Focusing on the wellbeing of transgender people, The Alicorn Network looks at the social side of transitioning, rather than specific medical surgeries. Co-founder Emma Wells, 31, explains more about the organisation and its aims.
“I had the idea about a year ago,” she says. “I was sat with my best mate, Lexi, who’s a trans woman. She had the body of a women but didn’t know how to be a woman socially.
“She thought that she had to be super feminine because that’s how the media portrays women. Lexi though she had to fit that stereotype to be valid.”
The Alicorn Network hopes to be the friend that Emma was the Lexi, who explained that women don’t have to be submissive stereotypes – a pool of resources and a network of people to support the trans community’s social wellbeing.
With a huge number of articles about transgender people, but a lack of centralised support and resources the network will be an 18 plus version of Mermaids, the charity supporting gender diverse and transgender children.
With e-learning courses for both allies and trans people, helpful resources and signposting to services, The Alicorn Network will be a national network with a beating Bristol heart, being founded and based in the city.
Emma will be one of three directors. Lexi, who also founded Trans Pride South West, and Rich Wells, a graphic designer, will work alongside her to lead to organisation.
There will be resources for trans allies as well as trans people: “At the moment there’s mostly just articles, they’re all scattered and mostly about discrimination and stigma. That’s important but we also want to create resources on ‘how to be a good mate’ and for it to be the place to go for information about being transgender.”
The predominant focus of the organisation, however, will be the trans community. “We want to help people be mentally strong and assertive,” says Emma. “We want to talk about sex as a trans person and about relationships. There’s really only the medical side right now and for some people, they’ll only hear the advice of people at the gender identity clinic.
“We want people to be able to ask questions and have an online safe space to go to.”
Emma is assembling a nationwide advisory board comprised of trans people to ensure all the resources collated for the website and inclusive, accurate and relevant.
“We hope to make a safe forum for the community in the future, that’s the dream. We want to create a live chat as well,” Emma explains. “Something that’s really important is to make it inclusive of all trans people. For example, those who want to completely transition, people who have some surgeries and not others, trans men and non-binary people.
“And we want people to know it’s okay to ask questions. We want The Alicorn Network to be a safe place to do that. We want people to know that it’s not always a linear journey and that it’s okay to have doubts.”
Emma, Rich and Lexi have launched a Crowdfunder to raise money for a website, some initial resources and the advisory group – Emma highlights that they want to create paid jobs for the trans community.
“Me and Lexi always say ‘there’s no point in transitioning if you don’t want to live’. That’s why the social side of being trans is so important,” says Emma.
For more information and to support the Crowdfunder, visit www.thealicornnetwork.co.uk