BAM Festival

Our volunteer Jezza writes about speaking at Southbank’s Being A Man Festival as a genderqueer person

I got involved with Gendered Intelligence at the end of 2015 through GIVS (Gendered Intelligence Volunteering Scheme). I was welcomed by the inimitable Sasha with their enviable energy and drive, and I volunteered at a couple of events. Public speaking was not high on the agenda at that point.

Jay Stewart (CEO of Gendered Intelligence) approached me in November at a meeting and told me about the panel discussion GI was chairing at the Being A Man (BAM) event at the Royal Festival Hall on Saturday, 26th of November. There was to be a panel of people gathered by GI discussing relevant issues for an hour. The discussion was simply entitled Transgender… which being fairly broad left a fair amount of ground to cover.

I deliver workshops regularly in schools, and am a performer, so talking to a roomful of people isn’t the most terrifying thing for me, but when you’re covering such personal ground it can feel rather different. I knew one of the panel, a trans man who had only recently announced his transition. We’d worked together through an LGBT+ organisation called Diversity Role Models, so it was nice to see a familiar face.

The rest of the panel identified towards the more masculine end of the spectrum, so as a fairly femme genderqueer individual I somewhat assumed the role of ‘wildcard’! The discussion was lively and interesting, and covered so much crucial ground with humour, humility and refreshing frankness.

I had been to BAM the year before, and found the event quite groundbreaking in its inclusive approach.  It was only right that we were there, but I still had to pinch myself as I looked out at a roomful of people who were keen to freely engage with the reality of transgender lives in order to inform themselves.  The festival was a wonderful ‘pit stop’ in life, taking time out of the everyday race in order to make ourselves the best version of ‘us’ that we can be, through education and considered thought.

Hearing stories, asking questions and putting faces to the concept of ‘otherness’, reminds us that we are all ‘other’ in some way, shape or form. Thus proving the fact that to be ‘other’ is in fact one of the most ‘usual’ things that we can be. Just don’t call me ‘normal’ – it doesn’t agree with me!

To sum up, Gendered Intelligence’s Jason Barker (who was chairing the debate) asked a question to the panel that he is often asked in schools: ‘Is there anything you miss about being a girl?’. The rest of the panel had been assigned female at birth, and knew what it was to be perceived in that role. My own experience of being perceived as female was somewhat limited, but a fascinating conversation ensued about how perception of threat and safety (yours and other people’s) is largely based on gender expression, and how gender is a fundamental part of how we move through the world.  Old news to many of us, especially the trans people, but some were facing up to this for the first time and it was a revelation.

About a week later I was at a concert that I had helped to organise for a choir I sing in, The Pink Singers,  London’s LGBT Community Choir.  Whilst setting up the keyboard and sound checking, a teacher came up to me who was there with the secondary school choir who were also performing that night.  Bizarrely enough he had recognised me from the panel at BAM and wanted to say how much he had enjoyed the talk, and how informative and enlightening he had found it.  It was an unexpected coincidence that really made me smile. Proof that sharing our stories does help.  When you consider the knowledge he can now take with him to his work with young people, we can be reassured that the future is getting brighter by the day.

Jezza

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Travelling While Trans: Jamie shares his story

The Summer holiday season has got into full swing  and our annual camping trips are coming up fast. We’ve been thinking about the potential challenges of travelling as a trans or gender variant person, inspired by our short survey about trans and gender variant people’s experience of using airports in the UK. We’ve had some insightful responses. 

Below Gendered Intelligence’s Communications Officer Jamie shares his recent experience of flying through an airport in the US. 

In June, I travelled to the US to attend Philadelphia Trans Health Conference. After a short trip to New York, my partner and I flew back to London through JFK.

You might not be aware that all passengers who travel through airports in the US are obliged to undergo a fully body scan as a security check. In times of increased surveillance at airports, travellers from marginalised communities, including trans people, have reported facing an uncomfortable degree of scrutiny while flying.

