Transgender Fife:  Group strives to make a difference with meetings in a safe space

A group is aiming to make major changes to the way transgender people are supported across Fife.

Thursday, 9th December 2021, 12:00 pm
Updated Friday, 10th December 2021, 7:07 am

It aims to improve facilities, amenities and support to the community which has long felt under-represented in the Kingdom.

Transgender Fife was launched to help provide a safe and empowering space for the transgender community in Fife.

Its existence stems originally from a needs assessment carried out in 2015 by LGBT Health & Wellbeing in Edinburgh. It highlighted that there was a shortage of services especially within the transgender community.

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The group aims to support transgender people in Fife.

As a result, funding was secured for a 12-month pilot scheme involving the employment of a part time development worker to oversee the creation of a transgender specific group in Fife (Fife T-Time).

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When that ended, LGBT Health & Wellbeing was unable to provide further funding, but, thanks to four of the group’s members, who felt that it was on a strong enough footing for them to be able to take things forward themselves, Transgender Fife was born.

Since its creation, the group has gone from strength to strength.

Nina Munday from Fife Centre for Equalities.

It now has 120 members who attend meetings representing the transgender community in Fife.

Tish Wolfsong, co-ordinator, said: “I’ve known from about the age of five that there’s been a female ‘me’ wanting to get out, but it was only three months before my 60th birthday that she had the courage to tap me on the shoulder and say ‘it’s time’.

"In my late teens I would push the boundaries as far as I dared with regard to the clothes I wore, but back then the word transgender was unknown, and no one had the language to express the way I felt inside.

Coordinator of the group, Tish Wolfsong.

"The intervening years were spent going through marriages and relationships with ever increasing degrees of failure, and I now realise, of course, that most of this was due to the fact that I was never meant to be ‘the man of the house’.”

Tish went on to hide who she truly was and continued to live as a man – burying her true self behind a mask of masculine ego.

"In many ways I was like Kelly Maloney, the former boxing promoter, acting overly macho, doing all the ‘guy’ things, and hiding behind an inflated male ego that I had built to help mask the truth.

"When the real me finally emerged she destroyed yet another marriage, and although my wife and I are still on good terms, she still refuses to meet Tish.

"The one thing I feel I have discovered since accepting my truth is that we evolve continuously. My original feeling of euphoria that I knew why my life had been a tale of depression and breakdowns gave way to the urgent need to have all the corrective surgeries available."

In the years since, Tish has strived to help others in the same situation, and to fight for equality for the transgender community.

“Over the eight years that have passed since then, my perspective has changed considerably, both through experience and the reality of the situation.

“I can now begin to accept that the missing years are lost, and I just have to live out my life believing that the best way to be the real me is to do what I can for others in the transgender community.”

Since the creation of Transgender Fife, Tish and her co-coordinators have provided a safe space with monthly meetings to help support one another, alternating between venues in Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline.

"It has long been a target to be able to expand the reach of the meetings further east in Fife to make itself more accessible to people, and last month we held our first meeting in the Cupar area, which attracted a lot of interest.

“These meetings are a chance for transgender people, along with their allies and family members, to socialise in a safe environment where they know they will be accepted as individuals and will be able to ‘be themselves’.

“A changing area is always provided so that those who feel they cannot travel to the meeting in the attire of their preferred gender can change for the duration of the meeting and relax.

“Whenever possible, a guest speaker will be invited to discuss matters of interest and benefit to the community, or to provide on-site demonstrations which the members might find useful.

“The most important aspect of the group’s work is in allowing transgender people the opportunity to meet up in a safe social environment and to make friends, however, our coordinators also respond to a large number of requests for help or advice.

“We may not have all the answers, but we will always do our best to guide people in the most appropriate way for their circumstances.”

The group has the backing of Fife Centre for Equalities since 2015.

Nina Munday, who leads it, said: “We have been supporting Transgender Fife in the background to ensure that there is support for transgender people to connect with one another and to advise public authorities on relevant policies and practices.

"We want to commend the volunteers who have been working hard over the past years to support their members with minimal resources.

"Protection of the identities of their members are paramount and Transgender Fife is a lifeline for people who are finding it hard to be accepted as who they are.

"We would encourage organisations and groups to support transgender people by making their services more accessible and inclusive.”

For more information, please visit: www.transgenderfife.com, or email: [email protected], alternatively apply to join Transgender Fife’s private Facebook group at: Transgender Fife Facebook Group.

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