Just be you.

The LGBT+ community has always been a very big part of my life, it’s my safe place, the place I feel at home and somewhere I can truly be me without fear of judgment or backlash.

It allows me to share my story with people who have similar experiences, giving us all the opportunity to discuss issues or personal problems with each other.

I have recently just joined the LGBT+ Friends Network Committee here at Vodafone in Newark, and I’m so glad I have!

I attended Lincoln Pride in 2016. It felt so nice to just be able to hold my partners hand without being scared or ashamed of who I love, that’s the beauty of Pride.

Although in today’s world, who you love doesn’t matter to most, we still have a long way to go. Most people don’t care about the opinions of others, which I think is an amazing trait to have, I wish I could have felt that way sooner than I did, but not everyone thinks that way and there are still judgments and prejudices towards LGBT+. When LGBT+ members attend pride, they are able to feel like they can finally relax and be comfortable in their own skin around likeminded people!

I came out when I was 13. This wasn’t an easy decision for me to make so young, it was tough. The first person I ever told was my history teacher (mainly because I knew he had to be professional and keep my ‘secret’). I had been feeling the “urge” to talk to someone for a couple of years. At the time, I would say I knew I was gay, or at least different to my friends, probably from as early as 9 years old. I felt I had to tell someone because I HAD to have approval and know that the way I was feeling didn’t make me weird or abnormal somehow. I now know I don’t need approval from anyone. I’m me!

My teacher encouraged me to talk to my parents, which was such a scary thing to do at the tender age of 13. With his support I plucked up the courage to drop the ‘huge’ bombshell that would turn their lives upside down and cast me out onto the streets! (the mind of a 13-year-old) however, in all seriousness, it really is a huge deal when you are the one experiencing the fear of ‘coming out’. I was relieved when my parents said they wished I’d done it sooner! In hindsight, the term ‘come out’ doesn’t sit right with me now because back then I felt like I needed to almost introduce that small aspect of myself before even saying my name, now I realise people just want to know me, not the minor details of my ‘being’.

Now, in 2018, at the age of 23, after struggling with depression for some years and never knowing the reason as to why I felt so lost, alone and disjointing myself from the people closest to me, I was diagnosed with Gender Dysphoria. Gender Dysphoria, simply put is the condition of being born in the wrong body. Sufferers of this condition will tend to experience great stress from living in the body they do not feel comfortable in.

Since the day the doctor said those 2 words, everything has made sense, I really AM me! I have found myself deep within my heart. Everything I have been through over the years, all the tears, fears and confusion has been like a thousand pieces of a puzzle slotting together to unveil the happiness and contentment I have been searching for in Khloe, my new name but the same person (NOT the Kardashian).

I am at the very beginning of my transition journey right now. My family, friends and work colleagues have been amazingly supportive which has made talking openly about this so much easier. I still have a very long and bumpy road ahead of me, however I know I can face anything with the support of those around me. It feels great to speak to people who understand exactly what you’re going through, or what you have been through. To be reassured things you are thinking or feeling aren’t silly, trivial or just a ‘phase’ is exactly what you need to hear at such a mentally challenging time.

My advice to anybody is ‘Just be you’

Why “come out” so to speak, you aren’t required to tell others about your sexual identity, preference, orientation, blood type or shoe size! Be yourself, be true.

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