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WWL Hosts Second Largest NHS Transgender Equality Event

Newsdate: 25 February 2016Transgender Equality Event

Aiming to educate and promote awareness of trans issues, the NHS Trans Master Class was held at Wigan Infirmary on Tuesday 23 February. The hugely successful event was the second largest of its kind to be hosted by an NHS organisation.

The event was organised in partnership by WWL, 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (5BP) and Wigan Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). It included talks from a whole host of people from different organisations. These included; WWL, 5BP, Wigan Borough Council, Action for Trans Health and WipeOut Transphobia. It took place in the lecture theatre of our Education Centre.

One of the main themes of the whole day was that care should be provided equally, regardless of a patient’s circumstances. It also proved to be highly educational on issues regarding trans people, such as how misleading the term “trans” can be, given that there are 9 separate definitions for individual forms of transgenderism. According to statistics, there are 600,000 people living the UK who come under these 9 definitions.

It is estimated around  2,500 people in Wigan have feelings of gender variance, for example feeling you have been born in the wrong body or cross-dressing.  Around 500 of these people are estimated to access specific support from the NHS, in relation to their gender, via specialist gender identity clinics, with referral rates increasing at 20% every year. Transgender Equality Event

The event started with a talk by WWL Medical Director, Dr Umesh Prabhu, who welcomed everybody to the event. Dr Prabhu was keen to stress our values here at WWL. He stated, “Everyone matters, we are here to care for everybody.” Also included in his speech was our Trust’s zero tolerance policy regarding bullying or discriminatory behaviour. His talk served to reassure everyone, that at WWL, we provide high-quality care to all of our patients, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or race.

Tara Hewitt, Equality and Diversity Advisor for 5BP, then took over. Her entertaining speech kept the audience’s attention hooked to her every word. It involved plenty of audience participation, including a section where people were asked to explore gender stereotypes. She also asked members of the audience to define different types of trans people (such as transsexual, Drag King and Gender Queer). Although a presentation full of humour, there was a serious, important message given, that stereotypes are misleading and that discrimination is wrong. It also served to educate people on the various types of trans people.

Her presentation also included interesting facts about trans people and the law, particularly pertaining to statutes such as the Equality Act 2010. This was hugely useful for the many NHS professionals who were gathered in the audience.

The day carried on in a similar vein with the audience thoroughly enjoying the proceedings. Those who spoke at the event were clear about the importance of the message being delivered and also how vital it was to educate people on the issues.

Jess Bradley, representing Actions for Trans Health, said, “My organisation represents trans people who do a lot of work around health for trans people. I think it is really heartening to see the NHS taking seriously the issues in trans health and taking steps to improve the competency of the people involved in providing care.”

Wigan Borough Council was also represented. Cllr Jo Platt (Astley and Mosley Common) is a council cabinet member with the Children and Young People Portfolio. She was full of praise for the event. She said, “I think it’s absolutely fantastic. Days like today are essential for how we build awareness and education into child services, so we can have a positive and inclusive Borough.”

Event organiser, Tara Hewitt, said. “Transgender people face major health inequalities.  Bringing health professionals and the trans community together will help to improve the cultural competency of our staff so we can begin to reduce these inequalities.  It will also show the NHS is committed to providing high quality care for all regardless of which community you may be from or individual needs you may have”.

Organising things from a WWL point of view were Inclusion and Diversity Leads, Debbie Jones and Philip Makin. They said, “We were delighted to be given this opportunity to host this event and raise awareness about trans equality. Whether you are male, female or any other gender identity, you should be given the same opportunities, access to health care and employment, as everyone else.”