Initiative to stand together against transgender discrimination in Northamptonshire to launch next month
A new initiative is being set up to encourage schools and authorities in Northamptonshire to develop positive links with transgender service users.
Léne Ballantyne, whose daughter came out as transgender aged 24, set up QTiP (Queer Trans Inclusion Partnership) in a bid to see trans people create positive links with authorities in the county so they can help to shape policies.
The main objective of the group is to improve and increase the life chances of trans people in the county. They aim to be proactive in creating safe, trans inclusive spaces where a trans person will be supported should they be discriminated against, or threatened.
Léne, who has welcomed Northamptonshire Police, Northampton Borough Council, Northamptonshire County Council, Northamptonshire Rights and Equality Council, and Wellingborough African Caribbean Association as QTiP supporters, is hoping to get more stakeholders to come forward and back the initiative before the official launch on November 24.
She said: "Trans people are significantly more likely to become homeless, be estranged from families, especially if there is a religious or cultural clash. The suicide rate among trans people is phenomenally high.
"My child is doing well now, I would like to do something positive for the trans community and my point is that it is not a trans problem it's a cis problem (cis people are those whose gender identity is consistent with the gender they were assigned at birth). So cis people need to get together and fix it.
"There are not enough trans people represented in the powers that be to change policy. So what I would like to see is for trans people coming forward and informing what agencies should do, so have some sort of say in what the police is doing and the county council, education and the university. Trans people need to be involved, and have a say on issues that affect them. The negative impact that arises when services are not inclusive is unacceptable."
QTiP is also aiming to set up focus group of trans people who will consider how the policies - from different sectors - affect them and what obstacles they have faced and what authorities could do to overcome them, before presenting them to the stakeholders group.
Léne has experienced a transphobic incident twice in the last month and also wants to raise awareness of what transphobia is.
She said: "I was sitting in a bar with two friends, three of us, all women, one of us was trans. Somebody came up, deliberately, made their way over to us and said 'excuse me love, are you a bloke?' and refused to leave us alone, and persisted with his transphobic remarks, and grabbed her arm.
"How is that okay? It's not. We are sitting there minding our own business having a lovely time, we all have our lippy on, we all have our nice clothes on and we are relaxing after a hard week at work... and how do you deal with that?
"I can tell you how I dealt with it and how my friend dealt with it, we reported it to the police as a trans hate crime and by letting that institution know that that happened on their premises and they have a duty of care to not tolerate hate crime. My cis privilege means that I don't have to worry about trans hate or harassment when I go out, when I go for a drink etc. It upsets me that this is not a one off occurrence for my friend or my daughter. It's often dismissed as ‘banter’ but it's hurtful and often intimidating".
The QTCafe - part of the trans peoples forum - meets every forth Saturday of the month, it is intended as a safe space in which anyone who identifies as queer, trans or non-binary gender can meet up.