Category Archives: social work

SWAP – Structured Weekend Antidote Program

Over the summer, I’m pleased to announce that I will be running a workshop as part of SWAP; an amazing and innovative response to the ever-growing ChemSex scene in London. Here’s what London Friend say about the program:

“Who is it for?

SWAP is for men 18+ who identify as a Gay, Bi, trans or MSM (men who have sex with men) and feel that their chem use is either already out of control, getting out of control or is having a negative impact on their lives. The programme is aimed at people who are serious about trying to take those steps that will lead to greater control over their use or who would like to become chem free altogether.

What does it involve?

SWAP is an intensive group programme over 4 full weekends (11 – 4.30 Saturday & Sunday).
It will take you through a series of workshops which will help you to understand and explore issues such as:

  • Relapse Prevention
  • Sex (inc. sober sex) & Sexuality
  • Self Esteem & Confidence
  • Assertiveness
  • Relationships
  • Boundaries
  • Social/intimacy anxiety
  • Thinking patterns
  • Goal setting, life planning & decision making
  • Relaxation & stress management

There will also be an opportunity to try complimentary therapies such
as acupuncture and mindfulness meditation techniques.”

For more info visit:

LGBT Youth Awareness Training

LGBT Youth Awareness Training Workshop May2014Friday 9th May 2014: 2-5pm at the ELOP Centre
Cost £30 per person

Sexual orientation and gender identity are two of the protected characteristics specified in The Equality Act (2010) as minority groups at elevated risk of experiencing many health inequalities and discrimination. Ensure your organisation and staff are LGB&T aware by accessing ELOP’s multidisciplinary LGBT Youth Awareness Training.

ELOP Booking Form – LGBT Youth Awareness Training Workshop May2014<
ELOP – LGBT Youth Awareness Training Workshop May2014

Men’s Health & Wellness Workshop – Tuesday 15th April

7.00pm to 9.30pm @ ELOP

Health & Wellness for Gay, Bi & Queer Self-identified Men.

Following on from our previous workshops on ‘Love, Sex & Intimacy’ for Queer guys, I’ll be co-facilitating a health session next week for guys from the LGBTQ communities. We’ll be sharing tips on exercise (suitable for all abilities); healthy eating; tackling stress; keeping a healthy sleep schedule and looking at how to maintain your sexual health. We’ll also be discussing health concerns that are particularly relevent for men aged 30 and up.

30+ Men’s Group – 7.00-9.30pm
Social evening for GB&T men twice a monthly on Tuesday 1st & 3rd Tuesday of every month.
On the 1st Tuesday of the month, we meet at ELOP. On The 3rd Tuesday we’ll be arranging an event or outing elsewhere.

Club Mellow Men’s Groups @ ELOP
56-60 Grove Road
E17 9BN

Contact us for details.
Email: – Tel: 020 8509 3898
Cost: £2

Love, Sex & Intimacy – A workshop for gay, bisexual & trans* men who have sex with men

18-30 Men’s Night: 7-9:30pm, meets fortnightly on the second and fourth Tuesday each month at ELOP: £2.

Next Tuesday, I will be facilitating the following session at ELOP in Walthamstow. It’s open to all queer guys aged 18-30, from all faiths, backgrounds and cultures. Come and join the conversation.
Tuesday 11th February: Love, Sex & Intimacy for Gay, Bisexual and trans * MSM (men who have sex with men – Aged 18-30) – Intimacy can be a difficult area to navigate for lots of people, but for gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men we know it can be particularly tricky. Reporting on the escalating ‘Chem Sex’ scene earlier this month, Channel 4 news suggested that a struggle with intimacy is the root of this worrying trend in our communities. Join us at ELOP to talk about what intimacy means to you; learn some easy ‘take home’ relaxation & intimacy exercises or just chill out, meet people and shoot some pool.
ELOP – 56/60 Grove Road, Walthamstow, London E17 9BN – 020 8509 3898 –

Trans Health Matters 2014 #transhealthmatters

Following the success of Trans Health Matters in March 2013, the second event aims to provide a trans* voice into the health debate; providing practical solutions for trans* engagement and for strategic inclusion in the health & social care sectors.