There is no reason that anyone should find the experience of a full body scanner comfortable, but for trans and intersex people there can be added difficulties. The scanner is calibrated to recognise “female” or “male” bodies. Any body parts that cannot be mapped on to those figures show up as anomalies on the security system.

While you stand inside the machine with your hands above your head, an image of your body is checked by security personnel.  Depending on the system in use, this image is either an accurate representation of your naked body, or a cartoon-like figure.

If an anomaly is detected, the passenger is then subjected to an additional security procedure – which generally means a pat down and a hand swab to check for explosive material.

I had travelled through airports in the US a few times before and gritted my teeth through several scans – for some reason, my body had never registered as an “anomaly”. This time, I wasn’t so lucky. Once I exited the body scanner, a security officer gestured to me to step to the side, instead of passing through to collect my hand luggage.

The security officer proceeded to give me a pat down. As he passed his hands over my chest, a look of surprise registered on his face: “What is that?”. I haven’t yet had top surgery.

“I’m transgender”.  The officer seemed mildly confused. I told him that I was “born female”.  These aren’t the words I would ideally use to describe my situation, but I wanted to avoid further confusion.  It worked – the penny dropped. The officer smiled sheepishly as he swabbed my hands.  He turned out to be kind, and almost puzzled that I had got myself into this position, as if I could have made the situation easier for myself.

Unfortunately, airlines do not provide you with a guide to being “trans at the airport” to navigate the current system.  Travellers who do not match conventional expectations of gender have to rely on airport staff to have sufficient knowledge and act sensitively in response to it.  As the #TravellingWhileTrans (or #TravelingWhileTrans) hashtag attests, many airports are spectacularly far off of the mark.

I found my experience at JFK embarrassing at worst.  If I was more vulnerable, or was treated in a less respectful way by the security offer, it could have been traumatic. We can’t be expected to depend on the benevolence of individual security staff or having had a particular type of surgery in order to feel safe.

IMAG2633

Jamie, GI’s Communications Officer

 

 


 

Gendered Intelligence is planning to take 70 young trans people camping this August. It’s a massive undertaking by our team, but we know that the camping trip has a huge impact on the young people who take part. 

To make the two camping trips happen, we have to raise £12,000 by the 12th of August.We need your support. We’re over halfway there, but there’s still a steep climb until we reach our target. 

Quote by Alex, 16

 

 

 

 

A young trans person shares their story of our camping trip

Gendered Intelligence is planning to take 70 young trans people camping this August. It’s a massive undertaking by our team, but we know that the camping trip has a huge impact on the young people who take part. 

To make the two camping trips happen, we have to raise £12,000 by the 12th of August. We need your support. We’re over halfway there, but there’s still a steep climb until we reach our target. 

Jamie, a 20-year old young person who attended last year’s camp, has written about their experience and why it was so special.

Camping with Gendered Intelligence meant so much to me. I’d only had bad experiences of camping on previous school trips, so I had no idea what to expect. However the GI camp was nothing like I’d ever been involved in before.

Everyone who was there wanted to be there. All the volunteers wanted to help and were brilliant in doing so. If you ever needed advice they’d try their hardest to guide you – even if it was the simplest task like finding the toilets at night!

I was really nervous about the camp at first because I actually have social anxiety, and so making friends and even encountering social situations in general is difficult. However camp really helped me. There was always someone to talk to, and the volunteers made sure that you were never left out. I made some good friends at camp; people I’m still in touch with now – a year on!

I think one of the best things about GI camp is that it is so accepting. You have so much freedom there. No one pressures you to do anything you don’t want to do. You can sit out of activities if you like (although I really liked kayaking!) You can have a timeout from socialising if you need it. No one judges you either. You can wear whatever makes you feel comfortable in the swimming pool. You can use whichever bathrooms you want.

You can talk openly about how you’re feeling. In this protected space you can be yourself, whoever that is or turns out to be.

