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Archive for the 'News' Category

On the evening of Monday 14th March 2011 the organisation Trans Media Watch collaborated with Channel 4 TV to launch a new Memorandum of Understanding to an audience of media people, politicians and trans people.

The goal of the memorandum is to help eliminate discrimination relating to trans people in all media by setting out goals that all the parties can aspire towards. Channel 4 were the first organisation to subscribe to the principles.

The MOU doesn't call for censorship but aims instead to give media organisations the tools they need to address endemic problems.

Trans Media Watch say they are guided by the basic principle that they wish to see transgender people and issues treated with accuracy, dignity and respect.

Just Plain Sense was there to capture the atmosphere of the event, including speeches by Minister for Equalities, Lynne Featherstone MP, Stuart Cosgrove from Channel 4 and reactions from the audience.

Listen to the show online with the player below or click one of the options on the right to download into your favourite music player or feed reader. You can also read more background on the Just Plain Sense Blog

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On November 20th or 21st those who care will be coming together in dozens of cities around the world to remember transgender people who have been murdered, often brutally, just because they are different.

The event is held in November each year to honour Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28th, 1998 kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester’s murder — like most anti-transgender murder cases — has yet to be solved.

This audio tribute is our contribution to those events, recorded with the generous assistance of colleagues and local broadcasters.

To find out more about International Transgender Day of Remembrance and a vigil near you visit the web site: http://www.transgenderdor.org/

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The first LGBT Health Summit took place at Guys Hospital in London in 2005 and, since then, this major annual conference has been hosted around the country. In this fifth year the hosts were Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, and the venue was the excellent conference centre at the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield.

In this programme you can hear the organisers, presenters and delegates describing the proceedings as they took place over the 6th and 7th of September 2010

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A new Trans Resource and Empowerment Centre launched in Manchester on 7th November. I spoke to two of the five organisers who are setting up this innovative project, creating (as it grows) a regular base where trans people can drop in for help and advice.

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On Monday 26th October this year a large gang of youths surrounded and attacked a 22 year old gay man, James Parkes, as he left a bar in Liverpool City Centre. He was left with serious head injuries.

The attack is being treated by Police as a homophobic hate crime and some arrests have already been made.

This was not the first attack of its’ kind. Recently another gay man was beaten to death in Trafalgar Square London. Going back further there have been many other such atrocities, including the murder in Liverpool of Michael Causer last year.

Liverpool’s Lesbian and Gay community is holding a vigil in the city on Sunday November 1st as the nation increasingly wakes up to the reality of homophobic violence.

In my official capacity as Chair of the North West Region’s Equality and Diversity Group I agreed with my associates that I would make this statement of support to the organisers of the vigil.

You can read the text of the statement here.

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Twelve months ago this week I reported in detail from a special conference at Imperial College in London. Clinicians from Britain, Holland and the United States came together to discuss their different views about the best way to treat adolescents with persistent gender identity issues, and a strong desire to permanently change sex.

The central issue is about how to deal with Puberty. If clinicians don’t do something to prevent normal puberty occurring then a trans child will undergo changes that are impossible – or at least painful and expensive to reverse in adulthood.Some children say they would rather commit suicide and their parents are understandably frantic.

Puberty can be blocked in a way that’s completely reversible. So this is what doctors in several parts of the world are now doing. If the child should change their mind, you stop the drugs and puberty kicks in as though nothing had happened. It buys enough time till the child is older and their course in life is certain.

British clinicians have been ultra cautious and conservative though. They fear factors which might be as yet unknown if you meddle with puberty’s course. Paradoxically they weight this more highly than the certain negative outcomes of an unwanted puberty and the results of foreign studies.

That was twelve months ago. And on the face of it nothing seems to have changed much today. Clinicians at the UK’s only specialist centre for child and adolescent gender identity patients say they will still only prescribe blocking therapy once puberty has largely completed at the age of 16 – by which time irreversible changes have occurred.

What has altered, however, is that the advocates for change – mostly parents of trans children – are getting more of a hearing for their case.

In this show we feature a recent interview from BBC Radio Four’s flagship “Today” programme and afterwards I reflect on what mature media coverage does for the debate.

You can also listen to my full original interview with Nicky's mother, "Gender Dysphoria, A Mother's Tale", first released in April 2008

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The final weekend in August saw Manchester, one of Britain's most LGBT-friendly cities, hosting its annual three day Pride celebration. In this reply to a similar French video, the revellers deliver a one-fingered salute to homophobia based on Lily Allen's "F**k You!". Shame the homophobes never seem to have so much fun in their lives.

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The next Podcast interview will be with PC "Bernie" Clifton, who is a diversity officer with Greater Manchester Police. Here's a quick video teaser whilst you wait...

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About the next Episode

Today (17th March) I have completed production on the next Podcast (episode 57). However, this won't be released for a week because it is my contribution to the Ada Lovelace campaign (see the recent episode on this for details).

I'm very excited about the forthcoming episode as it features one of the true pioneers of the computer and technology revolution, Professor Lynn Conway. Lynn's most famous work, which came to fruition 30 years ago this autumn, created the basis for engineers to be able to design and prototype electronic chip designs fast enough and cheap enough to make the technology feasible for inclusion in practically every electronic device we use today.

I am going to sit on that exciting interview until the allotted day, March 24th, but in the meantime here is a short video about how remote interviews like Lynn Conway's are made. There are also some more details about the production process in general on the Just Plain Sense Blog.

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The Single Equality Challenge

The Queen's Speech in late autumn marks the beginning of each new Parliamentary term. It's a time when the Government reveals its' legislative plans for the coming year. This year's event is on December 3rd. However, these days, the speech seldom contains any big surprises, as so much about the agenda is extensively trailed beforehand.

One item expected in this new term will be the new Single Equality Bill -- the most radical attempt to overhaul Britain's equality law framework in forty years. To mark that watershed this episode looks back on that forty year history, discusses some of the issues about equality legislation, how the Government has developed the new Bill, and what it is expected to contain.

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A report published last week by the Department of Work and Pensions has poured cold water on one of the most popular arguments for promoting equality at work.

The Business Case for Equal Opportunities: An Econometric Investigation” was researched and prepared for the DWP by a team at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research. It says they could find no direct cause and effect link between businesses having Equal Opportunities Policies and having higher productivity and profits. But it says the reverse is definitely not the case too -- and that businesses that have one seem to have the other, even if the connection isn't clear. I look at the researchers' conclusions in more detail.

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I'm not sure whether I can claim the original credit for the idea -- people didn't seem to have thought it before I made the suggestion at a consultation last year, and they quickly wrote it down. However it happened though, the Equality and Human Rights Commission have now launched their own You Tube Channel.

The channel opened this week with a handful of videos on the theme "Equally Different". You'll find them at : http://www.youtube.com/EqualityHumanRights

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News: March 31st

In this week's news sample, claims that the Government may be planning to opt out of parts of a UN Convention on the rights of disabled people and news of an extra £15 million committment to encourage the development of women's careers in certain sectors.

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As an experiment I am going to explore the feasibility of bringing an occasional batch of news reports into the mix of editorial and interview content. I'm making no promises about regularity. A great deal will depend on the material that comes my way. Please feel free to comment on whether it's a valuable addition or not though.

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