A few of the Sheffield contingent took a road trip to Manchester to take part in Action for Trans Heath’s Activist Training, this is a short write up of the events from the Saturday:
Action for Trans Health are a group that formed out of individual fundraisers to assist Trans individuals who struggled to reach their target goals in raising money for the treatment they required. Now they provide some financial assistance to many Trans people, with priority given to people facing greater barriers than most. They also interact with medical staff to provide them with workshops on Trans health needs, assisting people with complaints regarding malpractice. Furthermore they engage with the Trans community about health issues, providing them information on sexual health, harm reduction with regards to self-medication and information on the structures within the NHS. The question they posed, and suggested we keep in mid throughout the day was: What does democratic Trans healthcare look like and why should we fight for it? They then explained the meanings of some of the phrases that are frequently used when discussing Trans health, live informed consent, harm reduction, reproductive justice and patient – worker control.
We then had a talk from Sabah Choudrey about their experience in organising Trans Pride in Brighton. They also discussed what activism is, which made me realise how broad the term can be beyond just direct action because for many Trans people just living their lives visibly can become a form of activism. Furthermore we discussed the importance of linking struggles and joining up with other groups who have similar aims in a show of solidarity, this way we can effect change more efficiently. They discussed some of the issues they had experienced in organising Trans Pride and how after it gained popularity they encountered issues with regards to racism and cultural appropriation which were ignored by the largely white committee.
We then had a talk from some of the women who for the Lesbian Immigration Support Group (LISG) who shared their experiences of seeking asylum in the UK. And the homophobia they encountered during the process. I was personally very upset by the stories of these women being asked to prove their sexuality to Home Office officials, and being refused asylum when the people who’d interviewed them didn’t believe that they were lesbians. Furthermore I was shocked to hear that up until 2010 many asylum seekers were often told to return to their country of origin and live more discreetly in a different city where no one knew they were gay, instead of being granted asylum. The whole experience was very powerful and emotional, and made me see how groups such as LISG need to exist to support these women through these experiences.
We then had a discussion about Trans healthcare advocacy and what the different forms of advocacy are. Self advocacy, where the Trans person would advocate for themselves. Informal advocacy, where a friend of family member would advocate for a Trans person providing them moral support during medical appointments. Professional advocacy, where a trained person assists the Trans person with support during medical appointments and is able to provide them with information on protocols. They went on to discuss the qualities a good advocate would need to possess: listens, patient-led, resilient, accountable, assertive, organised etc.