This week’s blog is about our new easy read booklet that is focused on transgender support.
The topic of transgender identity is often seen as taboo. In this day and age this shouldn’t be the case, imagine this coupled with a learning disability. The general response is silence. The assumption is that many people with a learning disability don’t have the intellectual capacity to make complex decisions for themselves, including around gender identity.
This is untrue, like many people without learning disabilities who experience gender dysmorphia it can be frightening to speak out about these feelings. As often the right support and information isn’t available and people are prone to prejudice, intimidation and harassment. In turn, this can leave people feeling isolated, depressed and lonely without the confidence to express their true thoughts and feelings about their gender identity.
At CMG we aim to support people to break barriers and give people the opportunity to express how they are feeling in a safe place. In turn, supporting people to have fully inclusive and empowered lives.
Michael Fullerton has been at the forefront of this publication and has worked in collaboration with people supported by CMG, CHANGE and Choice Support to make it possible. Here is what he has to say.
Michael Fullerton, Clinical Director
“We support a small number of people with learning disabilities and/or autism who identify as transgender, or who may be questioning/confused about their gender preferences. Indeed some people may be internally questioning their gender identity and have not communicated that to others. Or they don’t know how to and/or are fearful of ‘coming out’.
We felt it important to ensure CMG’s support teams were equipped with information, knowledge and a positive attitude to ensure everyone’s gender preferences are fully understood, supported and respected. With this in mind, we met with the Clare Project in Brighton to gain a better understanding of the everyday practical issues and difficulties faced by trans men and women. Following this we decided to ask people we support (who are trans men or women, or non binary) if they would assist in developing an easy read booklet focused on transgender support. This booklet could then be used by people we support, individually or in groups, as well as a guide for support staff to assist with discussions they may have with the people they support.
In order to facilitate the process of collating and designing the booklet, we worked in collaboration with Shaun Webster and Jez Coram from CHANGE (www.changepeople.org ). CHANGE held Focus Groups with people supported by CMG and Choice Support, as well as managers of services. The resulting booklet will be available shortly, and be freely available on CMG’s website.
I would like to say a huge thank you to Shaun and Jez from CHANGE and Thomas Doukas from Choice Support for their commitment to this publication”
I will now leave you all with a quote from Stevie Barnett who has recently identified as a trans woman.
Stevie Barnett, C4C (Campaign 4 Change) Member
“I knew from a young age I was in the wrong body, but I was too scared to talk to anyone about how I was feeling. I thought people might laugh at me and be horrible. I started to make the transition a few years ago, and wish I’d done it sooner. If you are feeling confused, talk to someone don’t be scared. I think this new booklet will be good to help people get more support and information. I’m looking forward to reading it”
To find out more about CMG and to see some of our photos and videos follow us on Instagram @Online_CMG or check out our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/CareManagementGroup/