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The Action for Trans Health Solidarity Fund is now open for applications. The deadline is 9th April 2017.

Throughout the year, we raise money to help trans and gender variant people who for whatever reason cannot access healthcare treatment through the NHS in a timely manner. We know that the trans healthcare system is in crisis, and that the people who need help accessing support will usually outweigh our capacity to fundraise. As such, we use this application form to identify those who face the most barriers to accessing healthcare treatment in more conventional ways. A proportion of this funding round will be ring fenced for trans people of colour. 

Our fund is raised through the generous donations of supporters around the country. Please consider fundraising for us, or donating via the PayPal button below. You can also choose to become a member of Action for Trans Health.

We can now accept donations!

Help us to provide access to essential healthcare today.

Action for Trans Health takes a broad view of healthcare, which recognises that there a wide number of things that can impact on an individual’s healthcare needs. As such, we place no restrictions on what the money can be used for. We do ask that if the money is being used to access medication which will be needed long-term, that the applicant has thought about how to secure the long-term supply after the grant money has been spent. Some things we have funded in the past include:

– appointments with private gender clinics;
– hair removal;
– counselling and therapy;
– rent payments when the money isn’t there because of a health issue;
– mobility aids;
– sick pay;
– part payment of surgery costs;
– wigs, binders, clothes, etc.

Once applications have been received, a member of Action for Trans Health’s administrative staff will anonymise the application text and pass them onto our funding panel who will allocate the funds. We will contact you to let you know whether your application has been successful within two weeks of the funding panel meeting.

Here is the application form to fill in. If you have any questions, please email us at info[at]actionfortranshealth.org.uk

Posted by & filed under prison industrial complex, prisons.

[The following article deals with prisons, policing and systemic oppression of LGBTQ people; as such the article and its linked sources will include references to violence including police brutality, racism, incarceration, prison deaths, self harm, suicide, poverty, assault and sexual violence.]

January 22nd is International Day of Solidarity with Trans Prisoners. At a time when the government is cutting funds for hospital beds in favour of prison beds, Pazuzu Gaylord argues the need for action.

“The prison industrial complex (PIC) is a term we use to describe the overlapping interests of government and industry that use surveillance, policing, and imprisonment as solutions to economic, social and political problems.”

– Critical Resistance

The first week of 2017 brought the tragic news that Jenny Swift had lost her life to suicide in HMP Doncaster, making a total of 4 known deaths of trans women prisoners in 14 months. [1] Three of these – Jenny Swift, Joanne Latham and Vikki Thompson – were in men’s prisons, whilst Nicola Cope died at Foston Hall women’s prison in Derbyshire last November. Jenny Swift and Vikki Thompson both had their requests to be placed in women’s prisons denied – Vikki had warned that she would kill herself if sent to a men’s prison. [2] Jenny entered prison naked rather than being forced to wear male clothing, was called “mister” by guards and refused hormone medication she had been taking for three years. [3] Both were on remand, Jenny awaiting trial and Vikki awaiting sentencing. Joanne Latham had expressed distress over HMP Woodhill withholding make-up brushes from her in the lead-up to her death. [4]

Whilst there are clear aspects of transmisogynist discrimination in the above cases, they must be placed within the wider context of record numbers of suicides in prison, with self-inflicted deaths and incidents of self-harm both rising by almost a third over last year; [5] a disproportionate level of deaths and self-harm incidents were by women. [6] Prison suicides over the last year amount to one every three days. [7] The UK’s largest private healthcare provider, Care UK, were criticised for promoting self-harm incidents as part of the “exciting life of prison medical staff” in one of their staff recruitment videos. [8]

When looking at solutions to these harms, we must be wary of reforms which seek to expand the prison industrial complex rather than reduce the suffering and number of people incarcerated. The £1bn government plans to build nine new mega-prisons, capable of caging a total of 10,000 people, are cause for concern. [9] A better response to overcrowding would be to reduce numbers of people in and sent to prison – a good start would be releasing all IPP prisoners who have served their sentences as well as those held under faulty joint enterprise convictions, remanding less people into custody and lowering probation licence conditions. [10] A penal reform charity revealed that £230m was spent needlessly caging people on remand, with remand prisoners also being at the greatest risk of self-harm and suicide. [11] This money could be more productively spent on the NHS to fund mental healthcare and benefits to help people stay fed and housed without resorting to survival crimes. The current government policy of slashing NHS budgets and sanctioning vulnerable people whilst sinking billions into locking people up is cruel and blinkered to the reasons that people end up in prison.

