HOW FAR WE HAVE COME
by Jay Stewart
In the last year a lot of people have been talking about a tipping point around trans visibility. We can agree things are certainly changing for trans communities across England as well as further afield. We might also agree however that there is a lot of work to do if we are to ensure that trans people, and young trans people in particular, feel happy and safe at school, at home as well as out there in the wider community.
The numbers of people identifying themselves as trans or questioning their gender identity is growing. In addition, this self-recognition is often happening at an earlier point in life. Nowadays there are so many young people who are speaking out and speaking up for who they are and who they wish to become. The problem is that despite all the media presence people in everyday life (parents and carers, teachers and other professionals as well as other young people) still don’t know enough about what it means to be trans or non-binary or when a person is questioning their gender identity or expressing it in ways that are different to social expectations.
In the last twelve months Gendered Intelligence has branched out to deliver more youth groups in different parts of the country and at different age ranges. We now have an 11-15 year old group, we have a group for black, Asian and ethnic minority trans people, and new groups in Leeds and Bristol. Last year we worked with just over 100 people, now we work with about 100 young people every month.
At these groups we focus on improving social networks and reducing isolation, achieving a sense of self-empowerment through access to accurate, up to date and age appropriate information and increasing confidence. We want our young people to be resilient, which means being able to manage setbacks and difficult situations. But we believe that in order to really improve the lives of young trans people we need to make the world more intelligent about gender. This is a big project and to achieve these grand ambitions we work in partnership with other organisations in order to get messages out there that celebrating gender diversity is good for everyone.
We talk a lot in our community about the “politics of representation”, which is about how trans identities are made public and for what purposes those representations serve. We know that a significant way to improve the lives of young trans people is to get important messages out there. It makes sense for Gendered Intelligence to work with those sectors and industries that engage in culture – this is not just TV and newspapers, but also museums, galleries, theatres… Recently we have worked on great projects including ‘What makes your gender?’ at the Science Museum, ‘Transvengers’ at the Wellcome Collection as part of the Institute of Sexology, ‘Puffball’, the LGBTQ circus production at the Roundhouse and ‘Pronoun’, the play produced as part of the Theatre Connections at the National Theatre. We are also currently working with the Football Association supporting them with their trans inclusion policies and guidance. We have made a short film in order to reach out to other arts, sports and cultural organisations up and down the country.
You can check it out here: genderedintelligence.co.uk