A conversation about being LGBTQIA+ in Higher Education
CO-HOST: KIT RACKLEY | STUDENTS: BARNEY, CHARLIE, JACOB & RO
1 h 2 min. Recorded on 3 June 2021.
This episode was created in collaboration with NEACO (Network for East Anglian Collaborative Outreach) and the UEA (University of East Anglia) for the Pride in Higher Aspirations project in Pride Month (June) 2021, aimed at young people who are LGBTQIA+ (out or questioning) and are thinking of going into Higher Education or Further Education. Follow it using the hashtag #TakeYourPrideHE
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this podcast episode are those of the guests and should not be considered as professional advice. While this podcast episode of Fifty Shades of Gender, number 49 released on 17th June 2021, is intended for young listeners of high-school age and contains age-appropriate content, listener discretion is advised for other episodes of the series as some themes and discussions are adult in nature. neaco Take Your Place and its partners have no affiliation with this podcast series beyond this episode created in partnership for the ‘Pride in Higher Aspirations’ 2021 project.
Esther is co-hosting this episode with Kit, whom you may remember from episodes 1 and 12 of the podcast. Kit’s new job role at UEA is Outreach Officer & Higher Education champion, and we talk to students Barney, Charlie, Jacob and Ro about their experience being LGBTQIA+ in Higher Education.
Meet the students:
- Barney (he/him), trans man – studying Literature & Creative Writing
- Charlie (she/her), queer woman – studying Literature & Creative Writing
- Jacob (they/them), non-binary – studying International Relations & French
- Ro (they/them), non-binary – studying Environmental Sciences
We also talk about fitting in boxes, breaking barriers, finding comfort in anonymity, redefining yourself, looking after your mental health, the importance of asking for help and support, finding yourself as well as your people, and being who you were meant to be.
“In school you are fit in that predefined box depending on what you look like…and no matter what you do to try and break those boundaries, you’re put in that box…and you can’t do anything against it. So as soon as you come into university, where a lot of these boxes dissolve, and you suddenly realise my appearance does not define the friends that I want to make and the groups that I want to fit in. It’s just wonderful.”
TRANSCRIPT [expand to read]
Esther: I just want to say hello and welcome to everyone today. This is really exciting. And I’ll hand over to Kit to talk to us a little bit about why they put this episode; wanted to put this episode together. So just putting you on the spot, Kit, Go!
Kit: And people out there are like, oh no, not them again. Uh, yes, everybody. And this is the third time on Esther’s podcast, but I am here for business purposes rather than for personal purposes. And that is through my job role. Yeah. So I have recently taken on a new role at the University of East Anglia, some something I’ve been very proud about, and that is, um, outreach officer and higher education champion for underprivileged and disadvantaged students around the East of England. And of course, being LGBTQ myself, I thought, right, what kind of project can I bring to this role? And I thought, well, let’s raise some aspirations within LGBTQ youth because there are so many amazing role models out there. LGBTQ role models, who’ve been through higher education. I thought, why not showcase all that lovely stuff for pride month? So what did I do got into contact with you, Esther, and thought your podcast would be an amazing contribution to this month long project. And we have some fabulous students at the University of East Anglia, put two and two together. And here we are,
Esther: this is very exciting.
Kit: So I guess if you want to keep in contact with all this, we are using the hashtag #TakeYourPrideHE and the project is called “Pride in Higher Aspirations.” So if you want to follow it, that’s all you need to do.
Esther: Awesome. Thanks Kit. So yeah, over to the guests today, would you like to tell us a little bit about you and your well basically mostly your gender identity, really the labels you use, the pronouns you use, who would like to start?
Ro: I’m happy to jump straight in. Hi everybody, I’m Ro. I’m a final year, actually I’ve just graduated. I’m non binary. I go by the pronouns, they them, and I’ve known I’ve been non-binary for about a few years now. I’ve found the label back few years ago, but for a very long time, I did feel, Hmm. I don’t quite fit in the female box, but I don’t really want to be in the male box. So where do I belong? So I’m non binary and I’m loving it.
Esther: Yay! That should be on a t-shirt, non-binary and loving it. Nice one. Who’s next.
Barney: Okay. Hi, I’m Barney. Um, my pronouns are he/him. And I identify as a trans man. I’ve known for a quite long time, but haven’t been able to sort of come out and live as a man until, um, maybe a couple of years ago when I moved into higher education. So that’s just, it’s really nice to kind of be living, you know, as I am. Uh, I’m currently a first year creative writing and English lit student at UEA and yeah, it’s great.
Esther: Nice one. Welcome.
Jacob: My name is Jacob. I use the pronouns them/them and I normally identify as non-binary as well. So I’m a first year student studying international relations and French here at UEA. And it’s been interesting because I’ve been trying to explore more everything. And I felt like coming to university, the freedom that it’s given, but also just like the people I’ve met has given me a real opportunity to be myself and be able to experiment. And there’s a lot of like extracurricular stuff I’ve done, which has really helped with that. So, yeah.
Esther: Lovely. Thank you.
Charlie: I’m Charlie. I identify as a queer woman. Um, I use she/her pronouns and I’m same as Barney, I’m a creative writing student, but I’m second year.
Esther: Awesome. Well welcome everyone. Thanks for chatting with us today. So my first question to you and feel free to jump in, you know, whenever you feel like it or sit one out, that’s fine too, did going to higher education, help you explore and nurture your identity, your gender identity, especially. And if so, how?
Jacob: Yeah, so I was like through sixth form, I was trying to explore and I was starting to get to explore more and it felt like there was a lot of stuff that might be holding me back, like the opportunity do it. And I felt like since I’ve come to university, I’ve had a lot more freedom to explore a lot more chances because I’ve always felt like I don’t, like, I kind of don’t want people to see everything straightaway. I want to take gradually in being at university, having more privacy than I would generally at home has enabled me to do it more. And I think one of the things that’s really helps is that I have some of my flat mates are the best people I’ve ever met and are so helpful and so lovely. And just being able to just wear what I want, um, be who I want, something that I would never have thought would happen to me before going to university. So yeah, I think this really helped me, um, explore and I think I’ve improved. I’ve become a slightly better person because of it because I can be me instead of being almost scared to do it in a sense,
Esther: Wow, I love that. Thank you.
