Trans* swimming in Lewisham

Besi Besemar September 30, 2014

London’s only Transgender and Gender NonConforming Swimming Group (TAGS) has established a trial agreement with¬†Lewisham Council to host safe swimming sessions.

Glassmill Leisure Centre, Lewisham
Glassmill Leisure Centre, Lewisham

Following a meeting with Lewisham Council, TAGS have secured full private use of the training pool at the Glassmill Leisure Centre, Lewisham, for a transgender safe swimming group. The sessions will take place on Friday evenings between 8.30 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Facilities are accessible for individuals with disabilities and include a very discrete space with electric blinds on all windows to ensure privacy.

There is a 20m teaching pool with moving floor to alter the depth. The Glassmill Centre also includes gender specific and gender neutral training facilities.

Swimmers will have a 90-minute slot for changing and swimming. In additional, pool staff will be given training by TAGS to ensure that gender issues are covered and treated sensitively.

TAGS representatives will be on hand to greet swimmers and take them to the changing area. There is also accessible CCTV monitored parking at a very reasonable rate (£2 per hour), open until the centre closes, and a cafe space to socialise.

Parents of young people and carers are welcome to swim or spectate.

TAGS is the only Trans Gender Non Conforming swimming group in London. This first swimming session is part of a three month trial with Lewisham Council, so TAGS is encouraging all interested swimmers to take the initiative to support the space by coming to the sessions.

The cost is £3.20 a session (lower for Lewisham residents). The more swimmers at each session, the more TAGS can negotiate the cost down further.

TAGS is organised by volunteers from the Gendered Intelligence Volunteer Society.

Roberta Francis, the main volunteer, organised TAGS because she wanted to go to her local swimming group, but felt nervous.

Roberta said:¬†‚ÄúI felt there was a big need for a swimming group in London¬†to allow trans and gender nonconforming¬†people the opportunity to have access to a safe¬†space. Being able to swim is a basic right but for many trans people it can be really difficult¬†because of how we are treated in the community as a whole.”

Jay Stewart of Gendered Intelligence added: ‚ÄúWe know physical activity reduces mental¬†distress. This is such a huge factor in trans people’s lives due to the pressures to conform to¬†gender norms. I feel incredibly proud that this initiative has been led by some of our volunteers¬†at Gendered Intelligence. The Gendered Intelligence Volunteer Scheme is all about¬†strengthening the wider trans community and this is doing exactly that.”

To attend the first swimming session on Friday, October 3 at 8.30 p.m. – 10 p.m., CLICK HERE: