Not long ago, I received an email from the lovely Jane Millar asking if I could come and present to Burton and South Derbyshire college on the subject of transgender diversity.
I was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet Jane again, after our initial meeting at a relate lunchtime briefing I gave (so long ago – where does the time go ?!??!) In addition to being a really lovely woman and interesting person to speak to, she cares passionately about equal rights and diversity and more than that, is prepared to stand up for both.
In the run up to the presentation, I had a four hour helpline call from a lady called Wendy. Not ideal preparation. Then there was all the usual Joanna things, getting stuck in traffic, getting lost on the way (even with a sat nav) all of which led to me arriving spot on the time I was due to present, instead of before hand.
After apologies to the group and thanks to Jane for the opportunity, I found myself on Friday afternoon in a lecture hall, with about 50 people and presented the updated 2015 version of our standard talk for universities before answering questions and hanging around to speak to members of staff about how they could make the college more inclusive for gender diverse students.
I was really struck by some of the questions I was asked today. Intelligent, interested, compassionate and caring questions from members of staff who really wanted to make a difference for their students. If you know the surrounding area to the college, you’ll know this isn’t an easy thing to do. Its a hard town, in an area where the gender binary roles are still very much in evidence.
We live in ever changing times though and there’s no better symbol for that change than a place of learning. From learning comes understanding, then acceptance and real change. I cant think of a better place for this than the college, or more capable people to be the change than the team I met on Friday, most of all, my friend Jane.
If you would like to see the presentation or use parts or all of it for yourself, you can find it by clicking on the following links.
(the presentation is best viewed as a slideshow, as you get the effect of all the animations, which are used to illustrate certain points through the talk) if you would like to reuse any of the material, please feel free, but reference myself and the Beaumont Trust when doing so.