I think for me, actually leaving to go home was the hardest part of camp. I remember getting asked, rather jokingly, by a family member if I was ready to come back into the ‘real world’ now. I remember feeling like this was such a surreal and ironic thing to ask, seeing as I’d felt camp was actually one of the most ‘real’ experiences in my life. In camp you got a very valuable opportunity to learn and understand others’ identities, and (perhaps more importantly) your own identity. For me, camp helped massively with self-discovery.

Three days may not seem very long but the time I spent with the others, and the memories I gained from this whole trip stayed with me for much, much longer.

Coming back from camp made me hopeful that the ‘real world’ would one day incorporate all the love, freedom, acceptance and self-expression that I experienced at camp.

Name: Jamie(/still discovering)

Age: 20

To donate to the camping trip, click here

Gendered Intelligence’s view of the Government’s Trans Inquiry response

Gendered Intelligence welcomes the Government Response to the Women and Equalities Committee Report on Transgender Equality.

We support the Government’s commitment to review the Gender Recognition Act.

In particular, we welcome the move towards self-determination of gender. The Government’s commitment to address the ‘unnecessary bureaucracy and to assess the need for medical checks’ within the 2004 Act sends a message to the general public that the role of the state and medical establishment in deciding an individual’s gender identity is excessive, and should be reduced.

At its inception, the Gender Recognition Act was a progressive piece of legislation and a reflection of dedicated campaigning by trans activists in the UK. However, there is now a global movement towards legal self-determination of gender and we believe that the government must follow the example of countries like Ireland and Argentina.

Gendered Intelligence works extensively in the education sector including Higher and Further Education. The Government’s response to work with Universities to include trans students in their learning environments, in part by addressing bullying and discrimination, is fundamental to many of our young members.

In 2015, Gendered Intelligence wrote guidance aimed at service providers who work have transgender customers, clients or service users . This guidance was well received by the business community. However, more needs to be done to ensure that trans people can access services without prejudice alongside everyone else. It is imperative that all trans and gender variant people are respected as their self-identified gender while using public and private services.

Recognition of everyone’s right to determine their gender will only come through a wide-spread effort to educate, inform and train members of the public, from students at school to employees in the public and private sectors.

We sincerely hope that the Government will take decisive action on the points it has raised in its Response.

About Gendered Intelligence

Gendered Intelligence is a Community Interest Company, that provides activities, support and resources for the trans community. We work with trans community and all those who impact on trans lives; specialise in supporting young trans people 8-25.

We do Trans Youth Work, Work in Education, Professional Services and Public Event.

More about us:

Read More

Trans inclusion in Education

GSA

There has been a flurry of media interest recently regarding our work in education around trans inclusion and celebrating gender diversity. The interest came following a conference at the Girls Schools Association  on Thursday 16th June. It was a fantastic day, a part of which was dedicated to transgender students. It featured Jay Stewart from Gendered Intelligence, two head teachers (both of whom are working with Gendered Intelligence) as well as a young person who is a Gendered Intelligence youth group member and student at a GSA school! It also became clear in the Q&A that many of the schools represented there also had transgender pupils. Consequently more and more schools are thinking about ways in which they can fully support all of their students, including their trans students.

Gendered Intelligence has now developed a range of services for all schools, colleges, Universities and other educational providers. These include mentoring, workshops and assemblies, staff training and consultation.

The panel finished with a huge round of applause.

Whilst the media interest has been a bit reductive in its focusing on gender neutral language, it has given Gendered Intelligence an opportunity to share our services to other educational institutes and young trans people.

Gendered Intelligence provides a non-judgemental service that supports all educational settings to develop and improve their trans inclusion and gender diversity good practices.

