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Trans Day of Visibility: including trans families

Posted March 31st 2021 by Leon

Trans Day of Visibility

What visibility means for community inclusion

This Trans Day of Visibility we’re reflecting on what visibility means practically for communities and organisations. And how visibility connects to wider community inclusion – access, rights and our feelings of belonging.

Listening to different LGBTQ+ families makes the practical effects of visibility very clear. Entering a space which has no visible signs that it’s LGBTQ-friendly can be intimidating, and create extra barriers to accessing different support and opportunities. When communities’ unique, intersecting experiences aren’t reflected in resources, they aren’t as supported as the normalised person or family. When no active thought has been put into including different experiences and communities, the absence shows.

The Queer Families group’s tips

In the resource they created, the Queer Families group highlight the effects of people assuming everyone is straight and cisgender – in schools, accessing healthcare, in the community. A lot of it lines up with what LGBTQI+ organisations have shared in their new LGBTI Equality Manifesto. https://www.equality-network.org/lgbti-equality-manifesto/

Here are a few of the Queer Families group’s Tips for supporting LGBTQ families:

• Don’t assume – you can’t tell who is and isnt LGBTQ just by looking at them – don’t automatically assume everyone you meet is straight or cisgender.

• Use gender neutral language. An easy way to be more inclusive is to not use gendered language. Some examples can be saying ‘hello everyone’ instead of ‘hello boys and girls’, and referring to ‘parents’ rather than ‘mums and dads’.

• Don’t wait for an LGBTQ family to come along before you introduce LGBTQ friendly policies- if you’re openly LGBTQ friendly people will feel more comfortable coming out to you.

• Include pictures of different kinds of families in any promotional material or resources you have. Consider having rainbow flags in your space and flyers/information about LGBTQ organisations available. It may seem like a small step, but it can send a welcoming message.

Empowerment beyond visibility

Feeling invisible or unheard so often connects to being excluded from shaping the narrative, creating the forms of visibility we most want to see. And of course, unfair or negative visibility gets in the way of equality. Communities become most inclusive when everyone can share their experiences, be heard, and work together to address barriers and inequalities.

You can read the Queer Families group’s advice resource for organisations and services here: https://otbds.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Advice-for-Services-working-with-LGBTQ-Families.pdf

To learn more

To find out more about the Queer Families project, email ciara@otbds.org

We also have a LGBTQI Families training session coming up which expands on the resource, for staff and volunteers who work with families or communities. It’s £20, but please get in touch if cost would b a barrier to your organisation.

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