This week’s guest blog comes from Emma Myhill, Volunteer Coordinator at Cyrenians.
Pronouns, language, transgender, cisgender, related organisations, identity… these are just some of the areas I’ve been learning about since joining the LGBT Chartermark group in Cyrenians. Together with listening to the Guilty Feminist podcast I strive to learn more people’s stories, increase my understanding, not make references to ‘normal’ and aim for equal opportunity.
Thanks to a great idea from one of our volunteers to host an event during Transgender Awareness Week, Cyrenians saddled up for an area that we are not experts in. We hosted our #TransWeek event in Norton Park on 14th November, which proved to be a fantastic learning opportunity. The event aimed to raise the visibility of trans people and address the issues these communities still face. It was a great opportunity to network with staff in the building as well as reach members of the public with an open invite; an estimated 40 people attended. Our very own Ali Kerr kicked off three external speakers to tell us more about the work they do and why it’s important.
Vic Valentine from Scottish Trans talked about what it is meant by trans and gender diversity/gender non-conforming people. Scottish Trans Alliance work towards an increase in accurate and positive visibility of transgender people’s experiences in Scotland.
Janice Stevenson discussed the LGBT Charter which was put together by LGBT Youth Scotland. Cyrenians are working towards this and she encouraged other organisations to go for it too! The charter programme enables organisations to proactively include LGBT+ people in every aspect of work, protecting staff and providing high quality services to customers/clients/volunteers. LGBT Youth Scotland provide support for organisations to undertake training, and review policies, practice and resources to ensure that not only legislative needs are met but organisations are as inclusive as can be.
We also heard from Aidan Martin from Fearless who provide support for people experiencing domestic abuse in Scotland who identify as a man or from the LGBT+ community. Fearless offer a range of support including safety planning, emotional support, advocacy, mentoring, and practical support with housing, employment/education, and assistance to access appropriate benefits.
The speakers stayed to answer questions and queries from attendees, giving colleagues and the people dropping into the event the chance to find out more, along with the leaflets for taking away. The food, provided by our Flavour and Haver Kitchen, was varied and delicious and really gave a community feel to the event.
I was delighted that so many people came to the event and the room was noisy with all the chatter before and after the speeches. Raising awareness in other organisations and within our own teams felt like a good start to increasing understanding. Diversity is part of what makes humans amazing, and I was glad to celebrate Trans Awareness Week and incorporate it in my continual learning. ‘Awareness’ is a great road to acceptance and compassion as we look to create a more inclusive society.
Emma Myhill, 19th November 2018