Hailey’s story | Stonewall
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Hailey’s story

Read Hailey’s story about college, mental health, transitioning, and working at The Prince’s Trust

Key themes: College, mental health, trans identity, employment

1. Hi, can you introduce yourself?

Hi, I’m Hailey, I’m a 24-year-old transgender woman and my pronouns are she/her. I’m a youth development Lead at The Prince’s Trust and have just taken up the amazing opportunity to move out of my hometown to continue working in a role that I love.

In my spare time I love listening to and playing heavy metal on guitar and collecting records but enjoy a wide range of music from rock, blues, drum and bass, jungle, pop and reggae.

2. Tell us a bit about your journey through education and into work, and if you faced any challenges along the way? 

Things went smoothly for the first 10 years or so of my life up until high school. It was around this time there suddenly became a noticeable divide in my life between boys and girls. Whilst I didn’t realise that I was trans until my early 20’s, it was around this time that I found myself beginning to suffer with depression and anxiety alongside this general feeling that I was “not like the other boys”. However, I didn’t realise these two things were so closely linked due to other pressures at the time such as fitting into a new school, GCSEs and multiple family deaths.

Regardless, I came out of high school with good grades, if a little lower than predicted. It wasn’t until starting college, where I continued to struggle with my mental health, that this began to have an impact on my grades and my health and drove me to drink heavily and begin missing classes.

My tutor at the time noticed my decline in mental health and encouraged me to seek professional help. The first GP I saw was quite dismissive of my symptoms which discouraged me from seeking further help and only caused more of a downfall, until I eventually dropped out of college during my second year.

At this point I felt lost and directionless. The typical path I was following, primary school, high school, college, uni, job had completely fallen away from me.

3. How did you overcome these challenges? 

After dropping out of college, a couple of close friends spoke about their positive experiences of therapy, and so I decided to give it another go. To my surprise, they listened and so began my journey to improve my mental health.

One thing that always bothered me was this feeling that something inside of me didn’t align with who I was on the outside.

After a while, I was able to find myself a job in a warehouse, not a passion by any means but it was nice to have an income. As my mental health improved, so did my professional life and I worked my way up to stock supervisor.

I went through several jobs, mostly warehouse and call centres, not fully knowing what I wanted to do but knowing that it was better to do something than nothing.

Then lockdown hit.

Thanks to a combination of therapy, learning to love and accept parts of myself, and the chance to shut myself off from the societal expectations that are so present in our day to day lives, I allowed myself to do things that I had wanted to do for so long but never did.

I experimented with makeup and new clothes in the comfort of my room, and suddenly it all clicked. The feeling of being “not like other men”, the closeness and understanding I had with my women friends that I didn’t have with the men in my life, this feeling of being different in a way I didn’t know how to describe.

4. Tell us a bit about what you do now.

Today I work as a youth development lead at The Prince’s Trust, supporting young people into work training and education by building confidence and employability skills.

Because The Prince’s Trust is a Stonewall Diversity Champion, I’ve felt safe and accepted here from day one. There’s even an internal LGBTQIA+ network which helps me to feel a sense of community in the role that I have never experienced elsewhere.

I’ve also been fortunate enough to work with several LGBTQIA+ youth and transgender youth in my time since starting, which has been exceptionally rewarding. And in June 2022 I was our Pride Lead in Nottingham which was brilliant!

5. What advice would you give to a LGBTQ+ young person thinking about taking the next step into the world of training or work? 

Diversity makes a team, don’t be afraid to be yourself. While I know it can be a daunting task to be open in a place of work or education, it’s important to realise that these differences can at times be our biggest strengths.

It will make you happier to be there if you feel you can bring your whole self to work. Not to mention, you may not realise how big of an impact it can have on those around you. The more of us who are open about our identities, the more others will feel empowered to be open about who they are.

If you're interested, find out more about working at The Prince’s Trust.

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