Thanks for letting us stick our flag on your house!

“Thanks for letting us stick our flag on your house”

Transgender Day of Remembrance, or TDOR, is quite possibly the most powerful day in the Transgender Calendar. November 20th has, for the past 16 years, been a time for our community to come together to remember those we’ve lost due to acts of anti-trans violence.

Liverpool Town Hall flying the Transgender pride flag for Transgender Day of Remembrance

To mark the occasion, a group of us were invited to Liverpool Town Hall to meet Lord Mayor Tony Concepcion, who has one of the most rock and roll names available, for tea, biscuits, and a natter about all things trans.

Arriving at the Town Hall was an emotional sight for many of us, as the Transgender Pride flag was being flown at half-mast to mark our period of mourning. This is a big deal, not just for us as individuals, but for the wider visibility of our community, and the education of the general public.

For a meeting which was scheduled to last for 30 minutes, it felt like an awful lot longer, because it was. After a quick photo session, we were invited to sit down with the Lord Mayor to discuss Transgender Day of Remembrance, and our personal experiences with being Trans in Liverpool.

Joining me around the room were Alexandria Adamson, Sophie Green, Thom Shannon, Vikki-Marie Gaynor and Christine Beckett; representing Merseyside police were Stephen Rotherham, and Tracy O’Hara.

The discussion itself was varied and ranged from TDOR itself, to Trans-Visibility on the whole.

We talked about how and why we remember those who have fallen victim to hate crime, to which Tracy and Stephen were able to caveat with recent incidents which have occurred on the outskirts of Liverpool, and how they have been able to use these incidents, especially when they’ve been picked up by the media, to shine a light on the dangers, discrimination, and humiliation faced by Trans men and women on an almost daily basis.

We spent time discussing the hardships faced when transitioning at work, where Vikki was able to recount her experiences working within the Logistics Industry, and how far behind they were in both understanding and empathising with us, as the environments typically harboured within these companies are somewhat misogynistic. As such, it is not an uncommon occurrence for Vikki to experience misgendering, harmful comments, and a seemingly complete lack of both representation and protection in the workplace from harassment and bullying, policies which should be in place, but are not adhered to.

Flag TDOR 01

Pictured with the new Transgender Pride Flag, purchased by the Museum of Liverpool. The first Transgender Pride flag was purchased by members of the trans community last year and is now part of the Museums of Liverpool’s archive.

I was fortunate enough to steal a few words to express my gratitude to Liverpool as a city, as I had felt that my real transition didn’t really start until I arrived here back at the end of September. Both living and working in the city have afforded me a great deal of confidence, happiness, and pride that even though I’ve only been here a little over a month, there’s no place I’d rather live.

Another subject we were able to discuss, and was actually raised by the Lord Mayor himself, was the strength we must have in order to change our lives so drastically. This is something both Vikki and I were able to address how this “strength” is only perceived as strength by others, as people compare transition to their own lives, and what it would take for them to make such drastic changes, whereas for us, the one’s dealing with gender dysphoria, we largely see transition as a last resort, and commonly preceded by attempts on our own lives, where suicide seems like the only option, its presence is rife within our small community.

However, 2015 seemingly being “The Year of Trans”, we were also able to discuss how visibility has allowed huge strides forward this year, strides that look as though they will continue on to 2016 and beyond. Sophie was able to highlight how the formation of All About Trans has been able to steer the media’s representation and language around transgender individuals more positively, and has promoted the use of trans-actors and actresses being used when portraying transgender characters. Also, how exposure on screen through TV shows such as Boy Meets Girl, and characters on major soaps Eastenders and Hollyoaks will only further promote the use of trans people in the future.

Liverpool Town Hall flying the Transgender pride flag for Transgender Day of Remembrance

Liverpool Town Hall flying the Transgender pride flag for Transgender Day of Remembrance

Finally, Alexandria was able to further Sophie’s comments by highlighting initial inability to hire trans actors and actresses, something which is still a current issue with regards to stage acting, as “there are none”. Which, obviously, turned out not the be the case, as we’re now being introduced to some truly great talents coming through, which is likely to make the coming year, and those beyond, more and more trans-positive. We’re still a long way from where we should be, but at least now we’re on the right path, and it’s well lit, all we have to do is keep moving forward.

