Leaving Statement from Chris Smith (LGBT+ Officer 2017/18)

The next couple of weeks officially mark the end of my term as LGBT+ Officer!

I would like to thank everyone who has helped make this year so amazing for the Network, whether committee or non-committee, by volunteering their time to help benefit our community. Together, we’ve put together several successful campaigns, raised a ton of money for charity and hosted and co-hosted over 30 different events!

Special shout-outs go to Alex and Jonny at UoN LGBT+ Voices who headed up their own campaigns and events alongside the Network with tremendous success, as well as Sophie, Andy, Luke, Jase and Liv for doing such amazing work on committee – I’m so proud of you all!

Being a Part-Time Officer is definitely like having a part-time job – there have been highs and lows, but with help from the other SU Officers and the brilliant support from the Student Union staff (especially those in Representation Development) it’s been such a pleasure heading the Network this year. I know that James will do a great job taking up the role  (hopefully he’ll be able to get through my 20,000 word handover document by September – bit of summer reading never went amiss 😉) and I wish him the best of luck in the upcoming months!

If you haven’t already, make sure to follow the new SU LGBT+ Officer account below to keep up with James next term.

It’s been so great to meet you all, and I wish everyone in the Network a happy Pride month and a fantastic year,

  • Chris Smith (LGBT+ Officer 2017/18)


References to ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’

We have been alerted to the fact that references to ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ in our newsletters may make a few members uncomfortable, due to the transphobic nature of comments made by RuPaul earlier this year. If this is something that has affected you we apologise sincerely – it was definitely not our intention to come across as supporting those comments and we will definitely be more careful in the future when it comes to referencing the show.

If you have any comments or concerns, make sure to contact the LGBT+ Officer at sulgbtofficer@nottingham.ac.uk, or use the Feedback section on our website.

  • Chris, LGBT+ Officer 2017/18


Statement in Response to the Use of Anti-LGBT+ Language by Members of the University of Nottingham

It has been brought to our attention that a recently published article written by a member of UoN academic staff included transphobic language.

This highlights the pressing need for LGBT+ welfare and accountability training for those with students under their care. This is not just necessary for staff, but for sports teams, societies, and other student groups and networks.

The university has done a reasonable job so far in implementing welfare systems across university life. However, part of this welfare needs to be LGBT+ specific.

University is often one of the first places that LGBT+ students are able to be themselves, but it should also be recognised that many others are not able to be open about that aspect of their identity. Regardless, every student’s identity deserves to be respected. Derogatory comments and behaviours can have a negative impact on these students’ well-being, thus preventing these and, in turn, protecting their mental health and welfare should be a top priority.

We recognise that sometimes people are simply unaware that certain language is inherently offensive and ought not be used today even if it may have been used in the past. This is why we are stressing the importance of this being a matter of education.

The LGBT+ Welfare and accountability training would include:
– The addressing and removal of archaic, homophobic, transphobic, and other LGBT+-phobic derogatory language from everyday discourse.
– Informing people of the correct terminology to use and how to use it.
– Ensuring that discourse surrounding biology, sex, and reproduction is inclusive of LGBT+ people.
– Making students aware of the LGBT+ resources that are already available and how these can be obtained anonymously without their identity being disclosed.
– Letting people know where they can direct students with concerns of an LGBT+ nature to go for their welfare needs to be met. This would involve information concerning LGBT+ specific mental, physical, and sexual health.
– Informing students of how they can report LGBT+ specific discrimination and hate crimes involving verbal, physical, psychological, and emotional abuse.

Discriminatory language of any nature should not be used or circulated in academic or colloquial discourse, and as a network we take the welfare of LGBT+ students seriously.

We hope to be able to work effectively with the Student’s Union, staff, societies, sports teams and networks to get this training off the ground.

In the meantime, if anyone needs any LGBT+ related support or has experienced something that they wish to privately disclose, email welfare at lgbt+welfare@nottingham.ac.uk

Additionally, if anyone has any further questions regarding the training, email the LGBT+ Officer at lgbtofficer@nottingham.ac.uk

Kind regards,

UoNSU LGBT+ Network Committee

Transcript of The Great Debate Q8: As a society, how do you believe we can become more inclusive of all gender identities and how can we fight against discrimination of gender non-conforming people?


Recently, the Student Union hosted The Great Debate 2017, an event in which students were encouraged to bring their concerns forward to a panel of university and Student Union leaders. I asked a question regarding the treatment of gender non-conforming people, and have transcribed the responses below. Every ‘-‘ dash indicates filler speech. 

