What you can do

Changing hearts and minds

Throughout all types of media, representation of the LGBT community is scarce – especially when it comes to the younger part of the community.

I entered this competition as I want people to understand that more literature should contain characters struggling with finding their identity, and facing the issues that come hand in hand with being part of the LGBT spectrum. I write a fair bit in my spare time, and the stories I write usually contain LGBT characters of some description, however, I have never written about somebody who is transgender so that was a personal challenge for me.

As I mentioned before, my story is about somebody who is transgender, and they encounter someone who isn’t so accepting. I chose to write about this as I have multiple friends who are transgender who deserve representation. I think it’s incredibly important to highlight the problems transgender people face – in 2015, we saw many people’s true colours as they sent hate message after hate message to Caitlyn Jenner after she very bravely came out to the world, but we also saw many positive messages, and lots of support and LGBT youth should know that even if the people around them don’t accept them, there will always be people out there who will.

The theme was ‘Changing Hearts and Minds’, which I feel is important as most people are only homophobic, biphobic or transphobic due to lack of education and understanding. The way to make the world a more accepting place is to educate those who have little knowledge of the LGBT community, especially young people.

Children should be taught about LGBT issues, not hidden from them. If we want to truly change hearts and minds, we need to stop treating the words ‘gay’, ‘bisexual', ‘lesbian’ and ‘transgender’, as though they are taboo words and start teaching the younger generations that it’s okay to be who they are.

Competitions and platforms such as this show people that teenagers do care about these issues, and that we do want society to change.