Jonathan Bailey condemns ‘debate over trans lives’ in powerful speech

by Just Like Us
December 2023

Jonathan Bailey speaks at the Founders Circle dinner

Jonathan Bailey described the “torment” of trans young people as those around them “debate whether trans lives should be acknowledged” at Just Like Us’ recent event for Founders’ Circle supporters. 

The actor recently joined Just Like Us, the LGBT+ young people’s charity, as a patron and gave a speech at the charity’s annual Founders’ Circle dinner on Trans Day of Remembrance (Monday 20 November).

Bailey said: “I can only imagine what it’s like for a young trans kid in 2023, just trying to live their life and get an education. Angry parents are debating whether trans lives should be acknowledged, and political leaders are goading them. 

“Now more than ever, a young Just Like Us ambassador might be one of the few people a young queer person could confide in or draw support from.”

Just Like Us’ Ambassador Programme provides LGBT+ young people with training to speak in schools and prevent anti-LGBT+ bullying, as well as offering ambassadors a range of opportunities, like career mentoring, skills workshops, media opportunities and community building.

Reflecting on his own childhood, Bailey said: “You might know me as an actor, but I’ll happily out myself tonight as a frustrated ballet dancer. At school I used to miss double maths every Thursday to practise. Swapping algebra for an arabesque. But I’ll never forget the maths lesson where, in response to a question I asked, the teacher retorted with: ‘You’d know what was going on if you weren’t busy being a fairy.’”

He described the comment as “one drip in a constant stream of homophobia, running from abuse to ambivalence”, adding: “The idea of someone like Just Like Us turning up couldn’t have felt further away. I wonder how I would have felt if someone had let me open up. I can’t imagine what it would have meant if there had been some Just Like Us ambassadors around me. I met two of them recently. Their command, courage and eloquence is lightyears ahead of not just me at that age, but me now! 

“It’s not just about supporting queer kids, it’s about educating the world around them. The homophobic maths teacher needed his eyes opening as much as ballet-dancing me.”

Laura Mackay, Chief Executive of Just Like Us, the LGBT+ young people’s charity said: “The entire team at Just Like Us is grateful to our patron Jonathan Bailey for taking such a strong stance on supporting LGBT+ young people and improving inclusion in schools. 

“Jonathan bravely shared his own experiences of growing up LGBT+ but sadly, many years on, the young people we work with are facing similar challenges. It doesn’t have to be like this. Representation and education can go such a long way in helping all young people to be allies, and helping LGBT+ young people feel safe and supported. I’d like to personally thank Jonathan for using his platform to improve the lives of LGBT+ young people, and creating a brighter future for all of us.”

To hear from speakers like Jonathan Bailey at our next fundraising dinner, join the Founders’ Circle.