Trans Awareness Week – Banijay Global Pride

The event was held online by Banijay Pride. Banijay are an international production company, having produced many TV shows such as Peaky Blinders, The Inbetweeners, Big Brother and Master Chef.

The aim of the event was to raise awareness of Trans & non-binary people – showing them living a “normal” life and to celebrate International Transgender Awareness Week.

Banijay have a close working relationship with another production company, Dragonfly, who are the producers of BBC One’s ‘Ambulance’.

I have recently been filmed for Ambulance and my episode was shown this October. During the programme, I discussed my transition from female to male and how it affected my mental health so positively. I received so much support during my transition, not only from family and friends but also from my employer at the time, Northwest Ambulance Service.

Banijay was so interested in the level of support given that they wanted to share my experience with other employers as to how they too can best support any staff member who identifies as transgender or non-binary and this is how I became to be a speaker. I was joined by two other speakers, a Hollywood actress and a Spanish pop star! It was all very surreal, quite overwhelming but an absolutely fantastic experience and one that I will be forever proud of.

Trans awareness is so important to me because having had such a positive experience myself, I want to be able to reach out and help as many people as possible, not just for Trans and non-binary people, but also their friends and family as what I learned early on is that its everyone’s journey – not just mine.

The biggest issue, if you can even call it that, that I came across was that everyone was so cautious around me in case they called me by the wrong name or used the wrong pronouns. Let’s face it – it’s an easy mistake to make after so many years of calling me her/herself and my birth name Debbie, so mistakes were inevitable. Once I had reassured them that as long as they were trying and corrected any mistakes made, then I just really appreciated their support.

I suppose the key thing to remember is that communication is paramount. The more we talk about transgender and non-binary people, the more “normal” it will become and therefore won’t need discussing anymore. Trans awareness to me is humanising who we are and showing the rest of the world that we are just people trying to live our best lives.

A large proportion of my discussion was around Trans Joy. Trans Joy was a term I hadn’t really come across before or used as part of my vocabulary when discussing anything trans. As I started to explore the term, I quickly realised that I am living proof of trans joy.

So, what is Trans Joy? Trans Joy is the sharing of positive trans stories, the sharing of successful transition surgery, the sharing of positive transition stories and whatever else you want it to be. All too often, the media focus on negative stories – dramatising real life events with big headlines like “MY TRANS SURGERY NIGHTMARE” to be eye catching and therefore are likely to earn them a bob or two!

The aim of the event was to start sharing positive stories, to humanise us, to show the world that our lives aren’t all doom and gloom and in fact, we are living the best lives possible, and we deserve the right to shout that from the roof tops!

One thing we are aware of is that, for a lot of people, the first time they see a trans person is likely to be on television. It is therefore vital that the trans community is portrayed correctly and positively. By working in collaboration with a company called On Road Media and their current project ‘All About Trans’ means that this is starting to happen, which is fantastic!

As I said earlier, I had fantastic support from my employer at the time of my transition. I was invited to work with HR to review and re-write the Transgender and Non-Binary policy ensuring that anyone else who identifies as such has all the necessary support in place. The more we talk about what an individual wants and needs the more likely we are to get any support they need right.
Again, communication is key. For example, if you’re unsure which pronouns to use with someone, just ask them – they will really appreciate it!

Overall, it’s been a very rewarding and extraordinary experience.