Hollyoaks actress to open trans support centre

Caroline Jackson September 3, 2010
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A Hollyoaks actress who plays a trans character will unveil an innovative trans support centre.

Located in Hull, GenderShift will be opened at 2.00pm on Sunday by actress Victoria Atkin, who plays 15-year-old Jasmine/Jason Costello in the soap.

Organisers believe it will be the UK’s first support centre exclusively for people facing gender identity and sexual orientation issues.

As part of Hollyoaks’ new family the Costellos, Atkin’s character feels trapped in a female body and yearns to dress and live as a man.

Last month, viewers saw the character’s mother discover hidden boys’ clothes in the house.

Atkin hopes her role will bring public attention to the difficulties faced by trans people.

She told “I’m delighted to be able to support the opening of the Gendershift support centre.

“Having worked with a number of transgender teens on the Hollyoaks storyline, I understand how important it is for them to have a place where they can share their thoughts, hopes and fears.”

The centre is funded by a £262,000 grant from the Department of Health, which was part of a £25m budget to fund new and innovative approaches to tackling health issues.

GenderShift plans to work closely with sexual health clinics, mental health trusts, local authorities and social services.

Rikki Arundel, who founded GenderShift in 2007, said: “Many support services for lesbian, gay and bisexual people focus on sexual health, while support for trans people is often about gender reassignment surgery. We will provide a much broader service.”

The centre’s services will offer in-house counselling, social care, education and advice, sexual health support and work placements. It will also host social events such as movie nights.

Gendershift’s director Michelle Pindar added: “We do what we can to change attitudes so that we are more accepted, but trans people are often very isolated. Now we can help to tackle the isolation as well.”

The NHS estimates that one in 4,000 people in the UK is receiving medical help for gender identity issues, although it is thought that many more may not come forward.

Gendershift support centre is located at 44 Portland Street, Hull. For more information call 01482 755600.

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