Lana, a trans colleague who works in one of our food stores

My name is Lana and I work at our store in Malmesbury, Wiltshire. I decided to share my story as I want to help people understand trans issues and to let people like me know that they’re not alone.

I was about ten years old when I realised that I was different. I didn’t know what the word trans meant, I just knew that I would feel more comfortable and happier in girls’ clothes. Society wasn’t as accepting back then so I didn’t feel able to tell anyone how I felt.

Free to be myself at work

About four years ago I got to a point where I found it increasingly difficult to suppress my true identity and I decided it was time to be who I really was. I was anxious about going to work for the first time, but once I’d done it I felt so much happier. People around me were generally so supportive, which helped me grow in confidence.

Colleagues from Respect, our Co-op’s LGBT+ network, have been amazing throughout. I initially got in touch because I wanted to have a chat with my manager about using the female facilities at work. They were really helpful and gave me the confidence and knowledge I needed to have that conversation. They’ve also helped me to get my name on my payslip and put me in touch with other trans colleagues.

Our Co-op has a trans policy which sets out what colleagues can expect and knowing it was there made me feel a lot better. My manager was generally really supportive but it’s comforting to know that if the situation had been different, the policy would have been there to back me up. There’s also an action plan which is really helpful in helping managers and colleagues discuss what steps need to be taken and when.

Some words of wisdom

My advice for any colleague who’s thinking about transitioning publicly is, as long as you can do it safely, go for it. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. Society is becoming more accepting and more understanding, which is great to see. You might want to talk to someone confidentially before you make the decision – take a look at the trans policy for a list of organisations that will be able to help.

Join the conversation! 30 Comments

  1. Another great example of why, for all its problems, the Co-op is an amazing community to belong to, a great place to work!

    As someone else said, it’s sad we don’t live in a world where the comment about “safe to do so” wouldn’t be needed.

    All the best and every happiness to you Lana.

  2. Fantastic story and will help so many of our colleagues…. well done for having the confidence to speak up. Keep up the great work

  3. Your voice is so important and I’m so glad you wrote this! We see you.

  4. Good for you Lana. It’s great to hear a positive story like this, and you’re certainly an inspiration to others in the same boat as you. All the best!

  5. The words which really strike home to me were “as long as you can do it safely”. One day I very much hope we will live in a society where people can be themselves without having to fear for their safety. When we do finally get there it is people like Lana we will have to thank.

    Lana your voice is powerful and really, really important. Thank you for sharing you story.

  6. Thanks for sharing Lana, what a inspiration your story is. And also to hear how supportive your colleagues have been.

  7. Wowsa what an amazing Journey you have come through. A true inspiration to us all.

    The Greatest rule of all is to be ourselves

  8. Absolutely fantastic story to read! Amazingly brave Lana, well done for writing this. I feel so proud of our Co-op for supporting Respect, this is the result and it is truly something to be proud of.

  9. Well done for being such an inspiration to others. I am so proud that the Co-op supported you. Can the Co-op go one step further and change our title options on Rainbow/ Guardian please? There is not a non gender specific option, sadly I discovered this when I recently arranged a funeral for someone who would not have wanted to be referred to as Miss, Ms or Mrs, I couldn’t even leave the title blank, which would have helped, our computer said no, ‘unable to save this as there is a section uncompleted’ As Guardian is in its start up phase perhaps it would be possible now?

  10. Hey Lana, Just wanted to say ‘Thank You’ by sharing your story it may give others the confidence that they can be themselves at work too & know that they will be supported by the Coop. Well done a true inspiration to others.. Best wishes Kate 😊

  11. So inspiring Lana! You’re a shining example of what can happen when you feel empowered and valued in the workplace. Well done team Malmesbury for supporting you #succeedtogether #beyourself,always

  12. Thank you Lana for bravely sharing your story with us. What a fantastic read. I’d love to read your blog that Brendan mentioned above. Can we have a link please?
    As a proud gay man I know the courage it takes to “come out”. Being shunned for being honest about who you are is always the biggest fear for most, so I’m thrilled to read you’ve been supported throughout your transition; not only in your home life, but work life too.
    Pieces like this are so important. Whilst it’s true that things are getting better we need paragons such as yourself to educate people that this is not a lifestyle choice. You don’t choose your gender or sexuality. This is “us” and we want to just be our true selves.
    All the best Lana.

  13. You are an inspiration Lana and to also go down the avenue of being who you are and to be recognised with the help of your manager to put this into place is the wonderful way the company in itself is focusing on their staff s needs. May you grow with confidence and go from strength to strength. Enjoy every minute of being a team member at your work I am sure you will be immensely supported by your colleagues as well. Well done to you. With regards Sharon

  14. Hi Lana,
    Fantastic to read your blog, I am really proud of you and the way you are sharing your thoughts and feelings. Well done and I hope that you are an inspiration to others out there

  15. Hi Lana, I just want to say a huge well done for sharing your story, I’m sure this will help many colleagues in our business. We met in store some time ago and it gives me a real sense of pride that our Coop and particularly the Respect team have helped you on your journey. You should feel proud about how far you have come in such a short period of time and it’s clear that you will be an inspiration to many in our business. I look forward to seeing you again soon. Kind regards Derek

  16. Thank you for sharing your story – reading this is a real inspiration and makes me proud to work for the Co-op with inclusive policies. A massive shout out to the volunteers in Respect who have helped shape that policy and made sure you were supported.

  17. Lana, thank you for sharing. You are a true inspiration. Your story will help and support others thank you.

  18. When my husband first left me, I thought I’d never find my feet but here I can be myself with other sassy older singletons like me.

  19. Lana your story is wonderful and will be an inspiration to others. I’m so proud our Co-op and Respect were able to help you to be yourself always.

  20. That’s amazing Lana!!you go girl! always be true to yourself!i think you look really good and you sound like you have a really good attitude!all the best for the future x

  21. What a lovely blog post. It’s great to hear that Respect were there to support you and that your team were supportive. I’m proud that our Co-op has a trans policy.

  22. Lana,

    Thank you for sharing your story, it’s so important that we can be ourselves in work.


  23. It’s really great to hear you were supported throughout by Co-op. Makes me proud to work here and it’s hearing things like this that made me join and stay.

  24. Hi Lana,
    Your experience & speaking out will support so many, I am so pleased your team and management were supportive and you are able to “Be yourself Always”
    Your an inspiration & thank you for sharing.
    Dominic 🙂

  25. Thanks for sharing your inspirational story Lana. So good to hear that you have felt supported and able to be yourself.

  26. Thanks so much for sharing your story, Lana. I think you’re amazing and I know others will too.

  27. Lana
    Thanks for sharing your positive experience…
    as Dot says it will be an inspiration to others.
    Another reason for me feeling proud of our Co-op.

  28. Your story will be an inspiration to others. Well done for being confident enough to publicise it.


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Be yourself always, Colleague support, Great place to work