Barney: I can kind of, uh, bounce off something. It kind of that that privacy is like a huge thing, but also kind of I’ve been coming to like a university and being in higher education, you, I was fortunate enough to kind of be able to step away from North Yorkshire where I’m from originally and go to a completely different location where nobody knew me. And so it kind of being a kind of fresh face. A new person brings a lot, a lot of privacy in the, you can show exactly what you want to show. You can portray yourself exactly as who you want to portray yourself. And also the maturity, I think, um, not just for myself, but I think, you know, whenever you move into higher education as this huge step, uh, you need to take, you’re forced to become a lot more mature. And I think within that, you kind of have to shed all that. Not all of it, sadly, some people don’t, but you have to shed a lot of the kind of silly notions, um, sort of anti LGBT QIA notions that a lot of people had before. And the kind of with that maturity, there’s an acceptance, which is really great. Like in secondary school, there’s a lot. Yeah. There’s a lot of ridiculousness that people hold onto, but yeah, it melts away. Some of it melts away in higher education.
Charlie: I think that’s sometimes a bit of a thing about when you go to uni about, you know, finding yourself and people like, oh, you’ll go to university and you’ll find yourself. And like I said, I was going, they were like, you’ll find yourself, sounds like a retreat, not glamorous.
Esther: I shouldn’t say I haven’t found myself yet. I’m still working on it myself
Charlie: It gives you the ability to go into this area with people who don’t have any presumptions about you and you were able to sort of then build from a bit of the ground up. And I think there’s a lot of thing about queer people, especially sort of like blossoming a little bit later, sometimes as we work out who we are rather than fit in the box, that society is, is, you know, telling us to. Um, and I think it’s definitely me been an experience at university where I’ve been able to say, oh, you know, there aren’t people here presuming I’m straight there, aren’t people here presuming that I’m cis or anything. And you’re able to really say, this is who I am without the presumption, which is amazing.
Ro: Just jumping on that. It’s um, yeah. It’s, I think we’ve all highlighted exactly what a lot of us have struggled with, you know, at school, you are fit in that predefined box, depending on what you look like. You know, you’re, you’re a nerdy kid, you’re a jock, you’re a popular girl. And no matter what you do to try and break those boundaries, you’re put in that box, you put in that friend group and you can’t do anything against it. So as soon as you come into a university where a lot of these boxes dissolve and you suddenly realize my appearance does not define the friends that I want to make and the groups that I want to fit in, it’s just wonderful. I know at university, at school even, I was in the group of the weird girls and I, I love weird. And I think the weird people are the best people in the world, but I, yeah, I can see Charlie raising her hands. It’s just, that was a wonderful feeling yeah, it’s just the weirdest are the best kind of people. Right. But I think coming to university and finding that I can be friends with guys and I can fit in the guy group, the lad group. And just knowing that it’s okay, just because I look rather feminine. I don’t have to fit in that box that I was told to anymore. And it just, it is so freeing to kind of break those barriers and choose where you fit in.
Kit: I just want to pick up on a few things there, you know, because I’m having an exceptionally feminine day today, you know, and it’s completely because, Esther knows I’m gender fluid to an extent, and.
Charlie: You look beautiful.
Kit: Aw, bless you. And it’s just so lovely. I mean, we’re all kind of demonstrating right here, the kind of the culture and the community that you can surround yourself at places like higher education. Like I’m completely happy to just be completely myself right here. And there’s two things that really kind of put, put in to my mind because of course, I’ve spoken to a lot of people for this project and this, this sense of the anonymity seems to have come up quite a fair bit. You know, the fact that that’s actually, a lot of people have found comfort in that. And so, yeah, that’s really, really interesting. And I’m thinking of back in, when I was in school now in the eighties and nineties, don’t hold it against me, because I’m a bit older than you lot, it seems as though some things have moved on quite a bit in some places. And there are some schools around here in Norfolk and Suffolk who are amazing, amazing with their LGBTQ inclusivity, but it seems like there are still issues out there in high school. I mean, I don’t want anyone to kind of disclose too much person information, but maybe even you just want to give, give something very, very, just, you know, very, very arbitrary, like, oh, my experience university is way different from high school. It’s a little bit better than high school. High school was pretty okay for me. I mean, it’d be quite interesting to hear what comparative for you, your high school experiences with your higher education experience. Really,
Ro: I was intrigued to ask, you know, if anybody else was the bullied kid at school, because I certainly was, and I fit into very few boxes. I’m non binary, I’m pansexual, I’m autistic. I have ADHD. And I just didn’t fit in at all. And school is very much, you know what you’re told you, sit down, you listen to the teacher, you sit with your friend groups at lunch and that’s how it is. And I really, I didn’t feel like myself at school. I just felt like somebody else in a uniform. And then you come to university and they say, no, you choose what you want to do. You choose your friends, you choose your clubs or societies. You choose what music and what events you go to. And you can just completely redefine yourself. And you’re not putting that uniform in those boxes anymore. You’re very much saying, no, you be you. And that is celebrated here. And it’s the best experience for me.
Esther: I really loved that because I grew up in the Netherlands and we don’t do the school uniform thing. So that was kind of alien for me.
Jacob: Well, It’s a very UK thing. So I know people in other countries and France as well, they don’t wear school uniforms in America. I completely get what Ro was saying about how being in a uniform. Yeah, I was bullied for, for about three years in secondary school, but it kind of came about because I wasn’t the same as everyone else. I was, I mean, I went to a school where they had feeder schools so far and already had their friendship group. Everyone already knew all of their friends and I joined and I, I wasn’t part of the groups in a sense. And it kind of almost just backfired in a sense that I just never really fit in. And I’m mean I’m not, I was never really part of the lads. I never, I was not one of those people who play sports who would get into like <?> like tackles and stuff, playing football. So yeah, it was a really tough experience for me and as I said I was still trying to figure out who I was and what kind of box I fit into. As people said already, it doesn’t quite work the same way in secondary high school than does here at higher education. And then, I mean, as soon as I left, I moved to a different school for sixth form, to do my a levels and that was competely different. It was a much better experience then again, moving on to university, uh, one of the first things I did was join the drama society. And one of the, yeah, I see Charlie smiling. Now, one of the great things about it too, is it’s like a place to be yourself. Like I could be who I wanted to be. And I think a lot of that is down to the people and like the kind of way they set out the whole society and how welcoming it is for everyone. I think that has been a really good experience in particularly being in spring awakening with everyone was just amazing.
Esther: I love it. Barney, What would you like to add?
