Journal

Welcome to my online journal, which I started in December 2002 after several very persuasive hints from friends. Although I obviously don't write about everything that happens in my life here, I hope it'll provide an insight into who I am and what's happening in my life - whether good, bad, happy or sad.

Anatomy for Beginners

Posted by Anna at 14:28 on Friday, January 28, 2005
Like many people in the UK I've been watching Channel 4's Anatomy for Beginners this week. I I have to say I've found it absolutely fascinating - it's one thing to read how the body works, but something else to actually see it.

When I first heard of Dr Gunther von Hagen's infamous Body Worlds exhibition I have to say I was unsure of what to make of it. There is part of the human psyche that is profoundly uncomfortable with being in close proximity to our dead, and at the time I felt that this exhibition might be going too far. Needless to say, I never went to see it.

After seeing this programme I've changed my mind, for seeing how the body functions in such detail is the most stunning demonstration I can imagine of how beautiful nature is. Our bodies are amazing biological creations and incredibly resilient. No matter how we abuse them (a diet of junk food is a bad enough form of self abuse, but smoking? ) they don't complain, and do their best to cope. It's a miracle we live as long as we do, given the stresses and pathogens our bodies are exposed to on a daily basis.

It shouldn't come as a surprise to hear that I found the programme on reproduction particularly interesting. Unlike many of those in the audience I saw, I didn't find the sight of the doctor cutting open the reproductive organs a difficult sight to bear either...I guess reassignment surgery gave me a new perspective on more things than I realised!

I must admit I never thought I'd say this but if I had the chance to be in the audience for such an event I'd take it now. Highly recommended.

The girl I fell in love with loves my muffins...

Posted by Anna at 22:38 on Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Bad (but tasty) foodWe've all got an occasional foody treat we like. Some combination of ingredients, prepared in a way unique to us, and frequently, well....odd. I'm certainly no exception, and over time I've gone through my fair share of fads. Most of them (remember double decker sandwiches? there's a fad that was so 1980s) I've well and truly grown out of, but there are one or two that have stayed with me since student days.

I've always had a savoury (rather than sweet) tooth, and a taste for cheese. After discovering toasted sandwich makers shortly before going to University, you can guess what happened...various toasty combinations, many of which involved (you guessed it) cheese. The stronger the better, of course.

One toasty combination I discovered (while working with Christian Union in the Coffee Bar in aid of War On Want during my second year,*) was tuna and cheese. Nice.

    * That's another long story, which I really must tell sometime. Suffice it to say that opportunities to come to Faith have a habit of creeping up on you when you least expect it...

One of the other tricks I learnt along the way was how to make cheese on toast interesting. It's pretty simple really...add herbs, spices, onions, tomato, mushroom...whatever you fancy. Delicious.

The final (and most important) ingredient is Encona West Indian Hot Pepper Sauce, an imported pepper sauce (readily available in the UK). It's a spicy little number which you'd be well advised to treat with respect - about four drops of that is more than enough for most dishes unless you have very strong tastebuds. Trust me - it's that hot!!

Why stop at toast though? To anyone familiar with Red Dwarf, the phrase "Can I interest you in a muffin?" will be a familiar one which probably causes rolled eyes and an expression which can literally be translated as "oh god not that bloody toaster again....". We're talking muffins, and in particular the wholemeal variety (they're healthier than that nasty white stuff, after all). It was an obvious progression to put my savoury snack habit together with this most delicious of toasted treats, and before I knew it, Anna's muffin surprise was born. The pepper sauce as ever proved to be the exquisite touch that just made the end result complete.

When Beth and I first met last June toasty snacks were of course the last thing on our minds, but as time has passed we've began (as do most couples) to share more and more of our lives. One of the things I've learnt is that Beth has as much of a taste for spices as I do, and we've had a lot of fun concocting different ways to add spice (no pun intended) to our meals, particularly those based on Beth's own "Chickpeas are your friends" receipes. *

    * Receipes based on a variety of pulses, beans and green vegatables, simmered in a spicy sauce. Tasty, filling and very healthy.

