Deaf LGBTIQA+ Consultation 2019/20

This is the shorter summary of the Deaf LGBTIQA+ Consultation 2019/20 into the needs and wants of deaf people who identify themselves on the LGBTIQA+ spectrum. 

For the full copy of the consultation report, you can download a PDF via this link here.

Whilst the data received gives a good insight about the needs and wants, there is a lot more to know and understand. More research and sophisticated approaches will be needed and recommendations are given for each question. 

If you have any questions please email us hello@deaflgbtiqa.org.uk. 

If you would like to make a donation to the work we do, please use the PayPal donation button below.

Thank you

Demographics

· 186 people took part which is about 27% of the number who are on the Facebook group Deaf LGBT 

· England 143; Scotland 13; Wales, 16; Northern Ireland 13 

· 44 attended focus groups in 6 regions of England to discuss 5 of the questions in person. 

· 94 identified as Gay, 42 Lesbian, 19 Bisexual, 7 Transgender, 7 Queer, 6 Pansexual 

· Age; the largest response were from those aged 30-50yr; 105 from the total. 

Recommendations 

a. To reach more people from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.1 

b. To reach more young Deaf people. 

c. To reach more deaf people who are BAME. 

d. To reach more people with Additional Needs. 

e. To remember to ask about sexual orientation and gender identity separately in future research.

Q2 Mental Health

· Although only asked about their mental health on the day of their response, it was concerning to note that approximately 38% were in low scores; said they were not doing well with their mental health. 

Recommendations 

a. Deeper research is carried out to compare mental health prevalence rates in Deaf LGBTIQA+ people. 

b. To look at interventions and whether more can be done with expertise from mainstream LGBT+ sector, or wider Deaf LGBT+. 

c. Deaf LGBTIQA+ main website to have more links to initiatives around mental health for Deaf people. 

d. Deaf LGBTIQA+ to consider approaching organisations like Signhealth with projects that have a mental health incentive for future developments.

Q3 and 4 – Sexual health

· A range of places are attended by deaf LGBTIQA+ people for sexual health; GUM clinics, GPs, STI clinics, local hospital, local service (individual names given). Individual answers were given elsewhere. 

· Some did think they could improve their sexual health, but the majority did not. For those who did say yes, reasons tended to be either the need for BSL information resources; access to interpreters; trust issues with interpreters; and needing to change sexual behaviour. 

Recommendations 

a. We must note that we do not know enough about the experiences of young people and that more engagement is needed here. 

b. It would be good to learn and share good practice, the views from our North West focus group suggests that Manchester has it good. It is worth looking into this location further whilst taking caution that small voluntary focus groups do not represent the whole. c. To work with ASLI – the Association of Sign Language Interpreters to look and identify best practice around interpreters in the field of LGBTIQA+ sexual health. 

d. To widely champion the need for accessible resources – BSL videos and plain English came up several times.

Q5 – Having seen a Dr/Nurse

· A number have seen someone about sexual health or reproduction issues 

· For those who said yes they had, they reported this as either being because of an incident, responsibility, routine. 

· For those who said no, reasons were either safe sex used, committed relationship, having no need, abstinence of sex 

Recommendations 

a. To work with sexual health providers to develop further insight about their services, especially in the devolved countries. 

b. To work with reproductive health providers to look further into the experiences of Deaf LGBTIQA+ people about their services, especially in the devolved countries (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). 

c. To consider whether sexual health and reproductive health ought to be kept separate in future research 

d. To champion the positive experiences of services that some respondents have shared e.g. responsible sexual health. 

e. To develop and benchmark what accessible services mean

Q6 Counsellor preferences

· 48% reported that they wanted to have lgbtiqa+ deaf counsellors 

· 25% reported that they wanted to have deaf counsellors 

· 15% reported they wanted to have LGBTIQA+ interpreters with a counsellor 

· 7% reported they wanted to have an interpreter with a counsellor 

· Lived experience is evidently key 

Recommendations 

a. To work with key players in the sector to share this information and assess current pathways for Deaf LGBTIQA+ people who may want to develop this career. 

b. To try and identify if there are any Deaf LGBTIQA+ counsellors in the UK. 

c. To work with key players so that Deaf LGBTIQA+ have every chance of finding Deaf LGBTIQA+ counsellors. 

d. Deaf LGBTIQA+ website to signpost people to counselling and where possible how to request Deaf LGBTIQA+ counsellors.

Q7 Identity

· 64% said they saw themselves as deaf first 

· 12% LGBTIQA first 

· Quotes from the focus groups make interesting reading 

· Intersectionality in the Deaf LGBTIQA+ population is a definite area of interest and something to always be championed in work ahead. 

Recommendations 

a. To always consider intersectionality in the wide areas of work when supporting, informing and representing deaf people who identify on the LGBTIQA+ spectrum. 

b. To consider developing in-depth research to understand intersectionality in deaf people who identify on the LGBTIQA+ spectrum further.

