News and opinions on disability
and inclusion

Disability and the rainbow

Allyson Hamblett, chair of CCS Disability Action’s Auckland Local Advisory Committee, shares her thoughts on disability, diversity and the Rainbow Community.

The Northern Region of CCS Disability Action has started working with RainbowYOUTH to develop Rainbow Competency training for staff and the Local Advisory Committee.  This training will hopefully bring about an awareness of sexuality and gender identity.

For Aych McArdle, Education Director at RainbowYOUTH it’s a welcome move.

“We are really excited to be working alongside CCS Disability Action to increase the visibility of the rainbow community within their service. We hope this is the start of a longstanding relationship. “

As LAC Chair this is an important milestone for me too. Until now, I’ve tried to keep disability and trans issues separate in my work within the disability community, but as a trans woman working in the governance of the organisation I felt I had to find a way to help influence CCS Disability Action, so that disabled people who are also part of the Rainbow Community can receive advocacy and support from CCS Disability Action without the fear of coming out.

Disability organisations can be very heteronormative (a viewpoint that takes heterosexuality as a given instead of being one of many possibilities) and trans isn’t necessarily something that’s easy to talk about because it hasn’t made the mainstream in the same way as gay and lesbian issues have.  Some trans women for example don’t particularly want to ‘come out’, but to be accepted and included in their acquired gender.

This training is one step the organisation has taken to make a difference in breaking down some of the barriers that the Rainbow Community face.

I was also very proud when CCS Disability Action made a submission in support of adding gender identity to the Human Rights Act last year when an attempt to achieve this was made in the Statutes Amendment Bill.  Unfortunately it wasn’t successful as it’s seen as controversial by some parts of society.   I believe these attitudes are misguided and I intend to continue to add my voice to the wider lobbying of parliament which will continue until gender identity is explicitly included in the Human Rights Act.

At a local level, a few weeks ago we hosted a workshop which was run by the Disabled Women’s Forum and Pacific Women’s Watch about the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).  Non-Government Organisations are currently reporting back to the United Nations on how CEDAW is being implemented.  This forum was a real opportunity for disabled women to be included in the reporting process.

As a result of this, I asked whether trans women could feed in their perspectives and have now organised a preliminary meeting with a group of trans women to see if they would be interested in sharing our stories for the CEDAW shadow report. If you would like to have your say on this subject, get in touch with me via the Disabled Women’s Forum (details below).

I think that it’s exciting to see work beginning at the political intersection of disability and Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transgender and Intersex (LBGTI) issues in these ways.  The struggles are very similar; inclusion and acceptance.  A lot of the time disabled people are just seen as disabled people, but it’s important to remember that we have other facets that shape us into unique beings.

About the Disabled Women’s Forum

The Disabled Women’s Forum is a collective of women with impairments who meet together for mutual support, to discuss Disabled Women’s issues and to take action where possible.

There is an active Facebook group which provides an opportunity for disabled women to share so that all our voices are heard. Some of our members join monthly meetings in Auckland. Visit our Facebook group if you would like to learn more.