“As queers we know the terror of scrutiny, disgust, and isolation; for trans people in prison, those problems are doubled by the physical and emotional restraints of a literal cage”

– Marius Mason

This is equally relevant when looking into the case of transgender prisoners. Following the deaths of Joanne Latham and Vikki Thompson in November 2015, calls were made to create specialist transgender or LGBT prisons. [12] Given the history of transgender internment, this is a worrying suggestion, particularly when the UK has the most privatised prison system in Europe and there are profit motives for imprisoning people. Transgender and other LGBTQ people already have disproportionate rates of incarceration, exacerbated by a cycle of parental, education, employment and housing discrimination which leads to LGBTQ people being criminalised for surviving through sex work, drug use, petty theft and self-defence. Police profiling and racism also play a part, particularly for black people – 10% of the British prison population are black, compared to 2.8% of the general population. [13] As Cece McDonald, a black trans woman who was imprisoned in the US for defending herself from neo-Nazi attackers, said, “Prisons aren’t safe for anyone, and that’s the key issue.” [14]

The existence of prisons is traditionally justified for offender reform and public safety, but with around half of prisoners reoffending within a year of release it’s clear that this is not accurate. Rather than being better adjusted to society, isolation in these fundamentally violent institutions leaves many prisoners with poor mental health and drug addictions, lacking financial support or job prospects once outside. That’s for those who make it out – high suicide rates in prison essentially mean an unofficial death sentence for many: 113 in the last year alone. [15] It’s hard to see how that’s justifiable.

The cruelty and vastness of the prison industrial complex can seem insurmountable, but it’s important to celebrate our hard-won victories and the hope that they bring. This week came the incredible news that Chelsea Manning had her sentence commuted to time served and will finally be free in May, following seven years of hard campaigning from her supporters and her own successful protests including hunger strikes to gain medical treatment for her gender dysphoria. [16] In 2015 Tara Hudson was successfully transferred to a women’s prison after media pressure including a petition signed by 150,000 supporters. [17] We must also salute important long-term work by organisations such as Bent Bars, who dismantle the isolation of prison through letter-writing projects. [18]

Last year, along with delivering workshops and talks to engage with communities around the effects of the prison industrial complex on LGBTQ people, I took part in an action at Manchester Pride where a dozen of us blocked over 230 police from marching, calling for justice for trans prisoners and an end to prison expansion. [19] We gained international media coverage, successfully raising the profile of trans prisoners, making sure police presence is not normalised and our criminalised siblings are not forgotten. [20] This week friends from Action for Trans Health and No Prisons Manchester occupied the offices of Lend Lease, the company who have been building and profiting from new mega-prisons. [21]

We hope you will join us today in actions across the country to call for stronger communities, an end to systems which keep us in poverty and the abolition of gender police. Check out these events for International Day of Solidarity with Trans Prisoners and find one near you:

Noise Demo at HMP Doncaster: https://www.facebook.com/events/1558323587516797/

Letter Writing in Edinburgh: https://www.facebook.com/events/739951776157678/

Vigil at HMP Pentonville, London: https://www.facebook.com/events/1249575065136988/

