By Mark Hoskisson, Resident Involvement Manager
In August this year, 28-year-old Rae’Lynn Thomas was shot and killed at point blank range in Columbus, Ohio. In May, Amos Beede, 38, was beaten to death in Burlington, Vermont.
Rae’Lynn and Amos joined an already uncomfortably long list of murder victims, not just in the USA but worldwide.
Rae’Lynn was a transgender woman, Amos a transgender man. Both were victims of anti-transgender violent crimes.
They will be remembered on 20 November at events all over the world to mark this year’s Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR), a day of reflection on the transgender people who have been killed over the preceding 12 months. Transgender charity Sparkle organises the TDoR event at the National Trans Memorial in Sackville Gardens, Manchester.
Earlier this year at a meeting of Spectrum, Riverside’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) staff group, it was agreed that Riverside should give more airplay to its commitment to transgender equality.
Brilliant work had been done in Liverpool by Housing Officer Peter Gallagher, supporting a vulnerable transgender tenant who was the victim of systematic hate crime in her home. Peter’s intervention was crucial in helping put a stop to the persecution and made headline news in the Liverpool Echo and the national press.
This was Riverside’s vision of transforming lives translated into effective action in a sphere where ignorance and prejudice are rife. Transgender equality has too often been relegated to the background. Riverside is taking a lead in turning this around.
Spectrum invited a transgender woman to perform a workshop on trans awareness at its LGBT tenant forum in June. The Riverside Tenants Federation Executive invited the same tenant to its national meeting. Both events were a lot of fun and started to help people understand the need to break down the prejudices and barriers transgender people face in their everyday lives.
And of course Regional Operations Manager Simon Allcock became the patron saint of all of Riverside’s transgender tenants and staff when he rescued our stall from the wrong sort of saturation at Sparkle in July.
Sparkle is the national transgender celebration event, kind of Transgender Pride. Simon got us a gazebo so that the maiden appearance of our Riverside stall at Sparkle – the first housing organisation present at the event – was not washed away by Manchester’s traditional torrential rainstorm.
And just to prove that we were not a flash in the pan we followed up Sparkle by agreeing to facilitate a session at the monthly TransManchester meeting on housing issues and the difficulties faced by transgender tenants.
Within Riverside itself, our Equality and Diversity Manager Lyn Bowker pushed ahead with drafting a policy on Transitioning at Work, something that will make life a lot easier for anyone who may be wracked by nerves at the thought of revealing their plans for transitioning to colleagues.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance will be marked by an event on Sunday 20 November at Sackville Gardens, Manchester, from 4.30pm. All are very welcome to come along and show their support.