For Trans Visibility understand let's discuss pronouns!
By Sophie Collinge,
pronouns she, hers,
HouseProud Trans Officer
The Transgender Day of Visibility, 31 March, is an annual recognition and awareness day that celebrates transgender and gender non-conforming people’s many contributions to society across the world, while also raising awareness of discrimination faced by them. In light of this, there is one aspect in which everyone can easily be more inclusive and supportive, and this is in respect to pronouns.
Personal and possessive pronouns describe the words used in place of a person’s name in speech and writing. They enable the speech and text to flow more easily and allow us to refer to someone where their name is not known. But our use of these pronouns is heavily based around being gender specific.
If you were to retell an incident you had with a stranger it would be easy enough to avoid involving their age, race or religion, but difficult to avoid including their sex. This is because our language is hardwired to define everyone by a male or female gender for every situation. Traditionally we use he/him/his when referring to a male and she/her/hers for female and it is ingrained in our learning to reference all individual people this way. It is clumsy, often leading to a simplifying use of the male pronouns when either gender could be applicable, and increasingly a cross section of society does not want to always be defined by their gender.
For transgender people, who often have a long journey when transitioning, understanding and using their preferred pronoun can be of vital importance to their self-esteem and wellbeing. Those transgender individuals who live their lives with people who use their correct pronouns have been found to suffer less depression and have a significantly reduced level of suicidal tendencies than those who are subjected to frequent misgendering.
But pronouns are equally important to nonbinary individuals. Nonbinary describes anyone whose gender identity or experience cannot be exclusively described by using the terms ‘man’ or ‘woman’. For them being nonbinary is a gender identity and not a form of gender expression. Their identity and experiences can encompass both masculine and feminine traits and does not align with the sex and gender-based attributes imposed at birth. In essence, the gender identity a person uses to describe themself does not necessarily tell you what pronouns to use and so it is important that we address the current flawed system in which gender based binary pronouns dominate.
There are several types of personal and possessive pronouns and to be inclusive of everyone we should be aware of the variety. They are:
• binary pronouns, such as she/her/hers and he/him/his
• gender-neutral pronouns, such as they/them/theirs
• neo pronouns, such as ze/hir/hirs or ze/zir/zirs
• multiple sets of pronouns, such as she/they or he/they
Some individuals may even be accepting of any pronouns being used. If it is the case, then do so respectfully. Alternatively, some nonbinary people do not use any pronouns at all and feel most affirmed and respected when only being referred to as their name. If someone does not share their pronouns freely, you should respect their decision and avoid pressing the subject further.
If you are unsure of what terminology to use in a given situation, defer to gender-neutral language as this is typically seen as inclusive. These pronouns are already commonly used when we do not know a person’s gender and are not just for describing more than one person. For instance, we all use statements such as ‘they will call back if it’s important’ and ‘someone left their coat behind’ and we know there is only one person in question. By keeping this in mind when referring to a nonbinary person, or in any case where gender is uncertain, we can build on our inclusivity.
But reviewing our use of pronouns should also go beyond transgender and non-binary equality. Being compelled to use gender specific pronouns not only rarely serves a benefit but can create mistakes and result in causing offence to anyone. These mistakes could be made when someone is androgenous or in written communication where the gender may not be apparent by the person’s name. Furthermore, gender specific pronouns are often sexist. When the gender is unknown or there is uncertainly the default is often the masculine pronouns. This generic use of masculine terms is not just a disservice to women but can also lead to mistakes and reinforce stereotypes.
It is important to remember that although for most people their pronouns are not something that they give much thought to, to others they are a core part of their identity that is complex, nuanced, and sometimes hard to explain. The best action you can take to help and be inclusive is to listen and to be open to learning. A person’s pronouns cannot be assumed and the best way to confirm is by simply and politely asking or by introducing yourself with your own pronouns. This will then give them an opportunity to share theirs. You can also help with inclusivity by including pronouns in your email signature and social media profiles. It will demonstrate that you care about individual’s preferences and prevent accidental misgendering.
Seven Housing Providers are
accredited with the
HouseProud is pleased to announce the first tranche of housing providers who have been accredited with a pledge status as part of the HouseProud Pledge Scheme.
The HouseProud Pledge Scheme was created as a response to the outcomes of the research ‘There’s No Place Like Home’ which was delivered in partnership with The University of Sussex. The scheme was designed after a series of residents’ focus groups. You can read about this process and how the successful applicants delivered on the pledge here
The housing providers awarded Pledge Pioneer status were
L&Q, Network Homes, Swan, Home Group, and Notting Hill Genesis
These organisations were able to demonstrate that LGBTQ+ residents can have input at executive/ strategic level; an increase in LGBTQ+ visibility in their organisations and a programme of staff training to improve understanding of LGBTQ+ lives.
There were two organisations awarded Pledge Plus, the highest level of achievement
Clarion Housing Group and Anchor Hanover
In addition to the requirements to Pioneer level, they also were able to demonstrate that working with involved LGBTQ+ residents, they could deliver two particular objectives for their own organisation.
John Stevens, co-chair of HouseProud said:
These first HouseProud Pledge Scheme accreditations recognise the efforts of colleagues and residents in working towards greater LGBTQ+ equality and support. The Pledge Scheme was designed to reflect key themes in the Social Housing Green Paper, including resident voice, accountability and engagement between landlords and residents. In total, sixteen organisations have so far signed-up to the Pledge Scheme and dozens more have expressed interest, so we look forward to announcing more accreditations next year.
