When a community comes together, beautiful things can happen. Here at Diverse Educators, we have witnessed the rise of transphobic narratives nationally and internationally and have felt, as many others do, an acute sense of helplessness about how to be active allies for the trans and non-binary people we know and love.
When we were approached by a member of the non-binary community in despair at hearing and experiencing such a wave of transphobia and gender critical rhetoric, we gathered associates and friends to discuss how we could do something, anything, to raise our voices and show that we could be ‘together-strong’. In time, this shaped into an evening solidarity event to take place virtually. We wanted to bring people together to signal, even in the smallest ways, that there is work to be done in protecting those who are increasingly marginalised in our society.
It was clear from the outset that we did not want to just focus on how difficult the social environment is for trans and non-binary people. We wanted, collectively, to use our voices to highlight both the reality for trans and non-binary people and the green shoots that we can see around us.
Our speakers were wonderful. Jo Brassington (they/them), a Diverse Educators Associate, outlined the legal aspects of trans and non-binary identities in schools. The wealth of comments and questions after their section showed that there is a real need for educators to have access to training on how to support and protect their trans and non-binary young people and colleagues. Hannah Jepson, (she/they) a business psychologist and expert in workplace inclusion, followed with a precis that highlighted the work of the corporate world in supporting trans and non-binary people at work. There were some enlightening comments in response showcasing best practice in the workplace. Finally, George White (he/him), a trans teacher and independent consultant/trainer on transgender identities and the Catholic faith, outlined the green shoots in how Catholicism is shifting the established narrative on trans and non-binary people.
Hannah Wilson, the speakers and I left the solidarity event feeling heartened that over 60 people had given their time to attend the event, with feedback that indicated a real need for follow up. While we knew that we wouldn’t be able to find distinct ways forward immediately, the networking and signposting that took place was useful in forging connections so that action can be possible in the future.
What we do in miniature creates ripples that, in turn, can create waves. This event served to show how much there is to do still in support of the trans and non-binary community, and each attendee was asked to pledge, if possible, what their next steps were using the hashtag #TransPeopleAreLoved. The pledges appeared like pebbles in the pond.
This is allyship.