Blue plaque commemorating first trans conference installed on campus

On Friday 15th March, a blue plaque was installed on campus to mark the 50th anniversary of the UK's first ever trans conference.

The conference, ‘Transvestism and Transsexualism in Modern Society’, was the first event of its kind to be organised by trans people for trans people.

The city of Leeds’ Lord Mayor Councillor Al Garthwaite, and LGBT+ champion Councillor Hannah Bithell, unveiled the plaque at a ceremony outside Leeds University Union exactly 50 years since the conference took place. 

The plaque was commissioned by the Leeds Civic Trust.

Plaque: 'Transvestism and Transsexualism in Modern Society'. This groundbreaking conference took place in this building in March 1974. Convened by trans people of Leeds, it was the first trans rights conference to be organised by trans people in the UK.

The plaque’s installation was also sponsored by the Faculty of Social Sciences and the Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies (CIGS). 

Executive Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences Professor Paul Johnson OBE gave a speech at the unveiling of the plaque.

In his speech he said:

What this anniversary reminds us is that addressing discrimination against trans people required some very brave people to organise, to come together, and to start the process of pressing for legal change.

It is tremendously important to remember those brave people, to mark their achievements, and to remind ourselves that society always needs such people if we are to stay on our journey towards equality and justice.

Director of CIGS Dr Patricio Simonetto explained how,

I couldn’t be prouder to express CIGS’s sponsorship of this blue plaque.

In this difficult context, in which many people seem invested in attacking the rights of the trans community, this commemoration is a message for trans youth: you will always be welcome at our university.

For further details on the various speeches made at the ceremony on Friday 15 March 2024, please read the full University of Leeds article