The 17th of May is International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia - a day to celebrate sexual and gender diversity, and campaign against the violence and discrimination experienced by LGBTI people internationally.

Below are some beneficiary stories to show how advocacy can support people from the LGBTQIA+ community experiencing Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia to have their voices heard.

Georgia's story

Georgia is a 40 year old trans-woman, she was diagnosed with a moderate learning disability as well as depression. Georgia lives in a shared lives placement, she has lived there for over ten years, so her carers know her very well. She is also being supported by the Community Learning Disability Team.

Georgia has experienced depression and anxiety for a number of years and had been working with a psychiatrist. However her relationship with this psychiatrist was breaking down. She told POhWER Advocate Amanda - this psychiatrist ‘doesn’t get me’ and ‘she doesn’t understand me’. She asked Amanda if she could change her psychiatrist and Amanda explained her role and how she could support him with this.

Amanda got in touch with the Team Manager for the Community Learning Disability Team and raised Georgia concerns and that she would like a new psychiatrist.

The Team Manager acknowledged this request and asked for more details as to why, so Amanda spoke with Georgia again and explained that she needed to feedback her reasons for wanting a new psychiatrist. She told me that her psychiatrist misgenders her and calls her George (her previous name) and this upsets her. Amanda passed this on to the manager.

Eventually a new Psychiatrist was allocated to Georgia. However they wanted to hold a meeting, with Georgia, Amanda, her shared lives carer, the old psychiatrist and the learning disability nurse. The purpose of this meeting was for a handover to be done between the two psychiatrists.

Amanda told Georgia about this proposal and Georgia expressed that she was not happy with this and was very clear that she did not wish to see the old psychiatrist again. Amanda fed this back to the manager and she acknowledged Georgia’s wishes. A date was set up for Georgia to meet with the new psychiatrist. Georgia asked Amanda to support her by accompanying her to this appointment.

The meeting with the new psychiatrist was held and was very successful. Georgia was able to express to the new psychiatrist that she no longer wished to be addressed as George and that she would like to be addressed as Georgia. She also told the new psychiatrist that her pronouns were she and her. The psychiatrist acknowledged this and promised to address Georgia correctly.

After the meeting Georgia expressed that she felt very happy with how the meeting had gone and that this psychiatrist really understood her and that she will now be able to move forward.

Kira's Story

Kira contacted the POhWER Independent Mental Health Advocacy service after she had been detained on an all-male Acute Mental Health Ward.

Paul, an Independent Mental Health Advocate made contact with Kira and she explained to him that she felt she was on the wrong ward and would like to be transferred. Kira went on to explain that she is trans and that she was born into a male body, but that she identifies as female. Therefore being on the male ward is extremely uncomfortable for her and she would like to be transferred to a female ward as soon as possible.

After speaking with Kira, Paul made contact with the Ward Manager. The Ward Manager explained to Paul that on the admissions paperwork Kira was identified as male, so as far as they were aware they were admitting a male patient. The ward manager had since also spoke with the community mental health team and they believe that once Kira is mentally well again, she will revert to identifying as a male.

The Ward Manager explained that currently there were no beds available on the female ward, but that she would go to the bed management team and request that an appropriate bed be found for Kira. The Ward Manager also noted that Kira had previously been on a mixed gender ward, so she would also raise this as an alternative option. Paul updated Kira.

The Ward Manager emailed Paul when she had spoken to bed management and informed him that she had also informed Kira.

Paul kept in touch with the ward manager periodically and Kira was eventually transferred to a female ward 27 days after she made her request. Kira contacted Paul to thank him for his help with getting the hospital to finally recognise her as female and move her to an appropriate ward.