The blog of Monty Moncrieff
London Friend Chief Executive
19th November 2012: International Trans Day of Remembrance
Cisgender. Hands up how many of you have even heard the term? Put simply, it describes those of us who aren’t trans; the majority of us who rarely – if ever – have to think about whether our gender identity matches our birth sex. For me the fact that we have a term to describe us but yet seldom use it as a contrast to trans people speaks volumes about the way we define trans people as being apart, separate, and in some ‘other’ category. The one-way epithet reinforces the ‘norm’ as the ‘normal’.
It’s easy to see how this ‘othering’ contributes to trans people continuing to be misunderstood, a situation that has wide-reaching consequences. Trans people still face significant discrimination in trying to find employment, accessing health and other public services, and even when trying to maintain something as fundamental for our well-being as the support of family and friends. It’s no surprise that trans people are more likely to report higher rates of poor mental health and massively disproportionate rates of attempted suicide. The Government’s Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Strategies cite trans people as being particularly at risk, and as a population that may benefit from specifically targeted support.
At its most extreme transphobia translates to trans people being victims of horrendous violent attacks and murder. November 20th is the International Trans Day of Remembrance, a series of global actions to honour those killed in such attacks, and raise awareness of the prejudice trans people face. Details of this year’s London event can be found here.
For many years I’ve been fortunate to work with some fantastic trans people, organisations and activists, as well as diversity professionals championing trans issues. I hope that through this I have been able to be a good cisgender ally. As CEO, and as an individual, it’s important to me that London Friend is a trans-aware, trans-competent, and trans-inclusive organisation, deserving of our status as an LGB and T support service. We provide trans awareness training for our staff and volunteers, and our clinical supervision arrangements enable our volunteers to seek support when required to enable them to work effectively with our trans service users and those exploring their gender identity. We’re always looking to recruit more trans volunteers, and to develop services that support trans people.
This year London Friend partnered with THT, Brook, GALOP and the NHS to launch cliniQ, a trans sexual health and well-being service at Soho’s 56 Dean Street GUM clinic. The service receives no specific funding, but is an example of what can be achieved when service providers seek to innovate and be creative with their existing resources, devoting a portion of them to target trans people and working in partnership to share experience and build competence. In March the providers of cliniQ will host a trans health conference, supported by the National LGB & T Partnership, of which London Friend is a member. Information about this event will be available soon.
The Trans Day of Remembrance offers individuals and organisations a moment to pay tribute to those so brutally injured and killed as a result of transphobia, but it also provides us with the opportunity to reflect on our own behaviours and values, and to commit to helping to improve trans awareness through our own services and personal actions.