‘Hey presto world, I have my vagina, let the pleasure begin.’

There is currently a lack of practical information and advice available for trans women (and trans men) who have undergone realignment surgery. In this extract from ‘Queer Sex,’ Juno Roche reflects on how she felt, emotionally and physically, after her realignment surgery, and how the after-care involved affected her relationship with her new ‘neo-vagina.’ 

When I had my realignment surgery, I sat back and somehow expected my vagina to do all the talking, all the walking, all the work and all of the flirting. I imagined, ‘Hey presto world, I have my vagina, let the pleasure begin.’ I naïvely thought that somehow my sexuality, my desire and my pleasure would be located in my neo-vagina, my vagina rather wonderfully fashioned from the bits and pieces I was keen to let go of – my penis flesh now made sense. I imagined that my new vagina would have an inbuilt sense of self and purpose, like a microchip embedded just under sensual skin. I genuinely believed that after surgery, after the healing, there would be no more work to do. Surely my neo-vagina would take over from there on and do her stuff.

Of course it didn’t happen like that. It’s just flesh, penis and scrotum refashioned – different tissues sewn together to create a rather beautiful neo-vagina that resembles a cis vagina, but actually it works entirely differently. My vagina is crafted from penile and scrotal skin but has entirely different qualities and drawbacks than a cis-vagina. It is beautiful and it feels unique but it never came with a handbook or a set of illustrated and labelled diagrams. Its construction confused me. I felt like ‘badly prepared trans woman’.

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Why Gender Diversity in Children’s Books Matters

Gender diverse children's booksAlice Reeves and Phoebe Kirk discuss the importance of gender diverse children’s books as a way of helping them to understand that expressing our gender identity in whatever way we choose doesn’t have to be a problem in today’s society.  They are the authors of The Truth and Tails series, which aims to eliminate prejudices and encourage inclusion in young children aged 4-8.

When we’ve shared posts about our children’s book Vincent the Vixen on social media, a question we’ve been asked a few times is: “Hang on, isn’t a Vixen a female fox?”

We wanted the title of the book to spark intrigue, and give a small insight into its theme, and it’s been interesting to see that some people are more likely to assume that we’ve made a mistake than that we’re writing a book about a character that isn’t cisgender. Continue reading

“Being a transgender professional gives me a very unique insight into issues that young people face.” Talking to trans youth worker, Matt Waites

There is currently a lack of information available regarding the specific needs of young transgender men, and the barriers that they face. This can lead to professionals having to give generic advice, which may not be appropriate for the situation. Written to address this shortfall, Matt Waites’ new book provides professionals with the guidance they need to effectively and supportively work with young transgender men. We spoke to him about his reasons for writing it. 

 

 

 

What led you to start writing Supporting Young Transgender Men?

Through my personal experience of being trans and my professional experience of working with young people, I found that there was a huge gap in knowledge and understanding in terms of processes of transition and issues that trans men face, due to a lack of specialised training and availability of information. I conducted some research which found 50% of professionals surveyed felt they did not have enough knowledge or confidence to support a transgender young man through their transition. Frontline professionals are best placed to serve the transgender community because the social and medical transition processes are not holistic in practice. There is a lack of available support for trans people in general, therefore by ensuring that frontline professionals in a variety of sectors have access to the right knowledge and information, they can improve outcomes for transgender men, reduce suicide rates and ensure that trans men are given quality support when they need it the most. These issues led me to write Supporting Young Transgender men because it is an area that I feel very passionate about. If professionals have the right knowledge when supporting their service users, young people will be more like to be able to reach their full potential.

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LGBT+ inclusive lesson plans for secondary school teachers

Draw on youth culture to encourage participation in positive social change

Educate & Celebrate engages with accessible youth currencies to stimulate the link between LGBT+ people and popular culture using book collections, YouTube links, videos
and songs. Lesson plans draw on teenagers’ sense of justice, giving opportunities for student critique of current political and social issues and empowering them to create ‘a society which reacts angrily to any case of injustice and promptly sets about correcting it.’ Our intention is to give permission for our young people to join us on the journey to institutional change where recognition of discrimination through the protected characteristics is encouraged.

Some of the secondary schools we have worked with introduced and enhanced their Educate & Celebrate programme of curriculum with key moments in the school calendar, including:
• year group assemblies
• visiting speakers
• impact days focusing on equalities
• in the library, the schools provided LGBT+ inclusive literature – both fact and fiction – and highlighted these with a display at key points on the calendar such as Anti- Bullying Week and LGBT History Month.

LGBT+ lesson plans

(Full plans and resources are available on the Educate & Celebrate website)

Key Stage 3 French – Name the colours on the Rainbow Pride Flag and talk about what they mean: red for life, orange for healing, yellow for the sun, green for nature, turquoise blue for art, indigo for harmony and violet for spirit. Listen to the song ‘Ziggy’ by Celine Dion. This is about a heterosexual woman who is in love with a gay man. See how many words you can catch and translate. Analyse the text to understand the words used to describe Ziggy and how her friendship with him is different.

Key Stage 4 ICT – To understand the concept of the binary system in computing, discuss the meaning of ‘binary’ in different contexts, understanding that human gender is not binary. Students can learn to add eight binary numbers and be able to explain the words that describe different genders.

Key Stage 5 PE – Look at the golden triangle of success in professional sports – sport, media and sponsorship – and discuss how this idea of success might be implemented in the case of an LGBT+ footballer.

For more activities for secondary school teachers, check out  How to Transform Your School into an LGBT+ Friendly Place by Dr Elly Barnes MBE and Dr Anna Carlile. 

