As a request to provide some information on TG for an offshore industry network focus group that has an aim to increase awareness of gender related issues within the offshore industry, I produced the following article that was upload to their Guest Blogs area this week.
Its a little more formal than my usual approach and a lot less wordy (which may be a good thing !)
A Transgender Perspective - by Dawn Wyvern
I have identified as Transgender all my life. Away from work, I live my life part-time as a woman, with a supportive partner.
I qualified as a Nurse in 1979 and have been working as a Medic offshore since 1987 on various offshore and onshore assets.
At the start of my career, I kept my Transgender identity to myself. I believed that I should not share my gender identity, as at that time diversity was not an acceptable notion. In common with other industries of that period, not aligning with the "macho" norm was not deemed acceptable.
However, in recent years I have been able to be much more open about my individual needs and have been able to share my personal Transgender identity with others.
Ironically, the turning point on this for me was largely due to an incident in 2005 where a manager removed me from a platform upon discovering my Transgender status. I was lucky enough to be in a supportive company, and they quickly found me another position offshore - with a more forward-thinking team.
Since that incident, I have been very open about who and what I am. I have had great support from the offshore and onshore managers, who have taken time to understand who I was and took measures to support me at work.
I have immense support from the regular crew on the platform who all know about my Transgender identity. They may not understand all the meanings, and this has led to many discussions around gender and diversity in general. I am an active member of the company’s diversity team and support others who are struggling to come to terms with their situations.
I can safely say that I am truly comfortable in my workplace. I feel that I give more in my day-to-day work. Being accepted as ‘me’ is something you can’t put a value on.
As Shirley Bassey once sang... ‘I am what I am and what I am needs no excuses.’ -
So, take time to look beyond the cover and see the uniqueness of the individual underneath.
Transgender – what’s it all about?
Transgender can be a topic met with mixed reactions - fuelled by politics, activists and the press. You may believe that you have a good understanding of what it is all about, and you may even know that the T in LGBT+ equates to Transgender … Here are a few more quick facts to get you up to speed:
- Transgender people have a gender identity or gender expression that differs from their sex assigned at birth.
- Transgender – often shortened as ’Trans’ – is also an umbrella term covering transsexual, transvestite, crossdresser, non-binary, bi-gender, gender queer, pangender, genderfluid, agender, etc. (there are over 30 terms under the Transgender heading, so it’s a very complex term). (Ref 1)
- Other definitions of Transgender also include people who belong to a third gender, or else conceptualize Transgender people as a third gender.
- Not all Transgender people wish to undergo surgery or take medication to develop secondary sexual characteristics; but may live in their preferred gender role.
- Not all Transgender people wish to, or are able to, live full time in their preferred gender.
- Being Transgender is independent of sexual orientation.
- The term Transgender is also distinguished from intersex.
- The opposite of Transgender is cisgender, which describes persons whose gender identity or expression matches their assigned sex at birth.
- Gender Dysphoria is the distress a person may feel due to a mismatch between their gender identity and their sex assigned at birth. This may require individuals to seek medical intervention for support.
For more on the distinction between gender and sex, we love the genderbread person.
So that’s as clear as mud – right?
Many Transgender individuals know that they are different at an early age, others have a ‘bell go off’ in middle age and are compelled to act on it.
Some people are able to take positive steps to live in their identity. However, others often try to suppress or ignore these feelings in the hope that they will grow out of them, attempting to fit in with their family or societal expectations. This can lead to internal conflict, depression, anxiety and even suicide. The UK national average of suicide attempts is 41% within the Transgender population, compared with 2% in the general population. (Ref 2)
Being Transgender is not a choice. We are all unique and have different lifestyle influences. Being Transgender is not a lifestyle choice like following a football team or having a favorite fashion style, it’s more like your eye colour. You can wear contact lenses and hide your true eye colour; however, your true eye colour will always remain unchanged... It’s something that you have been born with and must live with.
What does it mean to me in the energy industry?
Depending on which statistics you read, 1 in 100 of the UK population is Transgender. The Government Equalities Office estimate that there are 200,000 to 500,000 Transgender people in the UK, and Stonewall puts this figure at 600,000 (Ref 3). It is accepted that these figures are likely to be higher due to the methodology and difficulties in obtaining the data. It is very likely that we have all met, worked with, or know someone who is Transgender.
In the energy industry, there is a large multi-national workforce and a wide diversity of members. Our gender expression is just one facet of this diversity, and we can expect Transgender identities to become more visible as understanding and acceptance continues to improve. In fact, Gen Z are more likely than any previous generation to identify as Transgender and non-binary (Ref 4).
There are great role models for Transgender in the energy industry, with individuals such as Bobbi Pickard (BP), and Samantha Jayne Nelson (Shell), who have been paving the way for others to follow, not just in the UK but worldwide.
What can I do?
Be kind! Being open and supportive to a colleague goes a long way to being a good manager or co-worker, and this is even more so when with someone is Transgender.
MSc, BSc, DipHE, RGN, SEN – Medic/Occupational Health – HSEC
1. Boult, A., 2016. Government asks schoolchildren to define their gender. [Online]
Available at: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/12127280/Government-asks-schoolchildren-to-define-their-gender-and-gives-them-24-options-to-choose-from.html
2. McNeil, et al., 2012 - Suicide risk in the UK trans population and the role of gender in transition in decreasing suicide indention and suicide attempt
Posted on the Axis site 06.01.2023 - - found here