So to tonight, and the point of this long ramble through my culinary history as a graduate of the Throw it all in School of Catering when Beth yet again asked me to make some of those "nice spicy muffins". Make no mistake - she's hooked.

Although my tastes have evolved over time (I won't say matured, that would be just too much!) I obviously still know my muffins.

Feel free to groan now.

Back from London

Posted by Anna at 23:06 on Friday, January 21, 2005
Well we're back from London now, and trying to catch up on everything we missed while we were offline for the day.

London's a strange place. Although it's about as impersonal and frantic as a city can be, there are parts of it that (after three years of travelling there for one appointment of another to do with my treatment) I'm so familiar with that it almost feels like home.

Earl's Court is one such place, home as it is to the London Institute - consultant gender psychiatrist Dr Russell Reid's practice. I've lost count of the number of times I've turned left outside the tube station and walked the 300 yards to 10 Warwick Road. When I've made that walk on weekdays during school hours the happy sound of children playing in the nearby nursery school always makes me smile.

When I was undergoing laser treatment with Christianos at the Institute I was making this trip at least once a month, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that there was strong sense of deja vu as we walked up Warwick Road. It's actually the first time I've been there for a year; the last time I came I'd just had my reassignment surgery and I was preparing to fly back out to Chonburi for facial feminisation surgery. How time flies.

We'd arranged to meet two of our friends - Alex and Jayne - at the Institute, and arrived to find them sitting outside waiting for us (Russell's secretary Sue isn't keen on us using the Institude as a meeting place, but everyone does anyway ). My appointment was only 15 minutes away by then, so after exchanging greetings they wandered off to a nearby cafe to wait for us, while we went inside to wait.

By the time I went in to see him it was 12:45...only 15 minutes late, which isn't so bad. Russell's timekeeping has definitely improved since I first went there...I remember one appointment running an hour and a half late! He just likes talking with people (no bad thing, given his profession) and appointments often overrun as a result.

The appointment was chatty and relaxed as usual. As well as updating him on my recovery and events in my life since the last time we met (my recovery from GRS and FFS, work etc). As ever, he seemed genuinely interested in how I was getting on.

He was also curious to know a little more abut my experiences with the Suporn Clinic, in particular about prospects for long term recovery and the patient care regime they practice. Obviously, with such major surgery the prospects for recovery are significantly improved if the patient is healthy, has a reasonable diet, takes care to rest sufficiently after surgery and is not a smoker. The latter in particular has a huge effect on recovery, as any surgeon will tell you! When I told him how insistant the Clinic were that patients did not smoke (and the penalties for being caught defyinhg this instruction), he seemed genuinely impressed.

Of course we also discussed the problems I've been having in my hormone regime. According to Russell, upping the dose of Progynova I was taking beyong 6mg was unlikely to help - the symptoms I had are consistant with my body being resistant to estradiol valerate (the active ingedient in Progynova).

He suggested that a reasonable alternative would be Zumenon (micronised oestrogen), but agreed that reverting to my previous regime (two Yasmin tablets daily) with the addition of one 10mg Duphaston tablet would be reasonable for the next year or so. Once my body has settled down again, I'll be in a position to experiment again.

I have to say that Russell seemed more relaxed and at ease than he has in the past (better groomed to). I imagine that's due to the problems he's been having with Richard Green and his sidekicks(who made allegations about him to the GMC last year) are becoming less of an issue.

After the appointment we wandered off for lunch (at Dinos on Earls Court Road) with Alex and Jayne. It's always good to catch up with friends, and yesterday was no exception.

All in all a long but satisfying day. Until next year.

Off to see Uncle Russell again

Posted by Anna at 21:29 on Monday, January 17, 2005
Just a quick heads up for anyone likely to be in the vicinity of the London Institute (Dr. Russell Reid's practice) in Earls Court on Thursday. My 1 year post-op follow up appointment is at 12:30pm, so if you're in the area that day you may well bump into us.

