Drayce, Transgender Day of Visibility story

Drayce tells us about his experiences as a trans man in the workplace.

Please could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Drayce, I am a 30-year-old trans man. I'm a big gamer, big old nerd, a bit of a homebody and hoarder of plushies and squish mallows, because you’ve got to surround yourself with the cosy things!

It was getting into cosplay that made me realise that, hey, I’m not cis. Cosplay is a fantastic community where you can dress up as anything and nobody tells you "no". You don’t get any abuse for it; instead you get complimented by people telling you they love your outfit.

By the time I was about 19 or 20 years old, I was saying that I was non-binary, though I don’t think that was the term I used as it was fairly new then. I used they/them pronouns for a while because I was still quite feminine in my appearance. I looked at what's considered as men's fashion and felt it was depressingly boring and decided “why would I want to give up all this vibrancy and colour”, so that put me off for a while.

Then, the more I delved into my journey of self-discovery, or those times when I was doing cosplay and was called Sir, or got confused looks when people were told that at the time, I was using she/her pronouns, I was like “oh that's a good feeling” and discovered gender euphoria, which is a much nicer feeling than gender dysphoria. I thought, “yeah, this is it.”

Through getting more into drag communities and more within the queer community itself I thought, “yeah, I can do this.”

Could you tell us some of the struggles that you faced within the workplace?

The major difficulty that I mostly ran into was probably people not using the correct pronouns. My pronouns were in my instant messenger information and on my email signature, but people still called me she/her, based on my appearance.

I’ve had previous colleagues tell me to stop dying my hair pink and blue and tell me they won’t use he/him as it was too difficult for them, after they were corrected on my pronouns. They were trying to justify why they couldn’t get it right, and I do appreciate that it’s frustrating and that it might not click straight away, but please, the song and dance is exhausting and awkward for both of us.

The way to think about it is, it’s probably not just you that is having their perceptions of gender challenged by a person’s transition. So, a trans person will experience that same conversation a lot, which adds up over time.

One of the worst experiences I’ve had in a workplace was in a video call and the person was repeatedly using she/her. After a few times of being misgendered I finally spoke up out of frustration and I said, “I’m not a girl” and she just very snappily went “well, whatever.” There was utter silence on the video call and nobody thought to step in. My manager at the time said to me, “you should feel safe correcting them”, which is fine, but people are more likely to change their behaviour when other cis people correct them.

The main trouble I had before I moved to West Sussex County Council was that I wasn’t given any time off for sick leave or special circumstances and for me to be able to go to my HRT appointments. My original GP in Chichester wouldn't look at doing anything like bridging, so I had to change my GP to one in Brighton. Whenever I get my HRT shots, I must get a train all the way down to Brighton and then walk to and from the appointment, get the train back and walk to work. It takes at least four hours for my appointments, so I was losing half a days pay or being told to take it out of my annual leave.

When you think about the fact that there were colleagues that were going to Doctor's or Dentist appointments or emergency check-ups, and they weren't expected to make the time up, or use annual leave, it wasn’t very fair.

West Sussex have a trans policy, so now I can take the time for appointments without using my annual leave or losing out on pay, which is great.

How has West Sussex County Council supported you?

The policy difference at West Sussex is huge, it's already made such a great impact on my quality of life. It's one less thing to worry about.

I also really like the staff networks; they are growing as people are becoming more aware of them. It’s felt a little isolating in previous workplaces, I think I have probably been a lot of people’s first experience with a trans person, so it’s nice to have a community of like-minded people to be a part of.

What is your favourite memory of being at West Sussex so far?

Speaking at the LGBTQ+ staff network, when the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Lead was able to join us in one of our network meetings; that felt really good because he was interested in listening and doing right by everyone and was thinking about what we could do to change things, which is just wonderful. He's a very open and understanding individual, which I think is vital for that sort of role.

What would you say helps to support trans and non-binary people feel safe and valued in the workplace?

I'd say, like I touched on earlier, it’s helpful when cis people speak up when they hear things, or if they’re just listening. One of the great things people can do is just listen to what we have to say, you know, just let trans and non-binary people know that you’re there and you’re listening and willing to take on board queer history.

When we say we don’t feel safe, don’t downplay it. It can be difficult being trans, especially with everything going on in the news, it can feel terrifying being trans, non-binary or gender non confirming, but I think if people understand our history as a community, they can understand what we go through a little better.

No one likes to be faced with something so big and uncomfortable like speaking up in a potentially awkward situation, but think about how distressing it is for the marginalised group that are experiencing it.

What would you say to any trans or non-binary people considering joining us?

I'd say you're onto a good one. I haven’t had any kind of vitriol experience that I have had in previous jobs. There are fantastic policies and great support networks with people who do get it.

The Union also has a huge campaign going on for Trans Day of Visibility, so we’re not as alone as some people would like us to believe.

Last updated:
14 November 2023
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