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The transgender-only home giving people a 'safe place'

image copyrightLexi

Lexi and Phoenix are living in a home set up exclusively for transgender residents.

The 21-year-olds say living there has given them the confidence to be themselves.

Phoenix told Newsbeat: "People at the safe house can relate to how I'm feeling and we can all talk to each other and support each other."

We went to visit them at the flat in the north east of England, which has been set up by the charity Trans Aware.

It says its the first of its kind in the UK.

image captionPhoenix (left) and Lexi say they're more confident now they live in the safe house

The flat is just like your typical student house.

There are ready meals in the fridge, everyone crowds into the living room each night to watch TV and, on the day we visit, they've run out of milk - so we're on herbal tea and black coffee.

What makes it unique though is that everyone living there can relate to feeling like they've been born in the wrong body.

image copyrightLexi
image captionLexi was feeling isolated before she moved into the safe house

Lexi had been living on her own for 10 months and was feeling isolated before moving into the home because she was in an area where people didn't know her.

She said: "That was quite a setback for me because I didn't get to be the person I am. If I was going out I'd call a taxi so I wouldn't draw attention to myself when I was leaving the house.

"I'm still quite early in my transition so people do notice and that's when you can get the verbal abuse.

"Now I'm in the house, I feel so much more confident because I know that when I go out I've got a friend who is the same as me - who can walk down the street with me."

That friend is 21-year-old Phoenix.

A post shared by Phoenix (@phoenixgoldwell) on

She was one of the first residents to move into the home in November and says it's given her the confidence to be herself.

She's even thinking about applying for a place at university to study performing arts.

"I struggled a lot when I was younger with how I looked and I didn't quite understand why. It feels like you're not the person you feel you are inside.

"My family accept me for me but they don't really understand it, whereas people at this safe house can relate to how I'm feeling and we can all talk to each other and support each other."

image captionLiving in the safe house has given Phoenix the confidence to think about going to uni

A survey by LGBT charity Stonewall released last month suggested that 44% of trans people avoid certain streets because they don't feel safe there.

While 25% said they were discriminated against when looking for a house or flat to rent or buy.

Trans Aware worked with The Students Living Company to set up the house. The residents pay rent which includes bills and wi-fi.

The charity would like to see it replicated by other organisations around the UK.

Ellie Lowther, from the charity, said: "Young trans people might not always have support from their families, they could be sofa surfing or living somewhere where they're always having to justify who they are.

"They need a solid base if they're going to reach their potential in life."

You can find more information on the BBC Advice pages.

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Related Topics

  • Stonewall
  • Transgender people
  • LGBT

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