Although this appointment is pretty much a formality (the issues I have in my life now are not things a psychiatrist can help with!) I do intend to take the opportunity to review my hormone prescription.

In July last year I changed my hormone regime (see the post New hormones, Please!) from two Yasmin tablets per day (each containing 30ug of the synthetic oestrogen Ethinyloestradiol and 3mg of the progestin Drospirenone) to three Progynova (each containing 2mg of the oestrogen Oestradiol Valerate) and two Duphaston (each containing 10mg of the progestin Dydrogesterone).

Although this combination should be safer and equally effective long term, it just hasn't worked for me. The first thing I noticed was that my hair was losing condition; I then started having problems with dry skin, and I stopped self lubricating. More visibly, I rapidly lost breast development - from a mid sized 36B to a small 36A in less than three months.

By October I'd decided enough was enough and modified my regime slightly, by substituting a Yasmin tablet for one of the Progynova. The results have been striking - my bust is developing (rapidly!) again, my skin and hair are in better condition and I'm starting to self lubricate again. Intriguingly, my nipples are now more sensitive than they have been in the past, which I can only assume has something to do with the Duphaston.

I need to discuss all of this with Russell next Thursday, and try to identify a regime that actually works for me. Right now, it seems that despite the increased risk, switching back to two Yasmin tablets per day - but with a single 10mg Duphaston tablet - might be a good option. We'll see.

A night at the ballet...

Posted by Anna at 23:30 on Sunday, January 16, 2005
I'm always open to new experiences, but like most people many of the things I'd like to try (parascending or learning to fly are good examples!) are likely to remain unfulfilled. Ultimately, time, money and the other day to day coniderations of life conspire against the new experiences that can so easily widen our perception of what matters in life.

For me, one such experience is the arts. Although I find what little I've experienced firsthand fascinating and moving I've barely explored that side of my character at all. In fact, throughout my whole life I've been to the theatre (for example) just once - to see an open air production of The Merchant of Venice at Highclere Castle near Newbury back in (I think) 1995. Although I thoroughly enjoyed it, the opportunity to repeat the experience hasn't come yet. Maybe I just haven't tried hard enough - I really don't know.

That's not to say that theatre is the only thing I'd like to experience of course - part of the problem is that I don't really know what I'd really enjoy until I experience it!

Such an opportunity has just come around, and in an area of the arts which I'd never even considered - ballet, of all things! When our friend Jayne told us she had two spare tickets for Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake at Sadlers Wells Theatre we quite literally jumped at the chance!

I honestly didn't know what to expect at all, but from the moment the conductor bowed to the audience and the orchestra started playing I was absolutely hooked. Although the cast didn't speak throughout the performance, they more than made up for it in the expressiveness of their movements, facial expressions and body language (at one point it actually struck me that in their roles there was a real similarity with the role of actors in the old silent movies...I wonder how many of them had a background in ballet? Intriguing). I found myself rapt, and struggling to take in everything that was happening on stage - no mean feat, considering the cast is approaching 30 in size!

As well as the expressiveness of the performers, the sets themselves were truly amazing. From the drunken seediness of Swanks Bar to the haunting eeriness of City Park, each set was atmospheric and convincing. To this rank outsider, all of the scene changes were seamless and didn't get in the way of the story at all. In fact, they rather added to the magic of it all.

As well as being engaging and absolutely beautiful, the performance was also truly moving...by the end I could feel the tears literally streaming down my face, and that didn't stop while the cast and conductor took their curtain calls. The audience just didn't want the show to end - and neither did I.

This really was a new experience for me, and one I'll definitely be repeating when we can afford to. This girl is hooked.

Finally, if you want to know more of about this production, you might find the following links of interest:


True friends will always be there

Posted by Anna at 21:37 on Thursday, January 13, 2005
I had a long overdue chat to my friend Bev tonight. Although it's been a little while since we've spoken and both of our lives are in the process of changing significantly at the moment, the time doesn't seem to matter - our friendship is as strong as ever.

