29 September 2014
Ollie Entwistle writes about the Department of Health LGB&T Network’s annual meeting.
On 9th September, the Department of Health LGB & T network – PRISM – hosted their annual meeting. As well as reflecting with members on the interesting activities that had been organised during the past year, the meeting also included an excellent presentation on the issues facing transgender, transsexual and intersex people by representatives of GIRES – the Gender Identity Research and Education Society.
One of the speakers was Celia Macleod, a Consultant Gynaecologist, who transitioned from male to female whilst in post. In doing so, she became the first gynaecologist in the NHS to transition. Celia spoke eloquently about her own personal story. She explained how for many years she had been a workaholic so that she was so busy as to not have to think about her gender identity.
Celia also told us the intricate planning that she had to do with her Chief Executive to plan how they would tell her patients and the wider world. This was clearly necessary as on the day that she announced her transition plans to the world, she was inundated with media requests. In fact, a quick google search today would highlight how much media coverage it attracted.
Eight year on from the day that she announced her plans to the world, Celia is still working in the NHS. She is also happier now that she is able to live in the gender that she has always wanted to be.
The other speakers at the event were Terry Reed, OBE and Bernard Reed, OBE. They founded GIRES after helping their daughter win a sex discrimination case in 1997 after she experienced quite appalling treatment from work colleagues because of her gender identity. We heard from Terry how their daughter was victimised every day having transitioned whilst working as a mechanic. Since then, Terry and Bernard have worked tirelessly for trans rights and it was very moving to hear about their experiences and the work they do.
We know that many people, including within the LGB community, find issues around gender identity difficult to understand or do not feel confident in engaging with trans-people. To help people improve their understanding, GIRES have produced an excellent online training resource that people can use. (Do give it a few mins to load)
It has three modules:
- Module 1 is a general introduction to gender variance, for example explaining basic terminology
- Module 2 covers how to create trans-inclusive workplaces and specific guidance on how to support an employee who transitions at work
- Module 3 covers how to provide trans-inclusive services to the general public
It is free, so please do spread the word. Perhaps you could brush up on your knowledge yourself, or use it within your network, or even get colleagues in your wider department to use it!
However you use it, it will be worth it.