Here is a list of media pieces:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/19/dont-call-girls-girls-advise-gender-neutral-headmistresses/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3649181/Don-t-calls-girls-girls-young-women-case-offends-pupils-questioning-gender-identity-schools-told.html

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/girls-cant-be-girls-private-schools-told-2q25nvnv7

The GSA have also written their own statement:

https://gsa.uk.com/2016/06/news-transgender-pupils/

If you would like to know more about how your school, college or University can be more trans inclusive  or if you are a trans student and you feel that your education institute could benefit from what we provide do get in touch:

e mail: jay.stewart@genderedintelligence.co.uk

Office telephone: 0207 832 5848

 

P.S. If you want one of our cool posters just get in touch!
schoolsposter (2)

 

 

FA Guide to Including Trans People in Football

Including Trans People in Football – new FA guidance

Over the past year we have worked closely with the Football Association on their new guide to including trans people in football – and we’re delighted to announce that it’s now available online.

The new guidance is based on the FA’s core ethos that ‘Football is for everyone’.

The guide covers:

  • Terminology
  • Laws that protect trans people
  • How to tackle discrimination at your club
  • Making positive steps towards inclusion
  • Issues around ‘fairness of competition’
  • Supporting trans people as managers, players, supporters and other football roles
  • Testimonies from trans people who play, watch and coach football

To accompany the guidance, Gendered Intelligence has produced a short film about trans people playing football. We hope the video will lead to greater understanding for people who play football and are involved in football at semi-professional and grass-roots levels.

This video is about showing you that trans people play football too and we want you to include us in the beautiful game – Jen Kitney, Trans People in Football (film)

Watch the film:

 

Flower in a cracked pot

“We need less pity and more stories about recovery” – Jesse Ashman on why it’s important to highlight trans resilience

Transgender people are often portrayed as having sad lives, needing of pity and as having poor mental health. In this blog post I am attempting to problematise the pity that is afforded to trans people and to suggest the importance of highlighting recovery in trans narratives.

One of the first times I was made aware that trans people exist was during an A Level Psychology class. There’s a module on the A Level psychology syllabus where students are required to study the “phenomenon” of transgender people. This module is optional – for the college that is, not for the students. I had a good teacher for psychology, one who worked out that giving me copies of Psychology Today to read would stop me from distracting other students. However, she peppered her teaching of this particular module with comments such as ‘Isn’t it so sad?’ or ‘These poor people’. I was introduced to the concept of trans people as an unfortunate circumstance.

The pity my teacher displayed for transgender people was not something I’d seen in her teaching of the other modules. She had little concern for Skinner’s rats, shocked at random whilst attempting to find food, or for the people who were found to be genetically susceptible to addiction. I noticed that not everyone we studied was treated in the way transgender people were. For instance, we were taught that in some cultures people who would be diagnosed with schizophrenia are viewed as being gifted, rather than stigmatised. What we focused on with transgender people were the possible causes, coupled with some emotional-music-laden reality-TV style documentaries that the college had on DVD.

Why was it then, that we were only hearing about transgender people as a sad story in an otherwise balanced syllabus? This trend also appears in a lot of media about trans people. This is possibly because somewhere around 84% of transgender people have considered suicide. This is an old, well-known and often used statistic that was re-reported last year in the Huffington post as one of the ‘shocking facts’ about transgender life in Britain. These facts are displayed placed over smiling photos of some of the most successful transgender people in the UK..

The 84% statistic is supported by pretty much every study you’ll be able to find that records suicidal intent in transgender people. What is often left out is that after transition, only 3% report suicidal intention, a number that is in fact lower than the general population (see this trans mental health study and this suicidal behaviour study for more info – both links are PDFs). This is the same population that is a high risk group for other factors which can lead to suicidal intent. This statistic suggests an exceptional recovery rate in people who the odds are significantly stacked against. The statistics that are used to elicit pity are often ones that are only representative of pre-transition transgender people, and not a full picture of the resilience and brilliance of the transgender community.

