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 Friday 20th of November, CCCq gathered together with the CCCU Chaplaincy, Student LGBT Society and others to remember those who have lost their lives due to transphobia. Our warm thanks to everyone who helped organise, attended or otherwise supported the event.
You can read Professor Bee Scherer’s blog post on the event here, including the full closing statement read at the Vigil.
More photos are under the cut and the full album can be found here – our thanks to Patrick de Vriers for documenting the event.
Gender isn’t binary. It’s not either/or. In many cases it’s both/and. A bit of this, a dash of that. This tasty little guide is meant to be an appetizer for understanding. It’s okay if you’re hungry for more.
For more information, visit: http://itspronouncedmetrosexual.com/2012/03/the-genderbread-person-v2-0/