Q8 – Information Resources

(video coming soon)

· Diversity was a theme people picked on 

· Reaching deaf people about such resources was a key issue 

· BSL access was also a common issue. 

· A clear demand was given for co-authorship when developing new resources; nothing about us without us. 

Recommendations 

a. To create a top tips resource for information providers in the LGBTIQA+ field to use. 

b. To encourage examples of good practice in the field of information resources. 

c. Dissemination efforts should always take into consideration the needs of our audience – therefore it should be clear, simple and easy to understand. 

d. In partnership with key providers and Deaf LGBTIQA+ community members, develop funding proposals to create a range of top information resources needed.

Q9 – Representation

· 95 did not know, 72 said yes and 14 said no 

· For those who said yes, a large number of suggestions were given as to how 

· We did not get the sense that there is a large majority want for deaf lbtiqa+ to become an established and separate organisation with its own services, rather there was more of the view to work with key partners out there in the Deaf and LGBT+ sectors to look at opportunities for improvements either by making sure that their services are accessible or consider creating new employment opportunities for deaf people to work within their organisations. 

· Representation can be useful but needs careful consideration as pointed out by one respondent: 

· “Yes, but be cautious about representation as a goal, because that needs fuller uptake and shared ownership to be inclusive. Network is good because it recognises individual power and differences in influence across and within groups. …”

Recommendations 

a. To work with members of the LGBT Consortium to develop our work as an organisation further. 

b. To consider becoming an Incorporated charity, CIO Foundation but not until late 2020/21, because due to the results of the survey, we will need time to discuss and establish what our aims are first before we change the structure of the organisation. 

c. To approach key mainstream LGBT+ providers with the view of forging partnerships. 

d. To share our learning with the Deaf sector.

Q10 – The name Deaf LGBTIQA+

· Although this question could have been better structured, a large number of responses raised that the name was long and hard to spell 

· A lot was said at the focus groups which make interesting reading 

· Suggestions included 

o BSL Rainbow * 

o Rainbow Ears * 

o Rainbow hands * 

o Deaf Colourful 

o Deaf Fab 

o Deaf Now 

o Deaf Wow 

o Deaf Diversity 

o Deaf Freedom 

o Deaf LGBT 

o Deaf LGBT + 

o Deaf LGBTIQA Empower 

o Deaf Queers 

o Deafbow 

· Although Deaf Rainbow UK did seem to have more popularity, more work is needed to be done to think about this carefully. 

· Whilst we do not propose asking individual deaf LGBTIQA+ groups to change their names across the UK, we have to make it easier for people to be able to find such groups. Our website can go a long way. 

· And as one online response summaries it well, “No matter what name, can’t please everyone.” 

Recommendations 

a. To develop better synergy needed across the sector, especially with the Facebook Group Deaf LGBTQ+ UK. 

b. To carry out more work on best options for a suitable alternative name. 

c. To resolve issues for navigation for young people or people who have just come out or started to think about their sexuality.

Q11 How to get information

· Many ideas were given on how best to disseminate resources 

· Online seemed consistently a highly favoured option, especially given how deaf people live across the UK and often in small numbers in different areas. Workshops were also a strong favourite suggestion. 

· Whilst a range of ideas have been presented, they all deserve scoping out, especially in terms of costs; both in terms of resources but also staff/volunteer time to actually implement. 

Recommendations 

a. For all future possible ideas to consider both online and face to face methods. 

b. To seek funding to build much more capacity online. 

c. To share with key regional and local deaf organisations, the wants, needs and methods of Deaf LGBTIQA+ in receiving information. 

d. To capitalise/bridge on current initiatives that may be happening elsewhere; using their platforms and resources to reach people.

Q12 Information at School

· 152 individual responses were given, 34 left it blank 

· We can identify the top priorities being linked to a general desire for there to be far greater openness, reassurance that being LGBTIQA+ is fine, for sexual health education to be a priority. It was very clear from the views of older people that such a concept is needed based on their own experiences at school. 

Recommendations 

a. To work with key players in the field of deaf education. 

b. To work with young deaf people in identifying what resources are needed today and then develop funding projects to take this forward. 

c. To look at a number of mainstream resources and consider a list of those that are accessible, and hence promote these via Deaf LGBTIQA+ work.

Q13 Supporting non-British Deaf LGBTIQA+ people

· 118 responses were given to this question, 68 left it blank 

· Many of the comments, although individual, related to their own experiences and understanding of discrimination and/or intersectionality 

· Comments about equality 

· Providing support 

· Asking them specifically 

· Acknowledging privilege when it is present 

· Need for partnerships 

· Meeting them halfway 

Recommendations 

a. To seek funding opportunities to look further at intersectionality, and the experiences of Deaf non-British nationals who move to the UK to live in. 

b. To ensure greater access to Deaf LGBTIQA+ work as determined with them.

Q14 Supporting “Sam”, a mainstream 16yrs old

· We purposedly kept this fictional individual’s name non-binary and made it clear Sam was from a mainstream school to remind respondents that a majority of today’s Deaf younger generation do not go to deaf schools with an available deaf community to access after leaving school. 