It was wonderful to hear how her kids are doing - her daughter Kerensa (whom I first met back in August 2002 during my first foray into living as myself) is now starting school...how time flies!! Nate - who's a year old now - is going from strength to strength and seems to be developing a character that's entirely his own. Aren't kids wonderful?

No matter what was going on in her life, Bev has always gone out of her way to help me when I needed it, and today was no exception - knowing the challenges I face in my life, she offered to talk to the prayer groups in her church to ask them to pray for me and those I love.

That's truly what friends are for.

"Fast Track" Gender Recognition Applications can now be made

Posted by Anna at 09:32 on Tuesday, January 04, 2005
I've just received the following from Press For Change. It should be self explanatory:

    GENDER RECOGNITION APPLICATION FORMS AVAILABLE
    On 4th January 2005, the Gender Recognition Panel (GRP) will make the first application packs for fast track and overseas gender recognition processes available at http://www.grp.gov.uk.

    Fast track applications are for people who have transitioned at least six years ago. For the first six months, the GRP will deal exclusively with these applications.

    Application packs for the standard application process will be available in July 2005 and the first day that these applications will be assessed by the Panel will be on 4th October 2005.

    GENDER RECOGNITION ADVICE SITE OPEN
    To help people understand the process, Press For Change has created a guidance site at http://www.gra-info.org.uk.

    The site includes answers to frequently-asked questions (FAQs), and an interactive expert system ("Ask GRACE") -- a questionnaire which will guide you through the application process. There is also a Roadmap which sets out all the steps as a flowchart.

    If you have an enquiry about personal matters which might affect your application, and you can't find an answer on the GRA-info site, we have provided on online enquiry system: see the "Feedback" link. However, please do Ask GRACE and read the FAQs first! We know we haven't covered everything, but the answer may already be there.

    (The GRA-info site is still under development, so please bear with us as we sort out some remaining presentational issues).

    If you have an enquiry about the Gender Recognition Application forms please contact the Gender Recognition Panels at:

    Gender Recognition Panel
    PO Box 6987
    Leicester
    LE1 6ZX
    Phone: 0116 249 4292 or 0116 249 4295
    E-mail: grpenquiries@dca.gsi.gov.uk

    Stephen Whittle
    Vice President, Press for Change; Coordinator: FTM Network on behalf of the Vice-presidents of Press For Change


I've had a quick scan of the site and the forms look fairly self explanatory, although they do include a statutory declaration which needs to be witnessed by a magistrate or solicitor (which won't be free, of course).

Although I'm not eligable to apply yet (that will happen in July 2005) I'm sure you will appreciate that this is a huge step forward for transpeople in the UK. Provided the GRP isn't swamped with applicants, by Christmas next year I should have my new birth certificate.

The new year brings recognition for two of our own

Posted by Anna at 01:15 on Sunday, January 02, 2005
Another bit of news from PFC. Two of their campaigners have been awarded honoursin the New Year Honours Lists:

    UK: The Recognition We All Share

    Many thanks to Tracy for announcing the news about the awards contained in the New Year's Honours List .. and many many heartfelt thanks to all those who have written in to offer their congratulations.

    The question of individual awards will probably always be an embarassing one for those picked out to receive them. It is bound to always feel unfair. Awards are, by their nature, rare and special.

    In my opinion, EVERYONE who has stood up to do anything as part of a campaign like ours over the years deserves a medal. If you've been to see your MP this year to ask for backing for the Bill you deserve a medal. If you've written and posted letters you deserve a medal.

    Just for surviving in our society as a trans person you deserve a medal!

    ... and if you are a non-trans friend or relation who has helped trans people to survive then let's not forget you too!

    Certainly there are lots of individual names that immediately spring to my own mind as thoroughly deserving of public accolades. Some of those would sadly have to be posthumous.

