I can’t get Ian Dury and the Blockhead’s song “Reasons to Be Cheerful” out of my head when I reflect on Jessica Lynn talking about her lived experience of being transgender in America at the recent Transgender Lives and Higher Education CPD day, organised by Dr Catherine Butler. We are a similar age and both born in England but at an early age Jessica and her family moved to America. My UK experience has been monochrome whilst Jessica’s has been in vivid colour.
We complain about the NHS in this country, and the waiting lists at Gender Identity Clinics is scandalous, but compared with the litigious and expensive US where the religious right also exert a disproportionate influence and the cost of basic healthcare is astronomical we have a lot to be grateful for.
That’s not to understate though the incidents of self-harm and suicidal thoughts that Dr Sam Martin talked about in their excellent presentation (which included a new acronym to some – TERF – or trans-exclusionary radical feminists). The work of Sam and others is providing a greater depth of understanding and online support that is really encouraging compared with the dark ages of the previous century. This needs to translate into improved clinical support and understanding however, and this includes universities too in terms of how they support and engage with their students, and Dr Stephanie McKendry built on this in the afternoon session (unfortunately I had to leave early).
There is much more to be done – such a waste of talent at an individual and organisational level and the human cost is enormous (“What a Waste” to reference another Ian Dury song).
The University of Bath and Dr Catherine Butler (Deputy Head of the Department of Psychology) should be applauded for organising this event. It was great to see such a diverse range of people from across the University too with a personal or professional interest in this topic. Thanks to the Global Citizenship Programme, Students Services and the University Equality Diversity & Inclusion Team. I look forward to the next one!
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