Barney: So when I went to high school or secondary school, I actually went to an all girls school. I mean, that was definitely was not the place for me. Um, I certainly wasn’t in a position to it just wasn’t, I couldn’t transition basically that easily for various reasons, but that in itself kind of had a lot of constrictions on obviously on my gender and that I couldn’t, I couldn’t express myself as a man. I’m not sure what would have happened if I did. Um, I don’t know if I’d realized that, but, uh, I just wasn’t in a position socially to be able to come out. So that in itself was really difficult and I kind of had to rely a lot on my quite an intrinsic sense of worth is intrinsic, the right word. Uh, kind of, I had to learn how to kind of value myself regardless of outside validation because obviously, you know, going to school every day, wearing a skirt every day, being called a lady or whatever every day is not is, is really not that great if you experience dysphoria, which was a huge part of my school life. So, you know, to move away from that, it was just, it was just so refreshing. It was kind of, it was just a really important thing for me. Um, so like even, even in halls, just, um, being able to, just to be able to mingle with people who aren’t all of one gender, particularly the one which you’re trying to break away from was just a really important thing for my wellbeing. And it took a lot of the pressure of myself too, because there’s a lot of pressure kind of really, you know, reaffirming your identity every day, being like, it’s okay that they’re calling you, they’re calling you Miss, but you know, you’re a Mr. And it’s okay. It’s just a huge breath of release to be able to a huge is that the word relief, really, if it’s huge, a huge sigh of relief to be able to just be, I don’t have to deal with it anymore. Cause that was, that was a really difficult thing, which I think probably there’s quite a few people who have to deal with that and who aren’t in a situation where they can’t, where they can’t move away from it. It’s not, it’s not always easy.
Ro: I just send them really hard. And I wondered actually, if he had any advice, because I’m thankful not to have that same experience, that an incredibly intense and something that obviously you couldn’t break away from at all. And although I think a lot of us might be lucky that we don’t experience that much intensity in day-to-day life. Obviously lots of us still have those concerns even when we go to the toilet, you know, it’s, it’s usually male or female and a lot of us will be, um, I mean, for me, for example, I’m still very feminine presenting. And even though I want to sometimes get in the male toilets, you can’t, and it is that, you know, you walk through that door and you automatically are saying to everybody loud and clear, don’t worry about my pronouns. My label was actually, I’m still a woman. I have women genitals and that makes me a woman. And so I wondered if you had any advice on how to cope with that kind of affirmation from like the external world that says, no, you’re in this box, whether you like it or not essentially.
Barney: Well, I found writing really helps because even when I, you know, when you write you, I guess you can hear yourself speak, but when someone reads off a page, there’s no kind of masculine or feminine, there’s no pitch to it. There’s, it’s whoever you present yourself on paper as which was a huge, like a really important thing to me. Cause I’ll be like, it’s something that doesn’t get filtered through your biology. It’s something that just comes from you artistically. So being able to do that was a really important, like a huge part of me kind of, you know, being okay really. And I guess kind of, um, as I said, kind of reaffirming to myself, like I guess being like, it’s okay, you are still a guy, regardless of what situation these people are, you know, putting you in it’s really difficult because you see a kind of childhood that’s kind of going off in a different direction to what you want to where you are. And it’s really difficult to kind of watch that move away from you. So I guess taking time for yourself is really important. Like, you know, as a, as a society, everyone’s like, no, you’ve got to be constantly on the go. And you know, taking time out for yourself is selfish, but it’s really important just to be like, no, it’s okay. This is me. This is my time. And finding a way to kind of express yourself that isn’t constricted by these exterior things, which is all very abstract. And probably if I, I know it’s far easier to say all this now when I’m in a far easier situation, but just kind of keeping on believing that it won’t be forever is, um, really important thing. I can’t really say much more.
Jacob: I think it also varies depending on different people in different situations. I’ve been exploring a bit and like people said to me, write it down, write it down or help, or just like record something somewhere, do some drawing, play music, play some games, whatever it is, something to like, just take yourself out of it, take yourself out of the situation, just think about it. And I think one of the things I’ve been thinking about recently is it’s not an easy, it’s never going to be an easy decision to make whatever the decision is. It’s never going to be like a click and that’s it. And you know that I think the fact that there are people out there who’ve thought long and hard about this have made decision for the better of themselves. It’s really commendable in a sense, but also it’s really hard to go from an experience where you were like, this is not me. I don’t fit in here to then looking at it, like opening a door and seeing a field in front of you. So to speak that you can be yourself, you can just be who you want to be. Like university is almost like an open field because unless you actually know people with, I’m very fortunate to know very few people from before in the sense that I can now be who I want to be at university, as opposed to who I was back in school and back in sixth form, it’s really freeing, but it’s also like I could go up to someone I’ve never met. I could be like, hi, this is my name. And these are my pronouns. And that would be it. And that’s all they know about me. And it’s really amazing in the sense, it is different for everyone else. So, um, I felt like writing it down might work for you, there might be something else. It might even be a punching, punching bag or something. Just to give you a sense to get out of the anger but also just to think. I quite like just go on walks for me. Like I’m very near the lake where I live currently on campus. Um, I just like walking around the lake. Uh, with some music. I was just thinking, taking a slow walk. And that really helps me clear my mind.
Kit: All this resonates and with higher education and any higher education establishement. There are ones that are better than others, UEA is very, very progressive, we know, we know that UEA has things that they need to work on and that they’re aware of as well. But I think what we, what we want to do to young people listening of course, is, is make sure that they’re aware of is that no higher education establishment is like a complete utopia of, of safety and, you know, acceptance because you have such a range of individuals who will come with their own baggage, their own backgrounds, their own misunderstandings or misconceptions, but what university does do for you as you all demonstrating, as you’re all talking about is that it enables you to build those traits of resilience. It helps you to build those connections, those community links, and to explore your identity in a safe manner, that when you do have issues with an individual, with a circumstance that may bring you back to what it was like when you were younger, you are now more in charge of the situation. You’re now more resilient to deal with the situation and you’ve got support network around you, whereas in the past may not have done. So, um, we’re very, very keen, of course not to say that go to university and your all your ills will be solved because of course going university has its own pressures as well. So, but yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s really lovely to hear what everyone’s saying and, and yeah, I definitely will echo what Jacob just said about walking around the Broad as somebody I used to absolutely adore doing when I was at UEA and such a beautiful, beautiful campus,
Jacob: Lots of dogs help. I’ve encountered so many dogs. Um, I, it was yesterday. I went for a walk around the lake. I needed to get out my flat and this dog comes up to me and starts jumping at me and me. I’m a massive, I love dogs. I used to have a dog until earlier this year. And just seeing that dog being so playful and having such a good time, it made me really happy. Obviously. I want to agree. I wasn’t saying there aren’t any problems. because I’ve had some Def there’ve been some definite things here in another places that haven’t necessarily been as good as I would have wanted it to. But as a general, it is a place that you can be. You can redefine yourself in a sense, but no, I’ve definitely, I’ve had Def I’ve definitely had other problems not to do with LGBTQ+ stuff that I haven’t, I wouldn’t have thought about before.
