Obituary: Barbara Ross - champion of Norfolk’s transgender community
PUBLISHED: 06:30 25 February 2015 | UPDATED: 08:57 25 February 2015
Her determination to fight injustice wherever she saw it inspired decades of work supporting the transgender community.
Barbara Ross, who has died peacefully aged 85, gained a reputation for her efforts to help the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community during her career in Norfolk social services.
She worked as a gender counsellor, supporting people experiencing gender dysphoria to transition, founded the Norfolk-based Gender Identity Services and organised the first ever International Transgender Conference at the UEA.
In 2012, she was made an OBE after a lifetime of good work.
She was born in 1929, grew up in Essex and moved to London when she married her first husband and had two children.
While in the capital she worked to help problem families, but retrained as a social worker after moving to Norfolk in 1970 with her second husband and their two children.
She started a self help group, OASIS, for trans people in the early 1980s which still runs today, providing an environment of mutual support and friendship.
Outside her work life, she suffered several personal tragedies over the years.
Her first son Nicholas suffered brain damage as a baby, her daughter Sarah’s identical twin sister was stillborn, and her second son Dominic took his own life at the age of 29 due to mental health problems.
But despite - or perhaps because of - these tragedies, she had a capacity for empathy which she maintained in her work.
Ms Ross died peacefully on February 16 after a long illness.
She is survived by her daughters, Stephanie Ross-Wagenknecht and Sarah Ross-Thompson, her son Nicholas, five grandsons and two great grandsons.
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