I’m constantly assessing every situation I’m in, trying to work out how others are viewing me. Do they know what I am? If they don’t, can I tell them? Is it a safe space? What do I do if they respond badly? Will HR or the police actually help me?
Right now, the situation for trans people worldwide is terrifying. We are denied healthcare, forced into abusive ‘corrective’ therapies and stripped of our basic human rights. We are seen as ‘other’. By some, we are not seen as human.
I’m grateful to live in the UK where things are more manageable, but the growing hatred towards the trans community, fuelled by the media and hate groups, is getting increasingly worse. While it’s true that we’re living in a more accepting society, transphobia still seems to be tolerated. In my experience, even homophobic hate is projected upon trans folk.
As a trans man who is early on in his medical transition, I actively avoid using public toilets out of fear that whichever one I choose, I will be followed and verbally or physically abused for being in the ‘wrong’ space.
It’s incredibly exhausting to experience the world in this way. As someone who struggled with internalised transphobia for 10 years, I denied myself the chance to actually be me for far too long. It was heart breaking to find that by stepping out and living my truth, I was also stepping into a world of hate.
But I’m also one of the lucky ones: I have an extremely supportive partner who is there for me through every difficult moment, when I finally told my family, they accepted me and are now trying their best to understand and use the right words for me, and I can afford private healthcare to start my medical transition now rather than waiting three years.
Others aren’t so lucky. Some people are disowned, abused and even murdered just for existing. This is why it is so incredibly important for everyone, both inside and outside of the LGBTQIA+ community, to speak up and be an ally. We need all the help we can get to make this world a safer place.
What non LGBTQIA+ people can do:
- Don’t assume anyone’s gender. We would much rather you ask than assume wrongly!
- Use the correct name and pronouns for us.
- Add your pronouns to your social media and email signature (this is an easy way to show us that you are accepting and safe to be around!)
- Seek out, listen to, and amplify trans voices.
- Listen for misinformed or transphobic comments and call them out.
- Don’t ask us anything you wouldn’t ask a cis person.
- Don’t ask us if we’re ‘sure’, if we’re going to take hormones, or if we’re going to have surgery.
Being LGBTQIA+ in the workplace:
Before joining Alive, my experiences were mixed. Some people were well intentioned but lacked education, some often used the wrong pronouns for me with no ill intent.
At one workplace in particular, when I was still presenting as a lesbian woman, I overheard a lot of biphobic and transphobic comments from one individual. No one called him out. I didn’t even report the incident until my exit interview – I knew nothing would be done about it, and I was right. I was met by HR with a very dismissive, “well you’re leaving now so we can’t do anything, and we’ve had inclusivity training.” No further action was taken. This proved to me that leaving was the best decision I could have made.
Being LGBTQIA+ at Alive:
I have never felt so welcome, understood or seen at work before. I cannot emphasise enough how lovely the entire team have been – they accept me for who I am unconditionally.
I hoped that I would be safe here because I had read and reread the other Pride blogs before applying for the job, but I still had my worries as many people see being trans as ‘worse’ than other LGBTQIA+ identities. But I had nothing to worry about.
As I embark upon my journey into medical transition, I know I have the full support of the whole Alive crew, and I can’t thank them enough for that. I’m so grateful to be part of this wonderful team of genuinely kind people!