See https://www.facebook.com/transprisoners/ for international events

  1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-38562714
  2. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leeds-34869620
  3. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/09/transgender-woman-jenny-swift-prison-death
  4. http://www.miltonkeynes.co.uk/news/transgender-prisoner-found-hanged-at-woodhill-prison-after-her-make-up-brushes-were-delayed-1-7573220
  5. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-38126646
  6. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/jul/28/suicides-and-assaults-in-prisons-in-england-and-wales-at-all-time-high
  7. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/nov/28/one-prison-suicide-every-three-days-england-and-wales-say-reformers
  8. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/aug/30/care-uk-firm-criticised-for-promoting-exciting-prison-self-harm-incidents
  9. https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/architecture-design-blog/2015/nov/10/super-prisons-michael-gove-1bn-government-plan
  10. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-38006287
  11. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/aug/18/230m-wasted-remand-howard-league
  12. https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2016/01/07/government-urged-to-build-dedicated-transgender-prison-after-women-sent-to-mens-prisons/
  13. http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/projectsresearch/race
  14. http://www.advocate.com/politics/transgender/2014/03/03/cece-mcdonald-rebuilding-her-life-after-19-months-prison
  15. http://www.inquest.org.uk/statistics/deaths-in-prison
  16. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/17/us/politics/obama-commutes-bulk-of-chelsea-mannings-sentence.html
  17. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/tara-hudson-transgender-woman-moved-to-womens-prison-after-public-outcry-a6715476.html
  18. http://www.bentbarsproject.org/
  19. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JbX3hk20Ctw
  20. http://attitude.co.uk/trans-activists-block-manchesters-pride-parade/
  21. http://www.cape-campaign.org/lendlease-offices-occupied-profiteers-not-welcome/

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Find out what Action for Trans Health’s local groups have been up to over the last year. If you’re interested in setting up a local group in your area, or want to be put in touch with the existing chapters, please get in touch at info@actionfortranshealth.org.uk

Liverpool

As a beginning chapter, the Liverpool chapter hasn’t done a great deal so far this year, but we’ve got big plans

Things done:

a few small fundraising stalls, selling ATH merch and Zines at various gigs and Roller Derby events.

lots of printing of said merch.

setting up and running the Ebay shop for the Merch.

organised the first ‘Auction for Trans Health’, which raised £1670.

In the next six months, our plans include:

an “Introduction to Advocacy” training day.

auction for Trans Health 2 (in April).

organising a Celidh and supper for Burns Night as a fundraiser which will actually probably take place in manchester, so we can test out the ‘format’ with cool people that we know so we can do it again later.

roller derby fundraiser scrim.

Nottingham

Action for Trans Health Nottingham was founded over summer this year. We keep people engaged by discussing our activity on a private Facebook page, keeping in touch with people via an email account, and holding monthly meetings. Our first activity was to give out leaflets at Nottingham Pride to attract people who want to get involved in campaigning. At time of writing, we are preparing to hold a stall at a Council Health Fair (which will have finished a month ago) where we will be (have been) asking for trans people’s experience of accessing local services; we have already received accounts of failure to implement best practice at the Nottingham Centre for Gender Dysphoria with regard to titles and pronouns, and in hospitals allocating trans inpatients within gender-segregated wards.

As well as lobbying service providers to resolve these issues, our present goals are: to work with the local Health Shop to develop harm reduction services for people who are self-medicating; to challenge the disappointing decision of local NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups to not provide gamete storage for trans patients starting HRT; and to lobby MPs to raise trans issues in PMQs and to support legislation & policy that benefits trans people. We had the opportunity to raise these in person with the Leader of the Opposition, and were met with a warm response.

Sheffield

The Sheffield Action for Trans Health chapter was founded in January 2016 with an ATH activist training day. We had our first meeting following on from this, trans people came from Sheffield and surrounding areas to discuss healthcare issues in our local community and beyond. Since then we have held monthly meetings and used Basecamp to discuss events, fundraising and projects.

Throughout the year we’ve continued to build a presence in Sheffield, showing solidarity on pickets with junior doctors, holding a fundraiser film screening of Tangerine, having stalls and workshops, raising awareness and funds. We’ve engaged with local NHS trans healthcare services through open meetings. One of our members has designed a new ATH logo which we’ve been using locally and propose be used nationally. We have also organised this year’s ATH conference and fundraiser gig.

In total we have raised over £800 this year, most of which has been put into the solidarity fund with some being invested in screenprinting supplies to print more merchandise to raise further funds and a little towards publicity printing costs.

One of our goals is to have information on which GPs in the Sheffield area are trans-friendly. We will then be able to share this information with local trans people and contact the less trans-friendly GPs to work with them to make their services trans-inclusive. So far we have collated a list of all the GPs in the Sheffield area and written a survey to send out to them.

Manchester

It’s been an active year for Manchester Action for Trans Health. We still struggle to meet regularly and draw new people in, but have shown progress on this front.

