Firstly my thanks to all of you who have joined with us tonight, trans or not solidarity is the way forward to equality. I also want to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to my colleagues and friends of TransSwindon for making this all possible. We are a good team, all very different and offering a unique input towards the one goal.
Two years ago I took over as organiser of Swindon Transgender Group. At the time I asked what the group expected and what they wanted me to do. The overwhelming want was for transgender people to feel safe and part of the wider community. It quickly became clear that to achieve any real change in social perception of transgender life my life and transition had to become open and very public.
Transgender is the most maligned and discriminated aspect of LGBT. In some ways that is awesome as it means LGB face less discrimination in society now, and that is a victory. However, the transgender battle has yet to be won and we have to bring social attention to the fact discrimination rights apply to trans too. Discrimination cost me my career at a time I didn’t have the inner resolve to fight back as I legally should have done. I didn’t choose to be born in the wrong body any more than I chose my eye or hair colour but I was ostracized by so called work mates and management would cheerfully refer to me as the freak, Barbie in a jock and various other less pleasant terms. If I complained the response was ’you made the choice, live with it!’ When that maliciousness comes from family the problem explodes. This is why the attempted suicide in transgender under 25 is at 48% in the UK.
The lack of research and information available to transgender, family of transgender and GPs and other medical professionals is an issue that must be dealt with. Openness and awareness lead to acceptance and understanding. This is what TransSwindon is about. We are active in the community, at home and in the workplace. It is proven with support from informed family and friends the suicide figures drop by 93%.
Social activity and peer support are vital too. Both groups offer peer support and at TransSwindon we offer a 24 hour crisis support by email and/or phone. Sometimes just sharing an issue with someone else is enough but for those times it is not we work closely with Janey and TPS who provide us with a much needed lifeline. Psychotherapy needs to be localised and readily available. Elective choice in hormonal treatment needs to be available too. Buying suspect products from overseas is not safe, taking hormones without monitoring how they affect the body is high risk and totally avoidable.
This is why we are here tonight as a group for the first time, to celebrate Transgender and our pride in being who we are. We are here to celebrate all that we have done to get TransSwindon into being. We should celebrate how far we have come in the last 10 months since four of us sat here over a pint talking. Unashamedly self-gratifying we celebrate and honour our journey.
Once again I thank you all for coming, for listening and I hope you enjoy the rest of the evening.