Obituary: Barbara Ross - champion of Norfolk’s transgender community

Barbara Ross OBE who has died (Feb 2015)

Barbara Ross OBE who has died (Feb 2015) - Credit: Archant

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.

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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.

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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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