In 1983, Phaedra Kelly’s wedding at the Isle of Wight Registry Office made national headlines when he married Vanda, a cis woman at the registry office in Newport with Vanda as the groom and Kelly in traditional bridal attire.
Kelly coined the term ‘gender transient’, which was included in the Oxford English Dictionary in the 1990s. Phaedra Kelly set up the International Gender Transient Afinity Group (IGTA) in the early 70s, an international network by and for transgender people. Phaedra’s son Jez Laker said, “It was a dual religious role swap. Phaedra was a Shamanist, a gender transient and a human rights campaigner. It was very controversial at the time.”
Phaedra Kelly created her flag in the early 1980s, the purple flag was made up of various badges representing a country that she worked in as a freelance journalist including Bosnia and Croatia during the war. She was writing and documenting atrocities and abuse that were happening to the LGBTQ+ community.
Phaedra would live and work with the people in their community most of the time on a shoestring budget in the hope that she could sell the stories highlighting the atrocities. Some people were executed and others made to disappear in certain countries and warzones. Her life was in danger in several countries where she was a target herself and she was violently sexually assaulted in at least two countries, she had no back up or assistance, it was incredibly dangerous.
She travelled extensively supporting other gender transients. Kelly eventually founded the International Gender Transient Affinity (IGTA), which aided Amnesty International in its first sexual minorities case. IGTA worked across the world to help change laws for transgenders and improve communication and understanding. Special passports were issued to the IGTA agents, Phaedra included, who worked worldwide.
Kelly’s banner, wedding dress and passports were displayed in our first Out On An Island’s exhibition in the summer of 2021 at Quay Arts, Newport.