If you have any comments or feedback you want the LGBT+ Network to know, please contact me via the feedback tab on this site. I also encourage all students who identify as gender non-conforming or trans to join our new Trans Voices Group, which you can do by emailing uonsutvg@gmail.com – Chris

QUESTION (CHRIS SMITH, LGBT+ OFFICER): As a society, how do you believe we can become more inclusive of all gender identities and how can we fight against discrimination of gender non-conforming people?

SHEARER WEST, UNIVERSITY OF NOTTINGHAM VICE CHANCELLOR: How we do it I don’t know but can I just agree with you that we should be doing it, there may bright ideas on the table-

SARAH O’HARA, PRO-VICE-CHANCELLOR FOR EDUCATION AND STUDENT EXPERIENCE : So there has been a fair bit of discussion in the past about things, just like – it would be around bathrooms and loos, about having genderless bathroom facilities which I think is something we can do within this institution quite easily, but we also have to accommodate for people who have very different views, so for example some people would prefer them to be single sex, some people, you know, don’t, so there are lots of things we can do but as an institution we have done a lot of work with the LBGT community, we have, – we’ve done a lot of work with the trans community and recently I – opened an event which we had down on Jubilee Campus where we had Paris Lees come and talk to us and she described her experience and Paris – I don’t know whether any of you know Paris Lees – but she’s from Nottingham and she talked about her – you know, her life on a council estate in Nottingham, and what it was like going at that time as a young boy to prison and going through this period of transition and what it was like and – it was a really interesting discussion because afterwards there was quite a bit of debate around – trangender(ed?) people, who were then getting into a debate with a group of – people in the room who said that they didn’t identify – with a gender so you’ve got quite complicated, what was going on. But I think as an institution… (unclear) we should be open to anybody regardless of their sexuality, their gender, it’s about them being decent people who want to work at this University and respect the University and that should be, you know, how we operate.

LILLIAN GREENWOOD, MP, NOTTINGHAM SOUTH: I think some of the key three things, I think first of all is the fact about University setting its values, saying that it is committed to inclusivity and it’s committed to equality and I think it’s starts from the statement of values, then it’s about policy so that’s what are the things that we need to put into place to put those values into action and I think an important part of developing that, especially as this is a, you know, this is a moving – situation, which is something that would change in this society and become far more open and we’re doing really well in terms of – I think, you know, being more inclusive and – having/ so I think there needs to be a discussion – about what that means and listening to people’s views about how we can make it a more inclusive and what sort of policies and practises we’re having – in place, and the third is, and of course this has become, you know, heightened in recent weeks in a broader sense around harassment and people’s experiences of harassment and discrimination, because we’ve got to have clear procedures , we’ve got to encourage people that if they, if there is something that happens, that they know what – that they can report it, that they’ll be listened to, that they’ll be taken seriously, that they’ll be supported, and that there’s measures in place to deal with unacceptable behaviour. So I think that’s how we fight discrimination but we kind of have to have, it starts from a position of values and in policy and then action.

SHEARER WEST VC: I think Lillian’s put that extremely succinctly – all I’d say personally as an incoming Vice Chancellor that in my previous roles , senior leadership roles in other institutions, equality, diversity and inclusion has been a huge element of what I’ve worked on in those institutions, and there have been some very effective outcomes of that and I would want to bring those values into my role here and – as Lillian says it’s values, then it’s policy, and then it’s – sort of – no tolerance for – the kind of negative behaviour that sometimes people experience.

ALAN HOLEY, STUDENT UNION PRESIDENT: Yeah I couldn’t agree more with – Sarah, Shearer and Lillian – I think anyone can express themselves in any shape or form that they so please – I feel like to improve the sense of belonging for LGBT+ members is the fact that to try and increase the understanding to a lot of people because it’s still a matter of, not contention but a lot of students still – and staff – still don’t actually understand all the different – sorry if I say this wrong, but all the different… (in crowd: identities) identities, that’s it – all the different identities and I think that understanding will help underpin – less discriminatory things to happen and I think that’s important to understand.