We were on pickets supporting junior doctors and took action against companies privatising the NHS with Picket the Profiteers. We’ve organised numerous events, including the Transfeminist Festival, Trans Day of Remembrance Memorials, and Self-Care Days (with massage, reiki and advocacy!). We’ve held advocacy drop-ins at monthly TransMCR meetups organised by LGBT Foundation, and helped them and Rainbow Noir organise an event series for trans people of colour.

We’ve developed a good working relationship with the LGBT Cancer Support Alliance, helping organise a Trans Cancer Study Day at Wythenshawe Hospital. We’ll continue working together over the next year. We’ve also begun talks with Macmillan Cancer Support about improving services for trans people.

We’ve hosted advocacy training in Manchester and trained clinicians and medical students locally. We’ve almost finished a zine about Rage!

We’ve worked with No Prisons Manchester campaigning against plans for a new mega prison in Manchester, highlighting the negative impact of prisons on trans people. Some of us participated in an action at Manchester Pride with Direct Action for Trans Health.

We’re creating an accessible, cheap electrolysis service staffed by a trans electrolysist. We’ve trained someone and almost have the studio ready – just a bit more DIY to do!

Next year we’ll continue strengthening our anti-prisons organising with No Prisons Manchester, do more advocacy training sessions and self-care days.

Leeds

After Jess and Loz ran a training day at the University of Leeds in the Summer of 2015, The Leeds Chapter of Action for Trans Health started meeting at Mesmac from September 2015 on a monthly basis.

Activities which we have been involved in include having an Action for Trans Health presence and stall at the University of Leeds Non-Binary Conference at the beginning of June, hosting the advocacy training day in Leeds on 26th of June, supporting the Junior Doctors Strike in April, and hosting the ‘Big Swish’ Make up Tutorial events at Mesmac (One successful event took place on the 19th of September and there is another one coming up on the 26th of November 2016).

Cass is standing down as the coordinator of the Leeds Chapter as they have moved to Manchester. LJ and Reuben are stepping up to coordinate. We will be managing the handover between November and January.

Plans we have in place for the near future include a Lush fundraiser; a gig fundraiser (planned for February/ spring 2017) and training Cass, Reuben and LJ (and anyone else who wants to come along) as healthcare provider trainers.

There have been many other plans that we would like to take forward in terms of campaigning, advocacy, fundraising, surveys and training.  We really need more people to get involved to make all of this happen. Please contact us at leedsactionfortranshealth@ gmail.com if you are interested in learning more or getting involved.

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Greetings friends,

You are cordially invited to the second annual Action for Trans Health conference and AGM!

The conference is taking place at Norfolk Park Heritage Centre in Sheffield on the 26th-27th of November 2016.

We have some exciting workshops and speakers lined up for you, including Salvage Collective – preventing gendered harms in activist communities, Tara Hudson on her experiences as a trans prisoner, Sex Worker Open Univerity discuss trans sex work, Ruth Pearce shares findings from her recent research into trans health and activism, plus more to be revealed!

Book now to avoid disappointment:

https://goo . gl/forms/0d7DQjC7vg7dABvx1

——————–

Our committee elections will also be taking place on the Sunday of conference and online via email.

Our committee is responsible for overseeing the work of Action for Trans Health and will be accountable to the wider membership. Elected committee members will serve for a term of 2 years on a staggered basis, so you will be joining some members of last year’s team on the committee. Key responsibilities include: determining the goals and direction of the organisation, appointing and managing volunteer roles appropriately and listening to and acting on the wishes and needs of the membership.

Committee members should be willing to spend at least 3 hours most weeks on ATH meetings and work. Although some current members of the committee work 20+ hours per week on Action for Trans Health work, this is not expected of all committee members. Most of our communication happens online, committee members need to be comfortable using online forums and emails to keep in touch with each other on a regular basis. Job shares are absolutely welcome.

We currently have 6 roles on the committee up for election:

1 x Committee Member (reserved for a person of colour)
2 x Committee Member (reserved for disabled person)
1 x Committee Member (reserved for a non-binary person)
1 x Committee Member (reserved for a woman)
1 x Committee Member (open place)

It is possible to stand for multiple roles in this election but you will need to fill out multiple nomination forms. You can find the nomination form here:https://goo . gl/forms/ej8utjdg7mequHQJ3

Any person standing in the election must agree to the following statement:

“Action for Trans Health is a grassroots organisation fighting for democratic trans healthcare and trans liberation. We believe in the principles of mutual aid, education and solidarity and this is reflected in the training and fundraising work that we do. We believe that trans people come from all walks of life: we are working class, we are black, we are disabled, we are LGB, we are women. As such, for trans liberation to be achieved we need to actively fight against all forms of bigotry and build coalitions with other groups with similar, radical aims.”