· 145 responses were received, 41 left it blank 

o Contact Deaf LGBTIQA+ 

o Schools should have the remit to support Sam (specific teachers with the responsibility) 

o Diversity Role Models (a charity) should send Deaf LGBT+ role models 

o Media 

o Counselling 

o Information resources via schools with careful consideration on applicability 

o Deaf organisations 

o Local specialist LGBTQ organisations 

o Wider promotion in Events, Prides, health services, 

o Youth Sector related provision, e.g. youth clubs 

o Bespoke online services 

· Some had total empathy for Deaf individuals in mainstreamed schools and the challenges that can accompany this, other respondents had much less 

· Comments from the focus group made interesting reading 

Recommendations a. To work with Diversity Role Models and any other similar organisations to share these findings and look at project ideas to specifically reach deaf young people. 

b. To consider social media and online ways of reaching young people. c. To work with BATOD (British Association Teachers of the Deaf) and key Deaf organisations e.g. NDCS (National Deaf Children’s Society) to look at ways forward with deaf young people. 

d. As with other questions, to look at dissemination issues for young Deaf LGBTIQA+ to find support when they need it.

Q15 Where workshops ought to be

(video coming soon)

· A range of answers were given which gives a real picture of this specific population and its diversity. 

· The range of answers demonstrates a whole host of ideas but many of which will need resourcing and practical considerations. 

· It is important to be realistic but ambitious too. 

Recommendations 

a. To always consider the UK and its geographical spread. 

b. To prioritise high dense populations as long as travel/support bursaries can be offered 

c. To consider partnerships for rural/low density areas. 

d. To help organisations decide where to deliver.

Q16 Adoption and surrogacy information

· Interestingly, even though most people responded with yes, no or don’t know, comments that followed suggested that maybe not everyone understood the question clearly as both “yes” and “no” responses were followed with comments about how to improve this 

· A very strong indication was given for the need of BSL access 

· This follows next by issues around navigation to the right information resources 

Recommendations 

a. To reach out to key organisations with the responsibility around LGBT+ and adoption/surrogacy for partnership work. 

b. To further determine, with Deaf LGBTIQA+ people, what is meant by BSL access to resources, e.g. video stories, in-vision signers.

Q17 Annual Event

· 127 said yes, 21 said no, 32 did not know 

· The strong yes response is supported by numerous comments from the focus groups which make interesting reading. Ideas too. 

· We also subsequently asked respondents about youth camps and received very mixed responses. 36 didn’t know, 62 said yes and 59 said No. Ideally this question ought to have only gone to young people. 

Recommendations 

a. To take forward ideas to identified funding sources for project development proposals. 

b. To prioritise which parts of these ideas are deliverable given what resources are available or required. 

c. To consider different audience needs, but also to be realistic at times.

Q18 Specific spaces at events

· 121 said yes, 22 said no 

· Ideas of deaf specific, international specific and lgbtiqa+ specific events were given 

· Similar as found in Q15 – “Not too many events as not enough of us” – there is a desire for us to focus on high density events, a recognition that this is not a heavily-populated group. 

Recommendations 

a. To share these findings with providers of both deaf and non-deaf events. 

b. To improve dissemination issues – raised in other questions too – whereby better access and opportunities can be given to deaf people. 

c. To consider that some have families, children to accommodate, and advocate that.

Q19 Best way to receive information

· 149 said Facebook, 132 via emails, 86 by newsletter, 58 twitter and 31 by letter 

Recommendations 

a. To seek funding to invest and develop information dissemination. 

b. To approach Facebook and Twitter further strategically with funding or greater volunteer involvement.

Q20 Accessibility of LGBT+ organisations

· From 186 individual responses, including 79 blank answers, categorised responses were 

● Access via videophone (12) 

● Information given via BSL videos (12) 

● Deaf awareness needed, support and acknowledgements (12) 

● Access via text chat or email, subtitles. Plain English. Captions on stage during pride events. There is too much reliance on using the phone. (12) 

● Employ deaf people, deaf experts (10) 

● Have deaf volunteers, include deaf visibly e.g. deaf drag queens (8) 

● And others in smaller numbers 

Only one positive comment was received – 

“Tried the Switchboard’s online chat once. Was fine. Don’t know about others.” 

Recommendations 

a. To engage with key providers and encourage some kind of audit of services for deaf people. 

b. To develop a set of standards that can help providers develop their work. 

c. To consider a “Mystery Shoppers” project whereby the findings can be collated to influence needed improvements.

Northern Ireland and Scotland / Next steps

The report includes a comment about each from 2 people living there. Whilst personal and insightful, they offer some depth into the limited numbers who participated in the survey. 

Next steps 

· We are mindful that the views of 186 people and 44 via focus groups does not represent fully, the whole population. 

· All of the recommendations made will have to be discussed and prioritized, especially given the voluntary status of the committee members. 

· Following this, the training needs of the committee members and interested volunteers can be adequately established.