    Particular recognition is perhaps deserved by the other past and present vice presidents of Press for Change .. going back to the campaign's formation in Grandma Lee's Tea Shoppe in 1992. The same can be said of the present and past leaders and unsung grafters in all of Britain's various trans support groups.

    However you see the problem ... how to name ANY of those people without unintentionally forgetting others who are equally deserving .. or, worse still, inviting divisive and pointless comparisons of one contribution against another.

    The moment you start making lists of people for ANY purpose you are on a rocky road to division and hurt.

    These were thoughts that certainly troubled me when I was first notified of the prospect of an award. Knowing what Stephen has said on the same topic in the past, I'm pretty sure that the same thoughts would have gone through his mind too. How do you accept such things with good grace, knowing how others may be equally or even more deserving too. In particular, how do you face close working colleagues whose names didn't come up?

    I remembered back to this same time five years ago when Angela Mason of Stonewall received an OBE for her work in Stonewall. It struck me back then in 1999 that the importance of such an award was not measured by what it said of Angela's own fantastic contribution, but by what it said of public and official respect for the entire GLB cause.

    This time around, it is perhaps a significant sign of the social advance of our communities that not one but TWO national honours can have gone almost completely unremarked today by the press. If ever there were a case that "No news is good news" then this is it.

    More than that, however, I think that the biggest significance of ANYONE receiving such prestigious recognition in this area is that the sheer act of caring about and working for the welfare of trans people has been recognised in very high places as a pursuit worthy of reward in itself. The awards are, in that respect, a mark of respect for ALL trans people .. bestowed on two humble representatives because five thousand of us are considered to have been worth fighting for.

    Having said all of that, there are some contributions to society that just simply are seminal in nature. I personally believe that the work of Stephen Whittle falls into that category.

    Tonight, as midnight approaches, we in Britain stand on the threshold of a new age for LGB and Trans people alike. Three months from now trans people here will start acquiring a legal recognition and collection of rights which seemed like a distant dream only five years ago. Later, in the autumn, many of our LGB friends will also start to benefit from a major social change affecting them too. It's an exciting and historic year ahead and easy to forget the spadework down the years which has paved the way for both.

    When awards like this have a political significance then there is always a risk of them being in some way devalued .. by the belief that they may have been "given out" rather than "earned".

    I hope therefore that you will all read the following reminder of Stephen's own THIRTY YEAR contribution to the process of social evolution in which this year's historic advances are set.

    And when we welcome 2005 in a few hours from now think back to 1973 .. think of everyone's contributions over those intervening years .. and then raise a glass in toast to ALL of us.

    Happy new year. Happy new dawn.

    Love to you all

    Christine Burns


    Stephen Whittle

    The award of an OBE to Dr Stephen Whittle recognises his outstanding and long term contribution to the development of social and legal recognition for transsexual people over the course of more than 30 years. During this time Stephen has not only become recognised throughout the world as a leading academic legal expert in this field (one of the foremost authorities to whom lawyers turn for advice), but he has also led a revolution in the organisation and self-awareness of transsexual people throughout the world, inspiring others to come together to form an international community through lecturing, writing, media appearances and mentoring a new generation of campaigners.

    Stephen Whittle is Reader in Law at Manchester Metropolitan University where, prior to a new role heading the graduate school, he has taught for many years in the areas of Contemporary Social Law, Gender, Sexual Orientation and the Law, and Human Rights. He is a founder and vice-president of Press For Change, which campaigns for respect and equality for all trans people. He is also co-ordinator of the UK's support network for 'female to male' trans people (http://www.ftm.org.uk). He transitioned from female to male himself in the mid-1970s, having come from a background of Women's Liberation and Gay Liberation politics at that time, and he has very much retained his feminist and queer political views that were developed then.