If you have any questions, please get in touch at info@actionfortranshealth.org.uk

——————–

One more announcement, polish up your dancing shoes because we will be having a fundraiser gig on the Saturday night of conference at The Lughole on Arundel Street, next to the Lord Nelson pub, in Sheffield. We’re thrilled to announce The Spook School will be playing, plus Seth Corbin,Grotbaby and Dispute Settlement Mechanism. Lots to look forward to! Facebook event is here, tell your friends: https://www . facebook . com/events/586473154869039/

Well wishes and hope to see you in Sheffield next month,

Pazuzu

Action for Trans Health

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The Action for Trans Health Solidarity Fund is now open for applications. The deadline is 16th July 2016.

Throughout the year, we raise money to help trans and gender variant people who for whatever reason cannot access healthcare treatment through the NHS in a timely manner. We know that the trans healthcare system is in crisis, and that the people who need help accessing support will usually outweigh our capacity to fundraise. As such, we use this application form to identify those who face the most barriers to accessing healthcare treatment in more conventional ways.

Our fund is raised through the generous donations of supporters around the country. Please consider fundraising for us, or donating via the PayPal button below. You can also choose to become a member of Action for Trans Health.

We can now accept donations!

Help us to provide access to essential healthcare today.

Action for Trans Health takes a broad view of healthcare, which recognises that there a wide number of things that can impact on an individual’s healthcare needs. As such, we place no restrictions on what the money can be used for. We do ask that if the money is being used to access medication which will be needed long-term, that the applicant has thought about how to secure the long-term supply after the grant money has been spent. Some things we have funded in the past include:

– appointments with private gender clinics;
– hair removal;
– counselling and therapy;
– rent payments when the money isn’t there because of a health issue;
– mobility aids;
– sick pay;
– part payment of surgery costs;
– wigs, binders, clothes, etc.

Once applications have been received, a member of Action for Trans Health’s administrative staff will anonymise the application text and pass them onto our funding panel who will allocate the funds. We will contact you to let you know whether your application has been successful within two weeks of the funding panel meeting.

Here is the application form to fill in. If you have any questions, please email us at info[at]actionfortranshealth.org.uk

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The tragic events in Orlando have been able to happen precisely because of racism, precisely because of the erasure of the race and ethnicity of victims of homophobic, biphobic, transphobic and queerphobic attacks, precisely because we refuse to allow for the experiences of QTIPOC in LGBT communities, and precisely because people of colour, especially Muslims, are so often positioned as violent terrorists.

Despite this, we have seen Sky News reporters try to insist that the gender identities, sexual orientations, races and ethnicities of this attack were irrelevant and incidental. Already we have seen the Leave campaign try to exploit the deaths of primarily Latinx queer and trans people of colour in Orlando to further Islamaphobia within the UK.

This event cannot be separated from the systemic violence towards trans and gender non-conforming people of colour in the US and South America and it cannot be separated from Islamaphobic violence across the world. It is not by chance that this attack took place at a night that used black and Latina drag queens on its advertising. Nor is it by chance that people are trying to connect the attacker to ISIS and radical Islam.

The facts – that attacker Omar Mateen was American, loved the police, had a gun license and worked for G4S – are being ignored in favour of divide and conquer tactics that would pit LGBT communities against communities of colour and communities of faith in the wake of an attack on queer and trans people of colour.

Remember that many of the same people who condemn this attack and make public appearances to mourn these deaths and talk about ‘radical Islam’ are the same people that do not care that queer and trans people die through lack of access to HRT and surgeries, that queer and trans people die as a result of police violence and brutality, and that queer and trans people will die as a result of the decision not to fund PrEP.

Remember that Mateen worked for the same G4S who run private prisons and who privately police deportations of refugees and asylum seekers, including queer and trans refugees and asylum seekers. Remember that G4S are in the business of upholding and enforcing racist, queerphobic, transphobic, disablist and classist oppression. Now, in a time where Islamaphobic violence is on the rise, where queer and transphobic violence is on the rise, where racist violence is on the rise, we must stand together in solidarity more than ever.

