This morning, as every morning I woke up and read the news. A few articles and then a briefing to give me an overview of current affairs and thinking. On Saturday I was on a call and we both heard fireworks. These two facts are linked.
Are you celebrating Passover this week? I hope that you’re having a fantastic time. This weird new normal means the tiniest of gatherings, making the most of things and bringing everyone together electronically. Were they your fireworks I heard, I hope so, I hope that in hearing your fireworks we all came a bit closer, a bit more aware of each other and of another’s way of celebrating.
As leader of an organisation which supports change, transition, growth and authenticity I would be remiss if I didn’t regularly think about how we convey ourselves, the language we use and how we can make sure that everyone who needs Chrysalis can access Chrysalis. It is not simply enough for us to go out into the world and provide education and training to help others find the language and tools to understand the experiences of gender diversity but we too must accept that we always need to learn, to understand more and to grow.
And so how are my fireworks connected to the news I read this morning? The news about rules of six and pubs opening and all the ongoing cycle of our lives at the moment? They are connected because underlying all of these changes to how we are living as a whole society there are changes flowing underneath. The slower river of change that I have to dip into every so often to remind myself to keep faith, to stay hopeful and to know that real progress is happening. Today I read that we should be dropping the BAME acronym, that it inhibits our thinking and becomes just a box ticking exercise to “demonstrate diversity” and oh how that resonated with me. I really don’t like boxes, especially not boxes that one group of people use to squish together all other people because it stops me meeting you. We look at how we differ and not about where we can relate. So when I read that dropping that label is being spoken about at the highest levels, and instead inviting people to tell us how we should consider them, not as boxes and quotas but as people, I feel a little bit of hope that actually our messages are being heard. Your messages are being heard. All those voices from the labelled asking the non-labelled to change are getting through.
Thanks to the wonderful people at SVS I have been attending a course with the incredible former Mayor of Southampton Dr Parvin Damani MBE and she is really bringing to life all the different cultures, faiths and people who make up this city, and indeed our country. Through her course and the discussions in our groups I can see how times have changed even from when she was doing her initial research, computer systems have been modified to cope with different naming structures, people are more alert to how each other communicates.
Sometimes it feels like this uphill struggle will never succeed, and that’s as true for each individual as it is for all of us together, and that’s why for me it’s important to recognise and celebrate these instants of achievement, because whatever your theology, whatever your faith or culture you have stories in your past that show that people can be saved, for me I was raised with the story of Passover, of Moses and the Exodus from Egypt, the freeing of the Hebrew slaves and I always took hope from it. The hope that God gave to his people.
Now trust me I’m no theologian, indeed this is not my faith and I would never wish to speak for someone else’s faith but my past informs me and leads me forward into the future and this is how I keep that faith. Because words cannot be unheard, experiences cannot be taken back and freedom to be, to be seen for who you are, to be your authentic self is a drive in each and every one of us.
So today my thoughts are on how I can better respect everyone who comes to Chrysalis, how can I make sure we are truly accessible for all, and I don’t think I have all the answers yet, but you can be assured that this is not something I will put down, equality is for all of us and as I first join London South Bank University and then Estee Lauder for their Trans Day of Visibility events on Wednesday I will be keeping intersectionality and the inclusion of all of us at the forefront of my mind.