Training the Salvation Army

Today was a day to do more trans awareness training. I do this in collaboration with Berkeley Wilde of The Diversity Trust, a non-profit company specializing in diversity issues (and of which I got asked to be a director on Saturday). Berkeley does the LGB part of the training, and I do the T.

Normally I don’t worry too much about these things. I’m used to standing up in front of an audience talking about being trans. Today was different, because our client was the Bristol office of the Salvation Army.

Yeah, these people.

Well, not exactly. The people we were training were staff from the organization’s social work division. Specifically they operate a shelter for the homeless. Legally they can’t discriminate against LGB people. Trans folk using such services are another matter because the Equality Act is crap, but I’ll spare you that rant again.

All of the people in the course were very respectful. Some of them were openly supportive. The feedback forms were unanimously positive. And they talked about trying to change the attitudes of some of their clients and colleagues. A couple of the class mentioned that they were committed Christians; one was a pastor.

Most surprisingly of all, given that Pink News article that I linked to above, they told us that their hiring processes anonymized applications so as to avoid bias. They were horrified when we told them that many companies check applicants’ social media profiles for evidence of “undesirable” traits.

Which just goes to show that you never can tell. Some of the most supportive people in the group were older women. I came away feeling quite good about humanity.

3 thoughts on “Training the Salvation Army

  1. The key issue with that Pink News article is that they conflate different national organisations. It’s like assuming the CoE and the US Episcopalians are the same people

    Very glad it went well. I don’t share their beliefs but the very structure of belief of the SA is about engaging with groups beyond themselves and I’ve had positive encounters with them over the years.

  2. I’m an officer in western Canada and over 10 years ago our small shelter was accommodating trans gendered people out of compassion and love, not because we had to. One in particular, named Tiffany, lost her battle with depression and ended her life. After three suicide attempts she was discharged to the street by the hospital. Her fourth attempt was successful. She was loved and cherished by all who worked for us and attended our church and she will live on in our hearts. At least at the Salvation Army she was never turned away and always loved.

    I’m happy you’re doing this training and I’m glad you’re discovering “we’re not all like that.”

  3. Well done on doing the training, and well done in acknowledging that what you thought you were going to face is not necessarily what eventuated. It is interesting that often TSA get bad press and this explodes over the internet, yet these good stories of finding that we aren’t all like that; and I mean people as well as parts of the organisation (including the different parts of the world) don’t get the equally mass spread to counteract the negative. As an employee in the social arm of TSA (and a born and bred “Salvationist”) it disturbs me that we are often tarred with this negative image, when I know that in my part of TSA this is as far from truth as you can get.

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