In our next interview we speak to CEO of diversity consultancy Global Butterflies and trans and non-binary campaigner, Rachel Reese (she/her/hers).
Please be aware that this post touches on the topics of mental health.
Thank you so much for your interview Rachel!
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
I am a 55-year-old trans women married to another wonderful trans women. We live in Kent with two cats and 4 chickens. I originally trained as an avionics engineer in the 80s then moved into HR and then on into Law as a second career. I transitioned my gender expression from male to female in the legal profession.
The legal profession presented many challenges for me as a trans women, which led me to set up Global Butterflies in 2015, which delivers trans & non-binary inclusion training across many corporate sectors, and allows us to donate money to LGBT+ causes.
We have 160 corporate clients and have worked in 12 countries. My wife and I campaign for trans & non-binary rights and encouraging corporate companies to be allies to the LGBT+ community.
2. Tell us a bit about your own mental health experiences and being LGBTQ+?
Up to 2017, my mental health had always been good but in recent times it has deteriorated. My wife and I have been subject to a lot of social media abuse (we have closed our own personal Twitter accounts). The three biggest right wing newspapers often single my wife and I out for articles, because of the trans inclusion work we do. The articles often framed as tax payers money being spent on “woke issues”.
When the UK media they come for you its mean and its cruel. We have absolutely no one in our corner to help us when this happens and its very isolating. We have even received hate mail in the post.
There are also so called “gender critical activists”, who write nasty articles about us on those dodgy fringe websites, where they describe us as men. In addition our Government is pretty anti trans rights (e.g. buying into the small but well financed gender critical voices), even our own MP supports a well know hate group, well you can imagine, how our mental health is challenged.
It is not good, I should be enjoying life in my 50s but I am fighting for my very existence and it’s exhausting.
3. What do you think LGBTQ+ people can learn from your experiences?
That rights that are hard won can be easily taken, they can never be taken for granted.
The people trying to take away trans rights are also after LGB rights and eventually women’s rights. We will be talking about women’s right to body autonomy in the UK very soon. The same anti trans groups, politicians and newspapers who are attacking trans people will swing to anti women’s rights next.
So, the trans community, LGB community and women ALL need to stand together to hold on to the rights we have.
4. If you had one message for LGBTQ+ people what would it be?
Things always move forward, it feels dark now, but Governments change and the pendulum swings back to inclusion and equality.
Most of the people shouting against rights for trans people, LGB rights and women’s rights, will crawl back under their rocks when we move back to a moderate Government.
Also bear in mind, that trans pride had 20,000 people and London Pride had 1.5 million. Gen Z is coming and they are the most inclusive generation ever, they don’t vote for right wing parties and they don’t buy nasty newspapers. Anti LGBT groups seem to only muster 200 people shouting in a park or a shopping centre.
We can’t lose if we stick together and fight for our rights!!
5. Is there anything you want to add to the interview that we haven’t captured here already?
Don’t forget to vote! LOL!