    A leading community organiser for almost 30 years
    Stephen's campaign CV can be traed back to 1973 when he joined the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (still attempting to identify as a Lesbian at that time) and, in 1974, he co-founded the Manchester Lesbian Collective - a radical group which was involved in setting up the first Manchester Women's Refuge. He announced that he was a man shortly afterwards and with the group's support contacted other trans people in and around Manchester. Along with others he started the very first support group in the UK for transsexuals and transvestites. The group was to be instrumental in the setting up of the Manchester Gay Switchboard. In 1975 Stephen joined the Beaumont Society, as a trans man and became co-editor of the Beaumont News, a magazine for what was ostensibly a heterosexual male transvestite organisation at that time. In 1979 he was a founder member of the first UK self help group for transsexual people and has remained involved in all the self-help groups that have come into existence since then. In 1990 he founded the FTM Network, a self-help group for trans men which now has over 700 members in the UK, and members from another 20 countries

    The turning point in his career
    The 1970's and 80's were a time of social and political oblivion for transsexual people in the UK, following the infamous divorce case of April Ashley and Arthur Corbett in 1969-70. During this period trans people had no employment protection and were always vulnerable to being sensationally "outed" in the press. The first attempt to reverse this position in the UK came in 1985, when another contemporary, Mark Rees, took the very first case against the UK Government to the European Court of Human Rights. The case was lost in 1987 but the press analysis of the arguments and the dissenting views of several international judges convinced Stephen that the path to achieving any significant change in the position of trans people in the UK lay in learning to use the law as an instrument of social change.

    Studying at first through a part time law degree, Stephen graduated in 1990 and then went on to achieve an M.A. (researching "Crime, Deviance and Social Policy") through further part time study. In 1995 he earned a Ph.D. for his leading research on "The Law and Transsexuals" and became a full time lecturer in the School of Law at Manchester Metropolitan University.

    A major contributor to the development of Human Rights law
    Though Stephen became an academic relatively late in life he has taken the opportunity, over the last few years, to participate in developing wide ranging new theoretical, policy and legal approaches to the paradigms of gender, sex and sexuality. Though his work has primarily concentrated on the transgender and transsexual communities it has been wide ranging in its approach to the construction of legal discourses in areas such as employment law, family law, reproductive and children's rights, European Law and the European courts, social activism and policy development.

    Recognition of Stephen's expertise has led to his invitation to provide documentary guidance, on behalf of ILGA Europe, to the European Council as to future amendments of the European Convention on Human Rights. He has also acted as an advisor to the 'LGBT audit' project of Northern Ireland's Human Rights Commission (Advisory Board of the Human Rights and Equality Centre, University of Ulster, Human Rights Commission, Northern Ireland), and he has provided direct guidance to the NIHRC as to the inclusion of gender identity as a protected category within the proposed Bill of Rights.

    Stephen's work in this field was recognised recently by his legal peers when he received the 2002 Liberty / Justice Human Rights Award for his leading contribution to the advancement of trans people's rights through the law.

    Founding Press for Change
    In 1992 Stephen co-founded the UK transsexual rights campaign organisation "Press for Change" and placed his imprint on the evolution of the group's objectives and structure by creating an environment which actively encouraged otherwise timid people to contribute as much or as little as they felt able. Press for Change borrows many organisational concepts from Whittle's feminist experience but, whilst the body is essentially non-hierarchic, seasoned and fresh campaigners indisputably
    regard Stephen as the voice of experience and consensual leadership on legal questions.

    Leading by Example -- In the Media
    Part of the reason for the high regard in which Stephen is held by transsexual people is his willingness to lead by example. Trans people have had good reason in the past to actively fear the media and the effects of public exposure. In spite of those dangers, however, Stephen has consistently put himself forward as a media figure and spokesman for the community for more than a decade. Significant recent examples include the charting of his phalloplasty surgery in the Channel Four documentary "Make me a Man", full page articles in the Times Law and Higher Education Supplements, and appearances on news and current affairs programmes such as "Newsnight" in the immediate wake of the landmark ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in July 2002. Other trans campaigners regularly contribute comment to news stories nowadays but Stephen's contribution is in a completely different league, both in terms of the prominence given to his authority as a leadership figure, and the sheer number and consistency of his contributions over such a long period of time. Stephen is perceived to be the leading face of trans activism not only in the UK, but elsewhere too. In addition Stephen regularly contributes as a consultant to the making of many other television and radio programmes. In the last six years alone he has contributed to around 30 programmes, including six on BBC television, ten on BBC network radio and the majority of the remainder for Channel Four independents.