· All of the recommendations above ought to be used in formulating a Theory of Change model, which can then be used to determine the milestones ahead for Deaf LGBTIQA+’s forthcoming work with clear strategic priorities. 

If you enjoyed the above, you can access the full summary of the consultation online by downloading a PDF of the report via this link here.

Daniel’s point of view – the Birmingham protesters’ ban

Daniel McManus is a 35 year old deaf gay man who is outspoken on his Facebook page on what is close to his heart through personal experiences; LGBTIQA+ equality. He was mainstreamed at Dingwall Academy in Scotland and is now working in finance. He likes health and fitness, cooking, LGBTIQA+ issues (obviously!), international cinema, writing, reading, and outdoor activities.
Daniel wanted to express his opinion on the recent protests at two schools in Birmingham that has been going on for 6 months as some parents and others in the community were concerned that the equality programme that explains different types of modern families being introduced went against their religious beliefs and felt that it promoted LGBTIQA sexuality. Due to harressment against parents and staff at these schools, the council imposed a temporary no protest zone around the schools, and this was made pernament on 26th November by the Birmingham High Court as the ruling Judge Mr Justice Warby stated that the injunction “does not amount to unlawful discrimination against the protestors” and added the protesters had “misunderstood and misrepresented that is being taught at the school” and that the lessons were not promoting homosexuality”

The government has made LGBT education compulsory in the RSE curriculum in all schools as planned from September 2020, so parents will not get a veto then.

THE BIRMINGHAM ANTI-LGBT PROTESTERS SHOULD LEARN FROM SECTION 28
Repealing Section 28 in the early 2000s was one of the greatest achievements for LGBT rights. Enacted in 1988 by Margaret Thatcher, the former UK Prime Minister and the leader of the Conservative political party, the anti-gay legislation banned councils from funding any kind of publications, plays, and films, showing LGBT content while teachers weren’t allowed to teach about gay relationships in schools. One of the reasonings for such legislation, Thatcher asserted, was that “children who need to be taught to respect traditional moral values are being taught that they have an inalienable right to be gay. All of those children are being cheated of a sound start in life. Yes, cheated.”

Such was the attitude prevalent at the time simply due to ignorance, fear and bigotry. For 15 years, this had a detrimental impact on the lives of LGBT people across the country. As a teenager who was also deaf, I was struggling to comprehend what I was going through when puberty hit. Bear in mind that there was no mobile phones, no Internet or social media. All the information that the public received was through the television, radio or newspaper – the medium most inaccessible to the majority of deaf LGBT people. And the tone of this media at the time was an insidiously homophobic one against which the LGBT community was utterly powerless to fight.

In high school, my peers noticed I was ‘queer’ but I did not understand the meaning of such slur. ‘Gay’, ‘poof’ and ‘bent’ were the other terms that were so casually thrown around the classroom and clearly targeted at me, yet I had no idea what those words meant. Nobody explained them clearly to me, but I had already surmised that they had negative connotations. Despite having eventually realised that I was attracted to persons of the same sex, for the entirety of my school life I still grappled with my sexuality. I was convinced that there was something wrong with me and at one point I didn’t even want to be a ‘poof’.

The endless bullying and mockery eventually took its toll on my mental health. Yet, I was still completely in the dark about what this strange, bewildering part of me was and why it was happening to me, let alone whether there was anyone else out there who was like me. Growing up in the rural Scottish Highland town with no one to turn to for advice, I had an immense hunger for knowledge. So when I finally got a new computer and I was connected to the Internet for the first time, I was astonished by what I came across in cyberspace. The first word I wrote in the search bar was simply ‘gay’. And when the results came up I was utterly overwhelmed. I was only 15 years old.
At 16, I was forced to come out to my father after he discovered a handwritten letter from a gay deaf friend of mine while tidying up my bedroom. I was at school at the time. In the letter there was a lot of discussion about being gay. Suffice to say that my father didn’t take it well. He talked about his fear of gay people, about the dangers of AIDS and ‘queer-bashing’. For these reasons he didn’t want me to be gay. Fortunately however, in the end he eventually came round and accepted me and hugged me.
Now I’m 35 years old. Although it has been almost 20 years since Section 28 was repealed, the wounds from that painful period never really completely healed. Indeed, mental health remains a major issue in the LGBT community, even among the youths today because many teachers are still reluctant to talk about LGBT issues, either because they feel it’s inappropriate or a taboo. Because of this, I was still desperately ignorant about STIs and HIV/AIDS well into my early 20s. I once went to the sexual health clinic in a panic after kissing another man because I thought I had caught AIDS from him. I often wonder what my childhood would have been like had the schools been allowed to discuss gay relationships, whether in sex education (to be fair, even straight sex education was atrocious!) or in casual classroom conversation with any teacher. Incidentally, my guidance teacher once told me to just stop being gay because “it isn’t natural” after I had come to him for advice on how to stop the bullying. As a fully grown gay adult, it’s inevitable for these painful memories to flood back from time to time, especially when I read the news about homophobia.

