A transgender woman has told how she has swapped her life in St Helens for Liverpool, because it is “more tolerant”.
Alison Stokes, who was born Andrew Stokes, claims she has frequently suffered harassment from neighbours and members of the public in St Helens – simply because of who she is.
She said: “Places like Liverpool and Manchester are more diverse than St Helens so they are a lot more tolerant of minority groups.
“I’ve suffered harassment from neighbours over the years so I’ve decided to move to Liverpool. I’m sure I will feel safer when I live there.
“I’ve tried my best to promote lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) issues in St Helens but I went to a diversity event recently and there wasn’t a single representative from the LGBT community.
“When I walked in it was as if their jaws hit the floor.”
Alison, 37, first came to the attention of St Helens Reporter readers in 2010 when she told of her humiliation after she was given the title “Mr” on her P45.
She said the administrative error added insult to injury after she lost her job with the local office of Bristol-based firm Mitie Cleaning.
Alison, of Grange Park, said the contract, which involved cleaning St Helens Job Centre, soured after colleagues found out that she used to sign on as a man.
Alison also received a police apology in 2012 after she was referred to as a “he” by custody suite staff at St Helens police station.
She made a formal complaint about the conduct of two officers after she was arrested on suspicion of threatening behaviour and subsequently had a complaint against her treatment upheld.
Alison took offence at being asked whether she should be searched by a male or female officer and at being referred to as a “he” in a telephone conversation with her family.
She added: “I don’t think people in St Helens are very tolerant. Maybe, because there are less minority groups in St Helens, people are more suspicious.
“They don’t have anything to be afraid of.”