Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance - but what is it, and why should it matter to civil servants? These are fair questions, and maybe ones you've not thought about before.
Transgender Day of Remembrance is the occasion for the transgender community and their families to honour the memory of friends and relatives who have lost their lives through hate crime or suicide. Should you wish to express your sympathy or share in the commemoration, details of your local memorial service can be found here (www.tdor.info).
The origins of the Day date back to 1998, when a handful of transgender people sought to highlight the need for awareness around attacks against people who are perceived as transgender, regardless of how they may characterise themselves. This meeting led to the first Transgender Day of Remembrance event in the Castro district of San Francisco. Every year since then, 20 November has been the international Transgender Day Of Remembrance, part of Transgender Awareness Week.
We're on the diversity agenda
This year's memorial comes at a watershed moment for the transgender community, when transgender issues are an increasingly hot topic in the media. With diversity and inclusion, and the desire for the Civil Service faithfully to reflect the society it serves, at the top of Sir Jeremy Heywood's and John Manzoni's agendas, we took A:Gender and our Meerkat campaign on the road at this year's Civil Service Live
This raising of the transgender community's profile - and, on a personal level, the fact I was number 44 on the Independent on Sunday's Rainbow List for the UK's leading LGBTI people - shows we're going in the right direction.
Supporting people to be themselves
However, every year, far too many lives are still blighted by prejudice, leading to self-harm and, in some cases, suicide. The persecution, abuse and even murder that some transgender people suffer is all too commonplace in many parts of the world. It is surely unacceptable that anyone should be subjected to this sort of treatment, simply for being themselves.
Thankfully, here in the UK, we have legislation that protects transgender people. That is not to say that the suffering stops. But the Civil Service staff network a:gender offers a voice of reason and hope to those of us who identify as transgender or who are inter-sex. The network speaks for you and offers support to ensure that the views of transgender civil servants are heard at the very heart of government.