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Monday 18 February 2019

LGBT History Month: Looking to the future

By Caoilfhionn Toner

FDA member Caoilfhionn Toner writes about taking an FDA motion to the TUC LGBT+ Conference, the launch of the union's LGBT+ survey and the relaunch of our LGBT+ Network.

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With 2019 marking the FDA’s centenary and February being LGBT history month, it’s wonderful to see past events and figures being bought to life who I share a common thread with. I’ve been an FDA rep for a few years now and became one around the same time that I came out as trans. Seeing my community – be it the FDA or the LGBT+ community – within the broader sweep of history really brings home why I’m proud to be both a union member and queer and adds an incredibly valuable perspective on where we are today.

This same perspective was made clear to me last year when I was lucky enough to represent the FDA, alongside others, at the TUC’s LGBT+ conference. Conference was strongly united in its support of the trans community, in defiance of the misinformation and general transphobia circulating in the press at the time. There was solidarity from older lesbian, gay, and bi members in particular – many of whom experienced almost the exact same smears and scare tactics only a few decades ago.

In the FDA we added our distinct voice, calling for additional support in the workplace for non-binary workers. Non-binary people are those who do not completely and consistently identify with being a man or a woman. Some of the needs of the non-binary community are shared by the trans community more broadly, as well as other communities. For example, many non-binary people may want to use gender neutral loos. One reason for this is the distribution of sanitary products and disposal facilities – overwhelmingly confined to women’s toilets. Non-binary people may need these facilities, but feel they as people do not belong in the women’s loos. Having gender neutral loos available with proper facilities can help non-binary people feel safer, give them a greater sense of belonging, and help grant them the same dignity we all deserve as human beings.

Our motion passed unanimously at the conference and I was given a sense that the current tribulations of the trans community might just be temporary. But this also impressed upon me the importance of solidarity, of us all supporting each other – and particularly supporting those who are most in need. It’s in this spirit that the FDA are relaunching the LGBT+ Network and putting the call out to members. Alongside the launch we’re putting out a members’ survey, to understand those we want to represent and advocate for. We wish to ensure that the network draws as many LGBT+ people as possible, and gives a voice and representation to all its components.  Through this, we can address the issues the community are facing in a way they want them addressed. This might mean making ourselves seen loud and proud at pride parades, or focusing on improving workplace policies that affect us. Whatever the outcome, the direction of the network will be defined by the community, and I’m already proud of the help and support we’re receiving from the rest of the FDA.


If you are an FDA member who identifies as LGBT+, please complete our survey. 

If you would like to join the FDA LGBT+ Network, get in touch by emailing equalitymatters@fda.org.uk.


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