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Archive for the 'Speeches' Category


In this episode I've been into the archives to retrieve two presentations by myself and the well-known US trans personality Kate Bornstein in June 2007, as we shared the stage opening the UK's first "Transfabulous" conference.

You can read a report about that whole conference here

Kate and I were the 'bookends' to an introductory session, in which the facilitators of each of the day's four workstreams described what they aimed to cover. We both set out in our different ways to set the mood...

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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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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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This year people have been celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10th December 1948.

As discussed in an earlier show, lots of people have no idea what the declaration’s thirty articles actually say. And when people don’t know, then they often assume that the whole thing is irrelevant to their own lives.

Artist Monica Ross has taken a rather novel approach to educating people. To counter the tendency to forget, she has memorised the entire work. When she recites the preamble and articles to live audiences, it is literally therefore a memorial act.

Monica first came to prominence in the 1970’s as a performance artist, before she turned instead to video work. The shooting of John Charles De Menezes renewed her desire to perform before a live audience. And she’s aiming to make 60 public recitals of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a way of marking its' 60th anniversary.

This particular performance took place in August at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester. She was joined and assisted by various people from the local community who performed individual articles and the event was recorded by University Staff. This presentation is with their permission.

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Earlier this week I interviewed veteran Human Rights campaigner Peter Tatchell about what makes him tick, his methods and some of his opinions. You can hear that interview in the preceding item.

Peter and I were both speaking at the Centre for Local Policy Studies Summer School at Crewe Hall in Cheshire. In his keynote speech he addressed the risk that in being blindly sensitive to "multiculturalism" we might undermine everyone's human rights - including sections of the cultures we are reticent to challenge. Is female genital mutilation an absolute violation or subject to cultural relativism, for instance.

Here is an excerpt from the opening section of Peter's overall 30 minute presentation. I may make further segments available if the demand appears to be there.

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The recent Ada Lovelace Day blogging event raised important points about the challenges of getting more young women and girls hooked on technology subjects – and dealing with the barriers which may cause some of them to fall by the wayside.

For this episode I travelled to the Electrical Engineering Department at Leeds University, for an event organised by the Women’s Special Interest Group of the British Computer Society, BCS Women.

The second annual Ada Lovelace Colloquium was organised by Hannah Dee with colleagues from the BCS Women committee. I spoke to Hannah, some of the speakers and many of the delegates as the day unfolded.

This Podcast is complemented by a series of You Tube videos showing excerpts from many of the actual presentations. One example is shown below. The others will be linked from here when they have all been published.

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Alan Pollard is the President of the British Computer Society and is featured here delivering the introduction to the annual BCS Lovelace Colloquium for women undergraduates this year at Leeds University. He speaks here about why he and the BCS see the importance of encouraging more women into technology roles such as in IT. For more details (and for links to more of the video content) see the Podcast above this.

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Happy New Year!

The biggest thing for Equality and Diversity in 2009 is probably going to be the new Equality Bill, which was announced in last month’s Queen’s Speech. Debate on that will begin soon in Parliament and then we’ll learn the precise details of what the Government intends.

During December I spoke to several audiences about the 40 year history that brought us to this point – you can hear a version that in an earlier episode. I plan to feature an update when the Bill has been published and there's been a chance to study the fine print.

In the meantime, here is a keynote speech about trans people in social care, which I delivered back in October 2007 for the Commission for Social Care Inspection. The audience included over 300 inspectors, social workers and service providers.

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As the festive season is upon us, and 2008 draws to a close, this episode is intended as a parting thought for the year.

Unless they are very lucky, most of the kinds of people we focus upon in Equality, Diversity and Human Rights will have had a close encounter of some kind with discrimination. Ideally that experience would make everyone that extra bit sensitive about respecting the differences of others. Unfortunately that’s not always the case. Firsthand experience of hurt doesn’t necessarily make better people.

People from some ethnic backgrounds may express homophobic views. Some lesbian or gay people may express racist views. It can seem at times as though people with evangelical religious beliefs might be intolerant of just about everyone other than themselves. Disputes can extend even within communities who, while distinct, experience similar forms of discrimination.

Nobody ever emerges well from these affairs. People behave badly on all sides. The in-fighting detracts from the business of tackling wider issues. Hostilities alienate friends and allies. They sap energy and lead to disillusioned and bruised people disengaging altogether.

But if these disputes can sometimes feel like war then it's worth remembering that it takes two to make an eventual truce.

