Rebecca told us why she thinks visibility is an important part of acceptance.
I’m fortunate that, in South Africa, there are laws in place that help safeguard my rights as a trans woman and member of the LGBT+ community. While not perfect, things are moving in the right direction from a legislative point of view. What is missing, though, is mainstream representation and visibility. Beyond the big cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg, society remains conservative. Where I live for example, there aren’t any safe spaces for queer and like-minded people to meet and connect. There’s also a lack of representation in society and in the media.
This is something I’d love to see change. Visibility really matters—it’s important for the queer community. Knowing that you’re not the only one helps ‘normalize’ being LGBT+ and helps people feel more comfortable and makes it easier for people to feel like they can be open. Representation helps create familiarity and empathy which can fight fear and prejudice. This is important for society in general.
My own coming out journey has been positive. I only fully realized and accepted I was transgender at the age of 25. My friends and family have been very supportiveꟷmy parents even helped me choose my name, which was important for them so they could come on the journey with me. At work, it was a big change to suddenly start presenting as my true gender. I was pleased that people were respectful and kind, and I had the full support of my leaders.
I know how lucky I am. Many individuals in the LGBT+ network groups I’m part of work for smaller companies where it’s not so easy to be out. But even at Deloitte South Africa, where there is a lot of support, it can still be difficult to connect with people with a similar experience. Being trans means being a small minority within a minority community and finding people who understand your journey and where you’re coming from can be a real challenge.
That’s why more representation can help encourage more people to be out and visible and make it easier to connect. Education and awareness also have an important role to play in helping everyone else understand the journey we’re on as LGBT+ and trans.
Rebecca (she/her), Deloitte South Africa
Be your whole self. Be seen. Be heard. Be proud.