Formerly known as Trans Shropshire – has been supporting trans people and their friends and relatives since 2003.
The Early Years
Trans Shropshire was founded in 2003 when a drop-in facility and support centre was opened. Prior to this, support was offered to the trans community in areas of sexual health and counselling services as projects provided by Shropshire Buddies and Body Positive. From the take up of the service it soon became apparent that a client led, specific support service was required, so a formal constitution was drawn up for a Social Enterprise; the organisation registered as a charity (17th June 2005).
By 2006, the organisation was being acknowledged – within the West Midlands – as providing a quality service with an excellent reputation for supporting trans people. Statutory sector organisations such as the probation service, GPs and local councils regularly accessed and made referrals to the services Trans Shropshire provided. Activities at this time included a phone line, regular social events, drop in access in two venues and advice and information provision organised and run by a team of – trained and qualified – volunteers.
The name Trans Shropshire was soon out-grown when the assumption was that services were limited geographically to Shropshire; this had become a hindrance to development.
When the new name Gender Matters was adopted, further success was achieved with a successful funding application to the Lottery. The Lottery funding – £183,000 over three years – allowed the Gender Identity Centre to open its doors in its new guise in 2008. The funding has allowed the charity to grow from strength to strength; a schools pack for secondary-aged children called “Who am I?” was developed and the employed staff were able to forge strong relationships with the Police, the British Transport Police and to offer a more structured drop-in provision and to host formal Counselling.
Several more successful fundraising applications have allowed such projects as a Volunteer Programme to be developed where many confidence building activities, formal training and structured, individual support is incorporated. An Outreach Programme raises awareness of the community and has enabled the development of specific projects to advance trans equality via trans-awareness training programmes and to develop partnerships with local, regional and national organisations. The Outreach Project supports trans people with advice and guidance in health pathways, and employment-related issues. Many of the activities and art projects have been developed as a consequence of partnerships with organisations such as local businesses, colleges and museums.
Another addition, is an extremely creative project which will ensure the personal histories and journeys of Gender Matters’ beneficiaries (and other members of the trans community) can be recorded for posterity and perpetuity. See Mapping My Journey.
The most recent developments are support groups for Significant Others, Family, Friends, and Allies (SOFFA) of those who are Trans: Transgender, Gender Variant, Gender Queer, Cross Dresser, Transvestite or any other non-standard gender identity and another group called Oscars mens group (OMG).
From its inception, the organisation has grown from strength to strength and is now considered to be a centre of excellence for all who access its services.
AGM 2011 – This report covers the period: 1st January 2010 until, 31st March 2011 (due to changes in accounting period).