The Rainbow Project, relationships and gender identity

What does “gender” mean in the Deafblind community? What kinds of relationships and sexual preferences do we have? How can we make sure that everyone is welcome and included?

At Deafblind Café on 19th Oct 2022, Sherrie Beaver from the Rainbow Project and DBV’s Michelle Stevens gave a presentation and led a discussion about LGBTQIA+ identities and gender diversity. Members were able to ask questions and share their experiences. Some talked about having friends, family and support workers who are LGBTQIA+, and how they have become an “ally” (supporter). Others felt safe enough to come out as queer, trans and non-binary themselves. One Deafblind participant said that this was the first time they had ever talked about these issues in the Deafblind community. A big thank you to Sherrie and to all who attended!

LGBTQIA+ Awareness
Sherrie Beaver (she/her)
Project Lead – Rainbow Project
Funded by an ILC grant from the DSS.

LGBTQIA+ – what does this mean?
L – Lesbian
G – Gay
B – Bisexual
T – Transgender
Q – Queer
I – Intersex
A – Asexual
– Other sexually or gender diverse people

So, what is gender?
Gender relates to a person’s identity and self-expression. It also refers to a broader range of characteristics that sits outside the gender binary.

Wait, what is gender binary?
It’s based on the societal belief system of male and female gender identities that comes with a set of gendered roles and expectations.

What’s the deal with pronouns?
Pronouns are a way to refer to people without naming them, according to their gender identity. They’re a great way to acknowledge people’s gender identity in
a respectful way.

Are there more than two pronouns??
They/them – pronoun?
Generally, they/them are referred to more than two people or to refer to someone without revealing their gender. However, in this context, they/them are also used as pronouns for those who do not identify with she/her, he/him or other pronouns. They/them can also be mixed up with other pronouns such as she/they or he/they.

How can I be a good ally?
– Kath and Frankie are participating in a group discussion. Frankie recently came out as non-binary and goes by the pronouns of they/them. Kath isn’t familiar with this but wants to support Frankie in the best way she can.
– Kath introduces Frankie to the group and accidently misgenders them with using ‘she/her’.
– How can Kath rectify her error?
– Kath realises her error and corrects herself by saying “I’m sorry, I meant they…” and moves on with the conversation.
– Kath shows she is supportive of Frankie by correcting her error and moving forward.

How can I be a good ally?
– Educate & empower yourself
– Be visible
– Listen with empathy
– Be accountable
– Call out inappropriate behaviour
– Be inclusive
– Be aware of your space & privilege
– ALLY is a verb