Kit: The fire alarm going off at three or four in the morning. Argh!
Esther: *laughs* ah yeah. I was thinking, moving on from there. How do you, how do you deal with challenges that come up and how do you take care of your mental health and get support when you need it? Do you have anything, any wisdom to share on that?
Ro: I think, um, so I, I came university with anxiety and depression and um, I feel great to kind of announce that, although that’s still a part of my life, it’s nowhere near as bad as it was. Um, but I think a lot of universities are notorious for not the most amazing mental health support, whether it’s because they’re underfunded or they’re kind of all booked up or there’s just not that kind of level of care that the university should be providing. And my biggest tip is to be the biggest pain in the ass that you can be. I know my local hub. Um, I know my hub, which kind of manages kind of coursework deadlines and whatnot. They know me off by heart. They will as soon as I pick up the phone, they go, oh, hi, Ro yep. It’s you again. And it’s awful that you need to be putting yourself into that position. And I can completely appreciate not everybody has that confidence or those skills to be loud and annoying. But unfortunately I think apart from the other friend groups and the peer groups that you have to rely on genuinely, you need to be loud and in their face. And you need to make a point of it because until you do, they’re just going to dismiss you as somebody else that maybe isn’t managing your deadlines very well.
Barney: Yeah. Uh, as Ro says, the it’s, it’s not always easy to access kind of uni health uni healthcare, or so kind of, um, uh, with health care with your doctors anyway, like waiting lists for everything are just horribly long. Um, and so it’s, it’s really tough kind of being faced of these issues and then being faced with, you know, having to be told that literally being put on hold. So I think also kind of reaching out to kind of friends, like building a network of friends who you, you feel comfortable talking to you and are comfortable kind of, um, hearing this sort of thing, like, you know, mutually respecting each other’s boundaries when you talk about this sort of thing, but also just being able to kind of be like, you know, can we talk about something I’m just not feeling great and we’ll just, you know, sitting with people and just being around people. I know for me that really helps some people prefer to have their own space, which is, which is also really important. So I guess it’s kind of also socially finding where, what nurtures you the best socially and kind of having, having erm, safety net sounds very, it doesn’t sound as nice as a it’s meant to be kind of knowing you have people to talk to and having the kind of comfort to be able to do so is a really important thing but it does take quite a long, long time to get there when, you know, when for your whole lives. Like, no, you’re not allowed to talk about this sort of thing. No, we just, we just get on with it sort of thing. It’s like, it’s, it’s okay to like, you know, not get on with it. Like you need to talk about this sort of thing. It’s really important. So yeah, as Ro says, being vocal about it is just, yeah.
Charlie: Yeah. And I Think this goes back to sort of what we’ve said a couple of times now, and it’s come up a couple of times, it’s that coming to university, coming into higher education and being able to choose and find your people. And these are the people that are going to help you work out who you are, you know, developing yourself within the queer community and all of that. But it’s also going to be the people who are looking after you, listening to you, comforting you when you’re having those troubled times or helping you, you know, be more vocal if that’s what you struggle with or sitting with you, if you’re having a tough day or whatever it is, it’s those people who you have found since uni. And I know that I’ve become so close with so many incredible people at university, and I’ve been able to, to choose them knowing that they are going to accept me for who I am. Um, you know, queer, loud, sweary all over the place, this all guys, whatever it is. And they’re just going to turn around and go, yeah. All right, Charlie, what’s this now? What are we doing now? Okay. And they’re just going to accept me. And that’s, that’s one of the best things about coming to uni is being able to find those people
Kit: I would add to all this. I think universities do need to do a better job of not just providing mental health services, but signposting, what else you can do if they’re, if they’re so stretched as well. So that kind of soft help and advice as well, like where do you find comfort and things like that, which, which, um, which can be very helpful in itself and, you know, kids who are listening to this, when, you know, when I was teaching high school with 13, 14, 15, 16 year olds in particular, what they tend to do is that if they had an approachable teacher, or a member of staff, they would naturally seek those out and find an ally within members of staff. And, and a question, a follow up question I’d probably like to ask, ask you, is that if you’ve found official services, maybe even the student union services wanting, have you come across a member of staff, a lecturer post-graduate, you know, helper, or whether that, who you’ve just been able to talk to and say, look, I’ve, I’m just struggling a little bit here. Do you have any support, any help advice? Do you have a sympathetic ear in the faculty?
Jacob: To go back to the thing before about there was a period in around February, March, where I had a pretty rough time because of stuff outside the university. So I went home about three times within a period of a month and it got really rough. I had a speaking test for French. I had it on in the afternoon and I had a seminar that morning and I broke down in that seminar had to leave. And I’m, I won’t say that I’ve handled my mental health the whole year round really well. It’s not true. I’m not gonna lie to you. It’s at times it has been pretty rough, but I have specifically two of my flatmates, who I know that if they’re free, they’re always there to talk to me. So when I broke down after that seminar, one of my flatmates, just had me out on the beryl scooters, so it was the first time ever, and it was, and it was just a nice break from the whole thing. And I I’ve been feeling pretty rough for a few days. Just really helped I spoke to them so many times about different things and just them being there to talk. They might not have all the answers. They might not be able to help in any way, but just being able to vent to them in has been really, really helpful. And I think it’s not to do with the university as a whole, but being a part of spring awakening at that time and having to take those that time off. And just the fact that when I needed to, they said ‘absolutely’ and they moved everything around me. So I had that time off that I needed. But then as soon as I was back straight back into it and accepting that it might not be straightaway. It might not be at the same level I was before I had to go, we would build up and we created an amazing, crazy, amazing film. Um, and it, the whole thing about the whole, I have the people who run it and Charlie was included in this. I have a special place in my heart because they were so good to me in that period. I’ll have messages from people saying, I hope you’re doing good people checking on me. And it really, really made a difference because I was, that was a really rough period and I’m glad come through it. But that really just, it, even people checking on you, people just asking you are you okay? And whether you say you’re fine or not, I mean, I wasn’t feeling great a couple days ago people just hugged me immediately. I just felt just a little bit better. I think those people around you, whether they know what they’re talking about, whether they don’t, but just being there, just being that person to talk to giving you that hug, just being with you in the tough time, a really, really makes a massive difference in small ways.
