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Transgender Awareness Week, 13-19 November 2023

Transgender Awareness Week, 13-19 November 2023

Posted 28 days ago •

November 13, 2023 

Written by Leo West 

My name is Leo, and I took away my mum’s only daughter…

I am a 21 year old transgender man. I was born biologically female and I have transitioned to live my life as a man.

Leo West

My Transition Story:

At the age of 13 I discovered what it meant to be transgender. This was a turning point in my life where I learned that all of the feelings I had been experiencing were down to gender dysphoria.

Gender dysphoria is a mental disorder that causes someone to be transgender.

After some serious research and acceptance, I finally came around to the idea of speaking to my parents about how I was feeling. As I had already told them I was attracted to women and not men, I had some confidence that they wouldn’t be upset or angry.

In the beginning, it was very hard for them to come to terms with, as they had never met a transgender person and did not understand what we were entering into. After a few months of talking, research and support groups, they began to understand how I was feeling and the process we needed to start. This process and the decisions we had to make about treatments takes a lot of emotional maturity and my parents were concerned I may change my mind as I got older.

By no means was any part of the transition quick or easy. To start the process, I socially transitioned. This means I started to use my new name, using He/Him pronouns and living my life as a male. This allowed me to see if transitioning would relieve the dysphoria I was feeling.

When I found this was the case, my parents looked for help in getting an assessment for gender dysphoria. We went to a clinic in London who would see patients under the age of 18. After many appointments and a diagnosis, I was given hormone blockers to pause the effects of puberty.

After nine months, I started on the male hormone testosterone. This has given me the masculine attributes I now have. After about 6 months of being on testosterone and seeing how positively it had impacted my life, mood, work ethic and quality of life, my parents allowed me to do something huge. Having a double mastectomy to remove breast tissue and sculpt the torso, so it is more masculinised – otherwise known as ‘top surgery’. 

The move to Pertemps:

I have been working since I was 13. In my first job I was working with horses.

My time working was made extremely different by my need to eliminate gender dysphoria. It was so bad that I had to wear binders every day. A binder is used to compress the chest, however it is recommended you only wear them for a maximum of eight hours a day, with a day’s break every week. My body was struggling to handle the pain of binding and a manual job.

Once I had recovered from surgery, I decided to work full time in a warehouse through the pandemic as my college was closed. Alongside this I studied a level 4 business management course through my college.

I then found Pertemps - or more like Pertemps found me. I’m not entirely sure how I got my interview, but I was successful and offered the choice of two roles that would suit me.

During my interview at Pertemps I chose not to disclose the fact that I am transgender. I saw my work experience, qualifications and personality as more important when interviewing for a job.

However, once I started I told my manager on my first day. A brave choice considering I didn’t know anyone. For me I felt as though people were going to find out at some point so I may as well be open, and as an open trans person I feel uncomfortable if I feel like I am hiding being trans from anyone.  

Over the months of being at Pertemps, settling in and connecting with more colleagues, I began to be more open with people about the fact I am transgender. I would casually bring it up in conversation or make a light-hearted joke of telling people. I found this made it easier for people to ask questions and learn more about the transgender community.

My experience at work as a transgender person has been positive. I know a lot of transgender people are worried about being open in work as some statistics have shown high levels of transphobia in the workplace.

For myself, I have experienced nothing but people respecting my transition. I do not expect people to make it a big deal. In fact, I don’t want them to.

I have had many constructive conversations over the years at Pertemps. Some people have a negative view on transgender people because of things they have seen on social media. When being confronted with these opinions I have been able to have respectful and meaningful conversations about transitioning. This support and openness has led to people understanding gender dysphoria and what it means to be transgender. 

Mental Health:

Gender dysphoria can lead to some very serious mental health issues. It is not uncommon for transgender people to suffer from depression, anxiety, self-harming tendencies and substance abuse issues.

The mental health conditions that stem from gender dysphoria are usually elevated as the gender dysphoria is treated. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for gender dysphoria except transition so waiting is the only real option in these circumstances. From an employer’s point of view there isn't really anything you can do to help a trans person in the first stages. All you can do is support them, use the pronouns and new name they request, pull up any inappropriate questions or comments and just be there as support as a manager.  

All views expressed are the subject’s own.

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