Posted 16/11/2022

Belonging at Swan - Jodie's Story

Our vision is for Swan to be a truly inclusive workplace that enables individuals to be the best possible versions of themselves and feel at home at Swan. To help us achieve this vision we have a number of employee network groups - SwanTogether, SwanNation, SwanProud and Inspiring Swans. With assistance from these groups, we will be sharing stories from across Swan to learn more about our fantastically diverse Swan people.

This week, Executive Assistant, Jodie Curry, is sharing her story for Trans Awareness Week.

What is Trans Awareness Week?

Trans Awareness Week (or Transgender Awareness Week) is observed annually between 13 and 19 November to help raise visibility of trans and non-binary people and the challenges they face. It is followed by Trans Day of Remembrance (TDOR) on 20 November – an annual observance that honours the memory of trans people whose lives were lost in acts of violence that year.

Why have you chosen to share your ‘Belonging at Swan’ story during Trans Awareness Week?

My wife is a trans woman, so I am personally invested in highlighting the inequality that the trans and gender non-conforming community face. As well as encouraging everyone I know and can reach to educate themselves and to be an ally.

One of the main things that makes me feel I belong at Swan is its inclusive culture and inclusion groups. Swan’s sexual orientation and gender identity equality network, SwanProud, gave me the confidence and support to be open about my whole self at work. They asked me to give them a presentation on key trans issues, have also encouraged me to write articles and have been hugely supportive of me doing this. They give me courage and help me see the value in working together to make sure that no-one feels they need to live a double life, being one person at home and another at work.

I believe that the more we talk to each other about our diversity, the more other people feel comfortable to talk and share. I have experienced this on several occasions recently and it is so uplifting to find others with trans loved ones. In a world that can feel hostile it makes the world less lonely and having an inclusive and supportive workplace is more valuable than I ever could have imagined.

Is there anything in particular that you would like to tell people about this Trans Awareness Week?

Right now, the world does not feel like the friendliest and most comfortable place for trans people, and neither does our country. Inequality is rife and the transgender and non-binary community is often attacked. For example, in 2021 at least 375 trans, non-binary or gender nonconforming people were murdered worldwide; most of them trans women or transfeminine people of colour. There have also been some worrying news reports that the Prime Minister is going to look at reviewing the Equality Act with some commentary suggesting that gender reassignment may be removed from the Equality Act as a protected characteristic.

Another big issue is access to appropriate health care and support for both trans adults and trans children and their parents, carers and families. I help support a transgender and non-binary advisory group that is working with the NHS in my area to try and improve the healthcare being provided. I cannot fully explain the effect this has on my wife and our transgender and non-binary friends. Having taken most of her life to build up the courage to be herself, my wife has been on the waiting list for adult gender care for more than two years and it is likely to be at least a few more years before she can get a first appointment with the NHS. Without private healthcare, which is not cheap, I don’t think she would be here.

Other than the support you receive from colleagues at Swan, what helps you and your wife to cope with all of this?

My wife and I find hope in the increasing visibility of transgender and non-binary people and positive representation in the media. We have loved programmes such as Disclosure and Feel Good on Netflix, as well as the Great Pottery Thrown Down on All 4, featuring Rose Schmits, a talented transgender pottery artist. 

I believe the negative voices sometimes shout the loudest and that the truth is more like what is reflected in the recent report from Stonewall - that most people are happy for transgender and non-binary people to live their lives in peace and have no interest in making the world feel harder. 

Having allies gives my wife and I the support and the courage that we need to navigate a world where being trans still often means being marginalised. This Trans Awareness Week, my hope is that by sharing our story, others may become allies so that we can enjoy a more accepting society.