Esther: I love that. And it’s, it’s nice to hear that you can get a lot of support from like even small gestures. Like let’s have a hug, you know, how, how difficult is that? I mean, it’s difficult for some people and not everyone likes it and that’s fair, but you know, you don’t have to sit down with someone and like, you know, talk for hours and feel really, you know, obliged to do something for them. Just something as simple as a hug or just saying, I feel you, you know, everything’s going to be all right. I don’t know. It’s just so important.
Ro: Yeah. I completely echo that. I think the hardest thing about having a friendship and, and being brave enough to expose yourself, you know, and say, look, I’m really struggling to a friend or be in a position where you’re helping a friend who’s really struggling. The hardest thing is what do I do here? And I’ve always found just saying, what do you need is the easiest way of going about it? Because then, like you say, you’re not, you’re not throwing anybody into a deep conversation because somebody might just say, look, can you just come round and watch a movie? They can, I have a cuddle, can you just pick up some milk from the shops? And sometimes it is those little things. And I think, I don’t know about anybody else, but I think the biggest scariest thing is always how it’s all well and good knowing that I have friends that will be there for me to the end of the hour, but how do I actually say I need help? You know, how am I brave enough to say I’m having a really hard time?
Ro: Um, two things that I always hold onto one is, is basic human requirements to be there for somebody to look after somebody because you would do the same. And so you should never ever feel guilty about asking for something or needing something from somebody. Yeah.
Esther: That is such a good point. And I think it’s, we were all so reluctant. I think a lot of us are really reluctant to ask for help because we don’t want to be a burden and we’re meant to deal with our own stuff and you know, all that stuff. Yeah.
Ro: Completely. And another thing that keeps me going is thinking, you know, I put it in the context of weather, you know, everybody, uh, for example, depression, right? You know, depression is a big, frightening thing, but one of its big symptoms say for me, was having very sad days, but everybody experiences sadness on some level. And so everybody can relate to what sad is like and what needs to happen when you’re feeling sad. So when it’s raining, you wouldn’t go up to somebody and say, okay, we need to understand the weather behind the rain. What’s formed the clouds. What does depression mean? You would just go, okay, it’s raining. What do we do? We get an umbrella, we get some blankets out, we go indoors, you know? And so you never need to feel pressured to explain or justify yourself, somebody you just need to express. I’m feeling sad. I’m feeling angry, I’m struggling. And everybody knows that feeling to whatever level.
Esther: Yeah. That is beautiful. I love that, Jacob.
Jacob: Yeah. Um, so talk about, uh, mental health. Like people not wanting to, um, I mean, I’m, I’m guilty of that many times when I need, I try to like soldier-on, particularly when I was being bullied, I just soldiered on. I didn’t talk. I just soldier on through. And I think one of the things that I’ve experience being who I am, how I am like the whole thing about a stigma behind mental health and the whole thing of like, while I was trying to discover who I was, the whole thing of being like, I don’t know who, I, I don’t know if I can talk to anyone about it. I felt like people would ridicule me for, for being coming up to someone would be like, I need to talk about this. I need to discuss this. I think a lot of the time, I mean, I, I’m still not the best at asking for help when I need it. Um, and I think my parents, my parents do bang on and they’ll be like, oh, to work specifically. But like, if I need help with work just go ask for it. I want to be self-sufficient. I want to be able to do it all myself. I know that at times I can’t. And at times I try to do the best I can, but it doesn’t always end up working. And I have to ask for help particularly not wanting to, or not feeling able to. I think one of the things that’s important if you do, if you need, if you feel like you need to talk to someone and Ro said this very well much better than I’m going to say it. Cause I’m awful with my words half the time, but if you need help, no one is going to judge you any differently. They will probably going to respect you even more for doing it because it’s such a hard thing to do. But if you, if you need help do ask for it because it is so good to talk about it. It’s so good to get off your chest.
Esther: Totally. And I think those were great words, Jacob, so yeah, absolutely. Kit?
Kit: Yeah. And That’s actually to do a little bit of my job now in a sense, when you put your things down on the UCAS form and you have your conditional offer accepted or whatever it is, when you get your acceptances come through and your offers come through from university and you go through the process of giving further details with regards to, you know, giving your university that you’ve chosen your details and whatnot, a lot of universities do have a way for you to disclose any, um, issues, disabilities, you know, kind of needs that you have. And a lot of them now are really, really saying, you know, putting in like including mental health. And this is, this is where it’s so, so, so important that if you have struggled with mental health issues or you’ve got anxiety, I mean, you know, I suffer from depression myself. If I had the chance to disclose that in confidence to the university in advance, by ticking a box, then the university could you know, make sure that you’re aware of all the services and the things that are available. And in the student union can get anonymized statistics to say, you know, we’ve got a cohort coming in, which have been particularly affected by mental health. You know, crikey, everyone, you know, youngsters listing, you’ve just been through this pandemic, you know, bless you and, and, and fantastic job for getting through it. But you’re going to take all the resilience you’ve built up from that. But also all of the challenges and the baggage that has come from that into further and higher education. So do take advantage of that. When universities turn around and say, do you need to disclose anything we need to know? Because if the student union picks up that you’ve got a large cohort of people that have got mental health issues coming into university, they’re going to be pressuring university on your behalf to say, look, we’ve got to have these people support it. So do disclose that universities abide by data protection rule. Anything you disclose on that form when you start university will not be shared with anyone else without your explicit consent. So, um, that’s just a bit of a professional advice that I would give there,
Ro: Kind of to add to that. I’m, I’m quite interested where that goes, because I remember I had that option when filling out my form all that time ago. And that was when my mental health was particularly really loud for me. And I remember saying, mum, do I do I tick? And do I say this? And she said, I wouldn’t because you’re not disabled. You know, you don’t have a wheelchair, you don’t have extra needs. You just have, you know, your bad days. And I really regret not saying back then, and they’re actually part of disability as mental health is something that affects you day to day. So is there anything you could say to encourage young people to actually say yes, I have mental health. And to know that that’s not just a tick box, it’s it might go somewhere. It might do something for them, Kit.