This plays into the narrative that something must be done to help transgender people. What this, and my psychology teacher, is inadvertently doing was presenting the entire transgender population as people who need to be pitied, liberated and rescued – from themselves and their destructive inner thoughts. The reality is that transgender people are failed on many levels: social stigma and medical neglect are routine experiences for trans people. This is a community that is being failed and not one that should be pitied by the same people who benefit from the systems that put transgender people down. It isn’t sad that transgender people exist, and despite people’s assumptions, a transgender life is not automatically a sad life. We need less pity and more stories about recovery. When we talk about trans narratives in terms of only negatives, young trans people are being told they cannot recover from things like mental health problems and suicidal intent. In actuality, generations of transgender people have been and continue to be recovering, surviving and thriving.

Jesse Ashman currently works in mental health. He has a Master’s degree in Sexual Dissidence and an undergraduate degree in English Literature. Jesse has been a freelance writer, illustrator and designer for Gendered Intelligence as well as being a involved in our Speakers Programme.  

Transgender Equalities Report

Gendered Intelligence statement on Women and Equalities Committee’s Transgender Equality Report

Gendered Intelligence fully welcomes today’s Transgender Equality report published by the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee and its listed recommendations.

Despite an increase in trans visibility over recent years, we have a long way to go before trans people can feel happy and safe in all aspects of their day-to-day lives.

The report’s aim, to achieve full fairness and equality for trans people across the country, is poignant to many trans people and to organisations such as Gendered Intelligence.

Our work with young trans people gives us an insight into the daily struggles that young trans people face due to widespread prejudice and lack of understanding.

We are hopeful that the report’s strong recommendations in the following areas will bring about lasting change for all trans people.

  1. Recording Names and Gender Identities
  • Its consideration of the needs and recognition of non-binary people, in relation to the amendment of more inclusive language in the Equalities Act
  • The consideration of ‘x’ on passports
  • The removal of gender markers (“non-gendering”) from official records.

These recommendations work to acknowledge that gender is diverse. The practice of having only two gender options available (‘male’ or ‘female’) is no longer fit for purpose in a society where non-binary gender identity proliferates.

  1. Amending the Gender Recognition Act
  • Amendments to the Gender Recognition Act so that trans people can self-declare their gender identity

Currently, the process of applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate can be lengthy, confusing and even humiliating. We welcome a move towards self-determination of gender that ensures full autonomy and dignity for trans people.

  1. Gender Segregated Sport
  • The report highlights the very real discrimination that lies in gender segregated sport

Trans people experience significant barriers to taking part in sport at all levels. These barriers mean that many trans people are not able to enjoy the sense of well-being that can come from participating in sports and related activities.

Gendered Intelligence is currently working in partnership with the FA to improve trans people’s access to football. We hope that the Transgender Equality report will encourage systematic change across all sports.

  1. Experience of young people at school, college and University
  • The much-needed improvement in school, college and University experience of so many trans students

We have a right to feel safe in our learning environments. At the moment there is a lack of centralised guidance to help schools and colleges put equalities legislation into practice for the benefit of trans and gender variant students.

Giving students, and teachers, opportunities to learn about gender diversity is also integral to achieving full equality and fairness.

There continues to be enormous restrictions on all of us when it comes to expressing our gender identity. We need to make the world more intelligent about gender and give children and young people the skills to navigate the complexity of gender.

Reforming trans inclusion in our education system could dismantle gender stereotypes for everyone.

The full report can be read here.

Find out more about our support groups for young trans people: http://genderedintelligence.co.uk/trans-youth/youth-group.

PSI Review – update from Jay Stewart

I’m aware that some time has passed regarding the review of the Prison Service Instruction and I’m mindful that people are keen to know what’s going on and about next steps. (Here are the terms of reference fyi: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/review-into-the-care-and-management-of-transgender-offenders)

You may know that myself and Peter Dawson from the Prison Reform Trust are independent advisers. Discussion so far has been around building up a contact list of those with whom we need to speak, clarifying what the issues are (as some may be outside our review’s term of reference) and the questions the review team should be asking, as well as devising some ways to hold a meaningful and manageable dialogue exercise.

