‘Pride in the NHS’ Week – Part 1: Nancy Kelley

Part of the festival map

Nancy Kelley kicked off a week-long Pride festival held online for NHS staff, funded by NHS England.

About the event

Why Pride? A history of Pride with Stonewall CEO, Nancy Kelley by NHS People.

The history of how Pride came to be and the historical changes since it began.

From the blurb

Nancy Kelley

Kelley is the CEO of the beleaguered UK charity Stonewall UK, which in recent months is experiencing increasing scrutiny and further loss of revenue as people wise-up to the pyramid schemes, whereby businesses and government organisations pay them to do LGBT activism in the workplace.

Kelley’s most recent tweet about healthcare was about the issue of trans-identified females being denied phalloplasty surgery (this is where a roll of skin is taken from the arm or thigh and folded up into a sausage shape to resemble a penis, the complications arising from are far reaching and some lifelong, in particular nerve damage).

Kelley was supporting the letter that Trans Actual has sent to the Secretary of State for Health (interestingly a significant number are over 30). It includes a request that hysterectomies are prioritised for these female patients, because they suffer gynaecological conditions, likely bought on by testosterone use.

Stonewall itself has completely departed from any interest in healthcare issues affecting lesbians and gays. For example, they rarely, if ever, talk about HIV infection. The shots below are the current results when you search for healthcare on the Stonewall website.

The talk

This is the first ever Pride event that the NHS has held and Nancy was here to tell us about the history of Pride.  Are you sitting comfortably?  Then we will begin ….

Nancy isn’t a historian and recommends that people look for further information from Lisa Power (personal interest in history) and Christine Burns (blatant trans activist) if we were interested.  

The Compton Cafe Riot 

The LGBTQ+ movement thus far had mainly benefited white abled-bodied cis people, said Nancy, whilst other siblings had been airbrushed out of history.  For example, the first momentous civil disobedience action was not the Stonewall riot, but a riot which took place at Compton’s Cafeteria a few years earlier led by ‘trans women’.

Nancy showed this photo and said it was of the Compton Cafe riot

Unfortunately for Nancy, I have watched and reviewed Stryker’s documentary, in which he fails to even establish a date for the supposed riot in August 1966.  Thus, there are no photographs or other evidence for the incident, other than his own documentary, which is an entirely sleight of hand affair in my opinion. 

Digging an even deeper hole for herself, Nancy told us drag queens and ‘trans women’ weren’t allowed to go to gay bars in the Tenderloin area of San Francisco, so had to go to Compton’s instead (in fact gay men went there because it was a cheap all night chain cafe where they could loiter for hours). 

Nancy said that following the incident that many organisations were set up to help trans people.  Again, there is absolutely zero evidence of the alleged riot being the inciting incident to these social changes.  

Stonewall Riot 

So you see, said Nancy, we’ve all forgotten about Comptons being the most important riot and people think about the Stonewall riot instead.  Then Nancy went a bit off-script, and showed a photo of Storme De Laverie and described her as an ‘absolute giant’ and suggested perhaps she threw the first brick at the Stonewall riot.  The Stonewall riot sent a powerful message to the world and shortly after the Gay Liberation Front was formed.  The first Pride March was held a year later.

Bi invisibility

Nancy particularly wanted to bring attention to Brenda Howard, who is apparently known as the ‘Mother of Pride’.  She was a bi rights activist, a ‘polyamorous kinkster into BDSM’ and also a registered nurse – so Nancy thought mentioning her was particularly apt for NHS staff.  Biphobia had made Brenda Howard invisible and she wanted us to ‘call her name out’. 

I personally prefer to give a shout-out to Dave Dawes, recently suspended by the Royal College of Nursing for allegations of being ‘openly hostile’ to women and sexual harassment. Dawes is also into BDSM and polyamorous and gave a rope bondage workshop at a bisexual conference. Three cheers for Dave and bi visibility!

First UK Pride

Then Nancy turned to the UK.  The first Pride March was in 1973 and showed a photograph in which the placards seen either had ‘homosexual’ or ‘gay’ on them.  Nancy reminded us that there were rising hate crimes at the moment and recently a man in East London had been murdered in a public park in a suspected anti-gay attack.

Stonewall’s achievements

Nancy was particularly proud of the sex education work Stonewall had done and thought it would be a game changer.  The new policy ‘Free to be’ meant that all LGBTQ+ people would be honoured, especially those pushed to the margins.  

Pride is a party and a protest – it was about standing up and stepping out and resisting all the phobias (homo, bi, trans, etc).  

Some new Pride marches

Nancy wanted to talk about new Pride marches which had happened recently.  In Malawi 50 ‘siblings’ had asked the government to decriminalise same sex relations.  Nancy blamed such regressive laws across the world on ‘colonialism’.   

On the other hand, Orkney had recently had its first Pride March.  In celebration the council had flown the Pride flag.  This had Nancy in tears for most the day as she followed the progress of the Pride March on Twitter.  I searched but couldn’t find any photos of any people on a march.

At least the posters turned up! 