Kit: Yeah. Absolutely, if in doubt, put it down. If in doubt you put it down because it’s better to put something down and then for the university to contact you to say, you know, you put this down, here are some support, things like that. And then you will use that information, whether you so wish or not. You know? So if it was, if you think I really shouldn’t have put that down, the worst that’ll happen is that you’ll get a few bit more information about what support that’s available to you. You know? And then you can ask to say, actually these services are not for me, Could you take me off the mailing list or the register for whatever. So if in doubt, put it down and it’s fantastic that more and more people, you know, all of you have been so lovely and vulnerable about what you’re talking about right now. And you are demonstrating such strong, positive behavior when it comes to these issues of mental health. And this should be empowering youngsters, to turn around and say this is a normal human thing. I mean, I could talk about climate anxiety, for example, for, I mean, me and Ro could go on that like all day because of our expertise in environmental science and whatnot, but more and more children are now becoming aware of that kind of stuff. And so if you are suffering from that, don’t dismiss it and say, oh, it’s not important, yes, it’s important to you. It’s important you. You put it down. It is a disability, poor mental health is a disability because it prevents you from doing certain tasks. It prevents you from enjoying life, the way you want to enjoy life. It is, it may prevent you from, and here’s the key thing. It may prevent you from getting the best out of yourself in your degree and in your study, it’s a disability, put it down. You know, there are far, far, far more invisible disabilities than there are visible disabilities. They’re all as valid as each other. They’re all as valid as each other. So don’t put yourself down and think that, you know, you’re lesser than anyone else because you have these issues and you don’t want to disclose them. So, I mean, um, have you ever talked to a teacher about I’m struggling or I need this help? Have you ever had ever gone to the school counselor? Have you ever spoken to mum, dad, Gran guardian, carer, whoever about the issues that you’ve had, if that’s true, then you don’t necessarily have a doctor’s diagnosis of anxiety or depression. You may have had some mental health difficulties, and if it’s impacted your daily life and your school studies, it is worth mentioned on your form. No one is going to judge you for it. And the last thing, I know I’m taking a lot of time here, but I just want to emphasize one last thing as well, is that it is totally the university’s responsibility to support you. Totally. So by me saying by you, not putting it down on your form, the university is not going to be supporting you because they don’t think as many of you, because to me that that’s, that wrongly come across as victim blaming, right? So that’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is totally, is that universities should be putting things in place. Anyway. It just needs to make sure that you’re aware and you deserve, you’re aware of the support that is there. And then the university should step up to the plate in response.
Esther: That that makes a lot of sense Kit, because it’s like the more people ask for it, the more normal it’s going to become and the more help is going to be available. And also your made really great point of saying like, we, we minimize our own issues a lot and like, we feel like we have to deal with it ourselves or that we have to snap out of it and stuff. And it is, it’s a really vulnerable thing to actually say, you know, I have issues with this and I’m struggling and I’m really struggling. That’s really important. Charlie.
Charlie: Yeah. I think one thing as well, to add just for anyone who is approaching these forms, because there will be a lot of forms that you’re asked to fill in and you’ll have to say a lot of things about yourself. It’s not entirely definitive. You will be given the option to change it. I know when I was faced with these forms, they were asking, they do ask you to tick a lot of boxes or to say, I am this, or I’m not this definitively. And there were a lot of things where, like it was saying, I wasn’t quite sure, I wasn’t quite sure, you know what to put down for gender identity, sexuality, mental health, you know, any of those boxes, where do I fit into this? Because I’m definitely still discovering that. Um, but you are given the option every year to, to refill it out. And you were also able to access those and contact people to change them if you’d like to. But like Kit says that they are just that so that you can be helped. They’re not there for you, someone to put you in a corner and go, you know, right. The gay’s over this side, the lesbian’s over that side. It’s not like that at all. It’s all there for support completely. Although a corner of gay people is pretty cool, obviously!
Jacob: Ro, Barney and myself are good examples of that. If you send us an email on UEA system, there are some things that can change can’t change, but they come up with our preferred names, with our actual names, the names we identify with, you know, it doesn’t come up with my, my legal name and if I have to type in Barney and there’s Barney. I can email Barney yay. And email Ro, and then people typing Kit and they can email me. So, you know, universities have those kinds of procedures and things.
Esther: Yeah. Barney.
Barney: Oh yeah. So yeah, kind of furthering on from what you said Kit about making your preferred name known on the system. I didn’t realize that, uh, I’d never got around to doing this sort of, um, procedure until I think only earlier on this term, early, early on this semester, but still even, I can’t actually change my official name. I’ll need to do have a deed poll I believe for that. Um, so that is, you know, that’s an annoying load more forms and a little bit to pay before that, which is frustrating.
Kit: Yep. Still a long way to go!
Barney: Mm, it’s, it’s not, it’s not quite there yet, but we’re getting there, but also kind of beyond the systems that the uni has. I found it really useful just to email my tutors before my seminars going Hi! It may not be what’s on the system, but this is the name I go by and these are my pronouns and all of my tutors were like, oh yeah, that’s, that’s cool. That’s, that’s perfectly okay. And they, they really respected that. And so I just kind of want to put it out there in case people don’t have that option or it’s really difficult to do because I’m not particularly tech savvy. I was quite bewildered by the process of, um, it was a simple email essentially to the office, but I’ve tried it before and it didn’t quite work. So just even just, just telling people and letting them know if you feel comfortable doing that really makes a difference because hearing your actual name when you’re being, when you’re, you know, studying a subject that you love is just the most enriching experience and yeah. It’s just great. So yeah.
Esther: Wow. Yeah, yeah. Jacob?
Jacob: Yeah. So, um, thank you for that. Uh, Barney, I did not know you can do that and that is something I might have to do that. So it’s very interesting. No, but, um, I haven’t done it like to the university, but to my friends, I like the ones who know, like, I’ve been, like, I prefer these pronouns, would you call this name that I prefer? And I’m just like, it works. Like, obviously it’s not to do with like the university, but like I messaged my friends and every time I see the name that I prefer to use, it makes me smile and say like, it’s one of those things. Like, obviously I’ve, haven’t had it through the university experience, but, um, I had one in-person lecture at the end of term after a whole year of basically being online the whole time, sitting in my room, as I’m doing now with my laptop in front of me speaking into the computer, which I’ve done an awful lot this year, which I never thought I’d have to do this much to know that there were lots of people here at who are accepting, who will, if you ask them to do like call you by specific name or to use certain pronouns, my flatmates now all use the pronouns I prefer it’s really nice. I mean, I was doing spring awakening again, I’m going to keep going back to this because it’s a great example of everything LGBTQ plus, I was in a rehearsel. I joined early and, uh, two people were talking and they used the pronouns that I said I preferred. And it just, it made me feel, I want to say ‘validated’, that’s probably not the right word, but like, there’s a feeling of people using what you want instead of hearing them using the wrong pronouns and the wrong name, whether they know or not, it’s that feeling inside. It’s like, you’re accepted for who you are. And I never really tried to get that before uni, but now I’ve got it. I’ve kind of like searching for everywhere. Like I w I wanna, I want to feel that again, because it’s such a good feeling. It’s such a nice to be able to be yourself instead of hiding. It feels so good if it was so liberating.
