On December 1st a small number of staff, students and friends gathered outside the University Chapel to commemorate World AIDS Day 2016.
The evening commenced with a facilitated discussion an PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis for HIV) led by Sexual Health at Kent Community Health NHS Trust.
John Gilmore Co-Chair of CCCq welcomed the group on behalf of the University and reflected on the meaning of the day.
‘Today we wear a Red Ribbon to remember the more than 35 million people who have died because of AIDS and HIV related illness.
We remember those denied research and treatment.
We remember those treated like outcasts.
We remember those told that they deserved it.
We remember those denied love and compassion.
It is also a day to be thankful.
Thankful that because of research, education and treatment it is possible to live a long and healthy life HIV positive.
Thankful for the activists, for the researchers and for the healthcare professionals who have made this possible.
Today is also a day to stand up.
Stand up against the prejudice and stigma associated with HIV.
Stand up to the ignorance. To Educate.
To shout out as loud as we can that we will not accept the corporate greed, political apathy and prejudice that means some people living with HIV do not live a full and happy life.
People still die because of HIV.
Dying of AIDS because they cannot afford treatment, die by suicide because of stigma and rejection.
People needlessly contract this virus because of a lack of free condoms, because they cannot access PrEP, because their sexual health education is abysmal.
HIV is a political crisis.
We are the first generation who can actually end transmission of HIV, who can stop people dying from AIDS. Let’s do it!’
The group then entered the chapel for a candle lit vigil led by Dr Stephen O’Connor CCCq member. Candles were lit and a number of prayers and poems were read before the group joined together to sing Labi Siffre’s So Strong.
A lantern lit Red Ribbon route followed to St Paul’s Church where a mulled wine and mince pie reception was hosted.
The event was jointly organised by CCCq and Kent Community Health. Many thanks to all who supported especially the chaplaincy team at Canterbury Christ Church University, Kent County Council and St Martin and St Paul.
CCCq member Doug Little reflects on the recent Stonewall Trans Inclusion Seminar at CCCU.
*** Disclaimer: Please be aware that the content of this post is the views of its author(s) and does not necessarily reflect the policy, aims, practice or views of Canterbury Christ Church University or the CCCq Network. The CCCq Network or University also cannot be held responsible for the accuracy or reliability of comments or content posted by external parties. ***
Let’s Talk About Trans* (and little bit about Toilets)
Earlier this month CCCU hosted Stonewall’s launch of their first ever resource series dedicated to trans* in the work place. The resources mark a significant step in Stonewall’s own journey from being exclusively a charity for Lesbian, Bisexual and Gay (LGB) interests to becoming a trans* inclusive (LGBT+) organisation.
I’m happy to report that the event was a success! It was well attended with the audience representing a range of organisations.
David Shepherd (Deputy Vice Chancellor) opened the event and it was great to see the university’s commitment to equality and diversity. Stonewall’s presentation was informative, covering their work and history, as well as breaking down the contents of the guides.
The event was very much centred on people. It drew on real experiences. Leng Montgomery (Stonewall) spoke of their own initial apprehension to Stonewall opening up to trans*. It was clear that those on the panel had genuinely been hurt by Stonewall, but also by the wide LGB population. Stonewall did not shy away from this criticism – it was apparent to me that their efforts were genuine.
My own knowledge and understanding on trans* was limited. Even though I am a gay man I didn’t, at a personal level, empathise with the particular prejudice that trans* people face and experience. This event represented, for myself and for others like me, a real opportunity to learn about trans*, gender identity and presentation more broadly. I left the room knowing more, but also wanting to learn more. I’ll draw on the resources published and I’ve included links to all of these at the bottom of this post if you’d like to read them for yourselves.
The next day a colleague asked me about the event. I was feeling positive as it seemed that the event had stirred discussion and I thought great! That was until it became clear that the discussion was almost exclusively around one subject – toilets. Quickly put, the ground floor toilets in the venue were sign posted as ‘Gender Inclusive’, with the facilities signed to indicate whether the room had cubicles only or with urinals. The sign also made it clear that gender-specific toilets were available upstairs.
