Hi, I’m Alexus, and I’m the Trans Wellbeing Support Worker at Birmingham LGBT Centre. Today, I want to talk a bit about what Trans Day of Visibility (TDoV), and what it means to me personally.

TDoV is an annual international event on the 31 March which is dedicated to celebrating trans people and raising awareness of discrimination faced by trans people worldwide. It is also a celebration of our contributions to society.

The first event took place on 31 March 2009, and is a counterpoint to Trans Day of Remembrance (TDoR), which mourns those trans people whose lives have been taken by acts of violence and murder. In 2009, TDoR was the only well-known trans-centred day, and there was no similar day set aside to acknowledge and celebrate living members of the trans community.

I find TDoR to be very emotionally draining and difficult to deal with, and I’m sure that I am not the only one to feel like that. It is a sombre day, an important day, but we also need to be joyful and celebrate our lives. We need to do this because as TDoR shows us, the world can be a dark and dangerous place, and we need some light to pierce that darkness.

Now, you may think that trans people are visible, after all it sometimes seems that we are always on the telly or in the newspapers, and trans-related articles seem all the rage these days. Some are good but to me it often feels as if our lives are being discussed and debated as if we are interesting specimens, and that is not a good feeling to have.

As a community we do have a fairly high profile, and I think that is generally a good thing. It does, or should, raise awareness which hopefully then dispels ignorance and in turn creates acceptance and understanding. Which is all anyone wants.

TDoV is important as I do think it may help that process. But…

We are individuals who sometimes face our daily lives in a climate of fear and what ifs; what if someone shouts at me, what if I’m misgendered, what if, what if? Embracing visibility is not always something that we may feel comfortable in doing, and if you wonder why, then remember what TDoR is there for.

Does that mean we should ignore TDoV? Emphatically not. I believe it is important that we celebrate our lives, celebrate what we do and who we are. We need to know that we matter, not just as a set of grim statistics but as people who live, love, laugh and cry.

So, be joyous and shine that light into the darkness.

Thanks for reading.

Birmingham LGBT has signed up to this statement.

For a full list of signatories, visit https://www.consortium.lgbt/2021/02/18/census-consenus-statement/

The England and Wales Census 2021- taking place on 21st March- will ask voluntary questions about your sexual orientation and trans status for the first time. This is a huge step forwards and has come about in part due to tireless campaigning from LGBT organisations and individuals. The inclusion of these questions represents a rare and valuable opportunity to ensure that LGBT communities are counted, which could have a significant impact on future support and recognition from Government and public bodies and services.

As this year’s Census fast approaches, we are calling on LGBT people across England and Wales to answer these important questions.

Currently, there are no robust figures on the number of LGBT people in England and Wales, and existing estimates vary greatly depending on the source. There is also a lack of data on inequalities faced by LGBT people in our nations. As a result, LGBT people’s experiences, and the inequalities affecting our communities, are often not truly recognised by Government and public bodies and services – and LGBT people are missing out as a result. A lack of data makes it harder to recognise and respond to the needs of LGBT communities, and makes it easier to downplay persistent LGBT inequalities.

The data collected through the Census will play an important role in addressing this gap. It will be of particular use to the LGBT sector as we demonstrate the need for national and local Government to increase investment into LGBT-specific support. In the past, Census data on age, ethnicity and a range of other characteristics has been key to evidencing a need for action, and we believe the same is true when it comes to tackling barriers faced by LGBT people.

We are aware that there are valid concerns around privacy and how your personal data is going to be used. We agree that privacy and data protection is of paramount importance and we can reassure our communities that your data will be kept safe and will not be misused. We will work closely with the ONS to ensure they make it clear how this personal data will be protected.

There are robust measures in place to ensure Census data is protected. It is a crime to share personal census information unless required or permitted by law. Laws in place that cover protection of your data include the Data Protection Act 2018, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Census Act 1920 and Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007. Personal data collected is owned by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and personal Census data is not shared with any other Government departments, local councils or marketing agencies. Census data is kept confidential and no individual or their responses can be identified in the statistics that are published. Answers on the online questionnaire are protected during entry and passed into ONS systems through a secure transfer mechanism.  Within ONS systems the information is stored within a highly protected area with limited access and sophisticated monitoring to detect suspicious activity.

By answering the sexual orientation and trans status questions, collectively as a community we can play a vital role in ensuring the potential of the Census to improve the lives of LGBT people – and the services provided to us.

So, you may well ask – Alexus, what on earth is Trans Day of Remembrance, and why should we care about it? Good question, glad you asked it.

A bit of history then. Trans Day of Remembrance, or TDoR was started in 1999 by trans advocate Gwendolyne Ann Smith, as a vigil to honour the memory of Rita Hester, a trans woman who was killed in 1998. This initial vigil began an important tradition that has become the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance and commemorates and remembers the trans people lost to violence.

As to why you should care…..

I’ve attached a link to a list of trans people who have lost their lives since 1 October 2019.


I hope that you will see how important this day is to the trans community, and will feel love, compassion and empathy for your fellow human beings.

I would also like to talk in general terms about other issues that are currently affecting trans people, and I think ties in with the overall theme of TDoR.

As a trans person and particularly a trans woman, I feel that my identity, my life, is constantly being questioned, examined and debated. I’m pretty thick skinned but I have never felt so attacked, whether it is via the media or online by individuals and groups. The atmosphere is becoming increasingly toxic, the ‘debate’ more and more heated. It’s all quite depressing at times to be honest.

Should this be concerning to you if you are not trans? Well, putting aside your empathy and compassion, what if someone in your family is struggling with their gender identity and is too scared to speak to someone? What if a friend or loved one is trans and facing abuse on a daily basis, with the knock on negative effect on their general wellbeing?