Throughout the session, the Lord Mayor was both respectful and insightful. When asked for a quote for the blog, I was given a statement which pretty much sums up how I see this wonderful city:

“Liverpool is a proud city that looks to celebrate the diversity of all its communities, however small of unique.”

Visit the Liverpool #TDOR Event page to get more information on the events happening in Liverpool.






Chloe Moore

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I was wrong about transitioning

I was wrong about transitioning. So wrong. This is how it happened for me, and only me, as every Trans person has their own experience, good and bad. I was a child of the 80’s, the coolest decade of them all. Breakdancing, BMX and Back to the Future. Collecting Mexico ’86 football stickers, watching the A-Team on telly with my nan every Saturday. Nike trainers and Tacchini tracksuits. Aaah, those were the days. From a kid’s point of view they were the best days, but let’s face it, the 80’s were crap if you were Trans and being a youngster I absorbed what I was told.

Meg 3

Fishnets, short skirts, stilettos. Bad fashion. Deep voices. Truck drivers. Builders. Dave, Barry, Sid. This is how I remember the headlines in the Red Tops when they talked about Trans women in the 80’s. Weirdos, mentally ill freaks, men who thought they were women but still talked and walked like men. Still men. With bad hair. My parent’s generation wrote those articles and I saw them lying around the house, I heard people laughing about those Trans women and that seeped into my consciousness. I know that now.

I always knew I was different as a child, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I had a typical family – two parents, two brothers, friends to play with. All good, but something didn’t quite fit. I went to secondary school and the feelings persisted. It was a boys’ school and I felt awkward, I missed my old friends and there were no girls to hang out with. Gay was used as a term to poke fun at each other. I was too busy singing along to Madonna and Kylie to talk about snogging girls, play rugby and go to raves. I still had friends during the school day, but outside I was isolated and spent my time playing video games, watching films and wishing to fit in.

I’ve had to walk through my fears hundreds of times to get here. I’ve taken more deep breaths than I can count.

After I left school, I became depressed and ended up in counselling where I was diagnosed with gender dysphoria. They told me I was a Trans woman. Worst thing ever! Although this was the mid 90’s and attitudes were changing, society had become more diverse, yet no-one knew a Trans person, they were still weird. Watching Jerry Springer told me that. Usually portrayed us deceitful, home wrecking prostitutes. Unbalanced people to poke fun at, curiosities. Okay, the odd show was sympathetic, but you know what I’m saying, right? The agenda was obvious.

I spent the next 15 years hiding my real self. My Trans self. Yep, 15 long years. The fear was too much to bear. The thought of telling the people around me made me feel sick. Every day. Seeing other women loving life, in our 20’s, the decade we spent partying, spending everything we earned on discovery. I was yearning to be like them, but I couldn’t. Sure, I was going out, had loads of friends, but I was slowly self-destructing. Binge drinking, binge eating. It didn’t matter. Life didn’t matter. I distracted myself in every way possible to avoid being Trans. Work, University (twice), travelling. I became obsessive, from binging on excess to binging on exercise and self-control. But the fear didn’t go. The self-loathing got worse. I remembered those Red Tops from the 80’s, my school friends ridiculing gay people; it was always there in my mind. If I came out everyone would leave me.

A few years back, I had become a nervous wreck. Anxiety, depression, panic, sick leave from work. I was worn out by fear, exhausted. I decided to kill myself, just like that. No drama, I woke up one day and decided to give up. But, in a moment of clarity, I had the realisation that I may as well be myself then, and if it didn’t work I could always come back to plan A.

I was scared. Terrified. But I was used to that. So, from that day I started the ball rolling. I got in touch with a gender counsellor and started unpicking all the prejudice and transphobia I had grown up with. To cut to the chase, here I am now. Megan. Woman. Trans. Proud. That’s me. I say it loud. I spent some very difficult years learning to accept my identity, being patient with friends and family who were just beginning to understand the real me I hid for decades. Of course, I’ve had to walk through my fears hundreds of times to get here. I’ve taken more deep breaths than I can count. Setbacks, losses, mistakes – all par for the course. But I’mstill here. When I get the fear I face it head on. It rarely happens these days, I see it for what it is. It’s just emotion.

