What Pride Month Means To Me

By Jack Hyslop

My name is Jack, and I came out as transgender at the age of 29. A year later, I started a full-time job at Coolr. This article will explore what Pride means to me…

How Did I Realise I Was Transgender?

During 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, I was made redundant from a video editor role I was in for eight years. I decided to freelance which meant I was working in my bedroom for nearly two years. It ended up being the most separation from society, my friends and my family that I’d ever had. 

One day, what felt like out of nowhere, I was hit with the questions:

“Why have I never felt like a woman?”

“Am I transgender?”

It was the first time I had ever asked myself these questions. After some research, reading and listening to other trans people’s stories, my whole life suddenly started to make sense. Every piece of the puzzle was there, I just hadn’t put them together yet.

I recently saw a trans person post on Instagram the following fact: Talking about the LGBTQI+ community was illegal in schools until 2003.

I was eleven in 2003, it was the same year I finished primary school and began secondary school. 

This means during the first eleven years of my life, my teachers couldn’t even legally talk with me, my friends or my family about the possibility of me being transgender. They couldn’t talk about anyone in the LGBTQI+ community, as though we were all totally alien and the only “right” way to be was either a straight male or female. Even once the law had changed, the community still wasn’t spoken about throughout the rest of my education.

Though my childhood was filled with a lot of love and beautiful memories with my friends and family, I carried a lot of pain and confusion with me. I used to cry a lot and beg to wear trousers instead of dresses at school. I used to beg to be allowed to use boys changing rooms, to use their toilets. I wanted my hair cut short. I wanted to join scouts. I only wanted to wear boys clothes. I didn’t want the same body parts. I was even faced with being rejected by staff when asked to be given the boys toy in a happy meal in the days where there were separate ‘boys and girls’ toys.

My best friends were boys and any time that gender divided us I felt so deeply pained and distressed, I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t live my life exactly how they could.

The absence of education and words spoken about anything LGBTQI+ related during my childhood, subsequently meant I had no idea what being transgender was, I didn’t even know what it meant be gay. This presented me with a life-long battle with low self-esteem and never understanding why I felt so uncomfortable in my own body.

The Highs And Lows Of Social Media And Being Trans

When I realised I was trans, I had no idea how I could come out to everyone I know, let alone meet anyone new and have to tell them too.

I hit the lowest point of my life not long after I realised I was trans. I finally knew I could be a lot happier and overcome all my struggles to end up more comfortable in my skin but I was so scared of the journey I’d have to go on and I had no idea how the world around me would treat and perceive me. I felt like a burden making people use different pronouns and call me by a different name.

I found a huge amount of amazing transgender people on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube sharing their journeys. I honestly don’t know how I would of coped without their content. Being able to see other trans people living their life happily, being in happy healthy relationships, seeing how amazingly hormone therapy and different types of surgeries could change someone’s life for the better – was essential for me to have the confidence and strength to come out as trans. 

On the flip side, hate crime towards transgender people in England and Wales rose by 56% between 2021/2022. 16 year old Brianna Ghey was murdered in a park this year for being transgender. 99% of trans people have experienced transphobia online. There is continuous anti-trans policies being put in place by the government and very negative comments being made towards us on a daily basis. 

Social media can be a very harmful place for trans people, next time you see an article posted by a news outlet that has anything to do with being trans – read the comments – and you’ll see what I mean. Although I am the happiest I have ever been now, it does come as a bit of a battle to not let the hate in the world towards trans people get on top of me.

Getting A Job As A Trans Person

When applying for my first job out as a trans person, the following questions were at the forefront of my mind:

Would my chances of getting a job be compromised because I am trans?

Will my colleagues accept me? Will I be bullied? Will I be discriminated?

Which toilets do I use?

If I start testosterone do I have to tell anyone?

Will I be able to get time off if I choose to have gender affirming surgery?

Working At Coolr

I joined Coolr in February 2022 as their first in-house Video Editor. I have been editing and making films since the age of twelve – it’s my biggest passion in life.

I applied with my old name and pronouns out of fear that my chance of getting the job would be compromised by being trans. 

After having an interview with Ben Jones, Head of Coolr Studios, the comfort and vibes I got from him made me feel so comfortable and safe. I got offered the job and told him my chosen name and that I am trans. Ben was so accommodating and reassured me that I would fit right in at Coolr and that I had nothing to worry about. He was right.

From day one, I felt completely accepted and at home. I noticed other queer people in the agency and could instantly recognise how welcoming and diverse Coolr is. 

Working here for the last year and a half has been a huge part in me finding my ultimate happiness and confidence. 

I have never experienced any form of transphobia at work and it has not compromised my position here in any way. I have been able to thrive and made so many wonderful friends. I’m so proud of the team I am part of and the work I get to do daily. 

If a younger me could see myself now, this would all seem way too good to be true. The younger me who could only live my life as Jack, by making characters on video games called Jack, and pretending it was me.

For the first few months of working at Coolr something as simple as hearing lots of “Morning Jack” and “Bye Jack” made me leave the office with the biggest smile on my face every single day.

Coolr will always hold a very special place in my heart and is a lot more than just a job to me.

What Is Pride Month To Me?

Pride to me is not waving a rainbow flag or being happy to see a brand with a rainbow in their logo for one week or month in a year. 

Pride isn’t just a month to me; it exists every day of the year. Pride to me is feeling proud of myself and every other person in the LGBTQI+ community for getting to where we are today despite the challenges the rest of the world throws us.

Pride to me is being able to exist happily. I started testosterone in January this year and I am now by far the happiest I have ever been, I am bursting with joy every single day, I love myself more than I ever have and I feel so much more confident. 

Pride to me is showing appreciation for our allies and the people who love us and allow us to exist peacefully and happily. To my family and friends who have supported me endlessly with more love and understanding that I could ever have hoped for. 

Every time I discuss my journey, I remind myself of how far I’ve come and how long I had to hide from who I am. There was once a time I could never have imagined I’d ever speak about my truth to anyone let alone on social media or the company I work for. 

Trans lives should never be up for debate. Coming out as trans is one of the hardest and bravest things a person can do and it’s purely for the purpose of living a much happier and comfortable life. It’s hard to comprehend why this affects anyone else’s life whatsoever and why our lives are made harder by people who have nothing to do with us.

I hope we will one day live in a much more accepting and loving world, but until then, I am proud to be who I am and for living my truth and I will be proud for the rest of my life. 

We spend a huge chunk of our lives at work, so feeling I can exist peacefully at my workplace has proven to be completely life changing. At Coolr I am safe, I am welcome, and I am accepted.

Charities and Organisations that support trans people: