Welcome to GenderShift, an equality and diversity resource from Inspirational Speaker and Diversity Expert Rikki Arundel. This site provides information and support to audiences, workshop participants and clients wishing to book Rikki to speak or facilitate diversity events in addition to a growing information resource for people who are gender variant, their friends, families, colleagues and employers.
The GenderShift mission s to help create a fairer world in which every person’s gender, gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation are accepted and respected. The content in this site and other associated sites and blogs is designed to contribute toward furthering that mission.
We deliver keynote presentations, seminars and workshops, especially Transgender Awareness Training, for hundreds or organisations and this site provides information to enable meetings planners and managers to assess whether my expertise is meets their event requirements.
Instead of giving out handouts that are filed become out of date or get lost, this site provides an online resource for participants and audience members as a refresher on the presentation content and extended background information on issues of sex, gender and equality.
We also provide a range of counseling and support services on a one to one or group basis for people facing gender and sexual orientation issues and for family, friends and employers. Much of that support is now provided online and those services can all be accessed from this GenderShift site.
February is LGBT History Month in the UK, an annual celebration of LGBT history in the UK started by Sue Sanders in February 2005. The inspiration for LGBT history Month came partly from its US equivalent in October each year, but mostly as a result of the work Sue had done through her Schools Out Project to raise awareness of LGBT issues in schools and her campaigning for the abolition of Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988.
Many organisations throughout the UK take advantage of this month to promote LGBT equality and since 2005 I have been invited to speak at many University, College, Criminal Justice, Local Authority and Housing Association events. As a result we have over that time undertaken a huge amount of research into LGBT history to support those presentations and, much of which is now being added to this web site.
If you would like Rikki to deliver a workshop or presentation to your staff or service users, please contact us. We can promise am very entertaining event full of surprises. LGBT History though seldom spoken about, has been very visible. Thousands of years of persecution and victimisation has left a rich trail of evidence of a history "Hidden In Plain Sight".
Did you know that Henry VIII made homosexuality a hanging offense, not to persecute gay men, but to destroy the Catholic Church in the Reformation? Did you know that Britain's first highwayman was in fact a woman called Mary Frith aka Moll Cutpurse who dressed as a man when it was illegal for women to do so? Did you know that William Shakespeare was in love with a trans woman and wrote most of his sonnets to this beautiful woman trapped in a mans body?
Controversial ideas? Well that is the charm of LGBT History which has often been ignored or even changed to hide the fact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people were significant players in shaping our civilization. Look at how badly the British government treated Alan Turing the man who cracked the German secret codes enabling the Allies to defeat Hitler and was one of the most significant contributors to the development of computer science.
LGBT History month provides an great opportunity set the record straight and give LGBT people their proper place in history. We cannot undo the many wrongs of the past, but we can at least recognise the huge contribution these man and women have made and through that recognition put an end to the persecution of the LGBt community that still goes on today.
Did you know that it is now more then 40 years since the passing of the Equal Pay Act 1970 and more then 35 years since the Sex Discrimination Act in 1975.
How well do you think we have done?
Women still hold very few leadership post relative to men (less than 14% of FTSE 100 board members, and less than 25% of MPs), still earn less than men (over 50% less in the financial services industry) and still undertake most of the caring in our society (children and older people).
Rikki changed gender in 2002 and very quickly realised that much of the discrimination she encountered was not because she was transgender - but because I am now female, and because I have lived as both a man and a woman, I am far more sensitive to gender based discrimination than most people.
What I have observed more recently is a growth in unconscious or hidden bias or prejudice. This occurs where people are either consciously prejudiced, but hide that as far as possible or treat certain people less favorably because they have been influenced by social stereotypes.
Unconscious or hidden bias is an inevitable by product or legislation. The Equality Act 2010 has made it illegal to discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on the grounds of one or more of nine protected characteristics. It has also extended protection to people who are perceived to have a protected characteristic or are associated with someone with a protected characteristic. You can explore this more by clicking on the appropriate links to the left.
But changing the law as we have seen with the Equal Pay Act and Sex Discrimination Act doesn't in itself stop discrimination. That takes a much more difficult process of changing attitudes. People continue to discriminate and to treat some people either unfairly or more favorably, often without even realising that they are doing so.
“It’s a Boy” – “It’s a Girl”
The moment we are born the first thing almost everyone wants to know about us is our sex. Even before a baby is born people are asking the question “is it a boy or a girl?”
At birth this information is determined by a quick inspection or our genitalia to see whether we have or do not have a penis – because in most cultures boys are considered more important and valuable than girls.
However this information is not really about sex - it is all about determining how someone will be treated for the rest of their lives. If we believe or perceive a baby to be male or female that determines our expectations of them and how we will treat them. From the moment we are born the colour and style of clothes, the way we are spoken to, the language used and even the way we are physically handled is determined people’s perception of our sex, not our actual sex.
This socially constructed view of our “Sex” is our “Gender”. Where Sex is physiological, Gender is psychological. Sex is essential – i.e. it is the way we are born; Gender is cultural i.e. it is the way we develop in response to the way we are treated.
Of course we are all different – and there is the problem. Many of us find that we don't fit the "normal expectations" of being a man or a woman and some of the expectations others have of us because of our gender are unfair or unrealistic and we can be put under considerable pressure to conform to the gender stereotypes.
A hundred years ago, challenging your “gendered place” in society was very difficult, and those who were prepared to stand up and fight for women’s rights, like Emmeline Pankhurst, were often arrested for their actions. History shows us countless examples of people being arrested and even pilloried for wearing clothes considered inappropriate to their gender.
People are still publicly ridiculed and humiliated for transgressing the gender boundaries, however slowly but surely the changes in attitudes are taking place. How slowly is illustrated by the fact that in the 1970's legislations was put in place to outlaw gender discrimination yet today gender is still one of the most common causes of discrimination. Men still earn on average 80% more than women; women still undertake most caring in society; masculinity is still essentially defined as "not feminine"; atypical gender behaviour and appearance is the most common reason for bullying, both at school and in the workplace.
In my work I often hear comments suggesting that gender discrimination is largely a thing of the past. However my life experiences as a transgender person has convinced me that we have a long way to go as is illustrated by the Equal Opportunities Commission publication The Gender Agenda. This publicationis a few years old now and we have come quite a long way with the the Equality Act 2010 - but passing laws does not change attitudes.
This site is being complied to help to speed up that change process and to empower people to be themselves, to challenge gender stereotyping and help you to “be the best you that you can possibly be”.