I was wrong about transitioning. I have a fantastic career, loving family, the best friends in the world. Most importantly, I am myself and I feel liberated. Free. Society is moving on. Trans people are moving out of the shadows. I am proud of who I am, I am proud of who we are. And our time is coming, you can feel the buzz. If you are scared to be yourself, there are people ready to support you, there are people who love you. You just need to take that deep breath and embrace it.

Megan Key

Megan Key


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LGBT Hate Crime Reporting

Stop Hate UK have just launched a brand new 24hr helpline for reporting LGBT hate crimes and incidents across the UK. The service will allow people to report any hate crimes or incidents that they have witnessed or experienced with the choice of remaining anonymous. They will also be able to receive information and advice around LGBT hate crime, immediate emotional support if needed, and referrals to local support such as housing, social care, legal, and local LGBT organisations.

Stop Hate Crime UK

So what are classed as Homophobic and Transphobic hate incidents and hate crimes?

Homophobic and Transphobic hate incidents relate to anything that you or others believe has been motivated because of someone’s sexuality or gender identity. Anyone could be a victim of homophobic or transphobic hate crime, this could even be if someone simply perceives you to be LGBT, if a friend or someone in your family is LGBT, or even if you have involvement with LGBT organisations.

Hate incidents can range from verbal abuse including name calling and offensive jokes, harassment, bullying and intimidation, physical attacks and threats of violence, abusive phone calls and texts, online abuse, graffiti or damage to your property and arson. Once an incident becomes a criminal offense it becomes a hate crime. This could include physical assaults, sexual assaults, theft, criminal damage, and in worst case scenarios murder.

Why is it important to report hate incidents and hate crimes?

If hate incidents and hate crimes go unreported, no one will know that they have occurred and nothing can be put in place to prevent them from happening again. I know a lot of people –including myself – who have experienced homophobic or transphobic verbal abuse at some point or another and not reported it to the police. For me it was about not thinking it was serious and not wanting to waste police time. I now know that I should have reported it because not only does it pinpoint areas where the abuse is happening, but it could also help to stop other people having to experience the same, or worse, treatment.

When it comes to reporting hate crimes there are many barriers for trans people when coming forward to the police. This could be because previous negative experiences, being unsure or fearful of how trans aware the police are, or simply not wanting to ‘out’ themselves.

By reporting to Stop Hate UK or other third party reporting agencies, it bypasses these barriers and gives the opportunity to remain anonymous. A report can be made about witnessed or experienced hate incidents which can then be reported on your behalf to the police. This ensures that figures of Transphobic hate crime are recorded which in turn means that provisions will have to be made for tackling Transphobia on both a local and national level.

So what can we all do to tackle LGBT hate crime?

Report it – Take note of the new Stop Hate UK LGBT Helpline number – 0808 801 0661. You can also ring 101 for the police and ask to speak to the SIGMA Unit. If it’s an emergency always call 999.

Challenge it – If you hear someone using Homophobic or transphobic language tell them why it’s inappropriate, if it’s someone at home or a friend at school educate them about why it isn’t acceptable.

Take Action – It could be something as simple as sharing information about reporting hate crime with friends and family, if you’re in education speak to your teachers/tutors about challenging it or getting DRM in to speak to the class, you could also volunteer with your local LGBT groups and organisations… the list is endless!

Follow Stop Hate UK on Facebook and Twitter



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I speak for myself

There are countless scary things to consider when transitioning. So many in fact it’s a really daunting task to even consider listing them all. In a way, it’s an impossible task too, because of the simple fact that each person will experience a very different set of hurdles when making the leaps towards becoming themselves.

Of course we will inevitably share common grievances as well, like coming out to friends and family, figuring out which bathroom to use or which box to tick, being subject to transphobia or fighting for help and support though GP’s and clinics. It’s probably the struggle against these hazards that unites us. They give us a common knowledge about what it is to be transgender and with common ground comes mutual support. That support leads to networks and groups all over the place which stand to bring trans people together. They help educate, support share and encourage. These support groups are absolutely priceless and many people would not have made it through. After all, together we are stronger.

Ku Lorax

I am not the Lorax by Saku Smith aka Creatore Magico

At the end of the day though, that doesn’t mean that all transgender people are activists. We are not all the definitive answer to all questions relating to transgender issues. Nor do I think any of us would claim to be.

It’s scary being something different, because in a way you are made to represent that something whether you like it or not, and you want to be sure to be responsible and represent it positively. After all, we don’t transition magically knowing everything. We have to work hard to discover our knowledge about the world we are entering into. The only thing we can talk about with 100% clarity is ourselves and our own personal experience.

