Happy Valley Pride Statement on Inclusion – Summer 2023

Happy Valley Pride exists specifically to support, represent and celebrate our whole LGBTQIA+ community. Despite decades of progress towards equality, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans gender, queer/questioning, intersex and asexual people are all still faced with real prejudices, stigma, fear, hate and inequity. We have a role to play in challenging those prejudices and inequities. Our team is made up of individuals with lived experience from the entire LGBTQIA+ spectrum: from trustees to operational team members and volunteers.

Our team reflects our local community: lesbians make up our largest contingent of staff, Trustees and volunteers; gay men are also a large contingent; we have trans, non-binary, bisexual and other identities among the core team, and a reasonable spread of representation across age groups. We would like to increase representation from people with lived experience of disability and people of colour.

Happy Valley Pride is proactive, championing and campaigning for human rights and equality. With our focus firmly on the LGBTQIA+ communities we represent, we tackle discrimination and consider all of the protected characteristics in the Equalities Act. Our programme, during the week-long festival and across the year, demonstrates this commitment – including (in 2023, our best attended festival ever) lesbian icons Horse and Jackie Kay, all female band Sista jam, non-binary and trans artists Jay Mitra, Taylor Le Fin and David Hoyle, a film about aging, a Youth Pride celebration, BSL interpretation at key events and highlighting people of colour including The Cocoa Butter Club.

We believe in standing together, celebrating our differences as a strength, and using our collective creativity to challenge the difficulties we face.

We condemn violence and abuse. We will not be drawn into division, debate or conflict about the varying needs and rights of different sections of our communities, but instead choose unity and collective action.
We will sometimes focus our efforts and resources where there is most urgent need.

Presently, as well as ongoing work to address intersectional issues including racism, access, mental well-being, sexism and the needs of the youngest and oldest members of our communities, we are committed to tackling the adversity our trans communities are facing at this time.

To define “trans”, we mean anyone whose gender is not that which they were assigned at birth – this includes people who are non-binary, genderqueer, gender fluid, or transgender. We recognise trans people exist regardless of physical or medical transition. We recognise a person’s right to determine their own gender identity, just as they determine their own sexuality and other aspects of who they are.

Although trans people are a small minority in our LGBTQIA+ communities, they have been at the forefront of the Pride movement since it’s origins and are currently facing disproportionate discrimination. https://www.stonewall.org.uk/lgbt-britain-trans-report Research has shown how trans people experience inequality in their everyday lives.

Misinformation in the media can mean that many people don’t realise what it means to be trans or non-binary. The heat of debate creates fear, and reminds us of our recent history, when the media constantly hounded lesbian, gay and bisexual people as ‘deviants’ and progress on equality was prevented for so long. With transphobia on the rise, to address fears and dispel myths, Stonewall have created this simple Q&A that can answer many questions people might have - https://www.stonewall.org.uk/the-truth-about-trans

In 2023 we relaunched or Stand By Your Trans campaign (originally instigated by our friends at Trans Creative) in the wake of the tragic murder of teenage trans woman Brianna Ghey and in the run up to the annual Trans Day of Visibility. This instantly won attention and a heart-warming level of support from local individuals and organisations. It’s wonderful to see so many local shops still display the poster, and to know that many people, locally and beyond, like and re-share our social media on trans support. Well over 100 local people attended our vigil for Brianna and it is clear that the majority of local people in and around Hebden Bridge support trans inclusion. We will continue to offer events and spaces for coming together as a community to make sure trans people feel safe and welcome.

Mainstream media often highlights concerns and divisions in LGBTQIA+ communities around trans inclusion and self-identification, and in online forums and on social media there is open debate. We have examined the evidence and see that Britain is now lagging behind other countries on trans rights https://rainbow-europe.org/ The majority of citizens consulted* in the U.K. support self-identification, and in countries where this has been adopted, there have been none of the predicted problems for women’s spaces and safety

When misinformation, fear and misinterpreted or sensationalised stories are shared, we are often approached to speak up on behalf of trans and non-binary people. Despite our limited resources (as a largely volunteer-run, small charity) where there is significant harm we have spoken out. For the most part we have focused our energy on doing what we do best - championing inclusion and togetherness, via celebration and creativity.

Generally, we won’t jump into debate around trans issues, for several reasons:

We will not legitimise a debate based on misinformation and misinterpretation. We refuse to draw (or add) attention to misguided and harmful stories that contribute to generating fear, further misunderstanding and conflict. We seek connection, not deeper division in our communities and will not engage with those who are demonstrably unwilling to foster understanding and goodwill for our whole LGBTQIA+ community.

Our strength and our vision is, and always has been, to work with creativity and art to bring people together in united celebration of the beautiful diversity of our whole LGBTQIA+ community. That is what we stand for and we hope that by practicing our values in all that we do, we can show each other and the wider world that love wins.

Jenn Wilson - Chair of Trustees – July 2023

*A consultation was held in 2018 which had 100,000 responses, more than any other government consulting on gender recognition reform, with more than 70% in favour of reform. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/919890/Analysis_of_responses_Gender_Recognition_Act.pdf