LGBTQ+ History Month 2021

As we’re approaching the end of LGBTQ+ History Month…

We wanted to take the opportunity to introduce some of our amazing team members who wanted to share their thoughts about their past experiences and how they’ve found working for Umbrella Cymru.

Here is Ray, Peer Support Worker

Ray has been with Umbrella Cymru since November 2020 as one of our Peer Support Workers funded by Cardiff and Vale University Health Board as part of XIST, the Gender Information and Support Team working in partnership with the Welsh Gender Service.

Watch Ray talk about their experiences and views of the support available to trans and non-binary people in Wales in this short video.

Meet some more of the team…

Jason, Service Coordinator

He’s likely to be the person you speak to on the phone if you call us and he loves to help everyone get the right information and support from the team. 

Jason has been part of the Umbrella Cymru team since August 2020.  His post is funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent as part of the support we offer to all young people affected by crime and antisocial behaviour in the Gwent area.

When we asked Jason about his experiences of working with us, he said:

“Coming out as a gay trans man in the South Wales Valleys in the early 2000s, as well as experiencing (and witnessing) many challenges faced by LGBTQ+ people has made me acutely aware of the lack of, and pressing need for, more readily available and accessible specialist support services.  I feel privileged to be part of a team working to address this need in Wales.

He also said:

“I also greatly appreciate and value Umbrella Cymru’s culture of collaborative learning and knowledge exchange, and the constant encouragement to strive for continual personal and professional development and growth.

I believe the ethos and values of Umbrella Cymru are not only reflected in the quality of service we provide but also translates into our ability to more effectively inform and therefore empower not only those who access our services but also those who collaborate, undertake placements and/ or volunteer with us.

It is my hope that these individuals can then use what they have learned and experienced with us to make a positive change within their own lives and the lives of others within their communities.  I believe it is these seemingly small, personal transformations that have the power to bring about broader systemic change.”

Anna, Peer Support Worker

Anna is one of our Peer Support Workers funded by Cardiff and Vale University Health Board as part of XIST, the Gender Information and Support Team. Anna has been with the team since November 2020. She told us:

“I transitioned nearly a decade ago, and since then I’ve been working on creating information resources for the UK trans community and volunteering for UK trans organisations. At Umbrella Cymru, I work to support trans people across Wales using the knowledge I’ve built up. 

In our community we have always had to deal with trauma – from years of concealing our identities and ignoring our pain; from rejection from family, friends, and partners; from the minority stress; from transphobia, homophobia, biphobia, discrimination and hate crime; and our many intersections with other oppressions. 

As a result, our needs are not just for medical care: many of us will need help with emotional distress, isolation, poverty, homelessness, and abuse. But most importantly, we also need someone who can understand what we are talking about, that makes us feel listened to and respected, and give us the space to figure out who we are and what might help us thrive.

We have an incredible history of trans people helping each other stretching back decades. Much of this is by directly helping our friends and chosen families, or participating in local and national groups and organisations, and working within charities. This is how we have helped each other manage the trauma we’ve experienced and to find our way to safer places.”

We also asked Anna how she’s found working with Umbrella Cymru, and she said:

“In Wales, we are ahead of the rest of the UK: we already have a national service where the NHS works in partnership with a charity with many trans staff. Through this partnership, trans people in Wales can access a much wider range of services, whether they want to access medical, practical, or emotional support.

In an appointment with me as a Peer Support Worker, we might be discussing how to talk to your GP or family for the first time about gender, how to explore your gender identity, other organisations and services you could access, or just how things are going. I can also be the person that makes you feel like you’re not the only one out there, that there are people who care about you, and that it is possible to get help to start feeling happy and safe.

It’s been hugely personally rewarding seeing the change that giving this support can make to people’s lives, to be able to work alongside such a dedicated team, and to be a part of this history of trans people helping each other. I look forward to seeing how we’re able to grow the Welsh Gender Service and Umbrella Cymru in future.