17 May is International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT), and the theme for 2022 is ‘Our Bodies, Our Lives, Our Rights’. The day is marked worldwide, including in 37 countries where same sex acts are still illegal.
It was created in 2004 to raise awareness of the violence and discrimination faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, including all people who have diverse gender identities or gender expressions.
The date of 17 May was chosen for IDAHOBiT as this was the date in 1992 when the World Health Organisation finally declassified homosexuality as a mental illness. Despite this, LGBT+ people across the world continue to face hate, discrimination and violence.
Manchester Pride are hosting consultation Co-design Workshops to gather feedback from marginalised groups within the LGBTQ+ community about how they can best offer support, and further improve visibility and inclusion in Manchester Pride’s events and initiatives.
Manchester Pride Co-design Workshops give communities the chance to come together, share ideas and help shape not only Manchester Pride Festival, but the charity’s future activities. They would like to know how you feel they can best support you and your community all year round, so join in and have your say!
The Co-design Workshops will be held online, with an option for those who cannot attend to submit questions, ideas or recommendations in advance for discussion.
For people over 55, the workshop is on 19 May, 1.00pm – 2.00pm. Find out more and register for your free spot here.
Conversion Therapy Response
A petition to ensure trans people are fully protected under any conversion therapy ban has attracted 144,519 signatures. Parliament considers all petitions that get more than 100,000 signatures for a debate, but in the meantime the Cabinet Office has responded:
“We will introduce a ban protecting everyone from attempts to change their sexual orientation. Recognising the complexity of issues we will consider the issue of transgender conversion therapy further.
Conversion therapy practices do not work and can cause long-lasting harm. We are committed to banning these abhorrent practices by introducing an offence that protects children and those that are unwillingly subjected to talking conversion practices, as well as by strengthening provisions against physical conversion practices.
We will bring forward a ban that protects everyone from attempts to change their sexual orientation. There are different considerations when it comes to transgender conversion therapy and the Government remains committed to exploring these.
One of the complexities is that those who experience gender dysphoria may seek talking therapy. It is vital that legitimate support is not inadvertently impacted.
The Government’s actions to protect people from conversion therapy extend beyond legislating. We will deliver a support service for victims via a contracted helpline and website which will provide initial pastoral support, and signposting to services such as counselling and advice about emergency housing. The successful delivery partner will be announced in due course. We continue to engage with stakeholders from LGBT, faith and medical backgrounds to ensure that our proposals and services are effective and well understood. We will bring forward a ban that protects everyone from attempts to change their sexual orientation as soon as parliamentary time allows. We remain committed to exploring how best to protect people from these practices and will provide further updates in due course.”
What are pronouns?
Pronouns are a part of everyday language – a lot of the time we use them without thinking! Pronouns are a way of referring to someone without using their name. (See how we just used ‘their’?)
However, it’s also an important part of someone’s gender identity that should be respected and celebrated. Using the wrong pronouns can be harmful and upsetting.
The gender neutral pronouns they / them / theirs have been used since at least as far back as the 15th Century: “There’s not a man I meet but doth salute me / As if I were their well-acquainted friend” — Shakespeare, Comedy of Errors.
We might talk about Ben, and how he has a nice shirt on, and how we might want to compliment him on his taste in fashion.
Or we might talk about Yasmin, and how brilliant her recent portfolio was. She has helped you before with your work, and you really admire her.
Or even we might talk about Alex, and how they recently got offered a new job. You’re going to miss them in the workplace, but you know this was their dream job!
While you may be quite familiar with using he/him and she/her when referring to people, you might feel unfamiliar with using they/them for a single person. However, we use they/them pronouns regularly for single people – for example, you may be driving in your car and suddenly someone pulls out in front of you and gives you little time to slow down. They clearly need to get more driving lessons, if this is how they’re acting! You hope no one else has to deal with their poor driving, and you’re glad to be free of them when they take a turning soon after.
Our society judges gender very quickly based on when we first look at someone, and so when we can’t see the person in the car, we automatically use they/them pronouns. Some people might just prefer for you to continue using they/them pronouns for them, regardless of whether you can see them or not.
We can’t always tell someone’s gender just by looking at them, and we know there are more genders than just “man” and “woman”. Using they/them pronouns for people as standard before you know their gender or pronouns can be a useful way to avoid using the wrong pronouns by mistake. It’s hard to undo years of your brain gendering people quickly, but it gets much easier to avoid doing it with practice!
People choose to use gender neutral pronouns for all kinds of reasons. Some examples:
- To demonstrate a non-binary, trans, genderqueer, agender, gender fluid, creative, and/or gender questioning identity.
- To indicate that gender is not relevant in many contexts, or to make a political statement about gender.
- To act in solidarity with a friend or loved one who uses gender neutral pronouns.
How do I know someone’s pronouns and gender?
If you’re not sure of a person’s gender, often you don’t really need to know. If you are having a conversation with or about a person, it’s considered more polite to ask for a person’s pronouns. You can ask the person privately “how would you like me to refer to you?” or “can I just check, what pronouns do you use?” It is then up to them whether they give you just their pronouns, or tell you more about their gender, but at least you have given them that decision.
If you do need to know their gender, for example if they are a service user at your workplace and you need to complete a demographic form for them, then do so as you would any other sensitive piece of information about a person. It is best to ask privately, and perhaps alongside other information you need to collect, in order not to single that aspect of them out as “unusual”.
But what if I make a mistake?
Everyone makes mistakes from time to time, it’s just important that you acknowledge them and learn from them, as long as you don’t dwell on them. It may feel terrible to accidentally use the wrong name or pronouns for someone, but continuing to linger on it or bring it up will only draw attention to it and drag out the discomfort for the person. Your best option is to acknowledge it, often privately to yourself, apologise quickly, correct yourself, and move on with the conversation. You will do better next time if you acknowledge it as something you can improve on.
The person may seem annoyed that you made a mistake in the moment, and you might feel that you need to assure them that you are trying. Likely the person knows that you are, but it might help to think of it in context for that person. Being called the wrong gender once by you could be easy to pass off, but being consistently called the wrong gender over a long period of time, multiple times a day, can become very draining for the person.
Annoyance you might perceive from the person is often not directed at you personally, but the general experience of being misgendered repeatedly. In the moment you may feel hurt, but you will get better at calling them the correct gender, and using the right name and pronouns. Getting used to it can be uncomfortable, but it’s worth it for both of you when it becomes second nature to you!
Pride in Trafford
Pride in Trafford explores and celebrates both identity and LGBTQ+ life in Trafford. The work aims to challenge and entertain, taking a queer art focus over a more traditional pride format.
The inaugural Pride in Trafford took place in 2019, with a strong commitment to diversity, telling stories and celebrating artists many of which are often under-represented. The 2020 festival was reimagined as a micro-digital festival. The 2021 festival took place during the first week of Waterside re-opening its doors after 14 months of closure.
Pride in Trafford 2022 is scheduled to take place from Tuesday 17 to Saturday 21 May 2022.