Over 200 people gathered on Friday 14 February 2020 to hear from a variety of inspirational lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) spokespeople during the Lincolnshire LGBT+ conference. The event celebrated LGBT+ history month and was held in the Epic Centre at the Lincolnshire Showground.
The annual event took place for the fifth time with the theme ‘Love is Love’ and explored ideas surrounding LGBT+ challenges. The conference gives members of the LGBT+ community a voice to start important discussions about how to improve services available locally and make them more inclusive of LGBT+ people.
The programme included a variety of guest speakers, personal experiences, interactive workshops and networking sessions. The event was supported by Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust (LCHS), Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LPFT), Lincolnshire Police and United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT).
Paul Devlin, Chair of the Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LPFT), who introduced the event on behalf of organisers, said: “Despite increased education and changes in public perception, LGBT+ people tell us that their experiences when accessing public and healthcare services differ from the experience of the rest of the population. This conference continues to shape the future of the NHS and other services by training professionals and making services more inclusive.
“It has been a pleasure to open this fantastic event and to have worked alongside fellow Lincolnshire NHS organisations and Lincolnshire Police. The day has been a huge success and each organisation made a real commitment to improving the support for LGBT+ people in Lincolnshire.”
Lizzie Jordan, Founder and CEO of Think2Speak, spoke about the experiences of Lincolnshire’s transgender children and young people and her work with family support group Hodgepodge. Lizzie said: “I really believe in the power of conversation. It is one of the best prevention tools that we have.
“Not every child that is trans or gender-questioning is lucky to have the tools and support they need to express their feelings in order to be heard by healthcare professionals.”
Other speakers were also passionate about equal rights and acceptance for transgender people in society. Catherine Lawson, Squadron Leader in the RAF, shared her personal experience of transition and her new role as Co-Chair of the RAF LGBT+ Freedom Network.
Catherine described the challenges she faced throughout her journey and said: “Societal attitudes towards trans people are improving but still challenging. 34% of trans people have been discriminated against because of their gender identity when visiting a café, restaurant, or bar in the last year and 48% of trans people don’t feel comfortable using public toilets through fear of discrimination or harassment.
“We all need to educate ourselves and encourage the use of inclusive language”.
Michael Toze from the University of Lincoln, spoke about the changes in transgender rights and healthcare over the past 20 years and explored the difficulties still faced by those wanting to transition.
Dr Michael Brady, National Advisor for LGBT Health in the NHS, explored LGBT+ survey data and echoed the importance of language, especially in terms of using preferred pronouns when addressing individuals. Dr Brady said: “22% of LGBT+ young people aged 11-19 and 45% of those who identify as trans have attempted suicide. There are unacceptable levels of stigma and discrimination which impacts on mental health and wellbeing. This also affects how people in the LGBT+ community access health services”.