Celebrating Transgender Awareness Week

This week we are celebrating Transgender Awareness Week, running from 13-19th November each year. The week is focused on highlighting both the progress and the unfinished work in the fight for transgender and non-binary equality. It leads up to Transgender Day of Remembrance on the 20th November, when we commemorate victims of transphobic violence.

The aim of Transgender Awareness Week is to educate the wider community about transgender and gender non-conforming people. Alongside the issues associated with their transition and/or identity. Here at Healthwatch Essex our latest research project aims to do just that!

We are looking to understand the lived experiences of people who are seeking or have sought support from a gender identity clinic, and how they have experienced the extended waiting times. It is shocking that people wait around 5 years or more to access gender affirming care in the UK. This is despite the NHS Constitution which sets out that patients should wait no longer than 18 weeks from GP referral to treatment. This prolonged wait can affect people’s mental health and lead to feelings of distress and helplessness.

Through this project, we are asking members of the trans community to share with us their experiences of waiting via an online survey and a photovoice activity. Photovoice empowers participants to tell their story through photography and personal narratives. The imaginative approach gives participants the freedom to be creative with their story telling.

A critical part of photovoice research is to raise public awareness and influence policymakers (Wang and Burris, 1994). We hope that by working with trans people we can amplify their voice to raise awareness of these issues and innovatively message the public and policymakers (Rynes et al., 2001).

As an ally to the transgender community, it is important to help change the culture, making society a better, safer place for transgender people and for all people. So, this week, take the opportunity to learn more about the diversity of trans people’s experiences, using people’s correct pronouns, and how to show your support to the trans community. Please do come back on Monday to read our blog commemorating Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Sarah Krauze (Research Associate)