We asked the committee of Manchester Concord to tell us about the way their group functions and how local trans people can get involved.
Manchester Concord is a transgender social group that meets every Wednesday evening in the upstairs bar of Villaggio's restaurant on Canal street Manchester. This group has traditionally been for male to female transgender people but we welcome anyone on the transgender spectrum to come along to spend a social evening with us. It is an excellent starting point for like-minded people to come along and make some friends who will help and encourage them on whatever path in life they wish to follow.
We are open on Wednesdays between the hours of 7 and 11pm every week, but also access to a changing room at the same address is available from 5pm on every meeting night.
Manchester Concord started in 2008, and is a follow on from the earlier group Northern Concord which started around 1986. This in turn was a follow on from an even earlier group that used to meet in one of the Manchester University buildings. One of the founders of that group was Professor Stephen Whittle, so we have a distinguished pedigree!
Northern Concord stopped running their group here in the Manchester Village in 2008 but is still running two very successful weekend events in a hotel in Chesterfield catering for people who come from all over the country. See their website northernconcord.org.uk for details of those events.
Manchester Concord is set up as a members club and runs on contributions from those who attend. First time visits are always free so there is nothing to stop anyone coming along to see what we are like before committing to the very small charges that are involved.
Many of our first time visitors are very nervous, but there is no need to be. Everyone who attends knows how difficult it can be to come into a strange group of people for the first time, so they are all very easy going and sympathetic. Most people are able to relax very quickly in our friendly atmosphere.
Our website includes a weekly diary page called Mary’s Blog, so prospective visitors can get some idea of what it is like at the club and the types of activities that are organised. We sometimes get inquiries like “what should I wear?” and “will my gender presentation be accepted?”. Looking at the diary pictures will give some idea of the range of dress styles that our members adopt, and we can assure that all gender presentations are welcomed.
To add variety to the club evenings, we frequently run activities such as theme dress nights, make up demos, wig demos and sales, quiz nights and musical or open mike evenings. If you look at Mary’s Blog and go back through the posts you will see the sort of activities that have taken place since we started. The link is www.manchesterconcord.org.uk/marys-blog
We know that there must be many people out there who are part of our community but up to now have kept this part of themselves from friends and family. Do come along dressed in whatever clothes make you feel comfortable just to talk to us and to find out how the group works. You can always bring along other clothes, on first or later visits, and use our changing room facilities at any time during the evening. Many of the members will be willing to help you with dressing or make up, and no one will be disparaging towards you.
Those that have as yet a limited wardrobe of clothes as you would wish to dress are always welcome to come along, you will find that our members can give advice and help about shopping for clothes, make up and other items. The internet can be your friend, but we can also help you find that there is no need to be frightened of the high street!
And those that are already confident, just come along any Wednesday, dressed as you wish and join us for the evening.
Finally, the most important thing to understand is, that it is fun. Come along and be true to yourself.
Visit Concord's website for further information about the group.