Trans [gender] Awareness Training

If you have come to this page looking for details of Trans[gender] Awareness Training Workshops please follow the link above.

However, before you do, this section of the site is intended to compliment the workshops and expand on many of the issues addressed. I am constantly adding more information and providing links to other resources on the web so that workshop participants will have access to an up to date resource.

If you have not yet attended a workshop or hired me to deliver training for your organisation this page and the related links will provide an insight into what to expect.

Trans Awareness

When a baby is born, what is the first thing we all want to know? 

"Is it a Boy or a Girl?"

This information is the foundation of our identity - everything else that you know about someone builds on the answer to that questions. But sex and gender are not that simple. Not all babies are born with genitalia that are clearly male or female although if a is baby is born intersex, with indeterminate genitalia, a decision still has to be made fairly quickly about what sex to put on the birth certificate.

But sex is not the same as gender. There have been a few instances recently where parents have decided to not disclose their baby's gender and have given them androgynous names.  Those instances have attracted quite abusive press and public comment with the parents even branded "child abusers".  The reality is that all of those babies still had to be registered as either male or female sex. The parents are simply trying to allow the child to grow up without the social pressure to conform to the unwritten rules about how differently you are supposed to live and behave depending on whether you are a girl or a boy.

Of course, most people are comfortable that their sex and their gender match; they have a female body and are happy being a female or they have a male body and are happy being male. This site is about helping you to understand why some of us are not comfortable with that and how we learn to cope with being different.

Over the past decade equality law protecting the rights of people who do not conform to the gender stereotypes has been dramatically improved, but changing the law does not stop discrimination.  We have had sex discrimination and equal  pay law in place for nearly 40 years and yet we are still a long way from seeing equality between men and women.

Changing underlying attitudes takes a long time especially when there has been a long history of embedded beliefs in preserving inequality. So one goal of this site is to explore the history of inequality surrounding sex and gender, some of which may surprise, even shock you.

I studied this topic for two years at university reading for my Masters Degree in Gender Research in 2005/7 and only scratched the surface. Since then I have continued to study and teach this topic and have a complete bookcase full on the topic, although few of the authors seem to agree with each other.

So this section of the site is designed to help you to gain a better understanding of the whole topic of Sex Gender and Equality and in particular to understand the challenges faced by anyone who as some stage in their life realises that they cannot easily answer the question "are you are boy or a girl?"

Hidden in Plain Sight?

This is the strange dichotomy for trans people. From as far back as we have records, we know that men and women have cross dressed. There are countless records of cross gender behaviour. And still today when we take our children to the theatre at Christmas time, it will be to a Pantomime where we make a feature of men playing female roles and women playing male roles. On stage, on television and in film there are constant examples of cross gender performance.

Yet if we come off the stage and walk into the street - we are ridiculed and discriminated against with a ferocity that beggars belief. <b>Every year across the world hundreds of people are murdered simply because they are transgender.</b> A third of transgender people will at some time attempt suicide because they cannot cope with the social rejection and with being an object of ridicule.

The reason I deliver Trans [gender] Awareness Training, and have produced this web site, is to help to stop discrimination and harassment by raising awareness of trans people and why we are the way we are. From our research we estimate that 50% of people have never knowingly met and spoken to a trans person (although thankfully I see that this is improving ). I also know that most people, given an opportunity, have lots of questions, which is why on the workshop I devote a lot of time to enabling participants to ask questions, no matter how personal.

Trans Rights

Over the past decade the legal rights for protection for trans people have been transformed, yet many people are not aware of them and as a result it is very easy for staff to make simple errors that can lead to them being liable for a criminal prosecution.  Let me illustrate this with two very recent examples.

A housing association started proceedings to evict a trans woman from her house. The tenant had informed them of her change of name and gender and the records were updated but the tenancy agreement was not reissued. Court papers for the eviction were issued in her new name but added “Formally known as” and then her previous male name, the name still on the tenancy.

A Social services team became involved in supporting a vulnerable teenager where one of the step parents is a trans woman. The case report, sent to all parties, referred to the trans woman as “the stepfather” and used male pronouns throughout. This was interpreted by the natal father as supporting his transphobic language and behaviour and information in the report was then used in a derogatory manner when shown to other friends and family.

Section 22 of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 makes it a criminal offence to disclose information about a person’s change of gender without their consent.  Whilst it is only a criminal offence if the trans person does have a gender recognition certificate, there is no requirement for them to disclose that information, so how will anyone know.

Both of these incidents pose significant challenges.  Each is potentially a breach the Equality Act 2010 and the Public Sector Equality Duty; both have caused considerable distress to staff and service users; both were the result staff not receiving appropriate equalities training.

These are the kind of mistakes that can happen even if you do provide appropriate Transgender Awareness Training for staff.  However if you do not or have not provided such training, it is much more likely that the organisation will be found in breach of equalities law.

These errors cannot be undone. The documents were both released to members of the public and by the time the mistakes were noticed the damage had already been done.

One of these incidents may lead to a criminal prosecution

One has resulted in disciplinary action against an officer

Both incidents will involve extensive investigations involving highly paid officers in long meetings, investigations, reports and expensive legal costs. The real cost of a single equalities complaint can easily and quickly exceed a reasonable budget for equalities training. 

Trans Identity, and the Media

There are so many terms used to describe various members of the trans community around the world it hardly surprising that people are confused.  Many trans people themselves don't understand the terms and struggle for years to come to terms with their own identity.

Transgender, transsexual, transvestite, bi-gendered, androgyne, intersex, drag queen, drag king, trans woman, trans man, camp, gay, dyke, butch, cross dresser, she male, female impersonator, ladyboy, kathoey, travesti, hijra, two spirits, xanith, bantut, muxe, bissu, calabai, calalai, genderqueer…

This site and the workshops are designed to you to make sense of all this information and begin to understand how to better work with people who are gender variant.  There are more and more trans men and women in the media and in the workplace and every year new legislation is providing increased protection from discrimination, yet most people have never knowingly met and spoken to a trans person... My workshops give staff an opportunity to meet and speak with a trans person and ask whatever questions they have.

Below is one famous example of the way trans women are often featured in advertising - Almost all rely on men being shocked or upset to discover that the attractive woman is really a man.

A Colourful History

Transgender people are not a new phenomena - in fact there are historical records referring to cross dressing and trans people as far back as the Kings of Assyria. In the theatre from Greek times right up to the seventeenth century, women were not permitted to act and so all female roles sere performed by boy actors.

To help develop understanding of trans history Rikki Arundel has put together a Squidoo Lens to explore Trans History

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