Why #GenderIdentityMatters

Good morning! Another busy week ahead for all of us. I hope that those of you in retail have survived Black Friday weekend and are now set for the fun and joy that is December. Yes! Can you believe it? December is just around the corner.

Last week was Trans Awareness Week and Trans Day of Remembrance, a week of raising awareness and understanding of what it means to be trans, how you can be an ally and a day when we think about those who lost the fight against hatred and transphobia. Thank you to everyone who donated to our campaign and flew the pink, blue and white stripes outside their windows, on their flagpoles or on their shirts. Without you, our allies, this would be a lonely world indeed. A special shout out to Trans*(Verse) for their moving poetry recital after the Southampton event.

My thoughts are still with those of you who organised and conducted vigils across the world. This year I was privileged to stand alongside five others in Southampton at the Peace Fountain as we read out that long list of names. On Wednesday morning I shut my office door and transcribed that list, those 369 names, from www.tdor.translivesmatter.info, each name accompanied by an image. An image, a photo, a face, viewed across the world. An image, a photo, a hope encapsulated in 0s and 1s. An image, a photo, a face now gone. Taken. Ended. In writing that list I centred myself, I remembered, I respected and I saw your faces again as I read out my names that evening.

When we take a photo of ourselves, when we take that selfie, posted on line for likes and approbation we are saying “I’m proud to be who I am” “I am my authentic self” “This, this is a good image of me, this is how I want to appear to you”. When a life is taken away that hope, that potential is also destroyed. Today as I write this I have that page open again, I can only imaging the work which goes into creating the site, the delving into the web to get the names, to get the images. To give people the recognition and respect they should have. This year there were 369 names, higher than last year and the year before and the year before that, this year still there were names missing. Those whose families did not recognise their gender identity, those whose deaths were not taken seriously and erased on the death certificate, those whose deaths could have been prevented had they received lifesaving, life affirming treatment for their dysphoria years before, those who could never be out and are thus lost to us forever, those who died of curable diseases that were not recognised because of their gender identity. All those who lost the fight.

This year has been one of even more extreme change and turmoil. This year we go to the polls again. Perhaps this is the year that we will see a change in the zeitgeist, a paradigm shift. The training that Chrysalis is delivering across the country, the work of so many trans people and their allies, is bearing fruit. Allies really are everywhere. Here’s hoping that next year brings the long overdue reform of the Gender Recognition Act.

Speaking of change and inclusion Chrysalis champions and trustees are getting involved with Pride teams in Bournemouth, Southampton and Portsmouth. Talking about making sure is inclusive and about LGBT+ Awareness training and certification for local businesses who support and sponsor Pride. across Wessex is going to be bigger, better and more inclusive than every.

What’s hot and what’s coming up? Firstly let me mention the Queer Broadcasting Project which our trustee Orlagh is developing – bringing the Gay USA show format to the UK, and to Hampshire. Chrysalis is really excited to be part of this project.

Plans for conference are going well with keynote speeches from our new Patron Sophie Labelle and long-time supporter and international speaker Joanne Lockwood as well as experiential workshops on pronouns and identity, discussion panels on why in the workplace in 2020 and your chance to participate in Trans Bingo™ and borrow a human book from the Chrysalis bookshelf.

Today is our quarterly Facilitators Meeting, a great chance for all the different group facilitators to get together and celebrate what’s going well as well as develop strategy and tidy up processes.
Tuesday I’m off to Eastleigh for a One Community event, watch this space for more details about exciting New Year news and resolutions and Samantha is speaking to the newly convened Solent Health Board for Diversity and Inclusion about Chrysalis and the work we do. Thanks to Ricky Somal and our newest trustee Paul Draycott for this great opportunity.

Wednesday sees Maximillian and I with an early start on the train to London to deliver the second in our series of Gender Identity Awareness, Understanding and Empathy workshops to the Crown Prosecution Service

And for the rest of the week? I’m looking at my diary and seeing that I get a chance to sit down with lots of our dedicated Chrysalis counsellors. Counselling is central to the support Chrysalis offers and without our incredible counsellors we couldn’t offer this lifesaving, life affirming service. Many of our counsellors start with us on placements during the final years of their training and then stay with us post qualification. A higher accolade for the impact of the work we do I couldn’t ask for.