Esther: Yeah. And it sounds like what I’ve heard, a lot of people say just small gestures, like using the right pronouns can be so affirming for people and it can give them real gender euphoria, you know, that’s really great.
Ro: Yeah. Just to echo that it is like the best feeling in the world. I’ve I started uni with one name and I came, I think I tried that about two or three names, I said to my assessor I’m Ro. And I think the way in which I went about that is I firstly, just trialed different names with some friends. And I practiced it a few times in the mirror just kind of say, oh, hi, my name is this. And just kind of getting used to it and working it out. There’s some online forums which you can join. There’s a nonbinary page that I joined on Facebook and you can kind of put some pictures of yourself and describe yourself and say, Hey, what kind of names do you think would suit me and just try and work it out from that. And once I had settled on my name, Ro, there was new friends, which I didn’t have to explain things to because all they knew me was, was Ro. And that is the best feeling in the world. But with old friends and particularly lecturers and some advisors that knew me as my legal name, that was quite scary, quite intimidating because it is that transition process. And especially for lecturers who, you know, know you on a bit more of a professional level. Um, but I found the best way I went about it was I just changed it in my email. I would, you know, change my sign-off to Ro. And then underneath it, I might explain and just say, uh, you know, I’ve now changed my name. Um, and I now use these pronouns and I put in a few weblinks to explain what non binary means and what pronouns mean. And the transition was incredibly easy. I think it’s probably something that lecturers have faced many times before. And the amount of times I’ve had the lecture and the lecturer has gone, oh, Ro said something she’s got, oh, sorry. I meant they, and it is just the best feeling. And I do work hard to then send them a little email afterwards, just saying, thank you. Yeah. It’s an incredibly welcoming environment most of the time.
Esther: That’s so great. Jacob?
Jacob: So as follow up from that, I have a question about like internet stuff. So I created an Instagram account and I’ve made lots of friends on that Instagram account who I speak to pretty much every day who know me by name, I want to be known and that’s it. And it’s quite nice, like, cause like, I’ll see that I’ll go my phone in the morning, I’ll see a message from them. And that’s how they know me. <?>, I was going to ask, I’ve. I’ve had quite, I had like three names I’ve been to before I settled on the one I currently like, it was how many names you’ve just gone through trying to find the name that suits you the best?
Ro: Uh, for me, I think I went through one official name, uh, one other official name and I kind of put it out on Facebook or I think I did it on Instagram. That’s where all my friends are. Um, and then someone came up to the new name and went, oh, hi, I think it was Leo. How you doing? And I went and I just instantly did not like it. But other than that, I just, I just played around by myself. You know, I’d kind of, I looked at a lot of like baby names for like gender neutral, baby names, male baby names. That was a really good go-to place. I also find things like book characters, names, usually quite whimsical as well. And I just tried a lot of different abbreviations, but I do have a funny story. Lots of people go, oh my gosh, what does, what does Ro mean? What does it stand for? And I think I’d like to be brave one day and kind of say something like Robert, because that’d be quite disjointing because I’m quite feminine presenting or CoROnavirus, again, something quite strange. But instead I ended up….
Jacob: Please do that! Please say I’m called Ro because of CoROnavirus!
Ro: I wouldn’t say I will be brave.
Jacob: Originally I thought it was like the tree, like the Ro tree
Ro: Oh I didn’t know that
Jacob: Yeah. I mean, joke to coronavirus, um, as a football game, first football game after the first lockdown, the first goal was called by a guy called Jesus Corona.
Kit: My goodness
Jacob: I think is one of the greatest things I’ve ever read anywhere. Talk about Corona and everything. I was going to say, I think COVID, and the whole lock down has helped me a lot as well. I cross-dress sometimes and I went out for the first time dressed up. I’ve been around Norwich. I went into Norwich a couple of weeks ago for the first time, which was absolutely crazy. And other times just been on campus and stuff, but that lockdown has helped a lot in that sense, sorry back to the name thing, sorry to interject with that! I thought it was quite funny.
Esther: *laughs* Yeah. Right. Did you want to finish with the last question, Kit?
Kit: Let’s start with Charlie on this one. So you are currently doing what you’re doing. So you’re doing, you know, creative writing, literacy and stuff like that. And that’s, what’s cool about that industry is that there’s quite a bit of queer representation and whatnot. But if you were to speak to your 13 year old self, Charlie, what advice would you give them if they want it to aspire to be the next creative arts, big thing, or to showcase their, their talent around the world or, or to be involved in literature, whatever it is, whatever you you’re doing this degree for, what would you say to your 13 year old self about why it’s important that they should continue with this dream and ended up going to university, especially if they’re an LGBTQ individual.
Charlie: I think 13 year old me was trying real, real hard to fit in. And you know, like we were kind of talking about earlier, I went to an all girls school and we theoretically offered skirts or trousers, but one person wore trousers once and got bullied so badly. They left the school. So it was very much a skirts-only situation. And, you know, there was very much this box you had to fit into. And I was, you know, really struggling to come to terms with the fact that I was queer and that I wasn’t going to fit into this box. And I just, it was never going to happen for me. And I think coming to terms with loving that about myself and being able to use that in my writing and being able to communicate that I think is really important. Like, you know, like, like this whole project is about, is being able to say to other people, I didn’t know who I was. I’m coming to terms with it. And I’m communicating it creatively is so much about what my degree is good for. That was good words. Um, just being yourself.
Esther: Yeah. Yeah, totally.
Kit: I just, I just love envisaging seeing these as 13 year olds, because of course my background as a high school teacher, I’m like, oh, if I could only have that these four in my class right now, that’d be so cool. There’ll be like, I’d be like, come hang out with me at lunch time. Right. Anyway enough about me. Okay. So Charlie, why don’t you pick on someone to take that question next?
