Biologically male, Julie decided within the final years of her 25-year career as a REME officer to present her gender as she feels most comfortable, as a trans woman.
“Like all trans-people I have been transgender all my life but, for many years and due to fear of abuse, ridicule and victimisation, I hid my gender identity behind a facade of stereotypical manliness. In recent times I have decided, for the sake of maintaining my positive mental health, to present my gender as I feel most comfortable. I am a trans woman and present myself as a stereotypical woman as often as possible.”
It was whilst discovering her identity as a trans woman that Julie began the transition process, leaving the Army, and her new direction into business became clear.
“I attended a resettlement course in my last few weeks in the Army in 2018, in which a desktop exercise analysing my career interests and my personality gave a numerical score, which identified that I had passion for transgender issues and a skillset, largely learned and developed in my Army career, that meant my strengths and successes would be in public speaking as a trans woman. I started giving transgender awareness presentations, all unpaid and voluntary to begin with, then, by word of mouth, I received commercial interest.”
Julie identified the need for employers to understand gender authenticity principles and embed these into processes and policies to respect gender diversity in the workplace. She developed transgender awareness training programmes and, during the last two years, when trans issues have seen increased attention, she has delivered to some of the UK’s largest education and health and local government institutions.
“I am passionate about educating people about gender issues. I have had decades of abuse directed towards me and I want to do everything I can to teach people that being transgender and gender diverse is an acceptable “state of being” within society. If people are allowed to express their true authentic selves without fear, they are more likely to be happier people, both at home with friends and family, at work, and in society at large. A happier employee is more likely to be a more productive employee. A person who looks after their mental health properly will be less of a burden and cost to our health system.
“My business is niche so, over the first two to three years, there was not much interest and I had to rely on my Army pension to keep baked beans and beer in the fridge. Recently, however, trans issues have featured quite significantly in the mainstream media and increasingly in politics. To capitalise on this increased awareness of trans lives, I upgraded my LinkedIn profile and my website, and I attracted several employment agencies, who now hire me on a regular basis to give transgender awareness talks to clients, some of which are major industrial firms, but also universities, hospitals and prisons.”
An engineer, qualified to MSc level, Julie uses her academic skills to analyse scientific books and papers relating to transgender and gender identity issues, and convert the information into layman’s language, easy to understand by someone who does not have a natural or informed interest in this subject.
Her flagship presentation is the “Bluffers Guide to Transgender”, which she describes as a deliberately light-hearted introduction to appeal to people’s curiosity since only a small segment of the audience may have a natural interest in transgender issues.
Julie recognises that it is her first-hand experience that is of most value in the services she offers, details of which she courageously shares on a mission to improving lives and opportunities for the transgender community.
“To be an authentic transgender speaker, the most important asset is lived experience, it means everything. By way of comparison, if a career academic historian gives a presentation about a battle in the Afghan War, that’s fine, but is limited to second-hand storytelling; but for the story to be told by a veteran with lived experience of being in the actual battle, that counts for a lot more.
“I have over 40 years of lived experience as transgender and gender diverse, and can recount many tales of abuse, ridicule, and institutionalised transphobia (which is the same mechanism as institutionalised homophobia or racism). I have the mental scars of battle. So, my biggest challenge is finding the courage and willpower to present my true transgender self openly in society and in the places of work where I give my transgender talks.”
Through the transition process, Julie was referred by The Career Transition Partnership (CTP), the official provider of resettlement support, to undertake business training with X-Forces Enterprise (XFE). XFE’s Self-Employment Awareness Workshop informs service leavers about what starting up a business means and what to consider if they wish to explore this path. Shortly after, Julie enrolled on XFE’s two-day Start-Up Skills workshop, supported by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, which offers more detailed guidance and tools to plan and launch a business. Julie has also attended XFE’s Military In Business® networking events.
“The education and courses that I have attended with XFE have taught me the basics of how to set up and run my own business, which has given me the confidence and skills to undertake and understand the necessary processes, whether relating to marketing and advertising my business, or in managing finances and taxes.”
– – –
For more information about Julie’s business, visit: