Whenever I open our training sessions I start with recognising that those who are attending are doing so because they want to learn, because they want to open their minds and to find out more ways to be an ally. Even in those discussions I have with [real] people on line I know that the most effective way to reach an understanding is to start with finding those places where we overlap, where our minds can come together because, as I said last week and even more concisely at the International Women’s Day event in the evening it is only through finding those places of meeting, of similarity, of commonality that we can move forward towards a truly equal society. When a real person comments on a post about discrimination, about harm, and yet they don’t share the primary characteristic of the topic of discussion too quickly they can be shut down as not understanding, as being bigoted or in opposition and in being shut down they themselves are pushed away. They are shut down, they are not heard, and yet theirs are the very voices that we need to empower. The voices of allies. Because allies come in all shapes and sizes and this last week has shown me some great allies.
It’s my birthday coming up and so to celebrate this I created a Facebook fundraiser for Chrysalis and it humbles me to see the generosity of my friends, of knowing how much you care about my mission, and how much you value the work that I do. Within hours I had hit my target. I’m still smiling about that now.
All too often trans people meet with discrimination, denial and sadly downright abuse when they try to access the services that others take for granted. Most times this discrimination is simply a result of lack of knowledge on the part of those delivering the service. They are like those well meaning friends who foolishly make a thread about someone’s pain about their own experience. They just don’t get how to connect with the issue at heart, they might be embarrassed or just too British and worried about “getting it wrong“. On Wednesday I met with the Portsmouth Talking Change Team to explore how to ensure that the service they offer is trans positive. On Thursday I delivered training to Care for Life, thanks to Prama Life and those two sessions really got me to thinking.
Premise one – people are generally decent
Premise two – find places of connection and develop understanding from there
I’m going to head into this week with those two premises at the top of my thinking, and see what develops. We (I) need to find language and tools to counter the denial, discrimination and abuse message, because I can’t train everyone, each ally I make needs to be able to go out and make 10 others and how better to do that than to trust in the existence of allies in the first place. To really know that allies are everywhere, and they are working hard in their ways to make things better. They may not always get it right and they may sometimes try to reframe your words to fit into their own understanding but they are there.
I leave you now with a picture of Giger, because Giger is cute and this blog has been woefully empty of kittens. I dedicate this image to Callum and An who are the strength behind our social media. They are amazing and this kitten pic is for them.