By Kaden Stevenson (they/them), Team Leader, Breaston Food store, Derby
My name is Kaden and I identify as non-binary and bisexual and I use they/them pronouns.
It’s Trans Awareness Week, which leads up to Transgender Day of Remembrance on Saturday 20 November. That’s why I want to share this small aspect of my story to add to a positive narrative and say that being trans isn’t always a negative thing. Yes, there are struggles, but often we don’t highlight the joy and euphoria that can be found in being and embracing our most authentic selves.
Being non-binary can be difficult, as a lot of folk just aren’t sure what it means. Quite simply, we don’t identify with the gender binary of ‘female’ or ‘male’ that we were assigned at birth. Non-binary is one of the identities which comes under the trans umbrella – which includes trans women and trans men.
I’ve worked for Co-op for 11 years, with a short break in between, and during that time I’m proud to say I’ve seen much progress towards inclusivity and recognition of gender identities across our business – especially recently celebrating International Non-binary Day. I felt so ‘seen’ and celebrated. I can see that as a business we’re becoming more confident in standing in support and solidarity with trans communities.
I think a lot of people generally don’t want to offend, and their uncomfortableness comes from a lack a knowledge surrounding the topic. I’d encourage everyone to avoid assuming you know someone’s gender identity or pronouns just by looking at them or hearing their voice. If you don’t know someone’s pronouns or name, just ask. Practise using ‘they’ when you’re not yet aware of someone’s pronouns.
For Trans Awareness Week, before Covid hit, me and my friends would attend a very moving candle lit vigil in Nottingham. Every year the names of people who have lost their lives purely because they are trans are read out. The list is often long and harrowing. I have to note however that usually it’s our trans feminine siblings, especially those who are Black or Brown who are disproportionately affected. That’s why it’s so important that we think about our privilege and hold ourselves accountable, and where possible highlight the struggles of those even less fortunate than ourselves.
Did you know that Trans folk are more likely to have poor mental health, be attacked, and have more misinformation spread about their community – and what it means to be trans? My advice to my trans siblings who may be struggling or questioning, is to find yourself a support group, locally or online, and connect with other people who share your values. You’ll soon find a warm sense of belonging shining back at you.
There’s also lots of support available to you as a Co-op colleague on anything from mental wellbeing to financial support – you can find out more on our Colleague Site’s Wellbeing pages. You can always find support by calling LifeWorks from a UK landline or a mobile for free on 0800 069 8854. For online support, you can visit the LifeWorks website – the conversation will be totally confidential.
And our Co-op colleague networks are a wonderful resource. If you’re a trans Co-op colleague and are looking to be part of an inclusive LGBTQ+ community, we’d love to hear from you: respectLGBT@coop.co.uk.
If you’re an ally and want to learn more, the Inclusion Team, in partnership with the Respect network have created a Trans Awareness Week Engagement Pack – which shares information out our Co-op events planned for Wednesday 17 November. There’s also more support and information in our Trans and Non-Binary Inclusion Policy and on our Inclusion Hub* site.
*A Co-op Business eMail Address/Office 365 Licence is required to access this site