LGBT+ patient speaks out to educate staff
A young transgender patient has been giving local NHS staff invaluable training and insights into dealing with LGBT+ people.
February is LGBT+ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender +) History Month. Taylor Dawson, 17, is being supported through his transition by Dorset HealthCare’s children and young people’s inpatient mental health unit, Pebble Lodge in Bournemouth.
And, in a first for the Trust, he arranged training for staff – using his own story to help explain the kind of support LGBT+ patients need, and the language they are comfortable with.
From a young age Taylor knew something was not quite right. He wanted to run around with the boys, not play princesses with the girls. It was assumed that was a tomboy, but he knew that was not the case.
Taylor has identified as a boy for six years. From age 11 to 13, Taylor did not tell anyone about how he felt and first came out to his girlfriend when he was 14.
He said: “In the past I’ve felt hopeless and often suicidal as I didn’t feel supported. I am very grateful to Pebble Lodge for helping me through my transition, as well as encouraging me to provide the training.
“The aim of the session was to raise awareness of how to talk to patients that identify as LGBT+. I was very nervous before it took place but I was very pleased I did it.”
Rebecca Chambers, Ward Manager at Pebble Lodge, said: “It’s very important that our staff understand LGBT+ and are mindful of how patients may feel, the right phrasing to use and appropriate questions to ask – and what not to ask.
“Our staff can learn so much more by listening to and engaging with the first-hand experiences of our LGBT+ patients. We hope more Trust wards are inspired by this and undertake similar training.”
Jonai DaSilva, LGBT+ Lead at Dorset HealthCare, said: “As a Trust we celebrate LGBT+ and inclusion. We are determined and passionate about improving the care and consideration given to LGBT+ staff, carers and patients in Dorset.
“The event at Pebble Lodge was the first for our Trust, a historic moment, and we want to see more of this across our Trust and in Dorset.”
Taylor added: “It doesn’t take much to accept an LGBT+ person, and it will mean a lot to them. You don’t have to agree with it, but you should accept it.
“If someone comes out to you, think carefully about you say as it will affect their whole future. Don’t judge them, be supportive.”
Taylor and Jonai (centre) with staff at Pebble Lodge