On Thursday I was honored to attend the first Council-sponsored Trans Day of Remembrance event in Bath. In previous years ceremonies have been held at the Metropolitan Community Church, but this is the first secular event, and the first to be officially recognized by the City Council.
The way in which the Bath event came about is very different from what happened in Bristol. When we started doing public events in Bristol it was very much a grass roots effort. It happened because of efforts by LGBT Bristol and by the Rainbow Group of LGBT staff at the City Council. We had a room in City Hall, and 18 people attended. A good proportion of them were cis – people from LGBT Bristol, the Rainbow Group and my friends from OutStories Bristol.
In Bath things came from the top. The current Mayor of Bath, Paul Crossley, is using his time in the job to promote diversity in the city. He told his staff that he wanted to hold a TDOR event, and that they should make it happen. Members of the Council’s LGBT staff group, CHaT, then worked with SPACE, the local LGBT youth group, to organize the event. Special thanks are due to Louise Murphy who did most of the work.
One of the advantages of doing official things in Bath is that you can put them in the Guildhall, a ridiculously posh building which normally only comes into its own for things like Emma Newman’s fairy ball. As you can see from the photo, we looked very official. The Council also put some money into the event, bringing Rebecca Root and Jay Stewart into town to speak at the event. They did a fine job.
On the downside, the event was run primarily by cis people and there were not that many trans people present. Inevitably in such circumstances there were a few faux pas. In particular I think that the Bath folks have learned that TDOR is a very solemn event and you can’t try to cheer it up. If you want to do a more positive thing aimed at younger trans people you need a separate Trans Awareness Week event.
Hopefully this is just the first of many Bath Council events aimed at the local trans community. They are very keen to do the right thing, and that’s usually more than half of the battle.