Bards and Books a very friendly and sociable LGBTQ+ book group which meets on the first Monday of each month (apart from when this falls on a Bank Holiday in which case it moves to the second Monday). We meet from 11am to 1pm in a venue centrally located in Birmingham. There is the option to continue on to a group lunch after the meeting.
After managing, by using monthly Zooms, to keep Bards and Books going throughout the pandemic, we are now trying to return to face-to-face meetings. Some members still feel unable to meet in person and several have got new jobs. Therefore we are in the position of being able to offer new membership to anyone who would like to join us.
The group overall is in the 50+ age group although we do have younger members. There are more men than women and we would particularly welcome more women and people of colour.
Each meeting discusses a different book before broadening out to discuss wider issues of LGBTQ+ interest. Books chosen are by LGBTQ+ writers and/or contain LGBTQ+ themes. They cover a wide range of genres. The book choices are made by majority consensus from regularly updated lists compiled by members. A copy of our ongoing book choices since the group started in 2013 is available on request.
You are welcome to attend one of our meetings to see if Bards and Books is what you are looking for. Some of us have been members for nearly nine years and therefore have discussed around 100 books and are still coming back for more!
We also have a Podcasting project, and we’re looking for volunteers to assist with developing our website, so we can host our podcasts. You can hear some of our previous podcasts if you join our Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/686567058989271.
Please contact Mary Dunne at email@example.com if you are interested and would like further details.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0121 643 0821.
Thanks for taking the time to read.
Alexus Savage, Trans Wellbeing Support Worker