Action for Trans Health stands in solidarity with the Latinx community, with Muslims, with immigrants and asylum seekers, with queer and trans people of colour around the world in the shadow of this devastating event.

We want to remind you, our community, to take the time to you need to feel and heal today. Take time to rage and be angry, take time to sob and cry and scream, take time to sit quietly and think, take time to mourn. We want to remind you that we are not powerless and that when we organise and come together in solidarity we can fight back. We want to remind you that we will organise and we will fight back.

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Today is the deadline for registering to vote in the #EURef. This blog is the text from a series of tweets @act4transhealth

Health: the #EU allows freedom of movement across Europe, meaning that it easier for the NHS to recruit to make up staff shortfalls #EURef

Tory policies cutting NHS student’s bursaries means less recruitment in the UK, the #EU is an increasingly important source of staff #EURef

An understaffed and overworked #NHS cannot meet its equality duties, educate its staff on #trans issues, or fund better services #EURef

Health: UK citizens will not automatically be entitled to free healthcare abroad if we leave, this harms those who cannot afford to pay #EURef

Health: #trans people visiting the UK will not automatically receive free healthcare here, increasing health inequalities #EURef

Health: #TTIP may dismantle the #NHS, but this Tory govt would sign up. In Europe, there is a growing movement against it #EURef

A privatised healthcare system would spell disaster for #trans ppls access to healthcare. In Europe, we can fight against it together #EURef

The UK leads on #LGBT rights in Europe, LGBT MEPs across Europe are asking us not to leave but to press for change in Europe #EURef

We get loads of workers protection law from the #EU. #Trans ppl are often un(der)employed & will feel those rights been taken away #EURef

#Brexit will lead to the closing down of our borders, meaning more #trans ppl suffering under the border regime #EURef

The #EURef debate seems irrelevant; the two sides both complete wankers (true), but #Brexit will harm trans ppl in the UK & elsewhere

Whats more, the #EU can be better, do better. Another Europe is possible; one which isn’t a fortress, one which fights neoliberalism #EURef

Register to vote today at https://www.eureferendum.gov.uk/register-to-vote/ and pls consider voting #Remain #EURef

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Democratic Healthcare for All: #ReclaimNHS

As workers, junior doctors deserve better. As patients, carers, and service users, we deserve a NHS staffed by clinicians who are not exhausted and overworked but with the necessary space and focus to see us not as symptoms but as people. The contract is being imposed but we can fight back and #ReclaimNHS. It just so happens that NHS Employers, the people in charge of imposing the contract, have handily provided an email helpdesk over at juniordoctors@nhsemployers.org to answer questions about the new contract. We suggest that we all make use of this handy service to ask questions regarding the contract imposition. Some sample questions might include:

– How can you justify the imposition of the junior contract when 99% of British Medical Association members rejected any new contract which would extended working hours in such a way which endangered patient’s welfare?;

– The NHS has widespread staffing problems. The imposition of the junior doctor contract has had a direct impact in a reduction of applications to medical schools. Why are we stretching already overworked junior doctors instead of investing in recruitment and training to fill any shortfalls?;

– The junior doctor contract represents a de-skilling of NHS workers and a way of squeezing more work out of already over-stretched staff. Against a backdrop of privatisation, the contract seeks to make the NHS more attractive to private companies who are snapping up public assets to squeeze a profit. How can this be justified whilst still upholding the principles of a public NHS which is free at the point of access as outlined in the NHS Constitution?

Please email juniordoctors@nhsemployers.org with your questions and concerns about the junior doctor contract and privatisation before the helpline closes on the 13th April. Email the above questions, ask your own, or even send pictures of your cats. Share the facebook event. Share it on twitter. Ask your mum. Ask your gran. Together we can fight back. Together we can #ReclaimNHS.

