What does Transgender Day of Visibility mean to you?
We spoke with Ella Nix, a Customer Service Manager working for our Ladbrokes brand in North Region group.
On Transgender Day of Visibility 2021, with all the current news surrounding what we should and shouldn’t have access to, Ella wanted to put her story out there and educate you all on how vital it is that trans people are allowed to exist openly and proudly and how important it is that we are all allies.
Ella, tell me a little bit about yourself…
I have been with Entain, working for Ladbrokes, for 5 years. When I joined it was a very turbulent time in my life. I’d just decided to move jobs and houses as the area I was living in wasn’t somewhere I felt I was flourishing. This was all brought on by a big change in my life - I’d come out to my parents and family as a transgender woman.
When I started at Ladbrokes, my name tag and uniform were very different from what they look like today. It took me a while to come out to my friends and colleagues in the shop. Years I think. I was waiting to be on my HRT medication, I was waiting until my body changed enough. I was just...waiting. Not flourishing as I had wanted to do.
What one piece of advice would you give your younger self?
I’d love to be able to go back to being a child when I first knew I was trans. To tell myself to just go for it, to talk to someone, that this mindset doesn’t go away no matter how much you hide it, because it’s the true you.
I’d also love to go back to when I started with Entain and tell myself to just go for it then as well, that people will surprise you. Yes, there will be good points and bad points. But being able to be seen as you, being respected and praised for hard work and have that recognition given to you is amazing and well worth any bad times.
My parents and family were so supportive. Growing up that was a big worry for me. Having only seen trans people represented in media on things such as Jerry Springer; where they were ridiculed and paraded around as the reason a family was in turmoil. Or in films like Ace Ventura, where a whole room throws up at the idea of being romantically involved with a trans woman. This shaped how I thought I’d be treated by the outside world.
But honestly, all those fears were washed away quite quickly. When I came out to my colleagues all of them were so supportive. We’d always been a really close-knit group of people. Always going out of our way for each other and always being there to support one another with any of life’s little problems. So why was I so worried? Could have been the customers who were a little less quick to forget the old me, or sometimes worse.
But even through those bad times, the staff in shop supported me, listened to me, and protected me from hurtful comments. As I blossomed and finally started to flourish, so did my work. I started to get involved in more things to do with work. And it helped me get back to a point I could support others as they had done for me.
Transgender Day of Visibility is about being seen. Not for vanity purposes or for ego. It’s about being seen for who we are. It’s about standing proud; of the journey we’ve been on and continue to be on.
What can businesses do to support you?
I believe Entain is very supportive in their approach to trans inclusion and I think my colleagues set a very high bar. They have been nothing short of amazing. But that’s what trans people at all stages of their journey need. They need support, be it with home life or work life. I think some of the tools already in place for things such as mental health is amazing and will help, but tweaking those to be more trans orientated might really be beneficial.
One of the big things for trans people is being visible. A lot try to blend in as much as possible, so that we can just get on with our lives without being questioned at every corner, by every person we meet. These people are still some of the proudest I know but I know they have to navigate through their life with the prying questions... One thing I feel businesses could do more of is to educate their staff to know what inappropriate questions are to ask a trans person, or to let someone else ask.
It isn’t just outright slurs that should be dealt with to make a trans person's work life easier. I remember when an area manager referred to me as “mate”, something so small for most people. But to me, I was hypersensitive to the fact that I’d never heard this person call any other woman “mate” while I’d worked in a shop filled with women. There was one man who he referred to constantly as mate, and I, got lumped in with the wrong side. When I challenged him about it and informed him why I didn’t like it, he didn’t seem to see the problem but it’s that sort of microaggression that trans people face daily. And it chips away at our self-esteem, at our confidence.
What would you like people to know who don't identify as you do?
To anyone reading this and not understanding how I could go through all of this just to be known as Ella, it’s very hard to get across. One thing is, I’m still the same person. I still have my core beliefs; I still have my values and work ethic. I still have my likes and dislikes. But now, I can be more open and honest about them. I don’t have to try and hide things in case I’m outed. The idea trans people are “born into the wrong body” perpetuates that they were a mistake. I’d ask people to think of us in terms of just making our bodies reflect who we truly are.
Was there one person or organisation that has helped you in your journey?
So, I was very lucky with all the support I received. Apart from the NHS, the gender clinic and Entain themselves, one person who has helped me a lot is my manager Lisa Lavelle. Since I started with Entain she’s always been there. She’s totally the shop's heart and soul. She supports not just me but all the staff and the customers. With problems big or small, any time of the day, she is constantly working to make the shop not only a better work environment for the team but also a better social one for the customers. She’s been there for me since the day I came out, helping with work, giving me makeup and outfit advice, giving me job advice to push me to bigger things in the company, making sure I’m mentally well enough to give the best I can in all aspects of life. I’m so thankful to her for everything she continues to do for us all here.
Finally, Ella, what does TDOV mean to you?
Transgender Day of Visibility is about being seen. Not for vanity purposes or for ego. It’s about being seen for who we are. It’s about standing proud; of the journey we’ve been on and continue to be on. It’s about letting people know that we aren’t going away anytime soon because we’ve always been here. And we’re proud to be here, when so many trans people haven’t been allowed to. So, for today, I’m going to be proud of myself. I’m going to be proud of the steps I’ve taken in my 5 years with Entain, and look to how we can all support trans people in the future and become powerful allies.