So when the news arrived that a judge made the decision to permanently ban the protests held by a group of angry anti-LGBT parents outside a Birmingham school, I was elated. I was elated because it shows that Britain has come a long, long way from Section 28. The parents, mainly of Muslim faith, were demanding an end to the equality lessons at their children’s school because teaching children that LGBT people merely exist goes against their religious beliefs. They’ve spent the last 6 months tirelessly promoting hate speech by waving anti-LGBT banners, spreading deliberate misinformation and refusing to be educated about what was actually being taught at the school. Forcing the school to censor a section of society because it doesn’t fit in with their religious worldview is neither acceptable nor a right.
So these parents would do very well to reconcile their religious beliefs rationally in order to be compatible with the secular values upheld by the pluralistic society in which we all inhabit by discarding their outdated homophobic views. And understanding that the only agenda that we LGBT people have for their children is for them to be taught that respect and acceptance, not hate and bigotry, are the only way, and for any LGBT children present to be told that it is okay to be who they are. Mental health, as previously mentioned, is a major problem right now in the LGBT community, and suicide is still blighting lives so these lessons being taught in school are literally a life-saver and that, without a doubt, is a priority. After all, what would these parents, for whom religion they keep preaching to be about love and acceptance, do with their children if they turn out to be LGBT?

Gary Cutmore, an inspiration

Gary Cutmore is an inspiration to the Deaf LGBTIQA+ community as he won the Most Inspirational Student Nurse of the Year in April 2019 at the Student Nursing Times Awards 2019. Student Nursing Times is the biggest nursing magazine outside the United States that has been running for over 100 years since it’s launch in 1905 to assist and inform trainee and qualified nurses of updated information, news and healthcare policies. Gary who grew up in Essex, is now living in Dagenham and is a deaf gay BSL user. I asked him a few questions about his achievement. 

Tell me more about yourself? 

I’m not sure what to say about myself. I’ve won an award – Nursing Times Award for Most Inspirational Student Of The Year. I’m currently studying a foundation degree in Nursing Associate and I’m on my final year. I’m hoping to do a mental health degree as an addition after this course as I hope to work in this field in the future.

Can you tell me why you think you won the award, and what barriers you have had to overcome to get to where you are.

I work hard to achieve where I want to be. I’m proactive and make time to support all patients and staff at work placements and at my current job. I’m told that I’m caring, thoughtful and empathetic. I’m always thriving to learn more about nursing. I guess that people can see that I’m compassionate about my role, and I don’t let my deafness define me. I am an individual student who wants to learn and work hard hence that may be why I won the award. 

How did your patients in your workplace react with you having interpreters adding to your and your patients’ communication?

Some patients were fine with me being deaf and having interpreter aiding the communication between us, although some were confused who to talk towards as they would talk to the interpreter as if they were the student nurse, and ignore me but I keep reminding them with a smile that I’m the student nurse in order for them to focus on me.

What support do you have in your studies?

I have BSL interpreters at university and work placements to give me access in full communication. When in some circumstances, I don’t have a BSL interpreter in place, it can be a challenge especially in a group, but I try my hardest to lip-read and write down the essential information. But I won’t let that stop me to continue to work in my role as a nursing associate. I’m determined and don’t let my deafness stop me from where I want to be.

What’s your background- what school did you go to? Was university your first hearing environment?

I went to mainstream school at Sanders Drapers School, which had a Partially Hearing Unit. I had a Communication Support Worker support me in classroom. There was only one other deaf student in my school, a hard of hearing girl in my year. I went to mainstream college as well. So no, university was not my first hearing environment. Also, I grew up in a hearing family; however, I’m lucky that my mum can sign.

What do you hope to do in your career, would you want to do nursing in a specific area? And what challenges will you face when you go up the ladder in your career, and how do you think you will overcome that? Will you be using Access TWork? 

I want to become a qualified mental health nurse. I already have a job working on a deaf ward in a mental health hospital as a trainee nursing associate, and I’d like to return to my workplace as a qualified mental health nurse to support the patients. There communication is not an issue for me, however I have Access to Work to pay for interpreters to support me with telephone calls to communicate with staff/family and for multidisciplinary team meetings to communicate with hearing staff. Also, I use interpreters to communicate with patients’ families and for some patients who cannot sign. It is challenging when I go on work placements at general hospitals or care homes to support all staff and patients, however I am thankful that I have Access to Work to pay for interpreters as I find it really helpful.

As this interview is for the LGBTIQA+ UK website, can you tell me a little about your coming out experience

Yup, coming out, gosh.. umm I guess I was lucky to have some friends came out before me, so it was easier for me to come out as I had build up my confidence in preparation to come out to them as a teenager. I was 18 years old I think. 

I came out to my mum when I was 20 but she knew all along and was waiting for me to come out. My deaf friends and I used to meet up every Tuesday at a local gay bar where we would meet new people. It was a good community.

And that’s where I met my first boyfriend.