The 2014 event is supported by cliniQ, the innovative trans* health and well being NHS service in central London; it’s partner providers and the National LGB & T Partnership. It will look at specific health needs and issues of trans* inclusion in the planning and delivery of health, public health and social care services.

In the spirit of the event, Trans Health Matters wants to include trans* people at every stage of its development. We’d love to hear what trans* people want from the day:

What matters to you with regards to trans* health and well-being?

What can the program include that would make it appealing to you? (i.e. what sort of activities or discussions are relevant for you)

How can we make the event as inclusive, rewarding and accessible as possible?

To have your say, join us on twitter, 4pm this Sunday (December 8th) on the hashtag #transhealthmatters

Classifying Sex: Debating DSM-5

ImageLast week, I had the pleasure of attending the Classifying Sex: Debating DSM-5 conference at the Center for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities at Cambridge University.

It was a fascinating multidisciplinary event, which brought together social and political scientists, feminist scholars and mental health practitioners to discuss the implications of the most recent revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The conference mainly concerned categories of sexuality and identity defined within DSM-5, and the ways in which they are considered to be ‘normal, ‘abnormal’ or ‘pathological’.

Certainly, I have been to few conferences which have invited speakers from such varied backgrounds, and never before one which invited so much disagreement, heckling and large scale exiting of the seminar room!

Although, most people reading this blog would expect the latter to be the fault of American psychologist, Ken Zucker, it was actually Patricia Crittenden of the Family Relations Institute, Miami who was the cause of much audible laughter (and of many people taking an early lunch).

Crittenden’s talk entitled “The Functions of Sexual and Reproductive Behaviour; Short and Long-term Adaption and Maladaption” was outdated, heterosexist, ethically questionable and at times, as we could all hear – just plain laughable.

By opening her paper with the statement “all sex is about babies” she successfully managed to alienate approximately 99% of the room (the other 1% being Ken Zucker) within the first five minutes of the nonsensical hour she had been allotted. An hour made up of “research” concerning scales of human sexual arousal (which interestingly, had death at either end) and video footage of “consenting” service users’ interactions with their children – service users who are currently involved in legal battle for custody of said offspring.

I am hard pressed to isolate one particular element which I found the most offensive, but if really pushed it would have to be the point where Crittenden, when discussing the higher rates of rape and sexual assault during wartime, argued that the increased frequency was because soldiers, when faced with the threat of impending death tend to think to themselves “Hey! Best leave some sperm behind” – which, unfortunately is a direct quote. There was no mention of power, retribution etc. No, apparently rape is only ever about reproduction, too.

The rest of the conference, aside from some slightly tense discussions with both Ken Zucker and Alain Giami (who argued for homosexuality’s return to DSM) included a fantastic presentation from Lisa Downing entitled Sorting the Acceptable from the Unacceptable: Defining the Pathological in Classic Sexological Perversion Theory and DSM5’s Paraphilia Diagnoses and Zowie Davy’s discussion Will It Make A Difference or Is It Just Semantics: Diagnosing Trans People in DSM 5.

Overall the conference was challenging, engaging and incredibly well balanced, as well as a fantastic opportunity for networking.. and I would seriously recommend seeking out Lisa Downing’s work to anyone. However, unsurprisingly I might not endorse Zucker or Crittenden in the same way.

Call for speakers and workshop leaders at UEA’s Transgender Conference 2014

Having recently been made the organiser of the Barbara Ross Association conferences, I am currently looking for:

  • People who are interested in submitting abstracts for either oral or poster presentations
  • Any groups/individuals who would like to lead workshops or seminars
  • Individuals or groups who would be keen to present or collaborate with the conference committee in some way other than those above – we welcome new ideas!
  • Trans* visual artists, filmmakers and musicians

Please keep abstracts to 250 words and include the following in the body of your email:

  • Title of paper
  • Name(s) of presenter(s)
  • Affiliation(s) of presenter(s), including department/unit
  • Contact e-mail address

The conference will run at the University of East Anglia (Norwich) on September 5th, 6th and 7th 2014.

