Gill Thornton; Susanna Matthan; Bob & Mandy Stoner.
We discussed the development of the support group from last January (2015) noting that we now support 12 parents from across the county (and beyond). We have one family with a lesbian daughter, one family with a gay son and 10 families with transgender children, split equally m2f & f2m. The age ranges of the transgender children was from 5 through to 23 years. The geographical distribution ranged from the north eastern coast of the county (or York if we extend out of the county) down to Sleaford (and Leicester if we extend out of the county). One family had mentioned that they had 'found' the group via Mumsnet but we wondered how that net could be widened to help more families. Su suggested that Lincolnshire County Council has a:
- Family Service Directory (in which we have registered our services);
- Wellbeing service (contacted and offered our information); and
- Parents Carer Forum (we have submitted a letter stating our contact details and what we can offer AL1).
Our next meeting was to be at Uncle Henry's Cafe on 21st February between 2pm-4pm in the Blue Room. We have said that children can attend this meeting for 2 reasons: (1) many parents had requested this & (2) it allowed Gill to discuss with them what they would like in any future childrens' support meeting. Wes Shelbourne, the boss of Just Lincolnshire the counties diversity group, would be arriving at 3pm to give a short talk about his input and influence with LGBTQ in the county. We may have quite a few families present at this meeting, some of which may be new to many as they have stated that they would prefer not to use social media.
Gill was very excited about her recent visit to The Showroom in Lincoln where she spoke with Abi from the YMCA in Lincoln who already runs a monthly LGBTQ support group for 11-17 year olds at the Showroom. Here they can chill out, play games and chat and socialise with their peers. Gill was keen to see if they would like to extend this provision with an 16+ social club, possibly including a clothes exchange for those trans* young adults who need to find confidence in their new expression.
Su mentioned that the North Kesteven Hub was a great venue in Sleaford for such a support group, especially if the children wanted to express themselves creatively. This would link in well with Gill's vision for multiple centres catering for both north and south Lincolnshire.
Bob also mentioned that he had been in contact with Claire Darbyshire and Paul Devlin who both wish to promote a greater understanding for GPs in Lincolnshire when supporting transgender people. To that end Bob & Mandy had been invited to attend as representatives of the support group to a NHS conference at the Showroom, Lincoln, on 11 February. Furthermore they had been invited to speak at the Cheshire Police Headquarters at one of the specific Interfaith LGBT workshops on 15 February.
Lastly Bob indicated that there was a slim possibility of being selected for further training in a particular ministry and this may cause some transfer of functions from Bob & Mandy from July onwards. With that said, the possibility of Gill attending the FFLAG National Conference in Manchester, if offered to us again, was considered beneficial as it gave them another voice from Lincolnshire and it would allow Gill an opportunity to see how the national support group operated.
It has been a wonderful time of seeing many families grow in acceptance of their child, of families become sure that they are not responsible for their child being LGBTQ and of families growing closer. This role is one of great privilege as we see families bond again, some for the first time in years. We share their journey.