Have you faced any barriers or discimination as a gay man? What advice would you give to deaf people who are in the process of coming out? 

When I was a teenager, I had some teenagers calling me all sorts and that did knock my confidence down, but I ignored them and knew they weren’t my friends. Of course, I felt hurt but I didn’t want to waste my time spending with negative and fake people. I had my own friends – gays and straights who treated me with respect.  My gay friends inspired me because they were out and proud to be themselves and enjoying their lives. They worked hard to achieve many things in their lives and enjoyed their lives instead of allowing people to pull them down. My straight friends accept me for who I am and treat me as an individual – Gary, instead of making my sexuality a label as this is not all who I am.

Fortunately I did not face any discrimative issues in my career so far. 

My advice to people who are caming out or planning to come out one day – be yourself. You don’t have to impress anyone because everyone’s an individual. Everyone’s different anyway. Don’t do what people think you should do.

You do what you want to do as long as you’re happy and comfortable without anypressure.

Ignore the haters.

Best of luck Gary in your career from all of us in the Deaf LGBTIQA community, as you are an inspiration! See the video link below of his interview for the Nursing Times, which has BSL

Follow Gary on Twitter: @garycutmore

Sahera’s film – can you help?

https://youtu.be/o1LRm-ahAgI

My name is Sahera Khan; I am British South Asian Deaf and Muslim My native language is British Sign Language and I am currently a freelance writer, artist/actress, filmmaker and YouTuber. My website is sahera1.tumblr.com.

In summer 2019 I will make a short film called ‘Blind to See’. ‘Blind to See’ is a working title; the genre of the film is drama and it talks about LGBT+ issues. The aim of the project is to raise awareness of D/deaf Muslim LGBT+ minority.

The film would be suitable for a wide diverse audience anywhere from young people to older adults, especially the Muslim audience.

A brief synopsis: Character A and Character B are close family, one of them is LGBT+ and they want to reveal this to the other.

The project will cost £800 and this will be spent on production costs: fees for my time, cameraperson fees, editing fees, travel expenses, cast expenses, possible insurance costs, hire costs for day shoot at a cafe and film festival entry fees.

I am counting on your support for my project. To donate, please go to http://kck.st/2vuX1Wv ,which also includes a BSL video with English subtitles/captions and great rewards if you wish to contribute. The link also includes more information about the project.

If you are unable to contribute financially, please take a moment to share my project news with your communities and networks. I appreciate your time.

If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at skhan01@live.co.uk

Cervical Cancer Screening – its not just for Straight Women

I want to talk about Cervical Cancer Screening. Cervical cancer is not just a straight woman’s issue, as it affects LGBT and trans who may have internal female parts too.

It is concerning as currently 3,000 women are diagnosed every year, and an average of 900 women die every year. This figure includes LGBT and trans women. At the moment one in three ignore screening letters and do not bother to book the simple screening test. There are several reasons why they don’t do the test – they may be embarrassed that healthcare staff will be looking at their private parts, but they are so used to see lots of bodies every day, it’s not a big issue for them! And it only takes five minutes.

There was a brief peak uptake on screening tests when Jade Goody, a Big Brother celebrity discovered too late that she had cervical cancer in 2008. Even though she only had eight months to live, she was very open about her journey and campaigned to encourage more women to get tested. But sadly, the peak is gone and the government is now concerned by the low uptake.

Due to their research National LGBT Partnership have discovered that 37% of LGBT and trans have been told by healthcare professionals not to do the test as there was no risk for them, as they don’t do straight sex. But HPV, the virus that causes cervical cancer is passed on through skin to skin intimate contact too so there is a risk for them. So this disinformation is concerning.

Public Health England, an government organisation is currently doing a public campaign to remove the disinformation amongst healthcare staff and advising LGBT to go get tested regularly too. It’s not just the UK that has this problem as in other western countries, there is a misinformation issue among healthcare professionals too.

It’s so easy to get tested, just go to your GP and they will book one for you and the test is only 5 minutes, so there is no need to be embarrassed as it could just save your life! Please think about it.

More information:

PHE Screening blog – https://phescreening.blog.gov.uk

NHS Cervical Screening (CSP) Programme – https://www.gov.uk/topic/population-screening-programmes/cervical

NHS Cervical Screening – https://www.nhs.uk/cervicalscreening

#TransDayofVisibility

Sunday 31st March 2019 is #TransDayofVisibility
DeafLGBTIQA is publishing this interview done by Abigail Gorman which was featured in issue 1 of EUDY’s magazine, OFC! and has permission from Samantha, thanks!
Have a look at www.deaflgbtiqa.org.uk. If you are transgender or you would like to improve our website/work please get in touch!
Samantha Pearsall: From bullying and depression to acceptance and love.
Hi Samantha, thanks for the time to talk to me. I’ve known you for a while, but our readers don’t. Would you like to fill them in on who you are?
No problems! Hi, I’m Samantha and I’m 31 years old. I was born in Middlesborough, a city in the North-East of England. I now live in Manchester, and I work as an Service Manager. Oh… and I was born as Richard.
Yes, that’s right. Samantha is a transgendered woman, and she has decided to share her story with us. So, where did it all start?
 
