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Launch of North West Regional Assembly Consultation paper

 “Action for Equality”

Lowry Centre Salford Quays
27 January 2005

As a member of the NW TUC LGBT Network I was invited to the launch of the North West Regional Assemblies consultative paper “Action for Equality”. This is subtitled “Celebrating Diversity and creating Opportunity for all in the North West of England”.

This launch took place at the Lowry Centre in Salford and the official launch included addresses by Hazel Blears MP for Salford and Minister of State at the Home Office, and the Leader of the NWRA Councillor Derek Boden. The Government Office for the NW was also represented.

The document can be read on the NWRA website at .

The attendees mainly represented voluntary groups, local government and public sector employers along with Trade Unions etc. Only two private sector employers were represented one of which happily was the company I work for which is one of the largest employers in the region.

 The document ostensibly has a section 4.5 on “Sexual Orientation and Transgender” subtitled “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) people in the North West”.

The section seemed fairly thin on Trans issues and I was surprised to see that the list of recent legislation was purely that relating to LGB issues and didn’t include either the 1999 Gender Reassignment Regulations or the GRA itself!

There were to my knowledge two other Trans women present at the launch, and between us we managed to ask two questions in the Q&A session. One question on the continuing problems of married Trans People who can’t get Gender Recognition under the GRA without divorcing was completely misunderstood by the panel. My question as to whether the strategy would lead to improved NHS facilities for Trans people in the NW received some support from the panel however a subsidiary point I made revealed that the main consultation on LGBT issues in drawing up the strategy paper was with the Lesbian and Gay Foundation. Worthy folk but not versed in Trans issues.

During a coffee break I spoke to Vicky Austin of the NWRA who as Equalities Officer was one of the architects of the strategy and she said that they had not been aware of any contacts for trans representation in the NW. I pointed out that as well as local support groups the main National campaigning group (PFC) was extremely well represented in the NW! She seemed surprised and I got the strong impression that we had perhaps been an afterthought! To be fair to her she has now got a number of contacts to use and I’m hopeful that we will be better represented in moving the strategy forward. Vicky Austin is shortly to move to the North West Regional Development Agency who as the funding body will be carrying on with the implementation of the strategy.

Between the three of us we made our presence felt and I was very pleased with the number of people who were attending who made a point of praising and supporting our contribution.

If Trans people living in the NW want to make a contribution to the consultation on the strategy they can do so until April 29. Please try to comment, though how much effect it will have is hard to judge. The NWRA is not now going to become an elected organisation and hence will only have the ability to influence rather than direct policy, but every little helps.

Sue Stelfox (NC-4)


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Working for the transgender community for the past 29 years