Here is the programme from the TG 2012 conference, to give you a feel for what the events are like. Please do NOT be put off if your submission varies from the examples below. We are keen to expand and improve on previous events and are particularly keen to hear from trans people of colour, people from the creative industries and anyone working with the community within the helping and/or medical professions but ALL submissions are welcomed.

Conference Programme Saturday
Welcome by Barbara Ross OBE, CQSW
Olivia Johns Ma (Oxon) “True to Both Selves?” Reflections on Gender Identity
Bernard Reed OBE & Terry Reed OBE (Gender Identity Research & Education Society): Current Issues in Transgender Healthcare and Equality
Dr Francesca Swords (Endocrine Specialist) – Monitoring Hormone Therapy & Health After Reassignment Surgery
Mr Gennaro Selvaggi (Surgeon) – Male to Female surgical techniques – Personal Experience
Dr Bart van de Ven (Plastics) – Facial Feminisation Surgery
Mr Gennaro Selvaggi (Surgeon) – Female to Male Phalloplasty
Ms Alice Purnell OBE – “Trans then and Now”

Conference Programme Sunday
Mrs Susan Clark (Speech Therapist): Key factors for M to F transition
Mr Krys Vere-Bujnowski (QWest) – Female to Male Issues
Katy Jon Went: Depathologising Gender Dysphoria
– Workshops –
Simon Blackmore & Aedan Wolton introduce a film by the Evolve Trans Youth group
Plenary & Closure

Aedan Wolton, Simon Blackmore & Linda Street (Mancroft Advice Project) – Working with Trans Youth
Neil Howard, Equality & Diversity Officer, Norfolk County Council & Ashley Williams (OASIS support group) – Equality Issues for Transgender People within Public Services & Employment
Julie Innes, Diversity Advisor, Norfolk Constabulary – Community Safety
Sarah Brown, Cambridge City Councillor – Being Transgender in Public Life

For more information, to discuss an idea or to submit an abstract please contact me via email ( Please note there is currently no closing date for submissions.

Classifying Sex: Debating DSM IV

Classifying Sex: Debating DSM IV

Very much looking forward to this event in Cambridge next month:

This conference brings together social and political scientists, feminist scholars, sexologists, psychiatrists, historians of science, as well as mental health practitioners and sexual rights activists to critically explore the sexual classifications produced by the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published in May 2013. The DSM is the standard reference for the classification of mental disorders, and its first major revision since 1994 is consequently an important global event. The conference will explore which categories of ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’, ‘healthy’ and ‘pathological’ sexualities and identities the new manual produces, and critically scrutinise their consequences for diagnostic practices as well as their wider social and political implications. The conference will take place on 4 and 5 July 2013 at the interdisciplinary Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) of the University of Cambridge. It is financially supported by CRASSH, the Wellcome Trust, the Sexual Divisions Study Group of the British Sociological Association, the French Institute, Northumbria University, the Laboratoire de Sociologie of the University of Lausanne, and The Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES).

TG Conference 2014

Today I had the honour of being officially appointed as organiser of the TG 2014 conference at the UEA, by Barbara Ross OBE CQSW and The Barbara Ross Association committee.

The conferences have run biennially at the University of East Anglia since 2001 under Barbara’s expert supervision and have hosted speakers, surgeons and researchers from around the world.

Concerning issues of gender and gender identity, the conferences have been a valuable resource for the trans community and for professionals in supporting roles and in 2014 I hope to organise one of the biggest and best conferences to date..

This blog will most likely feature updates concerning the conference, my stress levels and any related breakdowns. You have been warned.