HTA mark Trans Awareness Week

Diversity in the workplace is partly a product of a culture of acceptance and openness, when everyone on the team feels able to contribute observations from their perspective and express their concerns derived from personal experience the creative work of designing places becomes richer and the outcomes better reflect the wider diversity of our society.

The contribution is subtle, there remains tremendous scope for more readily perceptible expression of diversity, and drawings can't record the incremental influence of a diverse team on the process of design. The drawings describe the consolidation of the thousand strokes of the pen each directed by a hundred thousand thoughts and feelings contributed by the people of the team.

Trans Awareness Week has just passed, today is the 20th November '20 which is Transgender Day of Remembrance drawing attention to the lives of Trans people lost to hate and violence. I’m apprehensive about being visible, I’ve never done it well, but ignoring this opportunity does harm to me in not standing with pride, and obscures my example from those that may be helped in accepting their own difference, or in becoming understanding of another.

A common experience of transition from one gender group to another is a sequence beginning with discomfort, then a confrontation with barriers, a passage through fire, then finding a level and maybe accepting that level. Overlay that sequence with life experiences that yield insight, create memories, and a whole load of new fears to replace the old ones, and to be Trans is to go through something distinctly different. I’ve been asking myself, what value is there in that experience of life?

I believe attitudes of ‘fulfil this role this way,’ or ‘that’s the way it’s done,’ or ‘do it as we did before’ are dehumanising for ignoring the certainty of change and the unique in every moment and situation. I’ve found that everything can be other than it appears, nothing is forever, and we have tremendous capacity for change.

My experience of change was always guided by a belief in a better Tomorrow, and slowly the Tomorrows did get better. No change happens without individuals recognising the importance of taking action. I recognise the responsibility and opportunity of the professional position I hold, I care about what I put my name to, about the work I describe to my family, and I want to effect change to contribute to a better Tomorrow. I want to be true to what I believe.

There is a mutually supportive culture at HTA that enables everyone that’s part of the organisation to express their perspective, though this is still very difficult when we are all so accustomed to keeping things to ourselves. We find ourselves in a time of change as the role of the designer, and the aims of design and placemaking are once again reappraised, and it will take us all a little while to be effective in this emerging landscape.

It’s so important to care, to not be indifferent. It’s essential to care to make things better.

Anna Sullivan - Associate, Senior Architect at HTA

Photography Credit: Morley von Sternberg 

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