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April 1, 2022
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As the snow ushers in a new year for Beyond Reflections I reflect on our achievements. Running a mental wellbeing charity has come with challenges and many opportunities. We have grown, developed, re-branded and gone national.

Trans Day of Visibility

The 31st of March is a day to celebrate being trans+. Recognising the power authenticity grants us to live our best lives. This year Beyond Reflections brought the celebration to you through a live stream compared by the inexhaustible Joanne Lockwood. Jo and I opened the event at 10am talking about the incredible work of Beyond Reflections, the importance of real inclusion through the development of the Progress Pride flag and what ‘coming out’ really entails.

Fundraising with Friends

Jo then went into ‘Children in Need’ mode and every hour on the hour she brought our viewers updates on our fundraiser, information about the impact of Beyond Reflections, and interviews with our friends talking about their own experiences of being visibly trans+. If you missed Maximillian’s interviews with Kit Heyam, Maddie Rippon, Eva Echo, Ramses Underhill Smith, Georgie Williams and Finn Grice you can catch up with them here.

Your questions answered

Our last event of the day was an evening discussion panel which I had the honour to chair. Thank you to Georgie Williams, Finn Grice from LGBT Foundation, Eli Moore from Space Youth Project and passionate cis ally Ani Ritchie for helping me answer the audience’s questions.

Staying safe when you are visible

We talked about how you can keep yourself safe on social media and manage intrusive questions about your gender identity.

We recognise that for many trans+ people online interactions are essential, a way to find people of similar life experiences. Mental wellbeing and friendship comes from safe spaces, our panel recommended that if you want to engage with social media you should actively block anyone who promotes hate or hurt. Our panel members agreed that you never owe anyone an explanation of your gender identity and recommended that if intrusive questions are coming from colleagues you should speak to your employer.

Delivering effective allyship

We covered plenty of advice for our cis friends too. Tips from the experts on developing cultural competency to empower yourself to deliver real, effective allyship. We talked about the experiences of trans+ people in medical spaces and how all medical professionals have a duty to make their services inclusive and the duties of employers to proactively address transphobia in the workplace.

Reflections on the last year

What a year! For those of you who joined me on this journey back in 2017 haven’t we come far?

Beyond Butterflies

Launching our new brand at the annual general meeting last November moved us beyond the outdated gender binary expectations implied in the chrysalis metaphor. The old belief transition was linear, and everyone’s transition the same: a medical transition of ugly insect to ‘beautiful butterfly’.

Our new name includes reference to the support we offer and how that delivers lasting mental wellbeing for our members. Our logo, designed by our talented volunteer Robin, has garnered so much praise as a truly professional stamp on the charity.

Purple logo Inverted B then R, text below reads beyond and below that in script reflections

New staff

Welcome to Abi, Aster, Patricia and Lydia. Bringing our team up to eight staff enables us to deliver on our new business plan: going national and separating our activities into Core Service Delivery and a Business team.

Dawn, Maximillian, Aster and Lydia are hard at work ensuring we continue to deliver world class support to our members. The rest of us work behind the scenes: raising funds, connecting with supporters and keeping a watchful eye on the numbers.

Mental Wellbeing

Maximillian and the facilitators have been working hard to capture our member’s reflections on their own progress. 91% of our members are very happy with the support we provide and all of them say we have helped.

Pie chart, purple on white background. Title: Happy about support. Large pie section dark purple - category "happy", small pie section light blue category "partially happy", Other two categories have zero responses and are not shown on the pie chart. They are pink: unsure and yellow: unhappy
Transition is a process

Beyond Reflections support empowers our members to make healthy decisions about their social and medical transitions. Each transition is unique and for many as they come to understand themself better their long term goals change. Through counselling our members come to understand why they want to make a change. As our members work on their self-awareness, their self-esteem grows. Their transition moves away from being performative, (to subscribe to society or family gendered expectations), to an authentic expression of who they are. As Jo said on TDoV: she has re-branded but who she is on the inside hasn’t changed.

Short-term and long-term goals

Our members meet their short term goals: to understand themselves better, to come out, to engage with medical professionals, to gain in confidence but the flexibility which comes from greater self-awareness means their long term goals often change.

Pie chart, purple, blue and yellow on white background, Title “Short term goals” and legend above chart. Clockwise from top: changed, 19%, Exceeded, 6%, Fully met 44%, partially met 19%, Not met 12% Pie chart, purple and yellow on white background, Title “Long term goals” and legend above chart. Clockwise from top: changed, 64%, Exceeded 0%, Fully Met 0%, Partially Met 36%, Not met 0%
You have helped me so much; it can’t be put into words. I am dealing with SO much and I am dealing with it all because I have your support.”

Being trans+ in the UK, today

A retrospective would not be complete without recognition of the external factors impacting on our member’s ability to achieve their goals. Waiting lists at the Gender Clinics are now over four years for first appointment. The consequences of government’s failure to act on the recommendations of their own LGBT+ Action Plan continue to play out. Transphobia online, in the family, at work and in public spaces continues to grow.

Trans+ people continue to transition to thrive but our work as a charity becomes harder. Our new members report worsening mental health when they join us. People need our support for longer as there is no other support available.

How can I help?

Use your privilege

Share our posts on social media. Use your power and privilege to platform real trans+ stories and the work that Beyond Reflections does. Tag us in posts where people are asking for support wherever they live in England or Wales. @BeyondReflectUK or www.beyond-reflections.org.uk

Join our team

Beyond Reflections needs you, we need you as volunteers, as supporters, as advocates and as donors. Come and join our team, donate to our fundraiser, share our videos with your manager and effect real change personally, professionally and to some of the most amazing people I have ever had the pleasure to meet.

Click here for our volunteer application forms. We are looking for people to deliver our member support and for people to support our development as a charity. Wherever you live if you have a passion for inclusion, acceptance and authenticity then we have a role for you.

Donate

Help us reach our fundraising goal. Delivering life-saving support costs money. Our staff team work hard so our volunteers can concentrate on doing what they do best.

https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/BR-TDOV

Long-term therapy is the best way to build self-confidence and deliver lasting mental wellbeing. It costs Beyond Reflections £1,299 to give a year of counselling sessions.

I have just broken the one-year mark since realising who I was and what I needed to do. Without every one of you I would be SO much further from achieving… well, being myself. Having people out there that are shouting their support is really a big beacon of light for me. So, thank you.”

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