“I will always stress that I speak for myself. When I make art work about my transition, or answer questions about it I am talking about my own personal experience. I am not the Lorax of Transgender people. I do not speak for the trans. None of us can, really, but we can support those who try.”

Before, I mentioned that all transgender people will go through very different struggles on their journey. One of my personal struggles was coming to an understanding that as a transgender person, I was not obligated answer questions unless I wanted to. While some people are drawn to share their experience to help and guide others, others wish nothing more than to live their lives in private and they have every right to do that.

A transgender person is not obligated to know all there is to know about the community they are in. It’s okay as a trans person if you don’t know the estimated number of transgender people in the U.K., or the statistics of transphobic hate crime in the U.S. last year. If you don’t know, you can learn. If you don’t want to know, you don’t have to. The important thing is to be involved at a level that makes you comfortable.

I like to answer questions, I like to feel that I’ve educated myself enough at this point to know what to say in response to the more difficult ones. However, I will always stress that I speak for myself. When I make art work about my transition, or answer questions about it I am talking about my own personal experience. I am not the Lorax of Transgender people. I do not speak for the trans. None of us can, really, but we can support those who try.


Cox: Rocks

We speak for ourselves, and in each of us speaking for ourselves somewhere along the way common problems rise to the surface. Isn’t that how we know what support to give and what problems to take on in our support groups? Isn’t this how the real activists who chose to fight for our rights and speak on our behalf get their information?

We can’t all be Laverne Cox, and we don’t have to be unless we chose that path for ourselves. Choice is so important, especially for transgender people, making choices outside the norm is what makes us.

I guess the thought I am circling around here is that no matter how much involvement you have with the LGBT community, you are doing enough. You don’t have a duty to fight, unless you want to. I’m not saying you shouldn’t fight, of course you should! There is still so much to fight for, but it’s not your duty.

It’s your gift, if you chose to give it.

At least, that’s my personal opinion. I’m not the Lorax of trans people after all.




See more of Saku’s fabulous artwork

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“That’s Not Art”

I’ve always used drawing as a way to express myself. I think we all did as children, before we decided our drawings weren’t good enough and moved on. It’s funny how “that’s not how its supposed to look” can stop us from trying to get there, isn’t it? I’ve learned not to let that stop me.

As a child, in between all the drawings of Link, Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog, I used to vent through my pictures. I vividly remember drawing a grotesque mouth pulled into a smile with wires when I was feeling depressed at around age eight. (Although I could blame watching Pink Floyd’s: The Wall one too many times for that one.)

The Death of Sturm by Larry Elmore

The Death of Sturm by Larry Elmore

As I got older and my interest in drawing and creating images grew. I found myself doing art at college, and while I was still drawing Mario and Sonic because I loved cartoons and videogames, I also started to learn about “real art”.

My personal art preferences never made it into the classroom until we were asked to bring in a picture during a textiles class. No specific rules were included in this request. Simply to bring in a picture. Any picture that we liked, in order to take the colours from it for a project.

I was excited by this prospect. I could finally share something that was important to me. Some of the artwork that had inspired me to study art in the first place! I went home and used our newly gotten internet to find a picture from my favorite book series at the time, Dragonlance. It was “The Death of Strum” by Larry Elmore which I bought into class.

When it was my turn to show the picture that I had bought in, I happily presented it to the teacher, a very Ann Robinson-esque woman. Just looking at the picture filled me with inspiration. However, the second the teacher set eyes on it she immediately told me, “That’s not art.”

I was crushed. She gave me no explanation as to why the image I had chosen “wasn’t art”. There was no feedback, and no understanding to be had then or any other time during my art course. The image I cared about, which I considered art because it spoke to me, wasn’t good enough and I was made to feel utterly ashamed.

This phrase “That’s not art” came back several times afterwards during my entire art education. If I happened to doodle a cartoon in my spare time or talk about my love of comic books, japanese animation or video game artwork. “That’s not art” would surely follow.

So there I was, an art student who apparently didn’t like real art.

It was disheartening that my means to express myself had seemingly been cut off. I thought that these cartoon and fantasy drawings – which I related to and helped me vent the things I was going through – were art. It had turned out that they were less than nothing.