Charlie: Uh, yeah, go for it, Barney. Another creative writer,
Barney: I guess. I mean, writing, just, I’m in a fantastic place right now. Like I’m I’m writing, which is like, what I’ve always wanted to do. I was always told, no, you can’t. No, just don’t no, you can’t do that as a career, but I’m kind of in a position where I kind of can, like, I can persue this. So I guess I’ll just say keep writing, like keep exploring and just, yeah, just like, and it sounds a bit cheesy, but like keep your chin up. Cause you’re, you’re going to be, you know, you’re going to be free of these kinds of teenage years. You’re going to be, you know, you’re going to be able to leave an all girls school. You’re going to be able to be who you are, you know, you’re going to be able to do all these things that you’ve never been allowed to do, but you know, just keep curating your writing and like, just keep, yeah, just keep your chin up, you know? Um, it, it does get better, like, and you’ve got it within yourself to help it get better.
Kit: Who are you passing the baton to? I like that. Keep your chin up, lad! I’ve tried to go Yorkshire there, I don’t know if I did a good job for you there, Barney. Who are you going to go to next?
Barney: Uh, Ro would you like to?
Ro: I think the biggest thing would be to keep going, keep breaking those boundaries and keep authentically being yourself. Growing up, I thought I had to be the one in skirts, the pretty girl, the one with the makeup, one who shaves their legs. And I never did any of those things. Didn’t like any of that. And I got bullied and teased for it and it was really hard, but I kept thinking to myself, you know, what, if I conform to these boxes that they want to put me in, I’m not going to make the friends that I want to make. I’m not going to be the person that I should be. And I took that on to university. Um, I studied Environmental Sciences and I started off doing the hard sciences: your maths, your chemistry, because I thought that’s what I needed to do. That’s what science looks like. And I went into the placement year and I did the hard science stuff that I thought I’m destined to do. And it was the worst experience of my life. It was boring. I didn’t like it. I didn’t really get it. And I thought, no, you know what? For my very final year of university, I need to keep going. I need to keep breaking those barriers. I need to be loud and authentically myself. So I switched to the soft sciences and I use that to experiment with the things that I love and being autistic, one of my favorite things in the world is roller coasters. So I am proud to say every piece of coursework I’ve done this year has been on roller coasters, Disney World, Alton Towers, you name it. I’ve probably looked into it. And my grades have jumped up by about 20% because of that. So that is some real life evidence that you keep being yourself…
Jacob: That’s crazy!
Ro: Keep being loud!
Esther: I love it! Yes!
Kit: Guess we are going to finish with Jacob, then!
Jacob: So 13 year old me, how do I describe them? Well, pretty sad because they’re in the middle of being bullied. It was a very tough time. So I think the first thing I say to 13 year old me would be, as Barney said, keep your chin up. And there is light at the end of the tunnel because it does get better. It will get better. And you will come out of that whole thing, being a bad person for every terrible thing that happened for every awful comment’s been made for everything was happening. It will get better. And like I said, my secondary school experience from year seven to nine, wasn’t the best it got better slightly but it wasn’t fun. I really didn’t enjoy my time in that school. And I have a, not a vendetta, but I don’t like faith schools now. One of the reasons being, because I went to one and I didn’t have the best experience, although I know people who do. See looking at role models in my, in my course, I cannot think of any. I think I only chose to do my course mid-way through deciding what to apply for. I had been set, I had set on another course I was going to do, and I was set I was going to do that. And then halfway through year 12, I decided I wasn’t going to do that. And I started looking for a new course. So I came across and I’m absolutely loving it. It’s so interesting. It’s it does give me a lot of headaches. There’s an awful lot of reading and it’s all very subjective, but it’s really rewarding because it’s so current. And I always have something to talk about, whether they’re doing Sciences or English, there’s always something political going on that I can bring some sort of expertise in. And I also liked the fact that I’m doing a language that I have some sort of extra thing that just makes more interesting. But yeah, no, I think I’m looking forward to seeing where I can take this and how I can intertwine this with who I am and how I identify, take it to new levels and being who I want to be. I think if I look back at 13-year-old me, I’d be pretty damn proud of how far I’ve come and who I am now compared to the person I was and how much I, how much I’ve done to be fair in terms of exploring and stuff. If I look at a timeline, like I’d be down, right the way, you can’t see because my camera’s not working, but how I’m like, but I’m sitting at my desk, my hand is <?> above my head for how I am now. So it’s been an interesting journey full of ups and downs, but pretty decent. So yeah, just keep your chin up and it will get better.
Kit: I think it’s a perfect sentiment to end on about pride because what why are we doing this project? We’re doing it in pride month. And I have to say Esther, to finish off that, I am very, very proud of these four individuals. I’m proud of everybody, you know, not just because of, you know, I’m in the LGBTQ community myself, but as a member of staff at the UEA, as someone who works with young children and young adults. I’m, I’m proud of you all and I just want to say thank you so, so much for, for coming on and supporting this project and to talk to my lovely friend, Esther. And Esther, thank you so, so much for platforming all of these young people
Esther: That was so lovely and you’re all such awesome humans and it’s just such a journey, isn’t it. To self discovery and like becoming who you’re meant to be. And wow. Yeah. It’s a beautiful thing. And like, like you’ll say it doesn’t, it’s not without its struggles, but it sounds just really rewarding and yeah. Beautiful. Thank you all so much. That was so great. I now want to go to the university again.
Charlie: Go and find yourself once more!
Esther: Oh yes. Yes. It’s never ends by the way. That never ends. Yeah.
Kit: Always rediscovering ourselves!
Kit: So everybody, just remember do keep tabs on the TakeYourPrideHE hashtag. And we’re part of a collaborative group called neaco. And we have a website which is takeyourplace.ac.uk. Um, and you just go on there and you can search for ‘Pride in Higher Aspirations’ on their resources page. And yeah, just, if you go on Twitter, YouTube, or Instagram and you search for the hashtag, TakeYourPrideHE, you will find all of this wonderful stuff. Um, stories, videos, and come the 17th of June as you’re all listening to it now, this amazing podcast episode.
Esther: Yay. Thanks everyone!
Kit: Thank you so much everybody. And Esther thank you again. And no doubt, I’ll be back to annoy you once more!
Kit Rackley (they/them) is an ex-high school teacher and a passionate educator, blogger, author and performer – focusing on environmental and LGBT+ issues. They also hold a part-time job working as a Higher Education Champion at neaco, based at the University of East Anglia. Kit openly shares their experience to add visibility to the trans community and help educate others on trans issues.
Follow Kit’s educational work, writings and videos via their website geogramblings.com and on Twitter @geogramblings.
What we discussed & useful links
- NEACO’s (Network for East Anglian Collaborative Outreach) Pride in Higher Aspirations project for Pride Month (June) 2021
- UEA (University of East Anglia) LGBT+ Community
- Kit – episode 1 and episode 12