International Women’s Day 2022 – Why is it important to #BreakTheBias in and about the TNBI Community?

International Women’s Day 2022 – Why is it important to #BreakTheBias in and about the TNBI Community?

In honour of International Women’s Day 2022 Adelle Banks, cis-gender woman, TNBI (Trans, Non-binary & Intersex) Ally and NLS Supervising Solicitor, talks to Keira McCormack, a woman with trans history currently working as a Senior Independent Domestic Abuse Advocate, about the Issues faced by the Trans, Non-Binary & Intersex community, and the importance of #BreakingTheBias in this area.

Tell us about you Keira

My career began in construction and surveying, from there moving to counselling and hypnotherapy, spending 15 years working as a counsellor in the rape crisis sector. I was the first Hypnobirthing practitioner in N Ireland. I took over the running of Gender Essence Support Services in 2012; (Gender Essence being N. Irelands only counselling service specifically aimed at the Trans, Non-binary & Intersex community), converting it into a charity.

In my time as the manager, Gender Essence worked on projects for Outburst Arts. It was from this undertaking that Essence Arts grew, recognising the need for promoting TNBI themes and artists, with the first Essence Arts being in 2014. I am proud of the “We are Human” walk around Belfast City Centre where we photographically recorded the bias of the general public to my appearance. Also, the video …like a ball off wool, which explored identities and was shown throughout the festival on the big screen outside Belfast City Hall.

International-Women’s-Day-2022

It was at that time that a Trans Pride was first put forward but sadly was put to one side at the time due to what is quite common within the community – differences, in-fighting and the inevitable disagreements of the best way forward. However, the idea wasn’t forgotten, and Trans Pride has now become a reality and regular event in the Belfast calendar.

I set up an LGBT DA service in Essex moving to work in London and qualifying as an Independent Domestic Abuse Advisor and have progressed to Senior IDVA in my current role.

Why is it important to #BreakTheBias in and about the TNBI Community?

The TNBI community is a diverse as any community going; some identifying at varying degrees in its spectrum, others not even happy to be within the umbrella term that is Trans. We’ve heard the acronyms – LGBT; LGBT+; LGBTQIQ; MOGII; GSD; etc. Experience has shown me that the more I think I know the less I seem to, which to me is such a positive thing as it spurs me to learn more and actively educate others.

As a member of the community, I feel lucky that I am still alive and that I have not had to barricade myself into a room in my own home for safety, as friends have.

I feel lucky that I don’t face the constant abuse others do on the streets. That I can hold my head up and deal with issues that others get.

Why is #BreakTheBias important? Because I feel lucky that these things haven’t happened to me. One should not feel luck to not be abused; that is a basic right of any human being – the right to exist!

I look at the community now and see the next generations coming up; more open about who they are, more determined to self-identify and break away from the binary constraints and it’s wonderful. I look at the generations that preceded me and admire and acknowledge their part in our continued fight to exist. I look at what my future might hold and the issues of old age, nursing homes aren’t prepared and ready. I know from the experience of working on projects in this area; it’s hard enough being LGB in a nursing home, but to be TNBI is frightening.

Why it important to #BreakTheBias? Because we have still a long way to go.

I will leave you with a little poem I wrote:

Frankenwoman **
Look at me what do you see
A freak
A human
Someone in pain
Someone to pity
Someone to hate
Someone to love
A friend
An enemy
Look at me what do you see
Someone with scars
A drain on the health service
A waste of space
A woman
A copy
A fake
Look at me what do you see
The chance to gossip
The chance to hurt
The chance to accept
The chance to question
A joke
A person
Look at me what do you see
A puzzle
A problem
Are you confused
Do you understand
Look at me what do you see
Frankenwoman**
Surgically altered to deceive
Look at me what do you see
Now look at yourself
And what do I see

Be proud of your authenticity

**original word altered for the sensitive with the author’s consent

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For me, the idea of studying and practicing law originated from my passion for human rights. I grew  up watching my parents and grandmother who have dedicated their lives to advocating and helping others.
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