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This open letter was written by trans artists in response to hearing that cis artist Virginia de Madieros will be given a funded residency in Manchester. As part of her residency, she will be undertaking hormone treatment with testosterone as part of an “artistic ethnography” of the Manchester transgender community. The organisers behind the open letter have asked for it to be hosted here. If you are a trans artist and wish to sign the letter, please email info[at]actionfortranshealth.org.uk

Dear Virginia de Madieros, Manchester School of Art and HOME Manchester,

We are a group of trans and gender variant artists based in the UK. It has come to our attention that the Manchester School of Art is granting a residency to Brazilian artist Virginia de Madieros which will be hosted at HOME Manchester as part the Manchester-Brazil 2016 Art Collaboration in the 20th July – 20th Oct 2016 period.
We are aware that Virginia has contacted various trans organisations in Manchester ahead of her residency here, saying:

“Virginia will be developing a new work, directed at the transgender universe – women who had assigned the female gender at birth but now are understood as men, also called FTM – female to male. The starting point of the project is her own body – a few months ago she started taking testosterone hormone as an artistic procedure… Acting as an ethnographic artist, she would be attending social spaces in Manchester which are frequented by transgenders to get into the daily lives of individuals or groups and gather personal and unobtrusive stories”

As trans artists, this raises some red flags for us.

Trans men are not “women who were assigned female at birth who go on to be understood as men”, they are men (who are also trans). We recognise that UK-based trans terms may be different from Brazilian terms, but we are also aware from looking at Virginia’s previous work around trans / transition that she is aware of the term “trans men” and how it is understood. We feel that any artistic research carried out on the trans community in Manchester should be undertaken by someone with the cultural competency to do so, including an understanding of how trans people in Manchester describe ourselves, and how the language of female-ness or male-ness as essential traits is often mobilised by transphobes to actively harm trans people.

As trans artists and activists we believe that anyone should have the right to change their body in any way they want, for any reason. However, we are concerned about the impact of a cis woman taking testosterone uncritically as an artistic endeavour in a world where trans people are literally dying through being unable to access this exact treatment. Through our engagement with some of Virginia’s previous work, we do not get as sense that her engagement with these acts are critical, however we would welcome being corrected on this front.

We are concerned about the use of ethnography within this project. Largely we see cis people studying trans bodies as an othering and objectifying process. In a recent video about her work, Virginia laughs and says:

“Oh muscles are beginning to show. I’ve been working out”

As much as muscle gain often happens when taking testosterone, we feel like the focus on certain aspects of the medical transition process is objectifying and feeds into wider tropes around trans people’s lives and bodies not being seen as a holistic whole but as disembodied parts: muscle and fat changes due to taking hormones, positioning of vocal folds, chest surgeries, and of course, genital surgeries, which are positioned by cis people as our ultimate act of transgression.

We also feel like the artist’s assumption that she, as a cis woman, could gain an “approximation” of what it is like to “become” a trans man, is somewhat misguided and plays into the pathologisation of trans-ness by positioning our “becoming” as a purely medical and biological process. This is misleading because it furthers the incorrect assumption that all trans people choose to / are able to choose to take hormones and situates our identity as part of a medical process. Her project also positions trans-ness as something that is reachable by cis people through engaging in those medical processes.

Whilst we believe that Virginia’s work genuinely has something interesting to say about gender and subjectivity, we believe that trans artists are better able to articulate work around these issues. There is a longstanding history of cis people getting funding to undertake trans art while trans artists are sidelined and their work goes unfunded and overlooked.

Virginia’s work is actively looking for trans people’s stories to tell through the ethnographic process. At the core of our concerns is the fact that as trans people, we never get to tell our own stories. Further, trans work produced by cis artists for cis audiences always ends up misrepresenting trans experiences by presenting us as dismembered body parts when in fact the reality of trans lives are so much more than our bodies. Trans art by trans artists explores this rich complexity by engaging with themes such as dysphoria, structural transphobia, gendered space, and embodiment in its most holistic sense.

We welcome a dialogue with Virginia and with the Manchester-Brazil 2016 Art Collaboration and would like to see these concerns addressed. We note that Virginia will be looking to collaborate with home grown talents and we would like to support Virginia in this endeavour and we expect that the Collaboration will ensure that trans people are appropriately remunerated for their labour.