    Leading by Example -- In Print
    It is in print that Stephen has made some of his most lasting contributions, as a eading academic presenting 37 international conference papers in the field of gender theory, through chapters in nine edited books, via Amicii Briefs to the courts in eight international human rights cases, and through author/editorship of a further nine book, all of which contribute to a widening study and understanding of transgender lives. His recently published textbook, "Respect and Equality -- Transsexual and Transgender Rights" (Cavendish: 2002) is the first authoritative summary of the collective experience of pursuing transgender rights cases through the world's courts. Through his writing and example on international conference platforms Stephen has inspired countless other trans writers and speakers to develop their talents and contribute to what is now a large and diverse body of thought.

    Leading by Example -- In the Courts
    In addition to his media appearances and writing Stephen has been a high rofile litigant himself, breaking new ground first by establishing the right to artificial insemination treatment to enable his partner to become pregnant in the early 90's and subsequently taking the case of his family to the European Court of Human Rights in 1996 (in the pursuit of the children's right to have him recognised as their legal father). Although involving one's children and family in litigation and consequent publicity is a difficult road, wide open to criticism, the most compelling "proof" that Stephen's family life is happy and normal is to show people, and the strength and support of the family which he and his partner have built speaks for itself. In turn, through this, Stephen and Sarah have inspired countless other trans people to seek their right to have families of their own too.

    It is perhaps significant in itself that Stephen's immense contributions to the trans community have been achieved whilst being at the same time a very active and loving parent to four children aged between five and twelve, and partner to Sarah for over twenty-five years.

    Individual Support
    Although Stephen's contributions as a high profile campaigner and legal consultant are well known, his less glamorous work behind the scenes is just as a significant. The reputation and profile of Press for Change ensure a very large postbag, much of it comprising pleas for help from people suffering discrimination or harassment at work, or where they live. Problems such as this often require complex legal answers to convey to solicitors and writing individual replies of this kind takes a significant amount of time. The importance of Stephen's contribution in this area is underlined by the fact that there is seldom anyone else who can give the complete answer on his behalf. In addition to everything else, therefore, Stephen works many unrecognised hours simply replying to people in person and supporting them. Again this is on top of his own family commitments.

    Recent Campaign Activity
    Stephen's contribution and place as a leader in this field of social activism is so great that it is hard to list all of his contributions, especially over the last 6-7 years. As the pace of advancement for transsexual people in the UK has accelerated however, it is relevant to focus particular attention upon his involvement in the change process:

    In 1999 Stephen co-authored the trans community's submission to the nterdepartmental Working Group, "Recognising the Identity and Rights of Transsexual and Transgender People in the United Kingdom"

    In 2000 he led the trans community's presentation to the Interdepartmental Working Group. Since then he has contributed extensively to further research by the Lord Chancellor's Department and the Interdepartmental Working Group. Stephen is one of the four leading activists who liased extensively on matters leading to the successful passage of the Gender Recognition Act in 2004.




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I'd like to extend my congratulations not only to Christine and Stephen, but also to everyone who's played some part - however small - in the process of achieving legal and social recognition for us. We won't forget.

Tickling the New Year in...

Posted by Anna at 01:11 on Saturday, January 01, 2005
Enough said.

Happy New Year from us both!

Postscript: To all those who sent us anonymous New Year Greetings by txt message from numbers we didn't recognise, or whose mobiles weren't accepting any more messages - Happy New Year!