A Message on International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia

A common refrain whenever I speak to people who are not LGBT+ goes something along the lines of this: “Why do you get so many days to celebrate your identity?” Pride, History Month, the various intersectional remembrance days, and IDAHoBiT are often used by people outside the community to suggest we have some sort of special privilege. It makes us sound entitled and is often used as a means to try and instigate a sense of guilt in us. So, on this 17 May, as we commemorate another IDAHoBiT, I have one thing to say to anyone reading this who identifies as queer in any way. Do. Not. Apologise. Be yourself and remember that the reason we have such events – many of which are framed as days of mourning or grief – is because society has often been stacked against us. In many parts of the world, even today, stigma against the LGBT+ community is rampant. Active persecution in Chechnya, political ostracisation in Singapore, legal dangers in the USA, silent discrimination in the UK, state-sanctioned violence across parts of Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe, and the specific prejudice faced by LGBT+ refugees – all of these serve as reminders that our various identities and intersections are consistently targeted. In these times, it is not only acceptable but important to take time and reflect. Commemorating days such as IDAHoBiT are not simply ceremonial and superficial; they play a vital role in reminding the world that, despite the best efforts of many, we are a community that will not be silenced. In particular, it is a way for those of us in parts of the world where prejudice is not the norm to speak out for those who are in precarious positions. Even if that takes the form of a private reaffirmation of who we are, in the comfort of our homes, solidarity is a powerful thing.

Ibi – Campaigns Officer


(Please remember that our welfare resources are listed on this website if you need them.)

Your new LGBT+ Officer!

Hey everyone! It’s Chris.

It’s nice to meet you all – and, for those who I know already – it’s always good to see you again.

Last Friday I dressed up in a suit and attended a results night, before learning that I had gained a huge 777 votes, cementing me as your next LGBT+ Officer. That feels so weird to say…. I’m not sure whether to soil myself from excitement, from anticipation, or from sheer nervousness. Thank you all so much for voting for me! (and for those who chose R.O.N… I really hope I manage to win you over.)

I won’t lie to you – I’m a little nervous. It’s not just from the numerous horror stories I’ve heard about the role over 5 lots of previous officers, or the sheer responsibility that I’ve now got on my shoulders, but it’s the dread that I might disappoint you.
So to avoid that, I’m going to be as transparent as possible – here are some things I will almost definitely do this year as Officer:
– Forget names
– Say the wrong thing
– Say something someone deems offensive without realising
– Forget to reply
– Forget to ask
– Assume incorrectly

I’m only human. I’m aware of my privilege as a cis white man, I know I’m not the font of all LGBT+ knowledge, and I’m definitely aware that I’m only 20 years old and I’ve never even seen Titanic. I’m young, inexperienced, maybe even foolish…

But I’m ready to learn. I’ve learnt so much over the past two years, and I know that over the next one I’ll learn even more. We’re not going to change the world, but if we all band together and help each other, we can keep our community strong and make sure that the year of 2017/18 is a strong one for our network.

Here’s all I ask of you – please don’t suffer in silence. If you have any complaints, concerns or queries regarding the Network or being LGBT+ at University, please never hesitate to speak up. Come to events, participate in the polls, submit your event ideas – We can’t change anything if we don’t know what’s wrong, and you’re all so vital in making sure we make as much positive change as possible.

I’m so excited to have been granted this position. I hope I can make you all proud.

Thank you so much,


Drag Queens, History Month and Solidarity


The world is hurting right now. There is no nice way to say it. The world is hurting, and the LGBT community is among the most pained. With LGBT History Month starting today, I could not help but reflect on the irony of gearing up for 28 days of celebrations when we are at a point where progress may not only have stopped, but may actually be regressing.


What has helped alleviate this not-unjustified sense of gloom has been the privilege of living in a city that still has queer spaces. The final weekend before February, I went to see a show starring Korean-American drag queen Kim Chi. I know drag – and its commercialisation in the mainstream – is not without its detractors. But I am a fan of her work and I needed to be around like-minded people. The show was not political in any way, unless, of course, you count the fact that existing as LGBT in the current climate is not without its baggage. That being said, there was something oddly electrifying and – dare I say? – almost cathartic about watching a “proudly plus-size” queen defiantly flaunting her heritage in a hanbok the weekend after her country of residence became quite a lot less welcoming.


This is what I feel is the most important thing to remember going into History Month. There are still spaces for us as a community to thrive. And when we come together, we can provide something for each other that is difficult to quantify but oh so vital for our survival – strength and unwavering support for each other. Yes, we should critique such spaces. Yes, they need to improve and are not magically unproblematic just because they are (pro-)LGBT. After all, unwavering blind adulation is what has led to many of the problems we face this year. But having these spaces in the first place, celebrating them, and making them as intersectional and accessible as we possibly can is the best way for us to celebrate what we have achieved so far while setting a course for things yet to come.


