Last week, the magnificent Cardiff City Hall was the setting for two back-to-back conferences – the 1st International LGBT Human Rights Conference to be held in the UK, and the 6th LGBT Health Summit. Both events were hosted by the truly ‘excellent’ LGBT Excellence Centre, Cardiff, http://lgbtec.org.uk/ in partnership with the Welsh Government, Cardiff Council and Real Radio, and were key elements in the Excellence Centre’s annual conference and exhibition ‘Come Out and Play’ launched this year, culminating in Cardiff’s Mardi Gras (Pride) which took place today.
I was invited to participate in the Health Summit which began last Thursday, and I’ll say more about that in another post, but I arrived on Wednesday morning in time to take part in the Trans Workshop which looked in detail at the Trans Statement of Needs (SON), a comprehensive document that had emerged from a Department of Equality (DOE) consultation process involving representatives of most UK Trans organisations.
As I’ve noted before on this blog, the DOE has recognised that Trans people have a great deal of catching up to do compared to other communities, so much so that the department is preparing a specific equality action plan for Trans people. The Statement of Needs was intended as the basis of that – or so we thought. Now, though, and this was the issue we were wrestling with in the workshop, there is some anxiety that, having consulted Trans people via focus groups, and examined the Statement of Needs, the DOE is undertaking another layer of consultation using online surveys, the first two of which I have advertised here in earlier posts.
Most people, myself included, have assumed that these surveys would be integrated with the findings of the SON, but there’s a suspicion that the SON could be sidelined in favour of the survey results, about which there is, at the moment, a distinct lack of transparency.
Maybe, given our history of discrimination, it’s hard for us, as Trans people, to trust these sort of processes and to believe that they can deliver outcomes that are truly representative of our needs. We worry that, for all its fine words, government will ignore our priorities – which are considerable – and substitute a few platitudes instead. These fears are not helped by the apparent secrecy concerning the survey findings – apart from the unsurprising fact that health (treatment?) was thought to be important.
The Trans Community SON workshop leaders enabled us to explore various strategies for addressing this particular problem, including a website where people will be able to assess and comment on the SON; and at a Health Summit plenary the next morning one bright delegate explained our dilemma to one of the speakers from the Department of Health who promised to help.
Maybe all this will turn out to be a storm in a T-cup: after all, if Trans people, in large but decreasing numbers, are completing the surveys, it is very likely that the priorities that emerge there will match those in the SON, but until the survey findings are published doubts are bound to remain. Even so, I would advise people to continue completing the online surveys so that their views are heard and the third one is available here:
After spending most of the day debating and pondering this latest twist in the story of Trans equality I was certainly ready to ‘come out and play’ and made my way to Cardiff City Library, which was the unusual but stylish venue for a swinging evening of jazz and cocktails – one of a series of musical events to celebrate Cardiff’s LGBT Mardi Gras – where the songs and music proved as warm and bubbly as the schnapps in my glass.