Follow this link for more LGBT+ inclusive books for use in the classroom. 

Follow us on Facebook @JKPGenderDiversity and Twitter @JKPBooks for more exclusive content from our LGBT books and authors. 

How can primary school teachers make their schools feel LGBT+ friendly?

The importance of an inclusive environment

Your aim is to increase the visibility of LGBT+ people, issues and equality by utilising the all-powerful, accessible tool of the physical environment. In this way, you can make information widely available to all stakeholders (staff, governors, pupils and parents) to stimulate conversation.

Considering the environment enables the process of change to flow into the corridors, classrooms, reception areas, school hall, staffroom, social media and publicity. Your plan is to make the entire physical environment a safe space through visible displays and key words in prominent areas and teaching spaces, for everyone to experience.

How to make your environment LGBT+ friendly

  • Decide on a key message, like ‘We Educate and Celebrate!’
  • Link displays to your curriculum
  • Get the children and young people to participate in choosing and creating display content
  • Don’t forget the internet as well as your school’s physical walls
  • Make a real impact on visitors and potential families in your institution’s reception area

3 examples that primary school teachers can implement

1. A positive poster in the reception area affirming LGBT+ identities can make a huge difference to the confidence, productivity and self-esteem of a parent or staff member.

2. A primary school in a rural area in the north of England has an electronic message on the digital signing-in station in the reception area, stating: ‘Our school welcomes everyone from all walks of life. Everyone must welcome and celebrate others in our school.’ The visitor then has the choice to ‘accept’ or ‘not accept’. If they do not accept, then they cannot gain access to the school. Each visitor who accepts then receives a printed lanyard with an equality statement mounted on a rainbow background. The theme continues on the wall, with a flag display representing all the different nationalities of students, with a Rainbow Flag among them showing an intersectional approach to the school’s equality agenda.

3. Don’t forget how uniform and uniform policies can impact on your school environment. A gender-neutral uniform can really send a message out about how all children, regardless of the gender roles imposed on them, have the right to express their gender as they need to.

For more activities for primary school teachers, check out  How to Transform Your School into an LGBT+ Friendly Place by Dr Elly Barnes MBE and Dr Anna Carlile. 

Follow this link for more LGBT+ inclusive books for use in the classroom. 

Follow us on Facebook @JKPGenderDiversity and Twitter @JKPBooks for more exclusive content from our LGBT books and authors. 

How to make your nursery gender neutral: activities for early years teachers

How can you develop an LGBT+ inclusive curriculum at the early years phase?

What are we saying to our children and young people through our curriculum? What messages are they receiving through what we teach and the activities we provide?

Once you start to notice the discrepancy between your curriculum and the diversity of the real world, you won’t be able to stop! For example, in your nursery, do you set up the table of cars and trucks with the boys in mind?

Our research shows that the roots of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are deeply fixed within perceptions of gender. For example, being a lesbian means falling outside the social expectations of what it means to be female; or having a gay dad can mean a child experiences bullying because their family does not fit the usual gender roles people expect. If all the stories in your book corner show children with a mum and a dad, those who live with a grandparent, foster carer, or LGBT+ parented family might feel that their family is not important. Children put in this position can find themselves unhappy because they or their families don’t fit within expected gender roles.

Here are some gender-neutral activities that nursery school teachers can employ to develop an LGBT+ inclusive curriculum at the early years phase.

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‘My LGBT history’ – Sabrina Symington’s queerstory turning point

Sabrina Symington reflects on her LGBT history, and shares a pivotal moment in her past that influenced the way she lives her life now.

The turning point in my own Queerstory happened back when I used to teach martial arts professionally – something I experienced both in my old life, and after I transitioned.

In my old life, there was a kid among my students who was exploring their gender. Nothing revolutionary – just a change of name and attitude. Dealing with a case of “the genders” myself, I supported them every chance I could, and we became friends.

When I left that job to live and work in Thailand, my young friend cried and said “Why do you have to go away? You’re the best teacher here!”

While I was away, I somewhat unexpectedly began my own gender exploration and started transitioning to be my true self. Over there I could change myself in a state of safety, anonymity. Tucked away from the world I knew and that knew [old] me, and returning home unrecognizable to those who knew me before.

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Tackling homophobia in school? You need to start with your own language

Former teacher Jonathan Charlesworth explains how our confidence to provide support to someone ‘coming out’ or to stop, then prevent, homophobic name-calling or bullying all starts with having self-assurance about the words we use.

If you’re a school teacher, college tutor or university lecturer eager to support your pupils or students regarding sexual orientation matters, and keen to challenge homophobia or biphobia, may I suggest the best place to start is with vocabulary. I’ve worked for over thirty years in Education: as a teacher and successively as the Executive Director of Educational Action Challenging Homophobia. EACH was established to affirm LGBT+ people and help employers and institutions meet their legal and social responsibilities regarding homophobic, biphobic or transphobic bullying or harassment through training, consultancy and resources.

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Why is LGBT+ teacher training so important?

Dr Elly Barnes MBE is CEO and Founder of Educate & Celebrate, a leading charity who work with schools to transform them into being LGBT+ inclusive. She was voted #1 in The Independent on Sunday’s Rainbow List 2011. 

Who would like to live in a world where we are all treated equally and fairly?… Then let’s begin our journey to LGBT+Inclusion…

As teachers, we all have enough to do on a daily basis in our school already without adding in yet another initiative….which is exactly why at Educate & Celebrate we do not advocate that you write more lesson plans, but simply employ strategies that make LGBT+Inclusivity part of the fabric of school life.

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