When people asked me about the toilets it was usually with a precursor that they didn’t mind the toilets being made inclusive, just that they weren’t given any advance notice. It might have been a slight inconvenience, but I think that we could all (including myself) empathise more about the challenge that it is for those who are trans* or non-binary who may experience distress every day for having to make a choice between male and female. In fact, I overheard some students who attended expressing some frustration that the University would host gender inclusive facilities for LGBT events but not for their own students throughout the year. I should recognise here that the University is addressing this need for gender neutral toilet facilities and it forms part of the Estate Master Plan.
My point is that the event was great. It was informative and engaging. It exposed me to discussions and issues I’d not considered. I really hope the University takes up more opportunities to engage LGBT* and equality and diversity topics. Though the latter part of my post shows that there are steps that we could all do to consider how every day we could be more inclusive and be just a little bit more sensitive and aware.
Stonewall Trans* Resource Pack:
- First Steps to Trans Inclusion – An Introduction to Trans Inclusion in the Workplace
- Communicating Commitment to Trans Inclusion – The trans inclusion journey and communicating commitment to all staff
- Creating a Transitioning at Work Policy – How to support your staff through their transition.
- Trans Inclusive Policies and Benefits – How to ensure your policies and benefits are trans inclusive
- Engaging All Staff In Trans Inclusion – How to engage all levels of staff in the trans inclusion journey
- Getting It Right With Your Trans Service Users and Customers – How to ensure your service delivery or customer service is trans inclusive
On Saturday 25th of June, members of CCCq, together with friends and partners, took part in the London Pride Parade. The weather favoured us with only one short drizzle of rain, and everyone was in great mood, excited and proud to represent Canterbury Christ Church University. There was a lot of standing around to begin with as the 40,000 strong parade got organised, but that gave us time to get to our banner up and take a group shot!
Once we got moving, the atmosphere and the support from the crowd was fantastic. There were a few excited cheers for us as well, from people with some connection to CCCU – some students watching the Parade clearly recognised their university and were excited to see it represented. There were also several messages of support for the Orlando victims, both in the Parade and among the public, underlying the continued importance of LGBT+ dedicated Prides and other events.
Here are a few more pictures from the day to give you a flavour of the event. Hopefully next year you can join us! To find out more about CCCq events and how to get involved, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Yesterday evening, CCCq- Canterbury Christ Church University’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer and intersex staff network organised a Vigil in memory of those murdered in Orlando on 13th of June. The event was held at the University Chapel, and supported by the university chaplaincy and senior management team. We heard from staff and students and lit candles in memory of those we lost.
As the global LGBTQi community are in mourning for 49 of its family who were murdered, we extend our sympathy to their friends and their families and keep all of those who were injured and affected in our thoughts. We stand in solidarity with our global Queer family and remember that the 49 people massacred add to an ever growing number of people who are killed because of hatred and intolerance towards our community, because of homophobia, transphobia and biphobia.
In the aftermath of this attack we have seen so much erasure of the LGBTQi community. Those in the media, church and political leaders, claiming that ‘these could have been any night club goers’, blaming this attack on religion, on global terrorism and contributing to the erasure of the victim’s queer identities. This was a hate crime. These people were murdered because of their sexual and gender identity. Because the society they, and we live in, is one of homophobia, transphobia and biphobia. Those who discriminate against us, who bully the children of our community in schools, who do not protect us when we are vulnerable, who laugh at us, who deny us rights, they are all complicit with these murders.
We did not offer a book of condolences because where would we send it? These things usually are sent to some dignitary, head of state, mayor, governor. In Florida, where this awful attack happened, LGBTQi people can still be fired for their sexual or gender identity without any protection. Those who deny us protection are complicit with these murders.
Before people left, they were asked to take a minute to post on our graffiti wall, which we will share online. over the coming days We will tell the world that Canterbury Christ Church University and the wider community present today stand together, in solidarity ad defiance. Along with our many allies, who with us advocate and fight for liberation, we Stand in Power.
To our family lost in Orlando. To all lost to homophobia, transphobia and biphobia: Rest in Power.