I remember when I was six years old, my parents took my brothers and I to our favourite toy store, TOYS R US, and told us we could go and take whatever we liked. Obviously we went crazy and ran up and down the aisles, looking at all kinds of toys! My brothers came back to our parents, clutching Action Men figures, and I came back holding a Little Mermaid and Belle from Beauty and the Beast figurines. My father told me nicely to put the toys away and to get something else. I didn’t understand why I was being told to put my toys away but my brothers weren’t. I refused to listen to him, and stood my ground. My mother took my father one side and had a quiet discussion. They came back to me and told me that I was allowed to take the figurines home, on one condition – I wasn’t allowed to take them to school with me – this confused me, but I agreed. That was the moment I realised I was slightly different, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it exactly was. I didn’t really understand what gender was at the time.
Wow. That must have been a confusing time for you.
It was, definitely. It wasn’t until I was eight years old that I began to realise why I was different. I realised I was a girl. You have to remember, this was Middlesborough in the 90s. Boys had to grow up to be strong, strapping footballing lads. If I came out with that, I would’ve been beaten to a pulp. So, I didn’t say anything. Instead, I would creep into the bathroom and wrap the towel around my wet head, because that was what all the girls did. I would also go into my mother’s closet and try on her clothes when she was away. I wanted to be a girl and doing that was the only time I actually felt normal.
But you didn’t come out at that time, did you?
No, I didn’t. I would get bullied at school for being too feminine. Every time there was a fancy dress event, I would jump at the chance to wear dresses! I would dance to the cheesiest pop music ever, and play with my Little Mermaid and Belle figurines. My brothers would be confused by how girly I was being. When I was eleven, I noticed that I was growing up in a very male dominated society, and I was supposed to behave in a certain way. So, I put my feelings aside and tried to be the person they all expected me to be and started playing football.
What was going through your head at the time?
Well, as the years went by, I became more skilled at hiding my feelings. I knew I couldn’t be the person I wanted to be, and it killed me. Whenever I climbed into the shower, I would hide my genitals so I wouldn’t be reminded that I was in the wrong body. It was a very stressful time for me, and playing football was actually a outlet for my frustration. Don’t get me wrong, I had fantastic childhood with my family but I also  had to battle my demons.
Your demons? Can you tell me more?
You see, I would look at myself in the mirror and what I’d see didn’t match with how I felt. It was awful, and every time I looked in the mirror, I was being taunted. In my mind and heart, I was a woman, but what I saw in front of me was a chubby boy.
A chubby boy? That’s right! I remember the first time I met you. It was at Manchester Gay Pride! Your name was Richard, you were slightly overweight, living in Middlesborough and if I remember correctly, you were also gay?
Haha! That’s right. When I was twelve, I realised I had feelings for boys. As you can imagine, this only added to the confusion. I didn’t know if I was a girl or a gay boy. It was a nightmarish time for me, so I sought comfort in food and shopping. The pounds piled on me as I ate away my pain and the pounds piled up as I tried to hide my pain with nice clothes and hairstyles. Unfortunately this meant I ended up in debt. Like I said earlier on, this was Middlesborough, I couldn’t tell anyone I liked boys. My mother suspected though.. she approached me when I was sixteen and told me that if I wanted to came out, she would support me.
When did you come out? Why did you decide to come out as a gay man instead of a transgendered woman?
When I was seventeen, I realised that I couldn’t hide my feelings anymore. I became ill and suffered with depression because deep inside, I knew that I was a woman. No arguments. I was tired of hiding who I was. I just simply wanted to be myself. It was also at this point that my brother decided to come out as gay! I felt having two gay sons would be too much for my mother and father, let alone having a transgendered daughter! So… I kept my mouth quiet. I eventually came out as gay when I was eighteen, and they weren’t surprised.
What prompted the move to Manchester?
I was twenty-one when I decided to move to Manchester. I felt like I couldn’t be who I was in Middlesborough. As much as I loved it, it just wasn’t the place for me. So, I packed up my bags and moved to Manchester. I moved in with my best friend, Rusty. We would go out partying on Canal Street, I lost lots of weight, had a gorgeous apartment in a prime location and I enjoyed my job. Life was good, but I still hadn’t taken the step I wanted to so badly – coming out as a woman. I wanted to confide in Rusty, but I was scared of being rejected. So… I spoke to Rusty’s brother instead! I told him how I felt and he told me that it was my choice. As much as I appreciated him being understanding, I felt that statement wasn’t helpful at all! I spoke to Rusty, and interestingly enough, he struggled with it. He thought I was going through a phase. It stung a bit, but I left him be. As time went by, he would see how happy I was when I dressed up as a woman and realised that he had to put his views aside and support me. Looking back now, I realise that he found it difficult as he thought he would be losing me. He struggled to accept it because he didn’t want to face that happening.
So, when did Richard become Samantha?
Well, I was working in the Mental Health department in the Forensic Unit, and every day I would see clients whose lives had been turned upside down by stress, depression and what have you. I remember one particular night, I was doing my rounds, checking up on my clients. In every room I checked in on, I would find them sitting on the edge of their beds, with their heads in their hands. They were truly depressed and unhappy with their lives. I realised that if I didn’t seek help, I would be well on my way to actually sitting on that bed myself.
