On Tuesday 14th May, the Gender 101 Erasmus+ project concluded with a conference at the stunning Peace Band Club in Naxxar, Malta. 

Gender 101 was an international project that aimed to support parents in navigating their children’s gender identity. Throughout multiple masterclasses, the project worked on deepening the understanding of gender diversity among children. Therefore equipping attendees with valuable insights and resources and fostering inclusivity and understanding in educational environments. 

The Gender 101 Erasmus+ project culminated in a conference on Tuesday, brimming with evidence-based insights, practical tools, and invaluable resources. Matthew Bartolo, the founding partner of Willingness, Sex and Relationship Therapist, Counsellor, and Supervisor, opened the conference with a keynote speech. During his speech, he focused on the emotions that might arise while discussing a sensitive issue like gender identity. He further stressed the importance of understanding and accepting the whole range of emotions. Even though they might be ugly at times and explained why they might come up in different individuals. With this speech, Bartolo created an environment fit for the rest of the conference, distinguished by empathy, openness, and understanding.

Willingness | Final conference for the Gender 101 Erasmus + Project

Panel Discussion

This was followed by a panel discussion led by Claire Agius Ordway. Which explored gender diversity among children from various backgrounds. The panellists included a diverse group of people. From the mother of a transgender individual to a life coach and former head of the school. Each gave their unique perspective on gender diversity amongst children. Stressing the importance of providing them with a supporting environment and the necessary resources. During the discussion, participants shared exciting opinions on religious views and gender diversity. They suggested that some people might sometimes use religion to excuse their lack of understanding and support. Additionally, the panellists compared their unique experiences, ranging from very supportive religious communities to facing struggles with internalised oppression. 

Willingness | Final conference for the Gender 101 Erasmus + Project

After a short break, the partners of the Gender 101 project shared the outcomes of our two-year efforts. As well as updated the participants on developments regarding gender diversity in the respective countries. Partners from Lithuania, Poland, Croatia, Ireland, Italy, and Malta took turns discussing the implementation of the Gender 101 project. They highlighted the challenges they overcame and the significant outcomes in each country. The partners reported that most countries still lack adequate resources and support for gender-diverse children and emphasized the need for improvement. With Gender 101, the partners got a step closer to providing parents and their kids with the necessary tools and support. Fostering spaces that are open and accepting.

Willingness | Final conference for the Gender 101 Erasmus + Project

Matthew Bartolo followed this by presenting the participants with a new guidance tool for parents and educators of gender-diverse children. This easily accessible Digital Tool combines instructional resources, interactive modules, and professional guidance. Therefore, it provides teachers, students, and educational institutions with the knowledge they need to create an inclusive and respectful learning environment. It is now accessible here.

The conference concluded with a Q&A session, during which the participants shared their opinions and questions with Matthew Bartolo. The participants shared personal experiences, and the importance of continuing to work on creating an accepting and open space was brought up. 

Willingness | Final conference for the Gender 101 Erasmus + Project

The Gender 101 project was a huge success, and we would like to thank our Partners, Udruga roditelja Korak po korak, Minties Bitės, Wyższa Szkoła Biznesu i Nauk o Zdrowiu w Łodzi, Future in Perspective Ltd, and Janus, once more, for this fantastic collaboration. 

A recording of the final conference can be found here.

Written by Sophie Lietzke

Sophie Lietzke is a Psychology graduate from the University of Innsbruck, currently working as an intern at Willingness. In the past, she has worked with multiple non-profit organisations and is passionate about providing help to those in need. Additionally, she has worked with children and adolescents and is interested in expanding her knowledge and experience in clinical psychology.