Why am I so interested in gender identity and Trans matters? Well I believe we should all be interested, and especially professionals who come into contact with the wider community like me.
As a Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor I encounter all types of people from all walks of life, however during all of my training and exams to get to this point in my career I have not had one iota of gender identity or Trans training. Oh, I've covered equality and diversity briefly, but nothing prepared me for working sensitively and positively with people who identify differently. That could be as Trans, non-binary, those who intend to change gender, or are non-gender.
If I look back into my own family history I myself had a close relative that identified as Trans, sadly she is no longer with us - however she lived before her time and I didn't know her then - she transitioned in around the 1970's & 1980's when there really was nothing available for her in terms of support either in law or the community. Being gender different back then was very much a social taboo and there where no laws to protect her. But now we live in a different world, a world where the gender recognition act and even same sex marriage exists. But where still no industry standard training exists on gender identity for fitness professionals.
Why does a fitness professional specifically need training on gender identity matters? If you are asking yourself this question then that’s exactly why it’s needed. It’s needed as there are many things that matter to people who are Trans that might not matter to someone else in doing physical exercise, from potentially feeling vulnerable and forced to out yourself, to medication, to pronouns, to reasons why the client is training, and even the dreaded assuming of someones gender identity and not asking gender specific questions as you think it wouldn’t be applicable which could later lead to problems. A little true story: I once did a gym induction for a person who physically presented to me as male with a male sounding name and used male specific pronouns. During the induction I offered to do a reading on the body composition scanner, some of the reasons it shouldn't be used is if the user is pregnant, or has metal pins in their body, so I asked this person if they had any metal pins and if they where pregnant. To which they replied ‘Course I’m not pregnant! I’m a dude!’ - to which I politely replied ‘Even Trans-men can be dudes. Better to check than put you at risk’. They then just stood there wide eyed not knowing how to reply. To me this just reaffirms why I need to do this work and educate at least the people doing my job on what should be standard practice and what needs to change.
What do I need the money for? The funding would enable me to source and pay for the relevant courses to educate myself responsibly and also train myself as a trainer so I could then train others. It would buy the technical equipment needed to train with, course material, printing, advertising, marketing, meeting room rental, travel, the list is endless - but what I can guarantee you is that the money would be going back into the community, our community, the community that you and I live in today, the community that we create for the future.
Moving forward I see myself going into Fitness businesses and educators and group training the staff on Gender Identity awareness - I would like take my basic model from the Dementia Aware campaign who's training I have been a part of in my role in a gym - I found it empowering and educating - exactly what I'd like to do!
Looking beyond the now I don’t have a specific time frame as it’s an on-going project in a world where laws and attitudes change - I want to be a part of that change in attitude, and as a Trans Ally with the right tools I can make that difference.
Please give whatever you can and help make a positive difference to all of our lives - if this is successful I will be video logging my journey so I can keep everyone updated.