First for Belfast as it plays host to two-day Trans Pride Festival
The first multi-event Trans Pride NI Festival begins today, celebrating gender diversity and transgender people at a series of events in Belfast city centre.
Organised around the theme of 'Celebrating Gender Diversity', the two-day festival will include a vibrant and colourful march, discussions and an art exhibition on what it is like to be trans, intersex or non-binary.
The celebrations have been organised by Trans Pride NI, a volunteer-run charity which campaigns for gender equality here for transgender, intersex, non-binary, gender questioning and all other people.
The festival kicks off this afternoon with an event entitled Safety and Trans Pride, discussing confidence building, support and safety for trans, non-binary and intersex people.
The event, taking place in the Minor Hall of the Non-Subscribing First Presbyterian Church, Rosemary Street, runs from 6pm to 8pm.
The main Trans Pride NI Festival parade will start at Buoys Park, next to the University of Ulster's Belfast campus in York Street at noon tomorrow, and will parade through Belfast's city centre before returning to Buoys Park for 12.30pm.
Among the speakers at the parade event will be newly-elected Belfast Lord Mayor John Finucane, a representative of The Training for Women Network, and Dr Sidhbh Gallagher who will talk about her gender affirmation surgery work with the trans community.
Entertainment will be supplied by Quire LGBT Singers, Victoria Garrett, Carla Queen, Miz Tasty, Alexis Cox, Fefe Geisha and Onya Becks.
Michael Steven of Trans Pride NI told the Belfast Telegraph: "We very much look forward to families, friends and community groups attending this celebration to support trans rights and those of the wider LGBT+ community including TNBI (trans, non-binary and intersex). Trans rights need to be the same human rights shared by everyone."
The Non-Subscribing First Presbyterian Church, the main venue for the festival, will host talks on trans themes, and there will also be a Trans Information Exchange, featuring stands staffed by the PSNI, Unite the Union, Queerspace, Trans Pride NI, the Civil Service and the Department for Communities.
A unique art exhibition will offer participants the opportunity to draw or write their Stories of Trans Pride, while an artist will be drawing free portraits of consenting attendees, as well as giving practical art advice.
The Non-Subscribing First Presbyterian Church will also host a discussion on Transphobia and Religion, with speakers including Michael Steven (Can with Candle Charity), Stephen Caves (Humanist Association of Northern Ireland) and David Kerr (lay preacher of First Presbyterian Church).
The Trans Pride NI Festival 2019 is supported by Belfast City Council, Department for Communities, the Executive Office, and the Policing and Community Safety Partnership.