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When Nadia Almada first teetered into Channel Four's Big Brother house on impossibly high heels, in the summer of 2004, TV viewers in Britain had probably never seen more than a few minutes of any real transsexual person on their screens before.

Activists and lawyers at the time were nursing Britain's Gender Recognition Bill through Parliament, and there was momentary concern about what kind of person this unknown quantity was.

They needn't have worried.

Within days the young Portuguese woman soon had people's attention, as her immense personality, piercing laugh and manifest vulnerability took viewers on a roller coaster ride of emotions, in which her transsexual background was sometimes the focus but often pushed to the background by other dramas.

Nadia won that fifth series of Big Brother in a landslide victory that carried millions on a wave of emotion, sharing her dramatic realisation of public acceptance.

In 2010 Nadia returned to Big Brother for a celebration show with other popular or controversial housemates. The return was not such a happy event.

Three weeks after that event she agreed to give an in-depth interview and talks here about her childhood, changing gender, those television experiences and much more too.

The first LGBT Health Summit took place at Guys Hospital in London in 2005 and, since then, this major annual conference has been hosted around the country. In this fifth year the hosts were Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, and the venue was the excellent conference centre at the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield.

In this programme you can hear the organisers, presenters and delegates describing the proceedings as they took place over the 6th and 7th of September 2010

A few weeks ago, on 18th June 2010, a brand new radio station took to the air.

Gaydio, based in Manchester, is an FM station aimed at and run by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans People.

It's not the world's first such station. There are established FM stations in Australia and Toronto, for instance plus a host of internet stations

Unlike many, Gaydio is not simply a music station though; it's aimed at a wider than usual audience, and has a community development dimension too.

To find out more I spoke to one of the founding directors, Toby Whitehouse, at the studios in central Manchester.

You can listen to the station online at http://www.gaydio.co.uk

Part Two of this personal narration of an account written in 1995, about coming out as a campaigner to organise 'fringe' meetings at the Labour and Conservative party conferences.

For more details and background please see part one.

It’s nearly Party Conference season again. And it’s the first time with Conservatives in Government since the mid 1990's.

It may surprise some listeners to know that back in those days I was a Conservative Party activist. I was the secretary of an active branch of the party in Cheshire. And a regular attendee at party conferences.

I wasn’t “out” in those days. As a transsexual woman I had completed my social “transition” between genders many years before, and had settled into a quiet and discreet life among the well-to-do women who formed the backbone of a certain class of society in one of the Tory heartlands.

I didn’t advertise my transsexual history and, if anyone harboured any suspicions, it had never ever been mentioned.

All of that was about to change though. I had been a member of the campaign organisation “Press for Change” since shortly after it was formed in 1992. And now, because the campaign required visible representatives to put themselves forward on the public stage, I had taken the difficult personal decision to “come out”.

I had volunteered to organise and speak at two key events at the Labour and Conservative conferences in the first two weeks of October 1995.

This was momentous, life-changing stuff .. at least for me .. and so I wrote about it at the time. Fifteen years on, it’s therefore a good time to revisit those two weeks covered by The Diary of a Conference Campaigner...

This is the second part of an in-depth interview with veteran Parliamentarian, Sir Gerald Kaufman MP.

In this episode Gerald talks about how he came to write for the groundbreaking satirical show, "That Was The Week That Was"; about scandals such as the Profumo affair; and his thoughts on where the last Labour Government went wrong.

For more details see the previous episode.

It was the BBC interviewer Robin Day who once famously infuriated Tory Defence Minister John Nott by referring to him as a ‘Here today, gone tomorrow politician’.

The epithet stung perhaps because Day was reflecting a truism that seems even more relevant today than in 1982.

In truth, many politicians do have a short career in Parliament and are soon forgotten.

This is why those politicians with true staying power are so interesting to examine.

Sir Gerald Kaufman is one of the latter category.

Sir Gerald recently celebrated his 80th birthday in his Manchester Gorton constituency, flanked by crowds of loyal party activists and supporters who turned out for the occasion.

Though regularly offered a chair to sit down by well-wishers, the incredibly sprightly octogenarian politely declined -- remaining on his feet throughout.

The occasion also marked 40 years since Gerald had first won a seat as an MP. Only the Conservative Sir Peter Tapsell has served for a longer continuous period.

As an MP, Gerald served as a Junior Minister in Harold Wilson’s 1974 government and, was shadow Home Secretary, among other roles, during Labour’s opposition in the 1980‘s.

