LBU Together

Transgender Awareness Week

This Transgender Awareness Week (13 - 19 November) and Transgender Day of Remembrance (20 November), Rainbow Rose chair Dr Ian Lamond and postgraduate student Choj write about why observation of these days is so important, and how we can all take small steps to create a more transgender and non-binary friendly environment. 

Transgender Pride flags in a row along a grassy verge

This year Transgender Awareness Week is observed from the 13 - 19 November, with the 20 November marking Transgender Day of Remembrance. In support and solidarity with the Trans community the Portland building  on the university’s city campus will be illuminated in the colours of the Trans Pride flag: blue, pink, and white. 

We have released a podcast episode, in which we talk about the importance of using Transgender Awareness Week and Transgender Day of Remembrance as a moment to reflect on the challenges faced by the trans and non-binary communities, the positive moves we’re making as a university to improve inclusivity, and how you can be a great ally by making your own small changes.

Transgender Awareness Week takes place to educate the wider community on the lived experiences of Trans people. Trans/transgender is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity falls outside that part of the gendered binary they were assigned at birth, this includes people that are non-binary, with some non-binary people not identifying with any gender at all.

The Trans community, especially Trans people of colour, have played a historically significant part in the fight for LGBTQI+ rights and recognition, with Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera being important figures in the Stonewall uprising of 1969, that led to the formation of the Gay Liberation movement in the 1970s.

Their activism as Trans people of colour, continuing for both until their deaths in 1992 and 2002 respectively, lay the foundations for the legal changes to Trans rights and freedoms we are now beginning to see in many developed democracies. Sadly there is much yet to be achieved, and what success there has been is fragile.

Home Office statistics released on the 12 October this year show that hate crime against members of the Trans community has increased by 894% in the last 10 years. There is no missing decimal point in that figure.

These figures do not include those lives lost through suicide. The national Trans Lives Survey published by the charity TransActual at the end of September found 80% of non-binary people surveyed had experienced transphobia from colleagues; 99% of those surveyed reported experiencing transphobia on social media, 70% suggested media transphobia had, to some extent, negatively impacted their mental health. You can learn about transphobia here.

Trans Day of Remembrance is observed on 20 November. It is a day to remember, celebrate and mourn the Trans lives that have been lost. Trans Awareness Week and the Trans Day of Rremembrance are, regrettably, very much needed. Transphobia is pervasive throughout many areas of our society – the need to educate, inform, and to stand together against transphobia as a university community is vital.

The policies of the university are opposed to transphobia wherever it occurs. Essential conversations are being had and actions taken. Gender neutral facilities have been, and are being, installed across the university’s campuses. Significant progress is being made to make the university a safe and welcoming space for the Trans community.

The Rainbow Rose Forum and Leeds Beckett Student Union provide platforms through which Trans voices can be heard. Support can be found through Leeds Beckett Wellbeing Support.

Beyond the university Trans Leeds, and Non-Binary Leeds provide social opportunities and support for the community.

But we can all take small steps in challenging transphobic attitudes. You can add your pronouns to your email signature (e.g. she/her/hers, they/them/theirs etc.). Find out why pronouns are important here.

If you make a mistake and accidentally misgender someone, apologise and quickly move on. If we stand together we are all stronger. Let us make Transgender Awareness Week and Trans Day of Remembrance a time when we can show we can all make a difference.

Dr Ian Lamond

Senior Lecturer / School Of Events, Tourism And Hospitality Management

Ian is an events researcher examining the conceptual foundations of event studies. Their research interests intersect cultural studies; sociology; political/social theory, and anthropology. Their work encompasses events of dissent; creative protest; end of life events; fandom and transgressive leisure.