Trans and Gender Non­Conforming Swimming Group (TAGS), after meeting with Lewisham council, have confirmed they have full private use of the training pool at the Glassmill Leisure Centre, Lewisham for a transgender safe swimming group.

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 depth. The Glassmill Centre also includes gender specific and gender neutral training facilities. Swimmers will have an hour and a half 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. There will be TAGS representatives to greet swimmers and take them to changing area. There are also accessible CCTV monitored parking at a very reasonable rate (£2 per hr) 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 seeking all interested swimmers to take the initiative to support the space by coming to the sessions. The cost will be £3.20 (lower for Lewisham residents) a session. 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. “I 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,” Roberta said.

Jay Stewart of Gendered Intelligence, said: “We 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.”

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Anyone wishing to attend the TAGS swimming group can join their Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/269765326552514/ Or contact [email protected] for more information.