Ibtisam Ahmed

Campaigns Officer


We hope we as a committee can play a part in continuing to make the Network more inclusive. The University is hosting a varied set of programmes for LGBT History Month and we would really encourage Network members to go to as many as they can because there are some really important and interesting conversations that are taking place in them. For a full programme, please see: http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/peopleandculture/2017/01/26/events-lgbt-history-month-2017/

Recap of the term

Happy holidays everyone! We hope you’re all having a wonderful time over the winter break. If you’re struggling at all, please do make use of our welfare resources: https://uon-su-lgbt.com/welfareandoutreach/


We’ve done so much this term that I thought it’d be nice to have a recap.  We’ve been told by various SU staff that we’re the most active this network has ever been and, further, the most active SU network! The NUS has called us one of the most active LGBT+ networks they’ve ever seen. Also, two Nottingham-based LGBT+ groups have expressed how impressed with us they are, as has a leading LGBT+ global activist.


Considering we’re all volunteers and have our committee roles alongside our degrees (some undergraduate, some masters, and some PhD), I am very pleased and honoured to be a part of this team.


Here’s what we’ve achieved this term:


  • Welcome social: Event at the start of the year in the studio. Free food and drinks, board games, and an opportunity to meet other people.
  • Dice cup: We went to the Dice Cup café (a board game café) at the start of term to get to know each other in a low-key and friendly environment.
  • Café and Mooch socials: Almost every Wednesday we’d either have an event on campus with free food and drink or we’d spend the evening at Mooch.
  • BME event: The BME Network and LGBT Network collaborated to commemorate Black History Month. We screened a series of short films that are centred on black LGBT lives. We were also joined by Abii Musique, an artist who spoke about the double instances of discrimination – racism in the LGBT community and queerphobia in the BME community.
  • Sticker system: Implemented a ‘traffic light’ system for nights out. LGBT+ spaces have a reputation for being a place for ‘hooking up’ and so, in order to make people more comfortable coming to our events, we’ve started giving out yellow and pink stickers that people can choose to wear to show their unwillingness to be ‘hit on’. Here’s how it works:

Yellow = y’allowed to ask
Pink = please no touching

(Yellow is for people who are available but aren’t your standard ‘single people looking to hook up’ e.g. asexual people who are interested in romantic relationships or vice versa etc.)

Obviously this is optional as the only purpose is to make people more comfortable at our events. Please do respect the sticker system, though, and do not make any advances towards people wearing pink, and be aware that people wearing yellow are not expressing consent or a desire to be hit on.

  • Pub quiz: We ran a pub quiz to raise money for STM and managed to raise £100!
  • Halloween bar crawl: This bar crawl was also to raise money for STM and we raised £168.
  • Propaganda: Committee members met with the managers at Propaganda to discuss some of the issues that had been brought to us. We’ve assured everyone that Props is a safe space and that the staff are dedicated to keeping it that way. If you ever have an issue in the venue or with a member of staff, message the Propaganda Facebook page or speak to a member of staff on the night. They are very keen to resolve any concerns and will take your comments on board!
  • Asexual and aromantic café: We ran a café (free food and drink on campus) for those who identify under the ace/aro umbrella.
  • TDOR vigil: Attended the Trans Day of Remembrance vigil held by the Notts Trans Hub.
  • Welfare fair SB: Had a stall at the welfare fair on Sutton Bonington campus.
  • Medsoc welfare fair: Had a stall at the welfare fair with Medsoc.
  • Crafternoon: We held a welfare crafternoon with student minds.
  • Manchester crawl: Went on a coach trip to Manchester to explore the gay scene. We went to a range of bars in the iconic gay village before ending the night in G-A-Y.
  • Pride Ocean: The big O was decked out in rainbows and glitter for a night of celebrating LGBT+ pride!
  • Zine: We started an online magazine. We’ve only had one edition so far but are keen to do more! Please contact Ellis Harris at apyeh2@nottingham.ac.uk if you want to get involved. First edition: https://issuu.com/uonsulgbtnetwork/docs/zine_edition_1___1_
  • Skill swap: Growing up as an assigned gender that you don’t identify with can mean you’re not taught certain typically ‘feminine’ or ‘masculine’ skills (e.g. if you’re AFAB and start taking testosterone, it’s likely you won’t have been taught how to shave). We ran an event for people to share skills they have and to learn new ones!
  • Clothes swap: Alongside the skill swap, we held a clothes swap. People brought their unwanted clothes and exchanged them, or just came along and bought items for £1 each. All funds went towards STM.
  • NAT: We raised money for the National AIDs Trust for World AIDs Day. We sold red ribbons and raised £57.35.
  • Fems campaign: We’re joining forces with the UoN Feminists to launch a social media campaign next term to tackle gender stereotypes. We took pictures and anecdotes from our members sharing stories about how they go against stereotypes every day. The campaign will go ahead next term.
  • Debate: The Nottingham Debating Union ran a show debate with us. The motion was: “This house believes that the LGBT movement should reject the “born this way” argument as a basis for rights/entitlements.”
  • GNT policy: We adapted the existing gender neutral toilet policy and took the motion to council. Unfortunately, the policy was one vote off being passed. The policy will be taken to referendum during the next voting period, so keep an eye out and be sure to vote! The policy we proposed was:

What is the idea about?


For the Students’ Union to;

  • Continue to lobby the university for formal agreement to provide and maintain at least one gender neutral toilet in all main buildings on all campuses
  • To extend this agreement to providing and maintaining at least one gender neutral toilet (of the same size/standard as the gendered facilities) on all floors with more than two gendered toilets on the same floor.
  • To review the current list of gender neutral toilets to ensure that they exist
  • To work with the LGBTQ Staff Network and Trans Working Party to further this campaign
  • To continue to enforce the agreement with the University’s Estates department that Gender Neutral Toilets will be created in all new University Buildings.
  • To lobby for an agreement with the University’s Estates department that Gender Neutral Toilets will be created on all floors with more than two gendered toilets.


Why have you proposed it?

  • This has been Union Policy for the past 3 years.

  • The Disabled Student Network, the Trans Working Party, the NUS LGBT+ Women’s delegate, and the Feminist Society have indicated their support in this campaign.

  • Gender neutral toilets are a form of accessible toilets for: – Trans people – People who don’t want assumptions made about their gender – Parents with a child of a different gender

  • These toilets are also extra toilets in a building to be used during busy times of the day. Gender neutral toilets are already in existence in all public buildings in the form of disabled toilets. However, these toilets are specifically for disabled people and should be reserved for this purpose, rather than being repurposed for more general use. A single gender neutral toilet does not take up much space and is an easy addition to new and old buildings

  • Where there are more than two gendered toilets on one floor of a building, it is unnecessary for the rest to be gendered.

  • Making existing excess toilets gender neutral will be cost-effective and will ensure that disabled toilets are not used by people without disabilities, thereby reducing congestion.

  • Glitter Ball: We’ve organised a formal to be held at the end of the January exam period. Details can be found here: https://www.su.nottingham.ac.uk/events/7601/9441/
  • STM:

*What is it?*

STM stands for Supporting Trans+ Members and the aim is to fund (or partially fund) products that are essential for safely combatting dysphoria. Being a student isn’t cheap, but we don’t want any one of our network members to be buying low-quality and potentially dangerous products due to a lack of funds.

*How do I get funding?*

Here is the funding application form: http://lgbtlogin.polldaddy.com/s/stm-funding-application

Once we get a few applications, we hold a meeting with some volunteer panellists from the network in order to decide how to allocate funding. All applications are anonymous so as to be fair. What the panel looks for is (a) is this product necessary (b) is this product safe, and (c) how much money are we able to put towards purchasing it. By (a) we mean necessary for combatting dysphoria, but not things like make-up or clothes. We can recommend cheap make up brands and we are also running a clothes swap. By (b) we mean is this a good quality product that will not affect your health.

So far we have funded two good quality, safe binders and an initial consultation with a gender clinic.


  • Other: On top of this, we as a committee have had various types of training, meetings, submitted funding applications, completed other administrative tasks, as well as had 1-on-1 welfare meetings.


Your LGBT+ Officer,


The UN Votes on LGBT Rights


On Monday, 21 November, the UN General Assembly voted on two key historic motions regarding LGBT rights worldwide, both carrying major ramifications on how the rights movement is seen worldwide.


The first vote was on a non-binding resolution that was aimed at making LGBT rights a universally recognised human right, an attempt that has been blocked on previous occasions. A non-binding resolution, if passed, means that the UN as an organisation is committed to the content of the vote, but individual countries can still opt out. The reason this was presented as a non-binding vote is so that opposition to the vote, which is still strong in certain parts of the world, does not prevent the UN from taking a positive stance on LGBT rights. The vote was passed by a significant, though not overwhelming, majority. Crucially, the range of countries that supported the vote means that the UN’s commitment is towards having dialogue with different countries so that LGBT rights are promoted within the context of cultural rights rather than being seen as an imposition of the European voting bloc, which it has been seen as in the past.


