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Pride Month 2023 – Heath’s personal transgender journey

Heath | June 01, 2023
Customer Service Advisor & CSC LGBTQ+ Lead
I found an incredibly supportive network of people around me who fully embraced who I really was.
Pride Month 2023 – Heath’s personal transgender journey

Growing up, I always felt like I wasn’t the person I was supposed to be. I was always very much a tomboy, and I’m very grateful that my mum and dad never made me dress or play a certain way based on the fact I was AFAB (Assigned Female at Birth). But I always felt a certain disconnect from who I really was inside.

Whilst my friends in the playground were discussing whether they liked Gareth Gates or Will Young more, I was more fixated on replicating the former’s iconic spikes (a skill I’ve never mastered). I flat out refused to wear the school dresses and my mum had to beg them to let me wear my cousins’ hand-me-down shorts. And for a brief few weeks over summer, I only answered to the name Frank.

I think the main issue, for me at least, was a complete lack of representation. The only transgender person I ‘knew’ was a supply teacher at secondary school, and the names she was called were not particularly pleasant. I’d certainly never seen a transgender man before or knew that they could exist.

As a young person, I didn’t know that people could be of a different gender or identify as non-binary. The only examples on TV were murder victims on fictional crime shows, or the joke in films such as Ace Ventura.

For me, a real turning point came watching RuPaul’s Drag Race and seeing the contestant Gottmik. He was the first representation of a transgender man I’d seen where he was very vocal about smashing gender norms. It was a complete step away from the transgender teacher I’d known at secondary school. The more I looked at Gottmik, and other transgender people on social media (again, not an option for younger Heath), the more I felt an understanding.

Coming to terms with that was a little tricky at times. But the hardest part was the practicalities. I changed my name and pronouns and ‘practiced’ those with a small group of friends and family, but quickly found that you don’t get much chance to practice; when you’re one-to-one with somebody, they rarely use your name or pronouns.

But one place where I used my name a lot was at work, in the Boots Customer Support Centre (CSC) team.

Coming out at work was a daunting experience. I started in my role as a different person – different name, gender, and pronouns. But luckily, I found an incredibly supportive network of people around me who fully embraced who I really was. Taking the first call and answering it as Heath was stomach churning, but it became second nature within about two days.

I set up an LGBTQ+ group within the CSC and through that, met new people and connected with others from within the community, and as a result, we’ve delivered Pride and Trans Awareness Month content to help educate and inspire others in our team.

There are a few things I still find difficult to deal with; I’m terrible at correcting people when they misgender me, I can’t for the life of me find trousers that fit, and I still must psych myself up before I step into the barbers.

But I feel myself, and that’s worth all of it. And without the support of my friends and colleagues within the CSC, it would not have been possible. So, thanks.


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