What is MANGO?
Over the years, the brilliant young people with whom we have had the privilege to work with, constantly vocalise how so many conversations and decisions regarding young trans people are had, without their voices being heard. As trans people we’re often talked about not talked to.
This is one of the cornerstones through which we operate – do not speak on the behalf of young trans people if you haven’t heard from them directly.
So welcome to MANGO, a pilot, trans-led, 12-week “Activism and Advocacy” online programme for gender diverse young people.
As a young person, the future is yours to take. We’re here to connect you with a network of young activists, and to reflect and exchange knowledge on how to achieve change, in whatever capacity that might be.
The programme will follow principles of building collective power and liberation. While holding a clear focus on trans liberation, we aim to explore issues that reflect the variety of our communities and the problems that impact us, through an intersectional lens – not shying away from reflections on transphobia, ableism, racism, poverty and classism, education and our erasure from history, negative media coverage and other topics that move beyond mainstream conversations regarding trans people.
Who is it for?
MANGO is open to every trans, non-binary, gender diverse and gender questioning young person, aged between 16-19.
There are 20 slots available for the first time we will be running the programme. If there’s enough interest, we’ll be running the programme with different clusters of young people throughout the year.
We want this programme to be as accessible as possible to all of those who want to be a part of it.
During the application process, you will have the opportunity to tell us if you need support accessing technology, the internet, or a space where you can remotely and safely attend the programme. These are clear barriers that stop people from being able to be a part of this project and our team is ready to address them as needed.
MANGO will be accredited by the British Youth Council, through the Youth Voice Award scheme. You can use this ASDAN accreditation as a certificate to support future academic or professional endeavours.
MANGO stands for “Mermaids’ Activists Network Group Online”. We thought it fitting that there are hundreds and hundreds of varieties of mango, regional and distinct. Some creamy and sweet, some citrusy, some a bit hot, some like pineapple and some plain. They are a diverse fruit that doesn’t bruise easily.
Our first cohort of MANGO shares who they are and what they believe in.
Who are we?
We are MANGO. We are a group of teenagers that are fighting for a more equal society for all. We’re trans and proud. We’re young people who actually care and reject the heavily enforced behavioural and societal stereotypes placed upon teenagers and young adults. We’re kind, supportive, welcoming, brave, vocal and passionate. We’re more self-aware than we’re given credit for – we’re powerful, angry and frustrated most of the time. We’re the current and future leaders and we want you to LISTEN and RESPECT us.
We believe in…
Full trans liberation, not just assimilating into cis-het society. We believe everyone is their own individual, and we appreciate all forms of trans life, including those which do not fit neatly into societal ideals of trans men, women and non-binary identities. We value those who have different experiences from our own, and our vision of liberation can only be achieved through wide systemic change, based in solidarity with other marginalised groups and centring intersectionality. We aim to be inclusive of everyone and want to improve the lives of all oppressed peoples, not just the trans community. None of us are free, while oppression remains for some.
We want a political climate that uplifts and advocates for all marginalised communities instead of trying to profit off our struggles. We want to live in a society where young people are heard, given credit and value when decisions are made that affect us. A society that provides holistic care for everyone in all aspects of life, where everyone’s bodily autonomy is supported through any decision such as abortion or transitioning. A society that sees transitioning as a normal and accepted life event. A better established trans healthcare and mental health services, now!
We believe trans joy is radical and should be central in our fight for liberation. We see a future where nothing is perfect, but no one’s existence is political, trans people are not seen as a “debate” or an “issue” in the media, there are no waiting times, there is no sadness, or fear, or death, and we sing and we breathe and we love.
Dear trans young people…
You are NEVER alone. Embrace every part of you and look after yourself! We will never stop fighting for you! Your existence matters and it deserves to be valued and celebrated. Find community, no matter how big or small and pour into it – they deserve your attention, not the transphobes.
Do your research and be wary of where your information comes from. Remember that we’re not here to gatekeep identities, and more fluidity in the way we think should always be welcomed! Don’t do yourself the disservice of falling into the trap of toxic social media and trolling. You deserve better than that. Don’t spread hate or invalidation to other trans people just because they have different experiences to you – other trans people aren’t the cause of transphobia, transphobes are!
Acknowledge intersectionality and understand that different ethnic backgrounds can result in different family values – leaving home and cutting ties to family is not an option for everyone! Remember that everyday activism does have an impact. Whether that’s standing up to transphobes, or challenging the minds of those around you. It’s difficult to change people’s minds on issues that do not affect them, so we can’t let them take hope away – find your own people and organise for change!
Queer and Cis Allies
Support trans people and oppose transphobia but don’t speak over us – uplift our voices and experiences. Recognise the intersectionality of queer struggles and ensure that no marginalised group is excluded from your activism. Include trans/queer people in any form of advocacy. Teach your children and young people about gender identity, sexual orientation and all things that make people different. Recognise your power and advocate for trans people in your circles, whether that is in your friend groups, your workplace and schools – even when we’re not in the room. Help and protect trans people, especially trans youth.
Politicians and decision-makers
Listen to what trans people actually have to say. We aren’t a scapegoat for you to exploit just because you dislike or to further your political agenda. Stop using us as fuel and food for your hate, misinformation or to win petty debates. Stop making an issue and moral panic out of our existence to avoid addressing your failures, such as the cost of living crisis. Stop trying to follow in the footsteps of Thatcher – Thatcherism is an incredibly harmful ideology to base laws and policies off on.
Learn your harmful history and ours too. Trans existence is not political, and it is not a debate. There is no question that trans people exist. We’re here, as we have been across generations and we’ll continue to be.