HouseProud featured as
National Housing Federation launches first ED&I report for the UK
HouseProud was especially proud to have been mentioned in the NHF ED&I report published this month. and available for download here
Housing Diversity Network and the NHF gathered evidence and experiences around equality, diversity and inclusion in the housing association workforce.
Insights are from a range of sources, from literature and data sources to more informal evidence, such as media pieces, organisational case studies and personal experiences. It focuses primarily on sources from the last 15 years (insights older than 15 years are legislative). Insights were loosely coded by protected characteristics in the Equality Act 2010.
The insights address the following questions, which they structured the report around:
What is current landscape of equality, diversity and inclusion in the housing association sector?
What are people’s experiences of equality, diversity and inclusion within the sector?
What are the challenges that the sector faces with regard to equality, diversity and inclusion?
Is there a need for change? If so, what?
What can we learn from other whole- sector approaches
Following our successful HouseProud Black History Month celebration panel event, on the 22nd October 2020, we are building on the amazing collaborative dynamic, and will continue working with other organisations to promote opportunities for all our members.
Writes Asif Rashid, HouseProud BAME Officer
One such opportunity that’s a must for BAME colleagues working in housing, is the programme LEADERSHIP NOW, being delivered from the collaboration between GatenbySanderson & UNIFY.
LEADERSHIP NOW is a programme consisting of bespoke initiatives, workshops and profiling development tools, that enable participants to accelerate learning. The programme has been developed for new, aspiring and existing leaders to aid personal and professional development, providing opportunities for improving career opportunities for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff at all levels
UNIFY is the cross-sector BAME network working across housing and care to share information, promote initiatives, host network events and increase BAME senior management opportunities. UNIFY state their overarching goal is to increase inclusion opportunities at all levels and ensure the diversity of staff is reflected throughout all areas of housing.
GatenbySanderson describe themselves as the UK’s leading people intelligence business, advising public services, not-for-profit and education services how to deliver effective leadership opportunities and accelerate change.
HouseProud echo the UNIFY passion for diversity and inclusion, and encourage all HouseProud LGBT+ members who meet the criteria of the LEADERSHIP NOW programme to apply.
Under-representation in senior posts of people from BAME communities remains a serious issue. Combined with the under-representation in senior positions from other protected characteristic groups, such as sexual orientation and gender, means that we should take action now to make positive change.
HouseProud is promoting this programme as it is focused on making the change the social housing sector desperately needs.
For more information about the programme and to register your interest in applying, please visit: this link
Resources to help us fight CoVID 19
The Network for LGBT People Working in Social Housing
We may be 'all in this together' but the virus, the current lockdown and ways of working in the housing sector have a very distinct impact on LGBT+ people working in social housing, and also for our LGBT+ residents/customers/service-users.
HouseProud would like to give this front page of our website over to any resources, or initiatives that would have particular impact on either colleagues or customers - and of course some of these will be useful to both groups. Please do email in any suggestions and we will put them up here!
A good referral route for our residents and service-users is Stonewall Housing.
They give advice about different housing related issues to hundreds of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) people every year. They understand what you, or your friends, might be experiencing. So if your residents need advice, then encourage them to contact them - there is a self referral form here.
Some of the housing issues they've helped LGBT+ people with include:
if they are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless;
if their relationship with family has broken down because of sexual orientation or gender identity;
if they've been victimised or harassed;
if they need to escape from domestic abuse;
if they need advice about a dispute with your organisation;
if they need advice with housing benefits or universal credit.
All of which can become heightened in these times of Covid 19.
One of the best resources and signposting points is London Switchboard.
They have created an Emotional Well-being Support Pack.
This is full of useful and practical exercises and thoughts on dealing with feeling lonely and isolated. As we know from our research that many LGBT+ residents feel isolated in their homes even when they are not on lockdown, it is important that as Housing Providers we redouble our efforts to reach this group,
Another good resource page is that of our old friends at AKT (the Albert Kennedy Trust). Their resources page has very clear guidelines for LGBT+ residents affected by CoVID19 in respect to being evicted, benefits in both our sector and in the privately rented sector.
They also have a really good list of free or fair-cost arts events, exercise classes and online wellness led by People of Colour, Womxn and Queer folks.
Of course the lockdown and self isolation can create an atmosphere where domestic violence becomes a major concern. GALOP coordinate the National LGBT Domestic Violence Hotline 0800 999 5428 and the details are all on their website
For younger trans people Mermaids has updated information on their website. What we liked about Mermaids is that they said 'Our dedicated team of staff and volunteers are determined to offer more support not less during this period of uncertainty'.
There's some great new resource for intersex people - on Soho Radio. Anick will be discusses the experiences of an intersex person, mixed with songs every week. He will be inviting guests on his show to get perspective on different issues. 'Queerantine' with us!!
Have put together a resources pack which is great for people with kids at home; providing maths, English, creativity and LGBT+ history:
Gal Dem. Online resources for women of colour.
Imaan - LGBTQI+ Muslim Support
We also really liked the London LGBTIQ+ COVID19 Mutual Aid Facebook Group where volunteers can skill share to support vulnerable people in our community, you can find out about that here