“I know many transgender people related to Disney’s film Mulan and the song “Reflection.” That style of animation that spoke to all those people? Not art, apparently.”

The same goes for the video game Metroid. Back when all we had were pixelated heroes, this game managed to take us on an epic quest only to reveal at the very end of it all that the bad-ass main character Samus Aran was a woman the entire time. So many women felt empowered by that character design. It was a fantastic moment designed and executed beautifully, but I knew if I showed it to my peers in college the reaction would be negative.

Or what about the illustrative work of Brian Froud? He gave us beautiful escapism, androgynous fae and magical worlds to lose ourselves in. Was illustration not important enough to be called art?

It wasn’t until much later in life that I started to question what my teachers had told me. Surely art was an image that was made to express something? An image that could reach out to people or convey creativity and emotion. If something was created to be art, surely art is just what it was?

Being born female and transitioning to male I learnt that people are what they say they are. It doesn’t matter what they look like. If I say I’m male, then I’m male no matter what stage of transition. I wondered if that might be the same for art.

If I say my drawing is art, is it?

Post Consultation by Saku Smith aka Creatore Magico

Post Consultation by Saku Smith aka Creatore Magico

I decided to go with the definition of art I found online.

“Art. The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.”

With that in mind, I decided to share my drawings online. I’d been hiding them for quite some time just using them to vent my own feelings and thoughts. They were my way of working through my transition. Once I started sharing them I found out how many people this ‘not art’ could reach.

I started to meet other people who were transitioning. People who I didn’t even know would send me messages telling me that my drawings had really spoken to them, and had given them courage. I even managed to help one or two people by donating my old binders to them post-surgery because I found them via my drawings.

I had always thought that the way I chose to draw wasn’t real art. That my cartoon inspired format was not right for the serious issue of transitioning. Now I know that’s not true. I’ve had such positive feedback about my work and I know in my heart that if it’s even reached one person then I’m glad to have made it.

Yes by Saku Smith aka Creatore Magico

Yes by Saku Smith aka Creatore Magico

I even found out there is a tumblr group called Trans Toons where loads of other people are sharing the exact same thing!  So many trans people use drawing and creating as a positive outlet to reach out to others, and it really works. It’s an accessible form of communication when words can be too much to handle, and it can transcend a common language barrier. I’m happy to add to the pile: Because trans people have courage and guts. Trans people are creative and passionate. Trans people are all artists, shaping themselves into the visual image that can always be appreciated for its emotional power.

If “that’s not art” then in the end, I don’t care. I chose to believe differently.


See more of Saku’s fabulous artwork

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Liverpool IDAHOT 2015

Sunday 17th May marked International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, more commonly known around the globe as IDAHOT.

IDAHOT events have been happening since 2004 and each year, more and more countries are starting to get involved by holding their own events and campaigns to highlight inequality and discrimination faced by LGBT people. It’s hard to believe that there are still at least 80 countries in the world that criminalize same sex relationships, where beatings and murder are an everyday threat for LGBT people, and where governments use their power to discriminate and alienate LGBT people from their societies.


Dan Stone, Lord Mayor of Liverpool Erica Kemp & Sophie Green

LGB rights are slowly starting to progress but for Trans people there is still a long way to go. The reason IDAHOT falls on the 17th May is to remember how Homosexuality was finally removed from the World Health Organisation’s list of mental disorders in 1990, but unfortunately trans people are still on that list. We are living in an age where there are still countries that offer no legal recognition or medical support for trans people, or if there is medical support 21 countries have made sterilisation compulsory. There are still countries, including the UK, where unemployment, family rejection and homelessness are issues that are far too commonplace, and countries where countless brutal attacks and murders are happening, over proportionally to trans women of colour, which in many cases are swept under the carpet by the Police and Government.

“My hopes for next year are that local IDAHOT events can be spread out into the city, to places where LGBT issues are never, or rarely, discussed and to places where new LGBT allies can be formed.”

Thankfully, LGBT people in the UK have a number of rights and are protected by law. We are fortunate enough to have the freedom and choice to hold IDAHOT events up and down the country which help to bring LGBT communities together to highlight discrimination and injustices across the world, and to show our support to all those living in countries where events like these would be unimaginable under current circumstances.

