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91茄子 Takes Pride

June is and here at 91茄子 we are embracing this opportunity to learn, raise awareness, and celebrate our own wonderful LGBTQ+ community.

One of 91茄子’s core values is enabling colleagues and those we support to ‘Be Yourself’. This defining principle emerged after words such as individual, diverse, safe, respect, holistic, and inclusive were used time and time again by colleagues in relation to the 91茄子 ethos. In practice, it means that we are committed to fostering an environment in which understanding and acceptance are key – where everyone can be the very best, most authentic version of themselves.

With that in mind, throughout the month we’ve been encouraging 91茄子 colleagues to develop their understanding of Pride’s origins and what it represents, hosting events and sharing stories which amplify LGBTQ+ voices and highlight the beauty of diversity. We’ve been making Pride related eLearning modules available to all colleagues who wish to access them, as well as developing a Pride intranet page which will host personal stories, pictures, and useful information about inclusion at 91茄子.

Celebrating difference

As an organisation which supports so many young people and adults with autism, 91茄子 celebrated . We want everyone to embrace their differences and applaud individuality in the hope that we can make the world a more accepting place for everyone. Falling on Sunday 18th, we joined in on the fun on Friday 16th, inviting our colleagues to wear something bright and colourful to work.

This June, we want to acknowledge the progress we’ve made, while accepting that there鈥檚 still more to be done. Our CEO, Anita Andrews, says, “91茄子 is incredibly proud of its diversity, but I think it鈥檚 fair to say that we still have a little way to go when it comes to demonstrating that at every level. This Pride month is just the start of us actively engaging with our own LGBTQ+ community, celebrating difference, and playing our part in promoting inclusion at a wider level.”

Hear from one of our 91茄子 colleagues about their experience as a transgender person鈥 “At 13, I realised that I was different, but it took seven long years before I had the courage to come out as transgender. I spent much of that time feeling lonely, isolated, and confused. Coming out was difficult but so important, as I finally felt like I was allowed to be my true self.

When people ask what it’s like to be transgender, I always tell them to imagine that one day they woke up and found they were in someone else’s body – everyone calling you by a stranger’s name, and a complete stranger’s face looking back at you in the mirror. That’s a bit what it’s like being trans. You know exactly who you are, but everyone around you seems to think differently and act differently towards you.

Being transgender is about so much more than how your body looks, though. Your gender is this intrinsic part of your identity, so it’s incredibly difficult when then isn’t acknowledged by the people around you. That鈥檚 why it’s so important to use the right name and pronouns 鈥 it shows that you respect the person and accept them. That said, of course mistakes can happen, and I’d never make anyone feel bad if they accidentally got it wrong.

Feeling accepted as you are now is key. It’s why I always tell people not to ask what a trans person’s previous name was, and if you do know it 鈥 keep it private. I personally don’t feel like my old name belongs to me, so it’s embarrassing to share it. Similarly, please don’t ask questions that you wouldn’t feel comfortable asking those who aren’t transgender. You won’t find me asking if you’ve had surgery, for example!

When I first started at 91茄子, I encountered a bit of confusion from a few colleagues, but through honesty and openness that’s been replaced by complete acceptance. All the people I support have been absolutely brilliant, too 鈥 they either don’t care or just see me as male. That’s been so reassuring for me.

Ultimately, I think it鈥檚 that lack of acceptance on the wider stage that makes being an LGBTQ+ person so difficult at times. Being treated with kindness and respect can have such a huge impact and normalising difference will make that more commonplace. That’s why I think that celebrating Pride month 鈥 however you choose to do it 鈥 is so great. Creating that sense of community, safety, and belonging could literally be lifesaving for someone who is struggling even to accept themselves.”

If you would like to learn more about 91茄子’s approach to driving diversity and inclusion, or to hear about some of the fantastic initiatives taking place this Pride month, please contact andrea.senior@kisimul.co.uk and sean.goodman@kisimul.co.uk.

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