Not all truces last, of course. Yet even a brief halt can allow common humanity to be recognised and highlight the pointlessness of the fray. The setting here is the multiply-divided LGBT community, but it could be any.

The piano piece “I’m Home Again”, by Internet Composer Michael Walthius, is available on the Album “Dreaming in Stereo”, which can be purchased online here or here.

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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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It is an occupational hazard of organising speaking events that now and then one of your speakers will be suddenly and unexpectedly indisposed. When that happens you can either leave a gap -- or try and fill the breach yourself.

This is a problem that arose in the third of our recent conference / workshops on the Gender Equality Duty in Health. At each event civil servants from the Department of Health had volunteered to come and deliver their version of a common presentation about their department's approach, and what it should mean. However, on our last day, one of them was prevented at the very last minute from attending.

Fortunately I'm familiar with what was going to be said -- in part because I contribute regularly to two community stakeholder engagement groups, including an advisory group on Gender Equality. This meant I was able to step in at short notice and fill the gap -- although the emphasis is inevitably my own as a result.

In the next episode we change tack again, with an in-depth interview with the Labour back bench MP Dr Lynne Jones. Lynne has lots to say about equality and diversity -- in and out of Parliament, so be sure you don't miss that episode, coming up soon.

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In the third of this series of episodes covering the recent NHS Northwest Gender Equality conferences we come now to the advice and guidance of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Several EHRC staff contributed to the three events that we ran, and I'd like to thank Sam Pryke, David Howard and Vivienne Stone who all made great contributions besides Merryn Wells, featured here.

Merryn gave the main EHRC presentation at our third event in Preston. She is the Commission’s “Transfer of Expertise Manager”. Among her many skills honed in a 25 year equalities career she managed a recent project looking at gender equality in the NHS and also worked with the Royal College of Nursing, advising HR managers in that sector on the gender equality duty. For those reasons she was ideally placed to connect with an audience of NHS managers.

Click here if you would like to view and follow a handout of Merryn's slides whilst listening. (PDF, 90Kb)

In the next episode hear how I ad-libbed my way through explaining the Department of Health's viewpoint when the civil servant booked to speak was unable to attend for very good reasons

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In the second of this series of episodes covering the recent NHS Northwest Gender Equality conferences it is the turn of the Men...

Peter Baker is the Chief Executive of the Men's Health Forum -- a charity which works to improve male health in England and Wales. His presentation to us in Preston was every bit as challenging as the women's message featured in the previous episode, though markedly different.

It was research by MHF that first highlighted how many NHS gender equality schemes in England appeared to have very little disaggregated evidential data, were focussed on processes rather than outcomes, or were lacking in effective consultation and involvement with service users.

Many speakers stressed that equality in this context does not mean providing the same service to everyone. That's not what the law requires, and stark differences in priorities were very clear in the different messages from the men and women presenters seeking the same equality of health outcomes.

Peter's presentation highlights a set of key areas where he says targetted action could be brought to bear on specific health inequalities for men; he also demonstrates how novel approaches can be used to get essential messages across to the men themselves.

Click here if you would like to view and follow a handout of Peter's slides whilst listening. (PDF, 1.2Mb)

In the next episode you can hear the EHRC's guidance for NHS organisations on what they expect when examining equality schemes for compliance.

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Attention has been focussed recently on whether NHS Trusts in England are responding properly to the Gender Equality Duty, since it came into force in April 2007. Research by the Men's Health Forum highlighted that many of the published gender equality schemes it had researched were poorly evidenced, focussed on processes rather than outcomes, and showed a lack of effective consultation and involvement with service users.

Plain Sense was recently commissioned to put together a series of conference workshops for senior NHS Trust managers in England's North West region, to discuss how to be more effective and compliant in this area. Presenters included figures from the Strategic Health Authority, the Department of Health and the Equality and Human Rights Commission to explain what was expected. Just as importantly, an array of stakeholder speakers were invited to explain their view of the real priorities for promoting equality.

Karen Moore is a policy officer with the Women's Resource Centre - a national umbrella organisation based in London. In her speech, presented here in full, she challenged NHS Trust managers to look strategically at issues like violence against women and support for rape crisis centres as a means of avoiding longer term and more intractable mental and physical health issues. Afterwards her colleague, Darlene Corry, provided an interview summing up the challenges and opportunities in thinking 'out of the box' on these kinds of issues.

If you would like to view a handout of Karen's slides whilst listening to her talk then click on this link. (PDF 141Kb; 4 pages)

In the next episode it's the men's turn.

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