On Sunday, Liverpool John Moores University hosted a very well attended IDAHOT event alongside Unison and the Liverpool Mental Health Consortium. The day began with singing from the Liverpool LGBT choir, a variety of stalls promoting LGBT projects and services including the ArmisteadDiversity Role Models, the UK’s first LGBT specific CAB service OUTreach, Mersey Care NHS Trust, and Pride at the Pictures. There were a number of guest speakers including Mimi Gashi from Sahir House who spoke about the issues faced by LGBT refugees, many of which have left countries where threats of ostracism, violence, and death are very real. Liam Mason from YPAS (Young Person’s Advisory Service) spoke about the trans youth group THE Action Youth and how it has become a safe haven for young trans people who may not have supportive environment at home.

Myself and Sophie Green also had the opportunity to speak about the progression of Liverpool Trans and how important it is to raise awareness of issues faced by trans people and for the trans community to be visible. We were able to highlight events that have occurred throughout the year such as Transgender Day of Remembrance, or TDOR (20th November), which remembers the hundreds of trans people murdered because of their gender identity (or perceived identity) across the world, Transgender Day of Visibility (31st March) which celebrates trans lives and highlights discrimination of trans people, and the first trans area at Liverpool Pride last year – The Genderbread House, which was a big success. There was also a visit for the Lord Mayor, Erica Kemp, who invited members of the trans community to the Town Hall last November to raise the trans flag for the first time in recognition of TDOR and lost trans lives.

Overall, Liverpool IDAHOT was very successful in bringing the local LGBT community and our allies together. It was a great opportunity for sharing information about various local LGBT groups and achievements, and for finding out about some of the hurdles we still have to face in the fight for LGBT rights and equality.  My hopes for next year are that local IDAHOT events can be spread out into the city, to places where LGBT issues are never, or rarely, discussed and to places where new LGBT allies can be formed. Without allies, the fight for LGBT equality can not effectively progress. We need our allies to speak out about discrimination, to support us when we come out, to educate others and to raise awareness of LGBT injustice around the world.

Liverpool Trans are looking for inspirational and supportive stories for the blog. If you are an ally and want to share your story get in touch here!


Dan Stone

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Wirral IDAHOT 2015

On Friday 15th May the YMCA Birkenhead, hosted a wonderful event for IDAHOT, the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia, held internationally on the 17th May. IDAHOT events are held both for LGBT and non LGBT people to provide education and also a message of hope and pride to all LGBT people globally.

Photo 15-05-2015 18 10 50

Liverpool Trans at IDAHOT Wirral 2015; Megan Key, Scottie Oxton, Dan Stone, Henry Poultney & Sophie Green

Wirral IDAHOT was hosted by Terrence Higgins Trust and the Wirral LGBT Network and was well attended by many organisations, including Merseyside Police, The National Probation Service, Tomorrow’s Women, the NHS and of course representatives from Liverpool Trans!

‘I suffered homophobic bullying for years, becoming very insular I had to leave school. I believe IDAHOT can help educate and spread the message of equality with the hope others will not suffer as myself and many others have.’ – Scottie Oxton

The beautifully sunny YMCA gardens greeted us for our arrival, it was here the day began with opening speeches, including an impassioned opener from Henry Poultney, chief organiser of the event, and later in the day the recipient of the YMCA’s Gold Heart in the Community award. Very well deserved!

After feasting on a rather delicious buffet, including a mountain of home baked cakes the workshops began, the first was run by Megan Key, the only out trans person in the probation service and also an Ambassador for Diversity Role Models. Megan spoke about how organisations can help to supporting trans people in the workplace and of her own transition.

‘Over 50% of trans people report discrimination at work and research indicates this is a barrier to career progression. My experience clearly demonstrates that transition does not have to be a difficult process for employers. There is plenty of guidance available to assist businesses in supporting and embracing this change and their reward, if you like, will be to retain talented staff who are more productive and less likely to be off sick, because they are living authentic lives. A collaborative approach will also help the organisation to comply with Equalities legislation.’ – Megan Key

Organisations were asked to sign up to become LGBT ambassadors by Wirral LGBT Network, ensuring training is given and their work places are LGBT friendly places and Danny Kilbride of Thinking Film recorded attendees impressions of the day, what IDAHOT means to them and what we can do as organisations or individuals to effect positive change. We look forward to sharing the finished film.

