What is Transgender Awareness Week and why do we celebrate it?

The purpose of Transgender Awareness Week is to educate the wider community about transgender and gender non-conforming people and the issues associated with their transition or identity.

Transgender Awareness week runs from 13-19 November each year and is a one-week celebration and awareness generating event leading up to Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), a day in which we commemorate victims of transphobic violence.

TDOR occurs annually on November 20, when awareness is raised of the transgender community through education and advocacy activities. This is a day to honour those who have either been killed or have taken their own lives as a result of transphobia.

The purpose of Transgender Awareness Week is to educate the wider community about transgender and gender non-conforming people and the issues associated with their transition or identity.

Want to know more about transgender people?

The term ‘transgender’, or more commonly now ‘trans’, is an umbrella term used to describe a person whose gender identity is not the same as the sex they were assigned at birth. Trans also includes non-binary people who do not fall into the binary categories of man/woman or male/female. Non-binary people may feel they are not exclusively male or female and may embody elements of both.

Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation. A trans person can be gay, straight, bisexual, lesbian or any other sexual orientation. You cannot tell if a person is trans just by looking at them; trans people do not look a certain way or come from any one background.

How does Activate Learning support transgender students?

If you’re currently questioning your own identity and think you might like to chat with someone other than your friends or family – then our Student Support team are always here to listen and offer practical help and advice. We work with many organisations and charities who can give you the support you need, even if it’s just a friendly ear. Don’t be afraid to come forward by popping in to the Student Support office at your campus or by dropping them an email at safe@activatelearning.ac.uk

The Student Union can offer workshops, or informal social get togethers (in non Covid times!) – if you’re interested in getting involved, please contact Liz Marsh in the Student Union team at Liz.Marsh@ActivateLearning.ac.uk

What can YOU do to support the Trans community

The best thing you can do to support any trans people in your life, or the trans community overall, is to educate yourself about what it means to be transgender. Have conversations with trans people in your life, seek out resources and information yourself – there’s a wealth of content online which will help you to understand how you can be a real ally to this community. Above all, remember that everyone, from all walks of life no matter how they choose to identify themselves, is worthy of respect. Even if you don’t yet have a full understanding about what it means to be trans.

Let’s bust a couple of myths…

“You can tell if someone if someone is trans just by looking at them.”   

WRONG! Many people expect that they’ll “just know” when someone is trans, and may be surprised to learn that this isn’t always true. Since there is no one transgender experience, there is no one way for transgender people to look, either. This also means that transgender people may be in groups or gatherings that you attend without you knowing it, making it important to be an outspoken ally and supporter even in spaces that you think don’t have any transgender people in them.

“There’s only one right way to be transgender.”  

WRONG! Some transgender people choose to medically transition, and some don’t. Some transgender people choose to legally change their names or ID documents, and some don’t. Some transgender people choose to change their appearance (like their clothing or hair), and some don’t. Likewise, some transgender people may want to do many of those things but are unable to because they can’t afford it or for safety reasons. A transgender person’s identity does not depend on what things they have or haven’t done to transition, and no two transgender people’s journeys are exactly alike.

Now for a bit of history….

Discover a full timeline of transgender history in the UK.

Let’s talk ‘pronouns’

Pronouns are the words that someone would like you to use when talking about them. We all have pronouns. The most common ones are ‘he’, ‘him,’ ‘his’, or ‘she’, ‘her’ and ‘hers’. Some people prefer gender-neutral pronouns, like ‘they’, ‘them,’ and ‘theirs’. And there are some people who are still working out what their gender identity is and feel uncomfortable using any pronoun. Don’t be afraid to ask which pronoun a person would prefer to be referred by (if any) – and respect their answer!

Questioning your own identity? Need more advice or support? There’s loads of online resources out there – here’s a few to get started…