Trans Pride Brighton reminded me why allyship is so needed

by Matthias Robins
August 2022

Brighton Trans Pride march and Matthias on the stal

Trans Pride Brighton 2022 reminded me why visibility, empathy and allyship are so needed for the transgender community right now.

As a Just Like Us ambassador, I volunteered on a stall at Trans Pride Brighton and it was incredible.

But my journey to this point has been a long one.

Trans Pride Brighton: My coming out journey

I came out as transgender at the age of 14, after years of denying how I was feeling. Even after coming out, I was still dealing with difficult feelings around my identity and fitting in.

The public perceptions of transgender people is often very different to how I view my trans identity. Having to cope with that was a big ask for a 14-year-old me, who was still so scared and confused.

Brighton Trans Pride march at the start
The start of the march at Trans Pride Brighton

Trans people hardly existed in real life around me. The only other trans people I knew I had met through the internet. I didn’t have any LGBT+ inclusive education nor learn about trans history or see trans role models. That meant it was hard to feel understood and seen as a young trans person.

Finding trans community

I struggled for years to find where I belong. But I finally managed to find a community through Just Like Us, the young people’s LGBT+ charity.

By joining their Ambassador Programme, I went from not knowing any trans people in real life to meeting hundreds of LGBT+ people overnight.

Meeting so many other LGBT+ young adults who all shared similar views was incredible. And we all had one shared goal: to normalise being LGBT+.

“No two trans people are the same.”

Everyone I was volunteering with all shared a similar story to me – they felt out of place and ostracised for simply being themselves.

One of the best parts of volunteering with Just Like Us has been being able to meet other trans ambassadors. And what’s amazing is that you start to see that no two trans people are the same. We are all at various stages of our journeys and we all express their trans identities differently.

Matthias at Brighton Trans Pride
Brighton Trans Pride was so emotional

Some trans ambassadors only recently come out, others have been out for years. Some people are going through a medical transition while other trans people have no interest in this.

Just Like Us provides so many opportunities for ambassadors to take part in. From school talks, to media opportunities like appearing on radio shows, and even volunteering at events such as Brighton Trans Pride.

Trans Pride Brighton was an emotional day

I went to Trans Pride Brighton and represented the charity Just Like Us in Brunswick Park on 16 July 2022. I volunteered there along with two other amazing ambassadors.

We encouraged passersby at the fair to write postcards with positive messages to their younger selves. They could then choose to add them to a board, which soon became filled with hundreds of emotional and, at times, funny stories of trans people in their earlier days.

Brighton Trans Pride stall with postcards
People wrote postcards to their younger selves

The event at Brunswick Park in Brighton welcomed thousands of transgender, non-binary, and gender diverse people and allies.

I was able to talk to so many people from different backgrounds, from all across the country who had made the long journey to Brighton just to be there and see the waves of support.

It was really emotional to be surround by people that all had one thing in common: we all support trans people.

Brighton Trans Pride march and Matthias on the stal
Trans Pride Brighton march and Matthias on the stall

Many people at Trans Pride Brighton told me about how they had met new friends, how much more confident they are in expressing themselves by being at Trans Pride, and the emotional journeys that had lead them to the event.

As trans people, we face higher challenges in terms of mental health, stigma and bullying in schools. Now more than ever, being surrounded by an abundance of love and appreciation for being trans is what we all need in these trying times for the trans community.

Trans Pride Brighton: My favourite memory

One moment I remember clearly was a mother approaching our stand to see what we were promoting. She spoke of her son, a 27-year-old trans man, who had started his transition, and expressed how she’s never seen him happier.

Brighton Trans Pride placards at the march
Trans Pride Brighton placards at the march called for allyship

Despite her own initial prejudices, she saw how transitioning and coming out had been life saving for him. With all the negative press surrounding transphobia in the UK, seeing the allyship of an older, cisgender woman bought me to tears.

Additionally, the people I had the privilege to speak to at Brighton Trans Pride were from all backgrounds, all different ages, races, and areas across the UK.

“Brighton Trans Pride was an emotional day I’ll never forget.”

Many people’s stories were different but we all shared the sentiment that the work Just Like Us is doing is important. It’s amazing to know that volunteering as an ambassador will have an impact on the future of LGBT+ acceptance.

Trans people aren’t a cookie cutter type of person. We come in all shapes and sizes. Trans Pride Brighton demonstrated that. The fight for trans inclusion is needed more than ever, and Brighton Trans Pride was an emotional day I’ll never forget.

Volunteer with Just Like Us

Just Like Us is looking for LGBT+ 18 to 25 year olds to volunteer on the Ambassador Programme.