Sparkling With Pride: Woman becomes first transgender person to advise on Manchester Pride board

By Hayley Murray

A Manchester woman has been selected to be the first transgender person to advise on the Manchester Pride board.

Karen Richards has carried out a number roles in the LGBT community including working with Manchester Concord, national transgender celebration, ‘Sparkle, and Manchester’s LGBT Rugby League Club, ‘Manchester Canalsiders.’

She’s proud to be the first ever transgender person to advise the Board of Manchester Pride this year, and volunteered in 2012 to be night site manager for the whole festival to make sure that everything was safe and secure.

She said: “They gave me a AAA security pass, but I was so busy the only people I got to see were the bin men who helped clear the site every morning.”

Canalsiders has only been running a few months but already is fully inclusive of LGBT and straight people, attracting involvement in either the men’s or women’s full contact teams or mixed touch rugby for those who wish a more gentle initiation into the sport. 

“Team spirit is really important at Canalsiders and everyone has bonded so quickly considering we’ve only been playing for a few months, she said.  

“We were all out over The Great British Bear Bash on Canal Street and we realised that our teams really do reflect every aspect of the LGBT community.”

Last year Karen was nominated along with Stuart Donnelly for Community Champion of the Year at The LGF’s Annual Homo Heroes Awards for their joint work on the annual transgender event Sparkle

“I was a bit surprised by that nomination because I generally like to stay in the background but I am incredibly proud of Sparkle which has become Europe’s premier trans event as it’s all about trans people interacting with other communities, not just our own,” she said.

Karen is in charge of fundraising and liaising with local business for Sparkle and has had support from almost every venue in Manchester’s LGBT Village to prepare for the expected 4-5,000 visitors to the event between Thursday 11 and Sunday 14 July.

Inclusion and diversity is hugely important to Karen, she said: “It’s so important that the whole community works together. We shouldn’t lose our sense of identity or purpose and we should all support one another whoever we are and whoever we represent.” 

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Picture courtesy of anthro_aya via Flickr, with thanks

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