It is with immense joy and gratitude that I will be bringing you a monthly blog from a previous colleague, a firm friend and a valued Give ’em Hope Campaign family member, Danielle.
Danielle and I met when I was teaching in Hampshire. I’d cheekily put out an all-staff email to ask for votes for some diversity award or other and although I was reprimanded by senior management for doing so, it was more than worth it because, in response to my email, I received a candid and courageous testimony from Danielle.
As soon as we could, we met for coffee and I knew then that we’d be friends.
Danielle is a talented photographer and filmmaker and at that time I was working with our college choir on two songs for The Give ’em Hope Campaign – Danielle was immediately interested in filming for us and here we are today, ready to hear Part One of what I know will be an uplifting and encouraging series of articles in which Danielle shines her light so that you too may learn to shine a little brighter.
Never Blend In is all about not using labels to define others, but I am going to use one to help you understand where I’m coming from… I’m transgendered. Although that could be a label applied to me, I don’t want it defining me; it’s just one word that could describe me along with hard-working, cyclist, swimmer, business owner, 46 years old and so on.
Of course, we use labels to group similar objects together and this is at the heart of what is wrong with using labels to define fellow human beings… personally, I don’t class myself as an ‘object’ to be categorised, and secondly, placing me in a group means I can be segregated. It’s a means that can place me outside of a group that I want to be a part of… namely “normal society”. We could argue for ages about what that might, or might not, mean but in our heteronormative world it could be generally taken to mean that there are only two sexes with representative genders. That’s “normal” right? There are boys and girls; boys like girls, and girls like boys? What a truly awful way to view society! Taking on such a viewpoint immediately puts anyone that doesn’t neatly fall into that category of “normal society” as outside of it and therefore not a part of it. So labels de-humanise and divide society.
Whilst I don’t really want to discuss labels as such, it’s the reason why for 40 years I felt confused, afraid and alone about being transgendered. These days I’m out and about as Danielle, working in the stereotypically macho world of forestry, and yet that fear and confusion has all but disappeared… and I hope this short series of articles can help you break free from your own insecurities. I won’t pretend it’s easy, as I know it’s not, but what I can say is that for me, the biggest fears were of my own making.
In this series, I hope you will allow me the indulgence of talking about my own life, not because it’s particularly interesting and exciting, but because I hope that you will recognise similar patterns between how I felt and how you may be feeling. And that there is hope for you if you feel anxious or confused.
If you would like to contact me to discuss anything regarding this series, or about being transgendered, then please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Part Two will be here on 1 Dec 2015 – Follow this blog to receive notification
National Diversity Award Winner, David E. Watters, is a teacher, motivational speaker and writer; a passionate equality advocate, committed to enhancing the lives of young people and adults who may feel marginalised or limited by labels.
As a teacher, he is committed to developing the whole person through creatively challenging students to embrace their unique value, and that of others, to encourage them to fulfill their full potential. He was nominated for an Excellence in Diversity Award 2015, for his contribution to enhancing the diversity agenda within education and for two European Diversity Awards because of his work with the Give ’em Hope Campaign.
Since graduating from The Institute of Education, University of London, David has gone on to train as a mediator, and is a qualified facilitator for The Pacific Institute.
As Director of NBI Associates, David devises and delivers engaging, enjoyable and interactive Diversity and Cultural Enhancement workshops utilizing Cognitive Behavioural and Performing Arts strategies for individual, corporate and academic clients.
Watters is also the founder and coordinator of the inclusive, inspirational and international Give ‘em Hope Campaign; an online initiative which utilises all available social networks to encourage and uplift those who doubt their validity, feel isolated or limited by labels, through the sharing of written and video testimonies. The campaign was honoured at the National Diversity Awards 2014 when it won the Community Organisation Award (Multi-Strand).
Watters was a key player in the Equal Love Campaign UK; taking the British Government to the European Court of Human Rights in 2010 and successfully achieving Marriage Equality for same-sex couples in the United Kingdom.His passion and expertise has brought many opportunities to write and speak on social change and his book, NEVER BLEND IN, brings together this wealth of experience and the voices of those whom he has met along the way.
BOOK WEBPAGE: http://www.nbiassociates.co.uk/Never-Blend-In.html
GIVE ‘EM HOPE CAMPAIGN: http://www.nbiassociates.co.uk/Give–em-Hope-Campaign.html