What did your parents say?
My family struggled with it. They found it hard to accept the fact that their son no longer wanted to be their son. I think my father found it more difficult than my mother did. He had a baby boy, built a bond with him throughout his childhood and now that little boy wants to be a woman? It was confusing for them, and they didn’t know who they could talk to. There wasn’t a service that could provide counselling to parents with children wanting to go through transition. My parents say that now they realise the emotions they were experiencing was grief, the child they brought up has suddenly died. However, with time, those feelings passed and they accepted my new identity. They were really supportive. Granted, they found it hard to accept but they’ve always been supportive of my transition. During my transition, I knew they wanted to see a glimpse of Richard, but I had to be true to myself. Richard was no more, and Samantha was here to stay. They finally accepted it and came with me to hospital appointments. They came with me to my operation because they knew it was a new start for me, and therefore it had to be a new start for them as well. They welcomed Samantha as Richard’s twin sister.
What happened next? You have a funny story, don’t you?
Haha! That’s right. I made an appointment with the gender clinic and told them I wanted to transition. I was sitting in the office when the doctor came in. He didn’t look at the notes, and just started talking about what a female-to male would entail. I was in shock. I had to correct him! At the time, I was outraged by their incompetency, but now I can look back and laugh, and feel flattered that he thought I was a female! They told me that I had to dress up a female for a year or so before I could have the operation. I had to experience life as a woman, and prepare myself mentally for it before going ahead with it. This came easily to me and I embraced it!
So… the operation came and went. How did you feel afterwards?
Oh… it was unbelievable. It was amazing. It was finally Day One of my new life as a woman. This was finally the day I had craved for my whole life. I never thought I’d get to this point, but there I was. A woman. It was… freedom. I was finally released and able to live life as the person I’ve always wanted to be. I wouldn’t have done it without the support and love I received from my family and friends. They gave me the courage to be the person I wanted to be – no, sorry. They gave me the courage to be the person I really was.
Awh, bless. I’m feeling a little bit emosh now. How do you think life may be different for trans kids in school right now?
Because of the Equality Act finally being put into place, trans children are now in the ‘Protected characteristics’ category. This means they are now given the freedom to the person they want to be. This is a positive step for every trans children in the UK. The children in the class don’t know any better. It’s up to society to lead the way by showing acceptance towards people who are in the ‘protected characteristics’ category.
For those who have no idea what being transgendered means, what do they need to understand?
Everyone needs to understand being transgendered is not a choice. A transgendered person has identified their body and mind isn’t compatible, and therefore has to change in order to feel comfortable within their body.
Would you agree that the trans movement is gaining momentum? Why do you think the reason for this is?
Yes, I agree. Our Facebook – DeafTransDivaWorld – is a perfect example why the Trans Movement is gaining momentum. Social media is a perfect platform for transgendered people all over the world to connect with each other. People are becoming politically savvy, using Facebook/Twitter as a way of keeping into touch with everyone to raise awareness and to push for social change all over the world.
Transgendered celebrities are becoming more noticeable in the public eye now. Laverne Cox and Chaz Bono, who are LGBT advocates and gay rights activists, are speaking out about issues that affects the community. Stonewall’s campaign – Some people are Trans, get over it – is such a powerful message, and I think it has made an impact. Transgendered people belong to a small community, and if you add deafness to the mix, that community becomes much smaller. Deaf transgendered people are scattered all over the world, but DeafTransDivaWorld connects them and gives them the opportunity to share their experiences, ideas, information and enables them to build a strong and supportive network to help them throughout their transition.
Why do you think some people are uncomfortable? What’s your response to people who oppose the trans-friendly laws?
This is down to their attitude/culture/education/religion. Yes, everyone is entitled to their own views, opinions and beliefs. But you should also accept that everyone is different in their own way and once you accept that, society can move forward.
What are your words of advice to someone who is still confused about who they are?
Talk to someone you trust if you’re experiencing discomfort or uncertainty about your gender. The important thing is to talk to a person you trust, whether it be a teacher, parents or friends. Do not suffer in silence, this will only make the situation worse. Sometimes your parents will more supportive than you thought they would be. Coming out as Trans is never an easy decision. Sometimes it’s best to seek help from your doctor – they can refer you to the appropriate counselling service for Deaf such as for example: BSL Healthy Minds from SignHealth in the UK and/or seeing a gender specialist.

HIV testing week

On November 17th it is HIV testing week.

One of our colleagues, Damian Brewer, has been working with the Terence Higgins Trust as part of his day job, and they have created a video.

Have a look here

Please share the video with others, encourage people to go for testing.