Celebrating LGBT History Month
As Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender (LGBT) History Month draws to an end, two colleagues from our LGBT Network have shared their accounts of their experiences to help promote equality and diversity.
Our LGBT Network was formed to provide support and guidance for LGBT staff and patients or those who have LGBT friends or relatives.You can follow the network on Twitter.
Emergency Medical Dispatcher Liam talks about the challenges he has faced
"I was very young when I decided to come out. I remember returning from a mini-break away with family and friends, sitting my mum down and explaining how I felt. As you could imagine that was a difficult task but I was very in lucky because, as it turned out, my mum was really supportive. I know that for others this isn’t always the case.
"My time through school was, however, difficult as I was bullied around being gay and often called names. I’m now 20, and I have made more friends and built a career in the ambulance service. I know that without people to talk to things could have been very different, which is why I think raising awareness of this month and the support we have at EMAS is very important.
"I would encourage anyone who is questioning their own sexuality, or who has any questions about how to help others who are, to take advantage of the support the LGBT Network provides."
Paramedic Colin shares his experience
"I am Colin, a paramedic in Leicestershire. I also go by the name Claire. I am transgender.
"I remember from a very young age being very confused over who/what I was. There was no internet to surf and the Oxford dictionary at the time only had crossdresser in it, with the explanation of a 'man that likes to wear female cloths for sexual gratification'. I hated that explanation as it did not match who I felt I was.
I first told my mother at the age of 11 in 1981 that I felt like I was a girl. At the time society and the medical profession classed transgender as a severe mental illness, and had my mother accepted me at the time, there is in all honesty nothing she could have done about it. To protect me she said let's never talk of it again.
"I went on to join the armed forces thinking they would ‘make a man of me’ and spent many years confused about who I was. I got married and my wife never accepted who I was so I hid my feelings but deep inside I was burning up suppressing my true identity. The marriage eventually broke down and we went our separate ways. During my last year in the forces I started to discover who I was and, crudely at first, started going out as Claire in secret. These first tentative steps scared me so much, and I had so much to learn.
"Today I am happily married and I'm so glad to say my wife is my absolute rock in life. I told her before we married about being transgender and she could not have been more supportive."