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.