We spoke to LGBT Foundation’s Trans Programme Co-ordinator, Louie Stafford, about our exciting new programme and what we can expect to see happening in the future.
Can you tell us about yourself and your new role at LGBT Foundation?
In my role, I oversee and the programme and make sure we hit all our aims and objectives. It’s a very exciting role for me personally, I am very lucky to be one of the few paid workers in the country doing this important work. I come from a youth work background and have been doing work with the trans community in Leeds for nearly four years. I’m also studying Sociology and Social Policy in my spare time. I am a bisexual trans man and I am still transitioning. I view my own personal transition to be ongoing and inclusive of me working towards being the best version of myself, so I’m not sure when, or if I will ever be finished! My work, my family and friends all play a huge part in my life. My Mam especially is my biggest supporter and fan, and I wouldn’t be here without her!
What other work have you done for the trans community?
I ran support groups in Leeds and supported many individuals though Yorkshire Trans Support Network, which is a charity I started. I have also delivered trans awareness training to organisations and charities across Yorkshire, focusing on trans inclusion. Also within my studies, I am always involved in different streams of research and have a particular interest in the needs of the trans community.
Can you tell us your hopes for the new LGBT Foundation trans programme?
I am so happy to be part of the programme and the wider team here at the LGBT Foundation. There is a real willingness from everyone here to adapt and embrace the new Trans Programme. Behind the scenes of the organisation there has been lots of work done and thought put in to how groups and members of the trans community have a voice and inform the work we do. It is my hope that the Trans Programme delivers exactly what it aims to, meets (and exceeds) expectations and supports the valuable and tireless work already being done by and for the trans community across Greater Manchester.
What does trans awareness mean to you?
To me, it’s all about raising the profile of trans people, highlighting the problems that effect trans people, and moving towards a fairer and more equal society where trans people have the same opportunities as everyone else. Trans people often live in absolute isolation, it’s about reaching those who feel alone and helping them feel included and valued, while making sure wider society know we exist and that we matter!
What advice would you offer someone questioning their gender identity or newly out as trans?
Talk to a friend, reach out to a support group or organisation, find people who won’t judge you. You are not alone, you matter and you are loved.
How can people get involved with the new Trans Programme?
Because the new Trans Programme is brand new, there are so many ways to get involved and we have a blank canvas! If you have a unique or useful skill that you would like to offer the trans community then we want to hear from you. In 2016 we have loads of plans for events that we are looking for volunteers for. We will always be looking for members of the trans community to be at the forefront of this work but everyone is welcome to get involved.