By Claudia Wyatt

IT'S not every day that an international pop star visits Winchester to show support for transgender support charity Chrysalis.

Ana Matronic, lead singer of the American band the Scissor Sisters, has taken up a role of patron to the Warsash-based charity, which held a conference in the city this week.

She appeared at her first assignment at the charity’s gathering, aimed at bringing together Hampshire’s transgender community, educating professionals and raising awareness of the struggles faced by trans people.

Ana has been campaigning and supporting the LGBTQ+ community for much of her life, one of the reasons being that her father was gay and died of Aids in 1990.

She got involved with Chrysalis when a close friend Caz Cashmore and her partner, who is a volunteer for Chrysalis, were victims of a homophobic attack by neighbours.

Ana told the Echo: “My parents always taught me that it was our responsibility to make the world a better place and it was clear to me that the way I would do this would be through campaigning for LGBT rights.

“A drag club for a trans person is often the first place where they are able to be their authentic self. It is a safe space for people to explore their sexuality and gender identity.

“But what I want for every person on this earth is to be able to live authentically in society at large, and not be in fear of discrimination and harm.

“I can’t consider myself as part of the LGBT community without addressing the issues that trans people face.”

The sold-out conference featured several speakers including a speech in farewell from the founder Dianne Yexley, who retired recently to be taken over by CEO Andi Maratos.

Ms Maratos said: “Dianne has been running the charity for such a long time and has helped so many people. Our beneficiaries often say that they wouldn’t still be here if it weren’t for Chrysalis and Dianne.”

Other speakers also included trans woman Tara McLachlan who runs awareness sessions and lesbian and gay police liaison officer Julie Fry.