My name is Sophie and I’m a transgender woman living in the UK! I am very proud of who I am and especially because of how far I’ve come. I realised when I was only twelve years old that something was off, this growing feeling of unpleasantness in my body and all of the uncertainty that came with it. I withdrew socially, and enjoyed my favourite hobbies less and less everyday.
It turns out I was suffering from extreme gender dysphoria, the older I grew the more my body masculinised and all I could feel was my brain telling me “Wrong. Wrong, this is all wrong” and I thought something was indeed wrong with me for thinking this way. I was not equipped with the tools to help discover myself and explore my feelings, I couldn’t speak because it would hurt hearing the voice of a man when in reality I’m a woman on the inside.
When I was younger I’d want to play dress up with the other girls, but I was always shoved in with the boys. I felt excluded and like I didn’t really belong anywhere. Even as young as 10 I remember watching shows like the powerpuff girls, and being jealous that they got to be girls. I thought it was normal. Every boy wants to be a girl right? Sounds bizarre I know, but with no frame of reference to compare it to I just assumed everyone felt this way. This is why transgender representation in shows and media is very important. School taught me nothing about this subject at all.
It all changed when I met a transgender man who helped me explore my feelings and discover myself. At the age of 17 I went to my general practitioner and came out as trans to them. I was seeking help and decided on a referall to a gender identity clinic within the UK. Sadly, as many people before me have found the NHS is quite lacking. It takes almost three years on average to get any treatment whatsoever! Three years is a lot of time for puberty. Think of the difference between a 14 year old and a 17 year old, or a 17 year old and a 20 year old. It’s quite huge!
I’m 19, nearly 20 now. I still haven’t heard anything back from them. No letters, no phone calls. I took it upon myself to work a part time job alongside college when I was 18 leaving me with no free time. I was effectively doing 55 hours of work every week, with barely any days off for months. Just to get the funds to go through a private service which costs hundreds but can fast track me, reversing the effects of male puberty as fast as it could. I would get harassed on my way to work, at work, and on my way home from work due to my appearance. Constantly being shouted at asking if I was a man or a woman, and experiencing the sexual harassment many women sadly experience. I’ve been catcalled, followed and received terrible comments walking by.
And yet, I finally got there. I’ve been on hormones just under a year and a half and so so much has changed. I can go outside and be my true self, and wear what I wanna wear. I can be accepted as a woman without facing nearly as much harassment I used to face. I have since come out to my entire family and friends, including my workplace and everybody has been so supportive and amazing! I’ve had coworkers come up to me and offer to donate old clothes, teach me makeup and everything. People can be so amazing, you just have to give them a chance and be brave.
I now run some support groups in virtual LGBTQIA+ communities to pass on the torch and help those around me, just as they did unto me. Especially in these troubling times of COVID-19 just talking to somebody has been more important than ever. I’m so grateful I’m able to have this opportunity to help the community and give back what I have taken during my own struggles.
Now I’m working at Sitel and I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of this wonderful team! The pride messages for pride month really do go above and beyond a standard company, and make me feel safe and represented. I am so happy about the positive reactions from everybody, especially those that learn new things and enter with an open mind.
And to anybody out there who is still stuck in the closet, whether you’re gay, lesbian, asexual, or even trans like me. We all feel you and sincerely hope you can come out soon. Everything will get better, hang in there! <3
And for my team members at Sitel…
#GoTeamChantelle!!! Thank you for being such an amazing and supportive team. Love you all 🙂
Lots of love,
Our differences are our strength. In honor of International Pride Month, we’re sharing stories of diversity, inclusion and working together for a better world.