THE UK’s largest lesbian and gay rights charity group has announced it will now advocate and lobby for the trans* community.

Aside from making its campaigns more trans*-inclusive, Stonewall also announced it would include trans* issues in its brief.

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Chief executive Ruth Hunt apologised to trans* people for historically maintaining a distinction between sexual orientation and gender identity.

“As a community we can achieve much more by standing together,” she said.

“This is an exciting but huge undertaking – we recognise that we are not instant experts, and will work closely with the trans community to achieve real change for LGBT people.”

The decision came after Stonewall conducted a six-month conversation with more than 700 trans* people.

“Over the last four months, I’ve spoken to hundreds of trans* people who say we were wrong to maintain that distinction and we made it worse by making mistakes… We recognise the impact of mistakes we have made in the past,” said Hunt.

“We are aware that we have missed opportunities to open up this conversation far sooner… We apologise to trans* people for the harm that we have caused.”

Founded in 1989, until now Stonewall only lobbied for gay, lesbian and bisexual issues.

Equality and diversity consultant Tara Hewitt said that by including trans* issues in its brief, the charity can use its platform and experience to help create change.

“As a trans woman I am personally as well as professionally excited that this platform, innovation and expertise is going to be directed towards further trans equality in the UK,” Hewitt said.

To ensure that Stonewall will fully represent the trans* community, the charity plans to train staff to include trans* issues in the work they do and appoint a trans* expert board member.

Stonewall’s head of campaigns James Taylor told The Guardian that it was estimated to take around 18 months for the charity to become fully trans* inclusive.

“The key themes brought up in the consultation included trans* healthcare, ensuring our public services deliver equality for trans* people, looking at issues within the workplace, and tackling transphobia wherever we see it – whether it’s in our streets or communities,” Taylor said.

Hunt said she was inspired about the initial positive conversation and how much appetite there was for exploring it further.

“I am absolutely committed to creating a world through Stonewall where everyone has the right to be themselves, where everyone can be who they want to be,” she said.

“We have a responsibility to use our voice and share our 25 years of experience.”

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