The alphabet communityBy Rory Finn
PHOTOGRAPH by Sharon Kilgannon, Alonglines.com
There's a real split in the community between those who identify as part of the LGBTQI rest of the alphabet community and those who don’t who might come from a more straight background.
Or may have transitioned and don’t feel part of the community anymore because they’re identified as straight. Trans T is very much part of the LGBT acronym and I think it’s foolish of LGB activists to think that gender doesn’t have anything to play in their being trodden on by the rest of the world. So it’s all inter-linked and, in my humble opinion, it all comes down to sexism at the end of the day.
I think trans is very much part of the LGBT community, it always has been and it always will be in different ways and in different hues. Queer activism is important for me and quite distinct to gay rights activism in that it’s freedom from these labels but it’s also very much about the mixing of the sexuality and the gender stuff as well. There is quite a lot of feminism in that too. So it was about doing club nights, educating people at different levels, teaching people top tips about being a trans ally or going into a classroom and training professionals into best practice. A whole range of things.
I ended up doing stuff with the police, talking to them about their stop and search policy, giving them training. I’ve also ended up kicking Brighton & Hove City Council up the butt and getting them to do something about trans stuff which has led on to this amazing massive bit of work; The Trans Scrutiny Panel. It’s not just me doing this on my own, but it’s getting involved in little bits and then opportunities come together and you meet people who help and together you get things done.
Every year there’s the Trans Day of Remembrance and we do a Sunday service at Dorset Gardens Methodist Church as a community and commemorate the dead. As with most LGBT events in the city it’s quite standard to invite politicians to come. Only this year every single politician failed to turn up. This was back in 2011. We quite rightly got a bit upset about that and Nick, Steph and I were sort of meeting on a fairly regular basis to talk about various trans things in the city. At the time I was the chair of FTM Brighton, Steph was chair of The Clare Project and Nick was the co-ordinator of LGBT HIP. We wrote a letter to all the political parties and Phelim Mac Cafferty who is the Green’s LGBT rep invited us to a meeting with him and Bill Randall, who at the time was the Leader of the Council.
So we met with Phelim and Bill and had a chat about what the issues were for trans people. They were like, “Well maybe we could do a trans scrutiny” and they explained what it was and a few months later the ball started rolling. Out of it we’ve had this massive investigation into inequalities faced by trans people in the city. The recommendations got published in January 2013 and there’s ongoing work now whereby statutory services, the police, the NHS, the council and others are having to get together and talk about trans people. It’s basically completely changed the playing field. Trans people are now being included and mandated. Things are changing for trans people in the city in a really substantial way as a result of that. And that makes me very proud that I was part of the process and that as a community we’ve been able to effect quite a lot of change.
This is Rory's testimony in Chapter One (Communities, Trans Pride, LGBTQ, differences, support) of the ground-breaking Brighton Trans*formed book.
To read more intimate, heart-breaking and heart-warming stories from transgender people, click here.
This page was amended on 19/12/2014