In the first instance they have set up an email address through which people can contact the review: TransgenderReview@justice.gsi.gov.uk. This e mail address will be routinely monitored and so do feel free to share it or use it for review-related purposes.

If you do e mail you will be asked if you would like to be added to the Review’s database, in case they need to contact you again. This may be a good way of being kept informed.

In addition there will be dates set for possible visits and potential meetings/round-table/discussion events. Do e mail the above if you are interested in attending any of those. Your views and expertise are really welcome. However I imagine places will be limited, although I don’t have that information as yet.

George Barrow, who is the key co-ordinator of the Review, has stated that he is very happy for people to get in touch with him direct if that would be useful for the work in hand.

His details are:

George Barrow

Reducing Reoffending Portfolio | Criminal Justice Policy Group | 4th Flr, 102 Petty France | London | SW1H 9AJ

george.barrow@justice.gsi.gov.uk

In addition some people have already contacted either myself or Peter directly. And we are happy for that to happen. Our time is donated to this review so there is a balance to strike here around limited resources and ensuring that we can move forward on this very important matter.

Kind Regards,

Jay Stewart

Director, Gendered Intelligence

Orla Blakelock, Univeristy placement student, writes about her experience of volunteering at the WHY? Festival, Southbank, October 2015

It was a dreary weekend in London when WHY? (What’s Happening for the Young) Festival came to the Royal Festival Hall; an event packed full of educational treats for both adults and children! Teachers, parents and young people streamed in from across the land to indulge in a variety of activities and stalls packed full of learning goodness. From political change singing to question and answer sessions on what it means to have a happy childhood, WHY? Festival had a lot to offer. I observed all of these fantastic activities whilst spreading the word about GI on our stall.

As a volunteer, it was a perfect opportunity to learn more about GI and get stuck in to the work that they offer to schools and universities. From MA students, to parents, to teachers – we raised a lot of awareness and planted a seed of interest in those who had never before taken much time to think about the issues trans people face in schools, and indeed in general. I really enjoyed putting out the word on the work GI do and, in some cases, having the privilege of hearing the personal stories of families or individuals who have been affected by the difficulties that can occur when a loved one is transitioning. I was touched by the degree of love and understanding I encountered I relation to this.

GI Southbank collage for GIVS fb.jpg

In addition to the stall, GI presented a workshop on gender: ‘Are you a Boy or a Girl’?, run by CN and Jason. The title of the workshop was taken from Sarah Savage’s book for children, which introduces themes of gender to young children, unfortunately she was not able to make it to the workshop itself. This being said, the idea of creating a book for young children on the theme of gender is something that really resonates with me; during the over 21’s workshop, we discussed the inflammation of the terms ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’  among children’s tales over the past decade or so. Namely the increased mantra of PINK for girls! Being a predominantly female group, we talked a lot about the pressure to feminise oneself and the influence this can have on young girls to exhibit girlish behaviour. Some teachers in the room talked in solidarity with one another about the problem with young girls distorting their personalities around what has become the ‘comfortable’ box to sit in: pink, pretty, princesses.

After and hour of discussion, the over 21’s and the under 21’s group reconnected and fed back the findings we came across collectively. As far as I could tell, this was an enriching and beneficial experience for both groups. I found it interesting to hear about the experience of young people compared to that of the older group, mainly because I find it refreshing to see that young people have the opportunity to have access to knowledge that can enable them to be more intelligent about gender! When I was in school, education around sexuality was only just beginning to skim the surface. I am inspired by educational organisations like GI who are unfolding their knowledge to educational institutes across the country. This being said, the over 21’s workshop was a fantastic experience and I felt very happy to share a space with other people who were so willing to explore their thoughts and feelings around gender. It was uplifting to encounter a group of people who were so open-minded and willing to empathise with the issues the gender binaries create for both sexes.

http://genderedintelligence.co.uk/

http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whatson/are-you-a-boy-or-a-girl-93837

http://sarah-savage.com/product/book/