Hi! I’m Malin, the designated worker providing independent advocacy to LGBTQIA+ adults in Midlothian. Our service has now been running since the beginning of Pride month in June. In this short amount of time we’ve already accomplished so much. Here’s a quick update on what work we’ve done and what I’ve learned so far.
LGBTQIA+ Links and Learning
In these first few months of our service launching, I’ve focussed on strengthening our links with other organisations and educating myself more on the issues facing the LGBTQIA+ community, both locally and nationally, so that we can support our advocacy partners in an informed way and raise awareness of the new service. As this is a new area of work, I’ve also thought about the ways that advocacy can help the LGBTQIA+ community and specifically targeted my learning and outreach work there. This has included learning more about name change processes, LGBTQIA+ protected rights, the referral and treatment pathways for medical transitions, and the local supports for LGBTQIA+ mental health including informed therapies and support groups among other things. The LGBTQIA+ community is disproportionately affected by many larger societal issues including homelessness, unemployment, and mental ill health. For this reason, it’s vital that our service is informed on supporting our advocacy partners with these issues.
Ellis, CAPS’ LGBTQIA+ Collective Advocacy Project Worker, and I attended the Scottish Trans Conference 2023 hosted by the Scottish Trans Alliance. We learned a great deal about the trans community’s experiences following Section 35 and the blocking of the Gender Recognition Bill, and the difficulty in receiving timely and adequate gender affirming health care from gender identity clinics and GPs. We also heard from trans and queer people about the safety concerns and fear in living as an ‘out’ LGBTQIA+ person socially.
Together, we also had a stall at Edinburgh Pride, where we met lots of lovely Pride-goers and made connections with other organisations. It was important to us both to have a chance to hear from the community first-hand about their questions and concerns and to be able to tell people personally about advocacy and how we could work with them.
Advocacy Work and Next Steps
So far, I have helped advocacy partners in building relationships with other LGBTQIA+ charities, in sourcing trans- and queer-informed therapy and healthcare, in writing to GPs to consider bridging prescriptions and shared care options, and in planning meetings with their employers to discuss discrimination against their sexual orientation.
In this time, I have found discussions of the privileges of being able to choose visibility, the fear of violence and discrimination, and the difficulties in accessing meaningful support for both the physical and mental health aspects of being part of the LGBTQIA+ community, particularly moving. This continually reminds me of the value of advocacy work and our commitment to making advocacy support more widely accessible to LGBTQIA+ people. This is hugely rewarding work and I feel lucky to have the opportunity to continue supporting this community.
If you are an adult aged 16-65 living in Midlothian who identifies as LGBTQIA+, and you feel you may benefit from independent advocacy, you can read more about our service and how to refer yourself to us here.