Bisexual and Trans inclusivity at The LGF
We may be 'The LGF' though where do we stand with regards to inclusivity of the 'B' and the 'T' in what we do as an organisation? It is a question we get asked often and we'll endeavour to answer it here.
Bi inclusivity at The LGF
Historically across society, awareness of sexual orientation has often focused on same-sex attraction, particularly that of gay men and lesser so lesbian women. Often there has been very little awareness and understanding regarding bisexual people. Even today, there remain persistent issues about ignorance and a lack of visibility, and biphobia exists not only within wider society but also within LGB&T communities themselves.
Here at the LGF, we are sometimes questioned whether we are inclusive of bisexual people, because of our name, (The Lesbian & Gay Foundation) and our mission statement, (‘Ending Homophobia, Empowering People’). Whilst our Trustees are clear that in the current climate, now is not an appropriate time for a rebrand or name change, we are absolutely committed to our long-standing vision of ‘A fair and equal society in which all lesbian, gay and bisexual people can achieve their full potential’.
We are also committed to implementing the recommendations from ‘The Bisexuality Report’, which was launched in February 2012. This is an important document that helps highlight many of the problems and frustrations bisexual people presently face.
It is therefore vital that we do as much as we possibly can to increase support and inclusion for bi-people and their needs, and increase awareness of specific issues relating to biphobia. The report is available on BiUK’s website at: http://bisexualresearch.wordpress.com/reports-guidance/reports/thebisexualityreport/
As an LGB organisation we always use the phrase ‘lesbian, gay and bisexual’ whenever and wherever appropriate, with due consideration for both shared and specific issues. This is not only true of our printed and online materials, but also in our conversations; in our consultation responses; and in how we think about, and respond to, the diverse needs of LGB people within our services.
It’s true that we don’t always get it right, and when such instances occur, they act as a reminder to be continually vigilant and mindful of all our communities. Some examples of where action has been taken by the LGF include:
- Supporting the group Biphoria to submit a successful bid to Awards for All, and helping to produce the guide ‘Getting Bi’. Available at: http://biphoria.org.uk/publications.html
- Setting up the National LGB&T Partnership, and ensuring specific reference to biphobia, as well as homophobia and transphobia in the mission. For further information, please see: http://www.lgf.org.uk/policy-research/The-National-LGB-T-Partnership/
- Amending the boxes that hold our condom packs to include the wording ‘bisexual men’
- Implementing bisexuality training for all LGF staff (delivered by Meg Barker, from BiUK).
- Increasing content and stories across our communication channels, written specifically by and for bisexual people
This is therefore an ongoing process, and whilst it’s encouraging to hear that people have noticed a positive trend, we know there is more that we can do. The more we have bisexual people involved within our staff, volunteers and services, the more we can realistically capture, reflect and respond to bisexual people’s experiences and needs.
We would love to have more bisexual volunteer counsellors or members of our Community Action Panel (who help review our resources), as well as more real-life stories and role-models to include in our magazine and on our website. So if you think this could be you, please contact email@example.com.
Furthermore, as well as seeking to increase our own inclusion of bisexual people, we also believe that there is a gap at a national level for a bi organisation.
To this end, we are currently supporting BiUK to become a constituted organisation, and have successfully negotiated for them to become a new partner of the National LGB&T Partnership. Once BiUK has become constituted, we also aim to support them to submit funding applications to help establish a much needed presence in this area.
Trans inclusivity at The LGF
For the past decade, The Lesbian & Gay Foundation (LGF) has described itself as a lesbian, gay and bisexual charity, mainly focused on supporting people with issues related to their sexual orientation. However, following unanimous support at the latest Trustees’ meeting, The LGF is excited to announce that the charity will become trans* inclusive in the future.
This significant decision follows 18 months of conversations, meetings and more recently consultations with representatives of trans* community groups in Greater Manchester. These led to a formal request from the local trans* groups to the LGF’s Board, which was both welcomed and accepted.
David McGovern, Chair of the Board of Trustees at LGF said, “I’m delighted to announce that The LGF is to expand its current practice of trans* inclusivity to support more trans* specific work in the future. The existing, positive collaborations with trans* groups in Greater Manchester will increase and become more visible.”
The LGF’s Chief Executive has been leading discussions with members of the trans* communities about their genuine concerns that a number of trans* groups are facing real hardship at the moment. Recently in Greater Manchester, the Trans Resource and Empowerment Centre (TREC) was forced to close its doors.
Paul Martin OBE said, “There is a real sense that trans* people here in Greater Manchester have a number of needs that existing services are really struggling to meet. There is also a strong sense of community confidence emerging, and a recognition and acknowledgement that trans* people need to be treated better and differently than they are currently. The LGF is very keen to support trans* groups to develop more tangible and comprehensive services for trans* people, run by trans* people here in Greater Manchester.”
Throughout this process, the LGF has been working with a number of representatives from over ten different trans* groups from across Greater Manchester. The discussions have been independently facilitated by Lewis Turner from Lancashire LGBT, and the changes have been supported by TransForum Manchester, MORF, Sparkle, BUFF, Trans Ramblers, Butterflies, Marlin, SOFFAs, Trans 5-a-side Football, Press For Change and Manchester Concord.
For everyone involved, the aim is to ensure closer integration, whilst maintaining the independence of the various groups and helping to ensure their future longevity. Commenting on today’s announcement, Jenny-Anne Bishop, Chair of TransForum Manchester said, “We are delighted to have helped initiate this journey together with The LGF, and feel empowered by the chance to help diversify further The LGF and improve cooperation across all the Trans* and LGB communities. We are thrilled to be working with The LGF on these projects which will further cement the increasing inclusion of the Trans* community in The LGF”.
Elliott Brooker, Chair of MORF said, “It’s been really positive and exciting to bring the community together and already we’re seeing the benefits of collaborative working. We’re very much looking forward to working with The LGF to strengthen the LGB&T community in Greater Manchester”.
David McGovern, Chair LGF’s Board of Trustee’s said, “We will now enter a period of further discussion and negotiation in order to ensure that The LGF becomes fully trans* inclusive. We are keen to identify a number of priorities where we can achieve swift progress, and we expect to publish more details about these as soon as we can.”
The charity is currently working towards its next strategic plan, which will be published early next summer (2015). As well as developing a timetable for inclusion, the Board will also explore the implications for the LGF’s future branding, vision and mission. In the meantime, The LGF will continue to work with local trans* groups to prepare for the necessary changes. Projects already being planned for the near future include:
- Producing trans* specific guidance about sexual violence, kindly funded by the Ministry of Justice, via the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Greater Manchester
- Undertaking a trans* community survey, to further help develop the evidence base and understand trans* people’s needs and experiences
- Seeking funding for a trans* specific worker, with a four-year project plan of activities and services
In parallel to this process, The LGF will also be exploring how it can become more bi-inclusive, in particular working towards fully implementing the recommendations of ‘The Bisexuality Report’, published in 2012. This process will also include working with members of the bisexual communities.
About The Lesbian & Gay Foundation
The Lesbian & Gay Foundation (The LGF) - is a charity currently offering a wide range of services to lesbian, gay and bisexual communities. We campaign for a fair and equal society where all lesbian, gay and bisexual people can achieve their full potential, and our mission is: ‘Ending Homophobia, Empowering People.’ For more information, visit:www.lgf.org.uk, or call 0845 3 30 30 30.
About TransForum Manchester
TransForum is a mutual peer support forum and discussion group for all Trans* and Gender Diverse people, including those in any way questioning their gender, together with their partners, family and friends. It provides Trans* awareness and Equality Training and meets monthly at the LGF on the 4th Saturday afternoon from 3.30-7.00pm. For more information, please visit: www.transforum.org.uk
MORF is Manchester’s trans masculine peer-support group. Meetings are held on the 4thMonday of the month, 7pm-9pm, at the LGF. For further information, please firstname.lastname@example.org
Who are trans* people?
Trans* is an umbrella and inclusive term used to describe the whole range of people whose own gender identity and/or gender expression differs in some way from the gender assumptions made about them at birth and from the consequent biological sex assigned to them. This applies not only to those who identify as transgender or intersex but to anyone who feels that the gender assigned to them at birth incompletely or does not at all describe their own innate gender identity. (Trans* includes but is not limited to: Transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, non-binary, gender-fluid, gender nonconforming, intersex, third gender, twin spirited, transvestite, cross-dresser, bi-gender, trans man, trans women, agender, gender independent, and non-gender, as well as other non-binary identities).
For more information please contact –
The Lesbian & Gay Foundation
0845 3 30 30 30