February is LGBT+ History Month. Young People’s Support Worker Rebecca Jackson reflects on key issues and what organisations like Changing Lives can do to better support LGBT+ people in their communities.
A 2015 study by The Albert Kennedy Trust showed that 24% of homeless 16-25 year olds in the UK identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, compared to 2% of the broader population. This is often a result of experiencing rejection by their family and hate crime, as well as smaller daily discriminations. For example, being reminded regularly that you are not considered ‘normal’ – for instance, people taking curious second glances towards you and your partner holding hands, or somebody asking “are you a girl or a boy?” can cause significant distress over time.
LGBT+ people who work with Changing Lives have talked about the stress of these discriminations and micro-aggressions, as well as experiencing a heightened fear of violence and hostility. This is reinforced by the media which has been shown to consistently depicts trans people as either a punch line, mentally ill or deviant. For example, recent coverage of the Gender Recognition Act consultation produced some particularly harmful and transphobic rhetoric. At Changing Lives all our practice is trauma-informed, meaning we use specialist tools and techniques to help people address this trauma.
LGBT+ people are put at further disadvantage when they access services. Many workers are not trained in understanding and responding effectively to LGBT+ needs. These inequalities have a lasting impact on a person’s development, and their emotional and physical well being. To combat this, we need to develop an inclusive environment. This means a workforce that reflects the diverse nature of the people who use our services, as well as ensuring that all staff are trained in navigating and supporting the needs and experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people effectively.
In November 2018 I attended the Transgender Day of Remembrance vigil at Newcastle City Hall. The vigil commemorates people who have died because of anti-transgender violence over the past year. I was reminded of the extent of the brutality and fear transgender people around the world face.
LGBT+ History Month is an ideal time to educate ourselves on historic and ongoing LGBT+ struggles and to consider how we as individuals, and Changing Lives as an organisation, can best protect and support the LGBT+ people we serve.
Changing Lives has an ongoing LGBT+ working group looking at specific ways to make our services and workplace more inclusive for LGBT+ people. If you’re interested in getting involved contact Rebecca.Jackson@changing-lives.org.uk
Want to find out more about this topic? Rebecca recommends the following resources: