The Independent on Sunday's Pink List 2013 celebrates 101 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people 'that make a difference'. There are more trans people on the list than ever before and I agree with Paris Lees, who takes the number one spot, saying
"Don't let anybody tell you that recognition doesn't matter. Obviously this is hugely invigorating to me personally, but I think it's even more valuable in terms of what it means for the trans community and raising awareness."
Raising awareness is a slow and methodical process though.
Many of the members of the Gendered Intelligence youth group claim that they were bullied throughout much of their school years. The worst thing is that nothing was done about it or worse that they were made to feel that it was something that they brought on themselves.
What is gender related bullying? Gender related bullying includes:
· Sneering, sniggering and ribbing people when a person doesn't conform to a conventional or stereotypical version of what you think it means to be a boy or a girl.
· Spitting, kicking, punching people who might appear to you to be feminine and male bodied, or masculine and female bodied.
· Shouting horrible things about a person's genitalia and other personal and intimate aspects of life and bodies.
· Giving someone the silent treatment and colluding with others to collectively ignore or ostracise a person.
· Undermining people's ideas and aspirations of what they want to achieve in life simply because of your idea of what men and women should do and be.
· Standing on the side lines and being silent whilst you watch it happen.
ALL OF THESE THINGS HAVE HAPPENED TO OUR YOUNG MEMBERS AT GENDERED INTELLIGENCE.
We know this because they tell us. Quite regularly actually.
Bullying can take many forms and when young trans people tell us that they feel consistently frightened and anxious about what their fellow students and teacher might say or do we know there is more work to be done.
Stop Our Silence (SOS) is a sponsored silence fundraising campaign run by Gendered Intelligence to raise money and awareness around the bullying and mistreatment that so many of our young transgender people face day to day in schools, colleges, and universities around the country.
Don't get us wrong - there are lots of educational institutes doing their utmost to ensure that transgender and gender variant people feel safe to learn. At Gendered Intelligence we know this because we regularly work with them, coming together to ensure they can support their pupils who are coming out as trans or gender queer, undergoing their transition or disclosing their trans or gender queer status.
But quite frankly we need to do more. Lots more.
Gendered Intelligence promise to tackle gender related bullying by:
· Empowering young trans people so that they can feel confident to address bullying through the appropriate means
· Educating young people in schools, colleges, universities and other youth settings about what it means to be trans and about gender diversity more broadly
· Support the professionals that are in place to ensure that they are providing an education that is safe for trans people and for people who do not adhere to gender norms.
· Involve ourselves in networks and policy work to impact change for the long term.
We are setting up a 24 hour sponsored silence as part of Anti-bullying week in November 2013. People taking part will stay quiet for 1 whole day. It's just one way to make people more aware of some of the issues that trans young people can face in school, college or University and to slowly and methodically contribute to a culture shift away from gender related bullying.