After co-chairing Swansea University’s LGBT+ Staff Network for 4 1/2 years, today I am saying goodbye as I prepare to leave the university to take up a new role in another organisation.

When I first became co-chair in 2014, the network was a small group of around 15 staff members, who held 1 event per year. Since then we’ve grown tremendously, and I’ve been proud to lead the network to the successful place where it stands today, supported by my co-chair Alys Einion, our Network committee, our senior champion Professor Martin Stringer, and our Allies across the university.

Here are some highlights from the Network’s last 4 years:

  • Entered the Stonewall Top 100 Employers list (we’re currently ranked 29th in the whole UK!)
  • Named one of Stonewall’s Top Trans Employers in 2018
  • Won the Stonewall Cymru LGBT Staff Network Group of the Year award in 2017, and the Stonewall UK Highly Commended LGBT Staff Network Group of the Year in 2018.
  • Visited Mannheim (Swansea’s twin city in Germany) in August 2017 and August 2018 for an inter-city exchange where we participated in a high-profile city reception event, shared best practice with LGBTQ representatives from other European countries, and led the Mannheim City pride parade. Read my blog about the 2017 visit here.
  • Hosted the national LGBTQ Inclusivity in Higher Education conference in September 2017, where we hosted delegates and speakers from all over the UK
  • Organised a city-wide vigil to commemorate victims of the Orlando shooting in June 2016, which was widely covered in the national press 
  • Formalised our structure and established a diverse Network committee
  • Established an LGBT+ Allies Programme for all university staff and students
  • Introduced regular LGB and Trans Inclusion in the Workplace training sessions for all staff
  • Created a Supporting Trans Staff guidance series for university staff
  • Helped co-organise and participated in Swansea Pride 2018 (the first Swansea Pride in 4 years)
  • Painted the main road into campus rainbow colours to celebrate LGBT History Month – the rainbow road has now become a permanent fixture
  • Held a range of events to mark various LGBT calendar dates every year, including LGBT History Month, International Day Against Homphobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBiT), Bi Visibility Day, and Trans Day of Visibility
  • Supported and participated in various community events every year, including Pride Cymru, Bi Fest Wales, and Swansea Sparkle
  • Collaborated with the Students’ Union LGBT+ Society and LGBT Officers on joint events and initiatives including Rainbow Laces and LGBT STEM Day
  • Profiled a number of female Network members as part of the university’s Inspiring Women series.

On a personal level, it’s meant so much to be able to use my experiences and knowledge as a queer woman to contribute to making the university a great place for LGBT+ people to work and study. For most of my university years as a student, I was in a very dark place, struggling with mental health issues and my queer identity – and this was only a few years ago. Had someone told me that 3 years later, I’d be leading an LGBT+ Network to become one of the most LGBT+ inclusive universities in the whole UK, I never would have believed it. I’m honoured to have contributed to this vital work, to watch the Network grow, and to see the increased prominence of LGBT+ equality across the university.Knowing that what we’ve helped establish could help even one person not have to struggle like I did makes any difficulties or hardship worthwhile and something I’ll always be exceptionally proud of.

I’ve made many friends through the Network, and most of my fondest memories of working at Swansea University are from the people I’ve met and the work I’ve done through the Network. I’m very sad to say goodbye, but at the same time I know it’ll be a good opportunity for someone else to step up and help the Network continue to evolve and achieve more great things.

I don’t doubt that that the Staff Network and the Allies Programme will continue to grow and develop in the future. Although I won’t be in the university, I will keep supporting and cheering from afar!

Thank you to everyone I’ve had the opportunity to work with over the years – it’s been amazing.

 

 

 

 

December 20th, 2018

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John Harrington from Aberystwyth University is looking to interview a small number of trans students (aged 18-25) about their support experiences of transitioning into university in regard to their gender identity. This research aims to identify the positive support experiences, as well as some of the challenging experiences, faced by trans students in applying to university and the first few months of university life. The findings will be used help to improve the support provided for trans students at university.

The interviews will be conducted in a private place of your choice (e.g. at a local university), and the data will be anonymous.

The participants will need to be:

  1. Aged between 18-25;
  2. Either be studying for a degree in higher education or have studied at University within the past 2 years;
  3. Self-identify as trans* and will include transgender (trans-male & trans-female), gender-queer (GQ), gender-fluid or non-binary.

See here for more info: Participant Information Sheet (Oct’18) – Support experiences of trans students

December 19th, 2018

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