You can see more of what we got up to on the Liverpool Trans Facebook Page

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Trans positive; the AAA Girls!

I recently went to an event in Sackville Gardens in the the Gay village of Manchester called ‘Village People in the Park’. I was lucky enough to have VIP tickets allowing me to actually meet my idols; the American Apparel Ad girls!

The girls, Willam Belli, Courtney Act and Alaska 5000 are known for being contestants on Rupaul’s Drag Race, as well having a big presence online. They’re drag queens and they’re my heroes .


Why am I telling you this? Well, it was during that meet and greet that I finally became comfortable in my own skin…

Before the meet and greet we waited on a staircase. I couldn’t hear them, I couldn’t see them but I just knew they were in the next room. Before the woman at the door allowed us into the room, to await our turn (and buy some merchandise), she lay down some “rules”. No selfies, don’t be too long, etc etc.

All of this was making me anxious, but honestly I was anxious already, because I had another weight on my shoulders. Would they see right through me? What should I say my name was? Would I look like a right weirdo if I said my name is Ben but am obviously female?

What I am really writing about here isn’t just a great fan experience: It’s more so the fact that I have never experienced such a trans-positive moment in my life.

In retrospect, all those questions I asked myself seemed stupid, but they were crippling me. While I was at the stall buying merchandise it was suddenly my friend and I’s turn to meet them! I was late so had to rush, trying to put my wallet in the pocket of my skinny jeans (a difficult task, even when you’re not shaking in fear).

To be honest, the meet and greet hadn’t really sunk in before we were called up to wait. I was still revelling about how amazing their live set was about an hour before, but when I was standing on those stairs is when it finally hit me. I didn’t really have any time at all to control my nerves.

By the time I had sorted myself out, my friend had already said hello, so Willam said hi to me. She asked whether I was a miss or a sir; obviously sensing who I really am without my needing to explain. I mumbled something about being “technically miss”. She said to me that a lot of their fans were trans people, and so she wanted to get it just right.

It was then I could fully admit who I was.

“Yeah, that’s me, I’m trans” I said with a half smile and a nervous laugh.

“Well then, I should call you Sir,” smiled Willam with all the confidence in the world. A big supportive hug ensued.

I finally plucked up the courage to ask her to sign my newly purchased merchandise. “So, what’s your name?” she asked, using her hand as a writing desk.

“Ben” I said.

She nodded and said she liked it. I mumbled something odd about liking the name Willam (which is also her out of drag name) and we started having a brief conversation about names and things. My nerves were lessening at this point. I was accepted.

It got even better when my friend came back to talk with us. Courtney, another of my idols, who was standing in the middle of the group curved her arm around me and pulled me in for a massive hug.

“Hello, Ben,” she said and then she introduced me to Alaska making sure to put emphasis on my name. “Ben, this is Alaska. Alaska this is Ben”

“Hiiiiiiii” I said, which is one of Alaska’s catch phrase. I instantly regretted how unoriginal I was.

“How many times have you heard that today?” I cringed.

“About eightteen,” she smiled jokingly.

“Have you been counting?”

Then me Courtney and Alaska chatted for a bit. I felt like we were in a weird way, friends.

To be honest, I’d been struggling with finding a name that suited me and Ben was a name I hadn’t had for long, so I was still trying to come to terms with it, but with Courtney calling me Ben, I felt my name really fit for the first time properly. It was an amazing feeling….

After more chat – including Willam liking my ‘Hasta La Pizza, Baby’ shirt and calling me fun – as well as a photo, I could tell that the woman running it was getting a little impatient because we were taking so long. I was still shaking. Willam asked why I was shaking and I cast it off as the few red bull and vodkas that I had had that evening, which had them laughing.

Of course they saw that I was nervous. The whole time I could feel that they were being protective over me. It felt nice. They seemed to genuinely want to keep chatting to me. They seemed to like me.

I know it’s sounds just like a teenager meeting Justin Bieber and making a meal of it, but I can assure you it’s not like that at all. Maybe, and probably, they are just lovely to everyone they meet, but that’s not the point to me. What I am really writing about here isn’t just a great fan experience: It’s more so the fact that I have never experienced such a trans-positive moment in my life.

That meeting put me in such a confident mood where I was more comfortable in myself; and I’ve been there ever since.

