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Historic event at an historic venue?

Jed Bland

 
GENDYS JOURNAL

Issue 34
Summer 2006

 
On a weekend at the beginning of June, it was hoped that the historic mill at Cromford in Derbyshire would see yet another historic event - the various organisations in the trans community speaking with one voice.

Last summer we wrote of a new project, the United Kingdom Trans Alliance, and what it hoped to achieve. We repeat that information in this issue.

At the time that the UKTA was formed, the Gender Recognition Act had just been passed and no one knew how the new gender recognition panel would perform. Additionally various medical bodies were devising new standards of care and NHS care plans. The Act was also unsatisfactory in that it required that existing marriages should be dissolved.

The plan was to hold meetings in various parts of the country hosted by various groups in rotation and at this, the fourth of them, it was the Beaumont Trust's turn. I should point out that this is not an official report of the meeting but simply my impressions.

The groups represented were the Beaumont Trust as host, Gender Trust, Trans-Shropshire, now called Gender Matters, the MCC Trans Discussion Group, Sibyls, Inner Enigma, Unique, Sanctity and Depend. Of the other groups contacted only GIRES, the Women of the Beaumont Society, URU Bolton and Oasis sent apologies.

Contacting the various groups had proved a major problem. Previously e-mail had been used, with, for the most part, addresses gathered from web sites, but there had been few replies. It was by no means clear whether the web sites were defunct or that messages were simply being ignored, or had been trapped in spam software. A circular letter would be prepared and sent through the traditional mail, BT and Gender Matters offering to reimburse the cost.

Another major problem is the distances involved. National groups could appoint a member from the locality, but for many small groups, not only travelling cost, but the distance would be prohibitive. This had been one reason for having each meeting in a different part of the country, organised by different groups. Whereas early meetings had been in the Midlands the north, the previous one had been scheduled for Brighton, but problems had occurred at the last-minute.

To allow progress to be made in between meetings, it was decided that an internet forum would be a useful tool, which would also allow those groups that could not attend a given meeting to be kept up to date.

Another question was whether meetings should be on a Saturday or Sunday. Some wish to attend church, and public transport is infrequent on a Sunday morning. Others were unhappy with Saturday for a number reasons. It was decided that Gender Matters would host the next meeting at Telford in October.

In spite of the few people present, the general feeling was that at least something concrete had been achieved, and the meeting adjourned to the Hurt Arms at Ambergate for lunch.

The United Kingdom Trans Alliance (UKTA) is a grouping of trans support organisations from throughout the UK. These organisations represent the full spectrum of trans identity and include in their membership individuals who may describe themselves as transvestite, transsexual, transgender or any other personal gender identity.

Purpose of UKTA

According to the UKTA Declaration of Intent written after a meeting in London on 6th February 2005 and subsequently agreed to by those organisations present at the inaugural meeting on 12th June 2005 UKTA's objectives are to:

  1. Recognise that, as a very small community within contemporary UK society, there is an unquestionable need as representative organisations to act cooperatively and speak with one voice wherever possible.
  2. As equal partners in the Alliance acknowledge not withstanding (1) above that each organisation shall remain independent and that this independence is respected by all other members of the Alliance,
  3. Acknowledge the diversity that exists within the trans community and respect that definitions of gender identity will at times be relative not absolute. With this in mind agree a core list of common acceptable, authoritative definitions and terms to be used and promoted by all,
  4. Work to engage in any activities that promote the better understanding and knowledge of the trans community in all its diversity within society at large,
  5. Seek opportunities to organise and bring together the memberships of the signatory organisations into forums, meetings, conferences and events organised in the name of the Alliance in order to build a greater sense of community,
  6. Act to engage with any other voluntary organisation sharing the Alliance's objectives to the benefit of the trans community as a whole,
  7. When appropriate act in concert in discussions with statutory bodies which are influential in supporting the needs of or providing goods or services to trans people,
  8. Work cooperatively to remove any negative barriers or stereotypes from society that adversely affect the trans community,
  9. Invite UK based trans organisations other than the signatories to become part of this Alliance,
  10. Forge links internationally with other trans organisation/alliances,
  11. Agree to and bring about a Constitution to regulate the business of the Alliance, and
  12. Engage in any other joint activities that will benefit the trans community generally.

Membership

The following, which may be varied as the Alliance develops, have been agreed amongst the founder member organisations of UKIGRA in relation to membership of the Alliance.

Full Membership of the UKTA will be open to any voluntary or not-for-profit organisation that primarily promotes and supports the needs of the UK's trans community and which agrees to the priciples as set down in the UKTA Declaration of Intent above. An organisation in full membership of UKTA may send two delegates to each meeting but has only one vote at those meetings

Associate membership of UKTA may be granted to any organisation that supports the work of UKTA. Associate members shall have no voting rights.

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