The second vote was brought forward by the African bloc of nations as an attempt to undermine a previous decision made by the UN Human Rights Council. The UNHRC had appointed its first ever High Commissioner for LGBT Rights earlier this year. The African bloc believed that this was an infringement on their individual national sovereignty and an imposition of foreign values, and therefore brought forward a proposal to remove the position. Thankfully, this vote was defeated in the General Assembly and the High Commissioner’s position is going to stand.


The votes have proven that the world is slowly becoming more accepting of LGBT rights, as proven by positive votes by nations such as Belize and Singapore, which had voted against the measures in the past. Nonetheless, the second motion also proves that attempts to solidify rights can still be undermined and we need to stand together in solidarity.


The university’s LGBT radio show, The Identity Talk, held a special broadcast during the second vote to discuss global rights in more detail and the show audio can be found at: https://audioboom.com/posts/5311397-the-identity-talk-lgbt-rights-worldwide-and-the-un



Campaigns Officer

Transgender Day of Remembrance

CW: Transphobia, violence

Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance 2016, a time to remember and mourn those in the trans community whom we have lost to hatred and violence in the past year, and to bring awareness to the issues that continue to plague trans individuals both locally and worldwide.

The LGBT Network would like to remind everyone that our welfare team is always available to provide support to you, no matter your place within the LGBT+ community, or your reasons for needing it.
And we would like to say to all those struggling today, that you are always welcome here.

If you are trans+ and would like the LGBT+ Network to help fund products that are necessary for combatting dysphoria, please take a look at https://uon-su-lgbt.com/2016/10/28/stm-is-ready/




Huffington Post – Transgender Day Of Remembrance: We Remember Them, Because They Were Known To Us


The exact number of trans people killed each year is unknown. The deaths are collated from newspaper and media reports from around the world. What we do know is that being transgender puts your life at risk.

On Thursday 13th October at 10am I was assaulted in a busy town centre, just minutes from where I live. “You f*cking weirdo” yelled aggressively straight at me, followed even more unpleasantly by them spitting directly into my face, then turning around and strolling off. I was left devastated, alone and broken.

However, my fate is nothing compared to what happens to trans people around the world. Just five days earlier in Cleveland, USA, a boy found the body of Brandi Bledsoe. Brandi was found wearing just her underwear, with plastic bags covering her head and her hands. Brandi was a 32 year-old trans-woman of colour, murdered.

Brandi is just one of the many trans people killed throughout the world each year. Each year for TDoR (Transgender Day of Remembrance) we remember them, because they were known to us.
We also need to remember that this is not just about trans women. The entire trans community is becoming more visible in public and in the media. Raising awareness of our existence, our hopes and our rights. In February (2016), a 30 year-old transgender man was stabbed to death in Salford, UK – a death of another trans victim which tore their family apart.

My desire to simply disappear into gender norms is partly fuelled by the hatred some people have for trans people, hatred for me and what I represent.

There is hope. The people who attend TDoR are not just trans people. They are friends, they are family, they are colleagues. Most importantly, they are allies. They don’t hate me – they are proud of me. Some of them love me, because I have the courage to be myself, and they are standing in solidarity with us all so that one day the hatred and intolerance trans people suffer at the hands of others in my country and around the world will stop, forever. The people who stand side-by-side with me at TDoR give me hope.

And we need hope. We need hope because trans people are being born every day, you just can’t see it. You just don’t know it until they realise that sometimes not everyone fits into the gender they were born with.

The recent media attacks on Mermaids, a UK charity offering support to gender variant children and their families, has devastated lives. Hatred and bigotry is learnt behaviour – and where better to learn this from than the headlines of a national newspaper? With a little knowledge and a lot of ignorance you can do untold damage to, not just young people’s lives, but their relatives too.

I thought we were making progress, but now parents fearful of what their trans children are saying to them about their gender identity, and these parents are too frightened to help their sons and daughters for what it might say about them. Child abuse? No, the only abuse is to do nothing, to not want your offspring to live, happy and fulfilled lives.

We must change the rhetoric. Gender dysphoria, the medical term for being trans is literally killing people – through suicides and murder – and it doesn’t have to be this way. The solution is simple. Let trans people live their lives in the gender they identify as, and treat them like any other person, with respect and dignity.

After all, trans people are human beings too.