He also famously wrote for the ground breaking 1960’s satirical show “That was the week that was”, has written several books, and, as a Jew himself, is one of the leading critics of Israeli policies and the treatment of Arabs in Gaza.

In this first of a two part interview Sir Gerald talks about growing up in a working class family, his early career choices and close to Prime Minister Harold Wilson in the late 60's and early 1970's.

Who are you?

Regardless of the communities we may belong to, it's clear that identity plays a very big part in our lives -- whether that's the identity given to us by our place among family, or the identity we have in official records, or the one which comes from within and which we broadcast to others in the way we present ourselves.

The Wellcome Collection in London is running a nine month season of activity on these themes entitled "The Identity Project", examining the subject through the lens of scientists, artists, actors and other individuals who have, in some way, defined or challenged the boundaries.

I've agreed to lead a tour of the exhibition in February 2010 during LGBT History Month. Prior to that this episode takes a private tour of some of the exhibits with Jane Holmes, one of the Project Managers.

A lot of people fall into the trap of assuming that disabled people are defined and limited by their impairments.

The social model of disability teaches us to think differently ... about the way that we limit such people by the obstacles we create. So, for instance, someone who uses a wheelchair isn't primarily prevented from getting to a meeting by the condition of their legs, so much as by the steps we built in front of the entrance, or the inadequacies of public transport provision.

With one in five of the population having some kind of disability, it's therefore important to get our thinking straight and realise all the ways people can work quite successfully, if only we don't perpetuate barriers and assumptions.

Tom Doughty has always been a musician. He only acquired his disability as a young man and, at first, he assumed that was the end of his guitar playing. But then he got determined to make sure his impairments shouldn't get in the way. The result is an incredible talent and a great sound.

In this interview I talk to Tom about his life, his music, and those barriers he's demolished.

If you're smitten like me with his music then you can visit his web site http://www.tomdoughty.com. From there you can buy his CDs and also reach his MySpace and YouTube pages.

Meet Tom Doughty

Tom Doughty has a very evocative and soulful style of lap slide guitar playing. I'll be interviewing him next on Just Plain Sense. In the meantime, here's a taster and you can visit Tom's web site at http://www.tomdoughty.com

According to the British Crime Survey there were 3.29 million reported violent assaults on women in the past 12 months. One in four women have been assaulted at some time.

Much strategic attention is focussed on dealing with the outcomes of all this violence: Catching and punishing offenders; Counselling and supporting those on the receiving end; Teaching self defence ... even designing the built environment to make it safer.

But what about reducing the violence itself? Chris Green, UK Director of the White Ribbon Campaign, aims to do just that.

He says that wearing the campaign's white emblem involves a pledge never to commit, never to condone, and never to remain silent about violence against women. His organisation runs various campaigns targetted at men and boys in particular through areas such as sport, and in schools.

In this interview Chris talks to me about the statistics, the causes, and his campaign's work.

For more information visit http://www.whiteribboncampaign.co.uk

Meet Chris Green

Meet Chris Green, UK Director of the White Ribbon Campaign. An in-depth interview with Chris will be following shortly...

A new Trans Resource and Empowerment Centre launched in Manchester on 7th November. I spoke to two of the five organisers who are setting up this innovative project, creating (as it grows) a regular base where trans people can drop in for help and advice.

The City of Liverpool has one of the oldest established Chinese communities in Europe. Trade between the port and China dates back 175 years – and the first Chinese immigrants settled there about thirty years later in 1866.

Nowadays it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that economic migration into Britain is a relatively new thing. It’s easy to forget the many waves of immigration over centuries – creating the diverse society we are today.

Each community was new once, so I wondered if there are therefore some lessons to learn from such a long-established community about how such to settle and become part of the scenery.

Alan Seatwo came to Britain to study and settled here. He's now vice chair of the Liverpool Chinese Business association, so I thought he was the ideal person to discuss this.

On Monday 26th October this year a large gang of youths surrounded and attacked a 22 year old gay man, James Parkes, as he left a bar in Liverpool City Centre. He was left with serious head injuries.

The attack is being treated by Police as a homophobic hate crime and some arrests have already been made.

This was not the first attack of its’ kind. Recently another gay man was beaten to death in Trafalgar Square London. Going back further there have been many other such atrocities, including the murder in Liverpool of Michael Causer last year.

Liverpool’s Lesbian and Gay community is holding a vigil in the city on Sunday November 1st as the nation increasingly wakes up to the reality of homophobic violence.

In my official capacity as Chair of the North West Region’s Equality and Diversity Group I agreed with my associates that I would make this statement of support to the organisers of the vigil.

You can read the text of the statement here.

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