Early history and development of the group since 1999
The first Outskirts meeting was held in Birmingham on Monday 19th April 1999 at the Wellington Public House, Bromsgrove Street. Stella Pennington, Debs and a cisgender woman called Toddy (who used the name Sally in relation to Outskirts) started the meetings in an upstairs function room at the Wellington. They held half a dozen meetings there but the hire charge for the room was high, and as a new organisation with limited numbers of people attending it was difficult to 'make the rent' each meeting.
A friend of Stella's who used to run a number of ‘adult’ shops under the name of ‘Lovejoys’ was keen to help out. The friend had an adult shop in Moseley that had rooms at the back and so this was used for a few months at very low cost, however the owner's partner decided one day to double the rent and start selling drink at the meetings. It was felt that this was all a bit too dodgy so the location was moved to Missing Bar, Hurst Street in late 1999 where the landlady at the time, Lady B, was looking to set up a trans night.
Late 2000 Stella Pennington left the Midlands to work in Yorkshire and although she carried on running Outskirts until mid 2001 work pressures meant that she had to give it up. Lady B of Missing Bar was keen to take over the Outskirts meetings and so they carried on.
At the beginning of 2003 Claire Smith took over the running of Outskirts as a group and Sally Payne joined in February 2004. Attendance was still low with, for a while, only 6 or 7 people turning up. Some of us realised that we needed to move to a better meeting place and so looked around for somewhere to move to. Around August 2004 we moved to the Victoria public house at the back of the Alexandra Theatre. A year later Sally built our web-site and started advertising the group in various forums and we watched the numbers steadily increase. We stayed there until the landlady Maggie moved on and the pub closed in April 2008. The new owners did not seem keen to have us and by this time we knew that we could command a much smarter bar and environment from the way the numbers of people attending had built up. It took us a few weeks to find a new home and in July 2008 we moved to the Equator Bar and have been there ever since.
Our Christmas party every year has become a highlight for many, we usually have around 100 guests made up of trans people, their friends and their families. What started as a small party for Outskirts regulars has become much bigger and we have a fantastic night.