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This month we speak with Joanne Monck OBE (she/her), an Independent consultant, ambassador and advisor who is currently Director of Global Education and EDI for BelieveGlobalCIC.
Joanne speaks about discovering her gender identity and what the experience has taught her including how her equality campaigning led her to receive on OBE in the 2021 New Year’s Honours List.
Please be aware that this post touches on the topics of mental health and suicide.
Thank you so much for your insight Joanne!
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
David was born in 1955. At the time of his birth an imaginary tree was planted that over the years would grow, its trunk and its branches forming his characteristics, strengths and personality. However, the roots of that tree were never his. They belonged to Joanne, who over the years would feed him with her emotions, thoughts and desires until he released her from the prison, she was trapped in. The seed of Joanne was planted in David’s body before he was born, but it would take 58 years to germinate.
All David’s friends were girls and he hated doing the rough and tumble things that other boys would do. His mother had a dressing up box of her old clothes which he would spend hours dressing up in. He spent all his life dressing in private. He was constantly trying to validate his life as a man. After accepting his destiny in 2014 he released Joanne.
I have now achieved so much, as a very Happy and strong woman. The ultimate happened in 2021 when I was honoured by Her Majesty the Queen with an OBE for Services to Transgender Equality as a Global LGBT Advocate and Independent Advisor.
2. Tell us a bit about your own mental health experiences and being LGBTQ+?
At the age of about 5 David knew he should have been born a girl. What he didn’t know was that over the coming years, mental health issues would devastate him. He was bullied constantly at school but could never talk to his parents. Other pupils saw him as effeminate and weak and his education was severely knocked and he left school at the age of 18. He went to work on a farm, but was never happy. He was buying his own clothes and dressing in private. Every time he tried to stop, by burning the clothes, the desire to be a woman hit back tenfold.
Eventually at the age of 22, he had a nervous breakdown. He couldn’t cope with the constant battle of fighting Joanne who was growing so strong inside him. He got married because that was what was expected of him. He had twin boys. He stayed in the marriage out of a sense of guilt towards his wife, but because of undying love for his boys. Inside though he was emotionally dying, physically dying.
His wife died in the year 2000. He fought on, until a dark day in 2014 when he contemplated taking his life. At that point, he accepted his destiny. Joanne was born from within his body. You see David had to die in order to let me live.
3. What do you think LGBTQ+ people can learn from your experiences?
I think the learning point from my experience is not to wait most of your life to accept who you are.
Being LGBTQ + is something you are born with, and something you have no control over. There is no choice. Your destiny has been mapped out for you, and only acceptance of this will enable you to live a happy life. I could never talk to my parents or friends about how I felt. I was frightened of the reaction.
However, talking can help, particularly with mental health. Learn to talk about how you feel within. Being open and honest about your identity can go a long way towards gaining Allies. Most importantly, don’t feel ashamed of how you feel. Whenever fear knocks on your door, always have the right courage to open the door, because success is waiting for you behind the fear.
4. If you had one message for LGBTQ+ people what would it be?
BELIEVE to ACHIEVE. Believe in your destiny and ability in order to Achieve success and happiness. Search for your rainbow. There might not be a pot of gold at the end of it, but I guarantee there will be sackfulls of happiness.
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