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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 February 2007, 06:50 GMT
NI has first transgender seminar
Richard O'Brien
Richard O'Brien is one of the guest speakers at the conference
Transvestites and transsexuals in Northern Ireland are holding their first ever conference in Belfast.

Rocky Horror Picture Show star Richard O'Brien and Human Rights Commissioner Monica McWilliams are among the Transgender Symmetry event speakers.

Seminars will look at the family and the workplace for transgendered people, and how young people cope.

Mr O'Brien said he was looking forward to visiting NI to give his own personal view on the issues under discussion.

Ms McWilliams said: "This is the first conference of its type ever to be held in Ireland, north or south, and the fact that it is being held at all is an indication of how far we have come as a society.

"For those in gender transition from male to female or female to male, or for those who are permanently stuck between genders in this society, that dignity and respect sometimes seems like a distant dream.

"This conference is about starting to change that, changing attitudes and opening up a new vision where equality, dignity and respect are the norm."

The invited audience includes politicians, community leaders, health professionals, police and trade unionists.

Linda Marshall of the Belfast Butterfly Club, which organised Wednesday's conference at the Ramada Hotel, said transgendered people are in all walks of life in Northern Ireland.

"Here is an opportunity to challenge ignorance and fear and create awareness, understanding and acceptance of diversity," she said.

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