Our Trust has been shortlisted for a LGBTQ+ healthcare award at this year’s LGBT Alliance Awards.
Organised and hosted by Teesside charity Hart Gables, we have been put forward for a the ‘Positive Impact on LGBT Health award’.
Nominated by a staff member at the charity, the Trust has been put forward due to its recent work in making its hospitals an inclusive place for members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Over the past few years, the Trust has launched a number of initiatives for employees to ensure inclusion is embedded in its work culture.
LGBTQ+ initiatives at the Trust
In May last year, the Trust asked colleagues across to pledge themselves as an ally to LGBTQ+ colleagues and patients. All pledges received a specially designed rainbow badge in a bid to show their support to patients and visitors.
It also launched eight staff networks, including the LGBTQ+ network. These are groups based on protected characteristics. They are open to all staff to discuss issues and embed positive, lasting change at the organisation – for the benefit of both employees and patients.
Most recently, the Trust celebrated LGBTQ+ Pride 2022 by launching a series of videos online, highlighting issues and terminology. These included videos around heteronormativity, deadnaming, what it means to be an ally and using pronouns.
Heteronormative is assuming that people are straight by default.
It’s the idea that heterosexuality is the only normal and natural sexual orientation and therefore people with any other sexuality are abnormal or confused.
It can often be quite subtle think about the TV and films that you watch and the proportion of heterosexual couples compared with gay or bisexual couples.
Or that LGBTQ people are simply going through a phase when really they’re working to come out through their sexuality.
Why can assuming somebody is heterosexual be harmful?
When we assume heterosexuality, we’re promoting the idea that anything different from straight isn’t normal.
It perpetuates the notion, which could be damaging, that people’s sexualities don’t belong here and that society doesn’t have a place for them or value them.
How can we put an end to heteronormativity?
Think about the language that you use when you’re talking about sexuality and relationships.
That’s not to say that you’re not allowed to use words like ‘husband’, ‘wife’, ‘boyfriend’, ‘girlfriend’ but maybe start with something more gender neutral like ‘spouse’ or ‘partner’ until you know the person well and you understand the significant other in their life.
And remember not everyone is going to go down the route of getting married or having children.
Asking things like ‘do you have a boyfriend yet?’, ‘when are you two getting married?’, ‘how many kids you’re planning to have?’ – it assumes this is the only way to live a happy and meaningful life and can be intrusive for some people.
It really is heart-warming to have the Trust be nominated for an LGBT Alliance Award.Matthew Andersen, clinical coding officer
Clinical coding officer Matthew Andersen is the chair for the LGBTQ+ network. Alongside his colleagues in the network, he has been a driving force behind initiatives to improve on inclusivity.
He said: “As a group, the LGBTQ+ staff network’s main aims are to support our LGBTQ+ colleagues, raise awareness of issues. We’re taking action to make our Trust a better place for staff to work and more accessible for LGBTQ+ patients.
“It’s not always obvious if the things we’re doing are having an impact. So it’s great to see that everyone’s hard work is paying off!”
Last year, Matthew, a trans man, shared the story of his transition in the Trust’s annual Pride celebrations. He took part in a filmed interview which made local newspaper headlines.
Now, as head of the network, he is already looking towards his next initiatives to ensure the Trust is continuing on its path as an LGBTQ+-friendly organisation. This includes validating the organisation on Stonewall’s UK Workplace Equity Index.
Why was the Trust nominated?
Sarah Lewis, CEO at Hart Gables, said: “North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust has been put forward by a staff member at Hart Gables who has been following their inclusive work over the past few years.
“Matthew Andersen’s candour and sharing of his own experience has been moving and insightful. We firmly believe that his openness will inspire confidence and validation within others.
“The Trust’s LGBTQ+ staff network indicates LGBTQ+ inclusion is embedded into their work culture, meaning all staff members feel valued, respected, and work in an environment where all forms of discrimination will be challenged effectively.”
Pronouns are words that we use in place of somebody’s name. For example, she baked a cake, he left the room.
Why are pronouns important?
The pronouns we use for people are typically representative of their gender so using the correct pronouns for somebody shows that we respect them and their gender identity.
The only person who decides which pronouns are right is you.
How can we make sure we’re using the right pronouns?
If you’re not sure what a person’s pronouns are, ask them. It is better that we get it right by asking than not use them at all.
However, if we get it wrong, we’re only human.
Usually if you’re feeling a little bit strange about it you could say “Hi my name’s Caroline. And my pronouns that I use are she and her.”
One of the ways I’ve done this is to use them on the bottom of my emails. So it’s perfectly clear what I want to be known as.
Don’t make a big deal about it if you’ve done something wrong if you’ve said the wrong pronoun. Don’t make a big fuss about it.
Just go back and try and remember what the pronoun is and again just ask.
It’s okay to ask.