By Lewis Sloan, Features Editor.
Northern Ireland has had a traditionally turbulent relationship with LGBT+ rights. Being described by LGBT+ rights campaigner Peter Tatchell as, “the most homophobic place in Western Europe,” it remains the only place in the British Isles not to have recognised marriage equality and the lifetime ban on gay men donating blood was finally lifted only last year. However, a word you will hear even less than ‘homophobic’ in the mainstream media in NI, is ‘transphobic.’
Research undertaken by The Rainbow Project show some startling insights into the unique issues and intolerance people who identify as trans face here, and the negative impact this can have on their mental health. While mental health issues within the LGBT+ community in NI are ”worryingly high,” trans people were shown to be particularly at risk. 25% of those surveyed by the charity had attempted suicide in the past.
In an effort to combat the damaging intolerance and ignorance toward trans people in NI, Queen’s University has introduced its much needed, and long awaited, Trans Equality Policy. It’s the latest example of the University’s attempts to provide an “an inclusive and welcoming community where staff and students are enabled to meet their full potential and are treated as individuals.”
This upcoming week an exciting campaign will be underway, with the aim of putting this policy into practice. Vice President for Equality and Diversity, Rachel Powell, has teamed up with the QUB LGBT+ Society, Belfast Trans Resource Centre, GenderJam NI, SAIL NI and Non-Binary NI to make the event-packed ‘Beyond the Binaries: QUBSU Trans Students’ Week.’
The aim of the campaign is to empower trans and non-binary students and staff at QUB and to help ensure that they are valued within the university and in wider society. Challenging the widespread ignorance and confusion in NI regarding differences in gender identity and sexual orientation is also a key objective of the week. Rachel and her team believe “it is imperative that people become aware of the differences within the LGBT+ community and that trans, non-binary and intersex people have safe spaces to come together to discuss their experiences, expand their skills and to have some fun!”
There are a wide range of events coming up this week that are open to all, while some are specific to the trans, non-binary and intersex community. Below is a guide to help you keep up to date with what’s coming up this week. For more information on the background and objectives of the campaign, click here. To find out more information on individual event including how to register, click on the event titles.
Transgender Day of Remembrance Vigil (Monday 20th November)
When: 13.00 – 14.00
Where: Outside of the Lanyon Building, Queen’s University
Open to: Everyone
To mark Transgender Day of Remembrance 2017, a candle-lit vigil will be held outside the Lanyon Building in honour of those who have lost their lives in acts of anti-transgender violence.
Campaign Launch – Beyond the Binaries Art Exhibition on Gender (Tuesday 21st November)
When: 18.00 – 20.00
Where: South Dining Hall, Queens University, University Road, Belfast.
Open to: Everyone
The campaign will launch on Tuesday with an exciting art exhibition on the subject of Gender. The exhibition will be followed by speeches from the Lord Mayor of Belfast, and trans and non-binary students and activists from Non-Binary NI, Genderjam NI, QUB LGBT+ Society.
Trans Conference ‘How to Further Trans Rights on a Budget’ (Thursday 23rd November)
When: 10.00 – 17.00
Where: Peter Froggatt Centre, Room 0G/024, Queen’s University
Open to: Members of the the trans, non-binary and intersex community
This exciting conference will consist of the following workshops:
‘Media and Online Activism: Reaching Wider Audiences’ by Global Action for Trans Equality
‘Making Your Activism Accessible’ by SAIL NI
‘Campaigning for Gender Recognition Reform’