“We want to be treated as equal citizens with equal rights”

The launch of Focus: The Identity Trust’s TRANS MANIFESTO in Parliament Buildings, Stormont today (Wednesday 2nd July) marks a historic occasion for transgender and intersex individuals in Northern Ireland.

“Our voice was finally heard, undiluted”

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster’s Evening Edition, Miss Frances Shiels, Secretary of Focus: the Identity Trust stated,

“Today, really was a landmark day for us, our voice was finally heard undiluted – not represented by anybody else.”

That this occasion took place in seat of government itself, in the auspicious surrounding of the Long Gallery in Stormont, and at the formal launch of Our Trans Manifesto serves to further highlight the importance of this landmark moment for transgender and intersex individuals living here.

j m cann junior minister mlaOFMDFM Junior Minister Jennifer McCann offered her support of the Trans Manifesto, saying:

Unfortunately the trans community is still one of the most marginalised groups in our society and face many challenges.  This manifesto provides an opportunity for change. By promoting equality for all in our community, we are striving to build a society which allows everyone to realise their full potential and live free from fear, prejudice and discrimination.”


Focus: The Identity Trust are delighted at the success of the launch of Our Trans Manifesto.  Hosted by the Junior Ministers of the NI Executive, speakers included the Chief Commissioner of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, Dr Michael Wardlow, and Norma Shearer, Chief Executive of Training for Women Network, plus a parent of a transgender individual, (speakers pictured below).

3 speakers

Miss Shiels continued, “this was a milestone event, the first time ever that transgender and intersex individuals, and their relatives were heard by key decision-makers, politicians, the statutory sector and people of influence.”

The launch was supported by key stakeholders from across the entire statutory sector, including Lifeline, a number of government departments, CAMHS, the PSNI, Amnesty International, Public Health Authority, Women’s Aid NI, the NI Policing Board, BSO, Victim Support, the NIHE, RCGP, Training for Women Network, the PCSP, OFMDFM. and individual local councillors and MLAs – amongst others.

Our Trans Manifesto was fully endorsed by these key stakeholders, and all present committed to taking Our Trans Manifesto back to their respective organisations and communities, to undertake the vital act of translating the aspirations contained in our Trans Manifesto, into action.

3 politiciansThis adds to the commitment to support our Manifesto already given to us by Martina Anderson MEP, Jim Nicholson MEP, and Anna Lo, MLA (pictured left).


All speakers spoke with passion on why they support and endorse this important Trans Manifesto, and we will be reporting more on their speeches in a later article.

The success of our Trans Manifesto on what was a day of celebration for transgender and intersex individuals here, was tempered by sadness and loss.  Present at the launch were the parent, grandparent and best friend of a young and talented transwoman who recently completed suicide.

J Howe artFocus are so grateful that they came to the launch, and their loss further highlights the importance of ensuring the aspirations of our Manifesto are translated into action so that no other transgender individual, or parent, family member or friend of a transgender individual, will have to go through this again.

With the family’s permission, above are just some examples of this talented young woman’s art.

Great hope

It is one of the commitments Focus undertake to not just let words be the outcome, but be a means to the end of ensuring positive actions follow; actions which will empower transgender and intersex individuals to be themselves, to be the authorities on themselves, to speak for and on behalf of themselves, and to ensure action occurs which enable us to simply be able to live our lives, as others do, without fear and with the same rights and equality of opportunity enjoyed by other members of society.

Today was, “a very positive day for us, the number of statutory organisations who endorsed our Manifesto and who gave a commitment to put the aspirations in our Trans Manifesto into action in their communities and organisations, gives me great hope”.

Look out for:

*  Follow up article to come: What our Speakers Had to Say

*  Follow up article to come:  Public Endorsements of Our Trans Manifesto


You can publicly endorse Our Trans Manifesto on our Twitter and Facebook pages, or contact us directly at info@thefocustrust.com

To read our Trans Manifesto in full click here

To listen BBC Ulster’s interview with Miss Frances Shiels, Secretary of Focus: The Identity Trust please click here.   (Only available for a limited time)

Below: Focus: The Identity Trust Banner and an example of the art produced by a member of one of our peer support groups – thank you for permitting us to display it on the day.

RobynFocus Banner