Mermaids’ Youth Advocacy Manager Lee and members of our Youth Advisory Panel look back on TRANS(CEND), a day of positivity, inspiration and joy
In March this year, 34 young trans people arrived in Sheffield to take part in our event TRANS(CEND), an interactive day aimed at trans young people aged 16-19.
The theme of the day was “exploring your trans future” with the main objective being to advise and inspire trans youth regarding their futures, whether that be employment, education or other life choices.
The day started bright and early with registration at 9.30am. Young people had travelled from as far as Cornwall, Bournemouth and Aberdeen to attend so coffee and pastries on arrival were essential.
“This day was everything I needed it to be. From the second I stepped into the door, I knew I was safe. I got to meet so many incredible people and role models from the trans community. I just felt like I was walking on air all day and my face actually hurts from smiling!”
A lively group from Calderdale and Kirklees arrived en masse in a minibus and their excitement was palpable. There was such a buzz in air as everyone completed registration and collected their delegate bags which were full of goodies including custom water bottles, note pads and bath bombs from Lush.
Once everyone had arrived the group moved into the main room to be welcomed by the event host. The group then listened to a talk from the keynote speaker Kenny Ethan Jones, followed by a Q&A panel with various different trans guests speaking about their experiences of being trans in the workplace.
“I just loved hearing the experiences of the panel. There was just so much diversity and some of their stories really resonated with me. It was just so comforting to be in a space with trans adults who were telling me it will be ok.”
The group then had a coffee break and time to socialise before splitting into two groups and taking part in two interactive workshops. Workshop one was a CV writing and job interview skills session delivered by Sheffield Futures while in workshop Two, Jody Wigfull-Coy led a session focussing on different leadership styles and the strengths individuals can bring to the workplace. These were repeated in the afternoon so everyone had a chance to participate in both.
During the lunch break, there was a “conversation cafe” where young people could speak with various professionals and services including Door 43, IWW Union and Young Greens. The buffet was a sight to behold and catered for everyone.
Once the workshops had ended, there was plenty of social time and an optional craft activity where young people could make memory mason jars. Looking around the space, there were intergenerational conversations happening in every corner and you could feel the trans joy emanating from every guest.
“I got so much joy from being surrounded by trans peers. I am so thankful we got funding for this event as this day allowed trans young people to discuss their fears and anxieties around entering the workplace. It can be difficult to imagine yourself in a workplace if you can’t see many role models like you. Events like TRANS(CEND) allow us to see ourselves in our community.”
The day ended with thanks and a young person from our Youth Advisory Panel talked about the work they do and opportunities for other young people to get involved in Mermaids.
“For me, the key themes of the day were trans joy and forming connections. I loved meeting the other Youth Advisory Panel members face-to-face for the first time. I loved the diversity of the panellists and the main thing I took away from the event was any career is possible. There will always be support and love somewhere and to follow that love.”
The day was undeniably a huge success and was enjoyed by everyone who attended. In the evaluation station set up to capture the young people’s feelings about the day, words used to describe the day were positive, inspiring, safe, emotional, joyous and special.
“This event reminded me that trans people are powerful! Trans young people especially right now need to be able to see a future where we can live our lives fully and do whatever our peers do. We also need spaces where we can feel safe and make connections with other trans people. TRANS(CEND) is something that makes all that possible and more.”