Updated: Wednesday, 22nd November 2017 @ 5:30pm

Manchester’s Sparkle 2016 brings trans and non-trans communities together

Manchester’s Sparkle 2016 brings trans and non-trans communities together

| By Ewan Waters

Over 12,000 people made it along to Sparkle 2016 but visibility, awareness and education remain key to the trans community making further inroads in society.

Sparkle, the world’s largest transgender celebration and run by The Sparkle Charity, takes place in Manchester’s Sackville Gardens in the heart of the city’s Gay Village.

Now in its thirteenth year, the event gives people across the trans spectrum the opportunity to cherish their true gender identity without fear of intolerance or prejudice.

In order for further progress to be made however, The Sparkle Charity are calling on more and more trans and non-trans people to make themselves known to the organisation and to the event to support the cause.

“We want to highlight that we are here – that we are on site – whoever you are and whatever you are, we want to have you here at Sparkle,” said Jay Crawford, Sponsorship and Business Involvement Manager and a trustee for the charity.

“We need people to get involved. We need people to come to the table and bring us something. We can meet people halfway if they do that.”

The trans community is a section of society which is still constantly marginalised and faces high levels of transphobia and discrimination on a daily basis. Approximately one third of transgender adults and half of “trans-variant” young people attempt suicide.

One of the ways in which we can give trans people the confidence to move away from the peripheries however and become more involved in the trans community is through educating society about transgender en masse.

“One of the biggest things is the bigotry and the hate.

The trans community get more of that than other communities. We need to educate people more about trans matters and trans issues,” said Jane Owen, 43, a trustee for The Sparkle Charity.

“Yesterday I was chatting to someone who said, ‘This is the first time I’ve come to Sparkle. I’ve absolutely loved it and I’ve learnt so, so much about a trans-person that I didn’t know.’”

Ensuring that the non-trans population, as well as the trans-population, attend events like Sparkle is integral to enhancing the visibility and awareness of the trans community, and the message is very much that the event is for everyone.

The profile of sections of the trans community such as trans-masculine needs to be enhanced beyond the confines of Facebook groups and into society at large, and increased involvement from the non-trans population can assist this.

“If we can broadcast to the whole of Manchester, to the UK and beyond that this event is for you, not just for trans people, then we are doing our job,” said Jane.

Some improvement in media attitudes to trans events such as Sparkle is helping the cause, and there is optimism for the future in light of less sensationalist coverage and a more rounded view of visibility being presented to the public.

“The coverage is a more realistic portrayal of what we’re doing, and the media are starting to step into the zone of what we are and what we’re doing, rather than what they think we are and what we’re doing,” said Jay.

Speaking at the event, interim Mayor of Manchester and Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd emphasised the police’s dedication to providing safety and justice for trans people going forward, but also the importance of reporting incidents of hate crime.

“Eighty percent of transgender people have come under some form of hate crime attack, and it’s very rarely reported. If you have been a victim of hate crime, then please report it,” he said.

“The police can’t solve every single incident of hate crime, but if we don’t know where or how it’s happening we can’t do something about it.

“The Greater Manchester Police are committed to working with the transgender community, and working with all other communities, to driving out hate crime.

“Sparkle is here to stay, the transgender community is here to stay, and we celebrate the basic human right to be who you are.”

The mayor also praised Manchester’s inclusivity of the diversity of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community, and the joy that the city continues to take in doing so.

“That Manchester has once again hosted the world’s largest trans celebration is a reflection of our region’s proud and welcoming spirit – a region that celebrates and embraces diversity.”