Working in the UHB has offered me many opportunities over the years, which I have been happy to grasp. Three years ago, I was asked if I would like to undertake some work on embedding a children’s rights approach into the UHB after a pledge had been made to the Children’s Commissioner for Wales. It began with many, many focus groups and visits to youth centres, resulting in our amazing and dynamic Cardiff and Vale University Health Youth Board (CAV HYB), who have totally inspired people and transformed how we all view the participation of children and young people in healthcare services. Including young voices in decision making, service development, staff interviews and staff education has begun to really give children and young people a seat at the table.
Equality in healthcare is sometimes assumed and taken for granted. It is often only those who experience the inequality, exclusion, disempowerment and micro-aggressions who truly know what happens and how it feels. It was only when we listened to children and young people that we could begin to empower them and respect their right to equality. Visibility also contributes to making everyone feel welcome and seen. Seeing people like ourselves in the form of colleagues, managers or care givers is vital.
I have been more visible lately as a member of the LGBTQ+ community so others might feel comforted that they are not alone. I was honoured to be included with some awesome colleagues and friends outside of the UHB on the Pinc List for the second year. The Pinc List is compiled to recognise some of the most influential LGBTQ+ people in Wales.
I would like to share some of the fantastic things which are happening in our UHB to further drive forward equality and inclusion. The UHB’s LGBTQ+ network has been restarted and is chaired by Rhiannon Owen. We welcome new members to our growing network and to our committee. Please watch out for us (and our lovely free pens) as we officially re-launch and promote the Network.There is now training on LGBQ+ awareness and a separate session on Trans and Non-binary issues in Healthcare which we offer to all staff. Anyone is welcome to attend! The training is 3 hours, in person (where restrictions allow), informal, relaxed and as interactive as attendees want it to be. Places are booked via the ESR portal.
I.D badges can now be printed with pronouns included if requested. We in the LGBTQ+ Network are incredibly proud of this development and the support we have had from the Executive Team to make it happen. The staff in security have helped us immensely, showing a flexibility which we are very grateful for. My badge now has my name, job title and my pronouns which for many Trans and non-binary people shows that I am an ally and that I will respect their pronouns if they choose to share theirs. As a nurse, this is very important. I want everyone to feel able to be themselves especially in times of potential distress, grief or pain.
I’m writing this during Pride Cymru week. Pride is a time of celebration but is still a protest. Hate crime incidences have risen, which has been evident in the media reports of homophobic attacks. This summer alone, there have been a number of reported physical assaults on LGBTQ+ people from across the UK, including a horrific attack in Cardiff. Unfortunately the most recent report was of a homophobically motivated murder.
Transphobia, Bi-phobia and Homophobia have not gone away and members of the Trans community are commonly victims of hate crime and exclusion. As host to the Welsh Gender Service, as an inclusive employer and as a healthcare provider, our UHB aims to do better to further equality. Our executives have welcomed mentoring from some of us in the LGBTQ+ staff network and they have shown a welcome eagerness to learn.
I am often asked about my motivation to improve equality and inclusion and have regularly answered that I would be just as motivated if I was straight. Treating everyone fairly, with respect and compassion, is the foundation of being a nurse so my motivation sits partly with my professional identity but it is also who I am and have always been since I was a child on a soap box. More recently, my education around the issues which Trans and non-binary people face has come from working with children and young people. I have heard about the problems they have faced and I have listened to how they feel. As often happens when adults really, truly listen to young people, I was moved, inspired and determined to help.
Since then I have educated myself, as many members of the Trans community have (quite understandably) said that it is not their job to educate everyone. I can pick up a book, watch a vlog and follow Trans authors on Twitter by myself. I still have very much to learn and welcome opportunities to do so. I have made mistakes, I have misgendered Trans patients, made assumptions when couples have visited wards and called someone by the wrong name. I am slowly getting through books on race, white privilege, LGBTQ+ history and gender. Learning is continual but the most important thing is to be open to it and to be comfortable with being told you are wrong (although if my wife reads this, I am NEVER wrong).