I’ve noticed some bad rep in the Trans community about drag queens, because some feel that they mock trans issues. With my experience that night I can guarantee that this is not true whatsoever for the majority of queens who are out there.

After all, I think they are in a similar boat to ours. They understand what we are going through.

I wrote this article because I didn’t have the chance to explain how appreciative I was to the Queens themselves. I was far too nervous. My mental state prevented me from doing so. I want to thank them for being so positive. For being understanding and supportive. I look forward to meeting them again at some point in the future.

I wont be so nervous next time.


Ben 01

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April Ashley ‘Citizen of Honour’

Inspirational transgender campaigner, April Ashley, has been named a ‘Citizen of Honour’ in her home city of Liverpool.

At an intimate ceremony in the beautiful Council Chamber of Liverpool Town Hall, April was awarded the honour in recognition of her work fighting for transgender equality. Wednesday 29 April also marked April’s 80th birthday so was a fitting way for her to celebrate this landmark occasion.

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April Ashley, Citizen of Honour. Picture courtesy of Liverpool Echo.

Lord Mayor of Liverpool Councillor Erica Kemp CBE said: “I am delighted to be honouring this outstanding lady for her dedication and commitment to ensuring that the transgender, gay, lesbian & bisexual community are listened to and given equal rights.

“Her tireless campaigning, determination and courage make her a most worthy recipient of this honour. I hope that by awarding April a Citizen of Honour we can highlight the inequalities that individuals still suffer today and encourage those who feel lost and confused to reach out and realise that they are not alone.”

April Ashley said: “It is wonderful to be receiving this honour in my home city and for such a worthy cause. We all have a responsibility to stand up and fight for basic human rights and to be recognised for this is truly wonderful.”

“It is also a fantastic way to celebrate a landmark birthday in one of our most historic and stunning buildings.”

Born in Liverpool on 29 April 1935 as George Jamieson at the age of 25 she was one of the first people to have gender reassignment. Since then from her platform as a successful model, she has been instrumental in the campaign for transgender and LGBT equality.

Liverpool’s first Transgender Pride Flag now in the Museum of Liverpool archive. Pictured: Lord Mayor Erica Kemp, Scottie Oxton, April Ashley, Sophie Green, MoL’s Kay Jones & Vriska Serket.

In 2012 in recognition for her services to transgender equality she was awarded the Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2012 Birthday Honours. She speaks regularly on LGBT rights, including most recently in 2008 at St George’s Hall.

In addition this week, Liverpool’s first Transgender Pride Flag will be given to the Museum of Liverpool.

Sophie Green, from Liverpool Trans said: “It’s incredibly empowering to see your community represented and the Transgender Pride flag represents a group which often faces huge prejudice and intolerance.

To witness members of the transgender community raise the flag above Town Hall was an incredibly proud moment and I’m delighted it is now part of the Museum of Liverpool Archive”

The Transgender Pride flag was first presented to the Lord Mayor, Councillor Erica Kemp, by members of the local transgender community in November 2014. It was flown for the first time in support of Transgender Day of Remembrance, a global event, held annually on the 20th November to remember transgender lives lost to violence and prejudice.

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A book of 80th Birthday messages for April from the trans community.

During the ceremony Liverpool Trans also presented April with a book of 80th Birthday messages and photographs from members of the transgender community; collated from online submissions during their birthday messages for April campaign.


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April Ashley’s 80th Birthday Book

At Liverpool Trans HQ we were overwhelmed by the number of responses to our birthday message for April campaign, it was so good to have so many of you involved! Against serious time constraints (we launched the campaign on Sunday afternoon, April’s Birthday was Wednesday!) we managed to get everything together, and we’re pretty pleased with the results!

You can view all the messages below or via our facebook page (go tag yourselves!). We did include as many of your messages as we could, unfortunately some did arrive a little too late!


April Ashley is presented with a book of 80th birthday messages from representatives of the Liverpool Trans community. Pictured: Scottie Oxton, April Ashley, Sophie Green, Liverpool Lord Mayor Erica Kemp and Vriska Serket.

A message from team April!..

‘Yesterday was an amazing day and April had a wonderful time! April loved her 80th birthday book and asked me to read every single message to her over a gin and tonic. She was very touched by how thoughtful a gift it was. Thank you Liverpool Trans community.’

Bev Ayre, Homotopia

Well done folks! Will do it all again on her 90th! 🙂

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