Where there is a real or perceived hostile atmosphere, no one, let alone a trans person, would feel comfortable or safe. And no one at all wants to live their life feeling like that.

Finally, if you are trans or non-binary and want support or someone to talk to, then please email me at alexussavage@blgbt.org or phone 0121 643 0821.

Thanks for taking the time to read.

Alexus Savage, Trans Wellbeing Support Worker

On Tuesday, the Government announced its response to the 2018 consultation regarding the Gender Recognition Act (https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-statements/detail/2020-09-22/hcws462); and, whilst not surprising, it is extremely disappointing for transgender people, non-binary people, and the wider LGBT community.

Birmingham LGBT do not accept the Government’s position “that the balance struck in the legislation is ‘correct’ with ‘proper checks and balances in the system’ for those who want to change their legal sex”.

The consultation on the reform of the Gender Recognition Act in 2018 received over 100,000 responses; the vast majority of people who responded to the consultation supported the proposed changes. The announcement fails to take into account the views expressed in the consultation responses, and as a result the experiences of trans and non-binary people, their family and friends,  and everyone else that feels the current system is intrusive, dehumanising and bureaucratic, have been marginalised: that they supported it being replaced by a quicker and de-medicalised process.

The two actions the Government have announced (reduction in fees and online application process), whilst welcomed, are only a small step in the right direction; and are far from the true reform that trans and non-binary people need. Birmingham LGBT does not accept the Government’s reason for not reforming the Gender Recognition Act because it’s not the “top priority” of transgender people and feel that the Government should have gone further to allow trans and non-binary people the freedoms that make it easier for them to go about their everyday lives, and live and prosper in modern Britain.

The reference to the current state of trans healthcare being of higher priority to trans people, whilst not untrue, is a deflection from the issue at hand; its primary purpose: to seek to avoid addressing that even with the upcoming changes we will be left with a gender recognition system that is hostile and inaccessible to transgender and non-binary people.

Despite this, there is some cause for celebration. It appears that the worst has been avoided and we welcome this. Back in June, the Sunday Times leaked government plans to roll back transgender rights significantly, far beyond the scope of the Gender Recognition Act (read our response from June here: https://blgbt.org/call-to-action-protect-trans-rights/); whereby it was suggested that  measures such as barring trans people from using bathrooms that fit their gender identity were due to be introduced. As a result of the hard work and action of LGBT+ individuals, campaigns and organisations and their allies, these measures have not come to pass.

This is despite the relentless “debate” over whether trans and non-binary people should have the right to legally change their gender in a dignified and accessible manner, have access to essential services such as bathrooms or even have the right to exist, which has plagued the consultation period.

Birmingham LGBT have joined the Together campaign (https://www.consortium.lgbt/togethercampaign/), alongside other LGBT + organisations, to organise to support trans and non-binary people’s rights to safety and dignity. We stand in solidarity with the trans and non-binary community.

By our Ageing Better Network Enabler (community development worker), Maria Hughes.

Lockdown, self-isolation, shielding . . . if your job is to facilitate bringing people aged 50 and over together in social groups, to combat social isolation, a global pandemic can severely hamper your efforts.

Research has shown that being socially isolated and lonely lead to poorer health in the long-term, yet physical isolation has been necessary to prevent the spread of Covid-19, to protect the health of older, vulnerable people, in the here-and-now.

Figuring a way out of this ‘Catch 22’ has been the focus of the Ageing Better in Birmingham* programme since April, the start of the programme’s final year. I have been working alongside other partners to find out how community groups are coping and what they are doing to keep going and maintain contact with their members. I’ve heard ideas from across the other four ‘Hubs’ of Ageing Better – Tyburn Hub, Sparkbrook Hub, City-wide Hub and Carers’ Hub – and I’ve been in contact with the community groups that our LGBT Hub has been working with to learn what they’ve achieved and what I can do to give further support.

It has been really encouraging to see the efforts LGBT organisers and group members have been making to keep in touch, take care of each other and organise activities that are safe to run. Many groups have gone online, holding social and discussion meetings, playing games and sharing creative ideas. Others have kept in touch by phone and social media apps, not just to socialise but to ensure members have their needs for supplies and medicines are being met. A different kind of resilience is coming to the fore, and even when groups can meet again in person (albeit in a socially-distanced way), the initiatives they have put into place will ensure that members who are unable to join in person can still participate and feel very much part of a group.

I am very grateful for all of the LGBT group organisers and members who have taken time to talk to me about the difficulties they are facing, so that I can work with Ageing Better to adapt our support options. We are still learning as we go, and now it’s possible for small, socially-distanced groups to meet in person, we will continue to learn how this is being put into place and sharing what we’ve learned with community groups across Birmingham. Some groups are keen to continue to connect virtually with members who can’t attend in-person activities for whatever reason, seeing this as a positive option to offer, not just a quick fix for the way things are now. There are aspirations to connect with other groups across the country, from peer-support for people living with HIV, to tips for dog owners, via online Dungeons & Dragons, connecting LGBT+ people of all ages.

I’ve found the ingenuity and caring of the LGBT+ communities – the ability and drive to make ‘something out of nothing’ – very rewarding during my time working on this programme, and it’s been particularly uplifting for me during our current situation. Self-run community groups are vital to the wellbeing of LGBT+ people, and I’m proud to have played a part in keeping them sustained and connected.

If you want to find out more about LGBT community groups and their activities, contact Maria via email: mariahughes@blgbt.org, and visit our Events calendar: https://blgbt.org/events/.


*one of 14 programmes across England, funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, to reduce social isolation and loneliness in adults aged 50 and over, through community-based activity.