Finally, Nancy talked about the biggest Pride March of them all.  Sao Paolo.  Despite having reasonable legal protections for LGBTQ+ people in Brazil, the risk of harassment and violence was very high.  In 2020, Nancy said, 150 trans people were murdered just for being ‘who they are’ (and not, say, because they were put in harm’s way through drug use or prostitution).  Some more statistics were rattled off about black queer people also being more likely to be harmed and the inevitable bilge about intersectionality.  

Nancy forget to mention that Brazil’s murder rate is estimated at 23.6 per 100,000 people, i.e. about 50,000 per year, meaning that 150 should be a number in line with the trans demographic (150 murders calculates to 0.3 percent). And Brazil has a larger demographic of trans-identified men in any case comparatively-speaking.

Why do we need Pride in the NHS?

Because the NHS is a big employer and LGBTQ+ staff deserve to learn, connect and thrive. 

LGB people have profound mental health problems because of their ‘oppression’ (i.e. abuse and exclusion from society).  Nancy also let slip that they are more likely to drink and smoke.  Nuff said. 

She also assured us that the transgender people also suffer disproportionately, it was just that the statistic she had used couldn’t be analysed for a trans specific response because the demographic was too small. 

There were high levels of biphobia in healthcare settings and Nancy wanted us to remind about Brenda Howard, the bi polyamorous kinkster, who she had mentioned earlier. Only 40 percent of bisexual men and 29 percent of bisexual women were prepared to share their sexual orientation (no context given).  

LGBTQ+ people don’t have full access to IVF and other fertility treatments.  Currently trans-masculine people couldn’t access ‘lower surgery’ (remember this includes elective hysterectomy, a rather permanent infertility treatment).

The waiting list for the gender identity clinic service is years long!  (Surely, no training session is complete without this factoid.)

The NHS has made progress

Nancy is most proud of the Rainbow Badge Project, with over two-thirds of NHS Trusts having signed up and more than a quarter of a million staff asking for one.  

The new Pride Progress flag has been adopted by the NHS (this is the one with the triangle eating away at the old flag).  

Of course, some NHS Trusts have invested in the Diversity Champion Programme that Stonewall run, which means that Stonewall have influence via staff network groups and thus policy making.

End of talk

Nancy ended on a Harvey Milk quote.  She said she knew some people were on the call because they were straight cis allies and hoped that they would ‘speak up’.  

Hope will never be silent. 

Harvey Milk apparently

Question and Answer

The host was overcome with emotion at Nancy’s brilliant talk.  What could he do to help?  

Be responsible for your own learning, came the answer, there are tons of resources online.  Also, there is no point in having only good thoughts, you actually had to do something.  On the issue of getting language wrong, just don’t worry, if you misgender a trans person, apologise to them, but don’t spend ten minutes explaining how bad you feel, your feelings are not important – think about them!   But you really don’t need to worry about getting things wrong at all! 

Righty-Oh!

How do you stay so resilient with the current attack on the Champions programme and Stonewall’s commitment to trans rights?

Nancy told us she was living in two worlds.  One was hard and scary with public attacks which were particularly difficult for trans colleagues and supporters.  The other was the one in which incredible work was being done, and was ‘working really hard right now’ to get LGBTQ+ people out of Afghanistan (flights out ended several days ago), doing sex education work and banning conversion therapy.  She claimed the Diversity Champions Programme was growing despite the ‘very strange press we get’.

Will Stonewall become more vocal about intersex people?

Nancy explained that the new strategy had now expanded to the LGBTQ+ acronym (previously it was LGBT) and that therefore intersex were sort of included in the + sign.  However, they had not really done the research to talk about intersex issues per se, but hoped to build on this over time.  In the meantime they wanted to speak with awareness of these issues.  

What are the biggest challenges facing us this year?  

LGBTQ+ people should not experience poor mental health because of their oppression, said Nancy, and that this was a priority.  

Another urgency was the rise in reporting of hate crime.  Nancy was very worried because there had been attacks against gay men in Liverpool, Manchester and London, previously considered safe places.  Nancy said this was due to public discussions about trans people in the media – this had unleashed hatred.  She was very worried about this.  

I’m really worried about that. I’m really worried as well about the kind of way in which public enabling of transphobia through the press has kind of unleashed people who have really hateful attitudes. A tiny minority of people who have really hateful attitudes to our communities and it is connected to this uptick in hate crime against lesbian, gay, bi and trans people.

Nancy Kelley

Stonewall had an upcoming campaign regarding fertility treatment for LGBTQ+ people (again, lets remind ourselves Stonewall supports surgery and hormone treatments which cause permanent infertility).  

What are your three recommended books/films?

Off the top of her head Nancy gave the following: 

  • Stonebutch Blues by Leslie Feinberg.  Nancy said it was important for generational understanding of how gender and sexuality interact (thought these were supposed to be separate?). In the novel Feinberg writes about the main character’s bilateral mastectomy and hormone treatment and is largely autobiographical.
  • Disclosure documentary on Netflix about transgender representation in film (mainly about trans-identified men). 
  • Shon Faye’s latest book – The Transgender Issue.  Of course. Got to show loyalty to your colleague.
  • The Children of Harvey Milk (that’s a book, and not the boys he statutorily raped).  

So three out of four were trans-themed. Just off the top of her head.

Shouldn’t the LGBTQ+ acronym be simplified? 

Perhaps said Nancy.  Internationally SOGI is often used (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) and this might be an alternative in future.  


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