Signed,

Jess Bradley (Queer of the Unknown art collective and Transgender Rage collective, Manchester)
Loz Webb (Queer of the Unknown art collective and Transgender Rage collective, Manchester)
Rohan Beck (Queer of the Unknown art collective and Transgender Rage collective, Manchester)
Becky Conning (musician, Manchester)
Marilyn Misandry (drag artist, Manchester)
Dennis Queen (musician, Manchester)
Daira Hopwood (poet, Manchester)
Josie Cartwright (musician, Manchester)
Ashley Reed (York)
Jake Herrett (trans activist, BUFF, Manchester)
BUFF (trans-masculine festival, Manchester)
Dean Wilson (visual artist, Newcastle)
Pazuzu Gaylord (visual artist, Sheffield)
Alexandra Greenwood (games artist, Manchester)
Jennifer Hackett (musician, Nottingham)
Mihael Jaime McAllister (writer, Chorley)
Jasper Williams (artist, Bangor)
Andy Law (musician, visual artist, film maker, York)
Sam Hope (poet and blogger, Nottingham)
Felix Henson (graphic designer and poet, Manchester)
Robbie “Weasel” Daw (artist, Manchester)
Sabah Choudrey (activist and writer)
Em Travis (writer and zine artist, Cambridge)
Rowan Davies (zine artist, Cambridge)
Fee Wood (photographer, Stoke-on-Trent)
Naomi Wilkins (musician, Manchester)
AJ McKenna (spoken word artist)
Chris Hubley (visual and performing artist, Bristol)
Adam ‘Beyonce’ Lowe (NB/femme/genderfluid writer, publisher, performer; Manchester)
Simone Conneff (musician, Manchester)
Ruth Pierce (punk musician and social researcher, Warwick)
Raf Young
Keira James (artist and author, Sheffield)
Shannan Gates (artist, author, actor)
Sam Turner (artist, Manchester)
Aimee Challenor (photographer, Chair of LGBTQ Young Greens)
Jesse Sandilands (Brighton)
Laura Allmann (writer, Manchester)
Nathan Gale (non-binary poet and musician, Edinburgh)
Lorelei Price (musician, Manchester)
Aidan C. (actor and musician)
Payton Quinn (Comedian and Writer, Cardiff)
Cheryl Morgan (writer, Trowbridge)
Kamalanandi Lyus (B.A (hons) Fine Art, Furniture Maker, Sheffield)
Stephanie McAlea (Cartographer, Chester)
Olivia Sparrow (artist, Manchester)
Lucy Attackbot Licious (musician, comedian, artist and writer, Glasgow)
ティン・ルーフ / Tin Roof
MJ Eckhouse (writer and musician)
Jessi Lloyd (photographer, Gateshead)
Liz Cooper (actress and performing artist, New Jersey)
Benjamin Marriott (musician and artist, Cardiff)
Jasper Murphy (cartoonist, other: East London)
Christopher Jane Muetz (Genderfluid Dancer and Performance Artist, Kansas USA)
Nila Kamol Krishnan Gupta (artist, independent scholar,advocate, community worker; London)

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Throughout the year, we raise money to help trans people who for whatever reason cannot access healthcare through the NHS in a reasonable amount of time. We know that the trans healthcare system is pretty broken, and that the people who need support will usually outweigh our ability to fundraise. Because of this, we use an application process to work out who faces the most barriers to getting healthcare through the regular ways.

The April 2016 Action for Trans Health solidarity fund which is open to applications from people living in the UK who are from African, Caribbean, Asian and Arab descent, including people of mixed raced backgrounds and other racialised people. We particularly welcome applications from black people, and people of colour living in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The deadline for applications is 5pm on the 22nd April 2016.

Any money raised in membership dues or via donations between now and the application deadline will go straight into the fund. Please consider donating here:

Help us to provide access to essential healthcare today.

Action for Trans Health takes a broad view of health. We know there are a wide number of things that can effect your healthcare, and so we don’t have any rules about what the money can be used for. We do ask that if the money is being used to access medication which will be needed long-term, that the applicant has thought about how to secure the long-term supply after the grant money has been spent.

Once completed forms have been sent to us, a member of Action for Trans Health’s staff will anonymise the form by removing any information that could be identifying. Then this will be passed onto our funding panel who will decide where the funds go. We will contact you to let you know whether you have been given any money within two weeks of the funding panel meeting. If you have any questions, please email us info[at]actionfortranshealth.org.uk