Debbie Hayton

Five ways my union supported my transition

Dr Debbie Hayton has been a physics teacher and a member of her union for 20 years. In 2012, she transitioned from male to female. Here she tells us five ways in which her union helped her through the transition.

1 – I felt supported

“I went to my union NASUWT for help and support and from there I was supported not just as a trans person who is going through transition but as a member of NASUWT and that was unusual in all the different support which I got.”

2 – The support was personal

“The person who was the biggest support was my school rep. She was someone I’d worked with for several years, I knew her, she knew me and although neither of us had experience in gender transitioning we both had support from the wider union. She was there for me; it was that support in the workplace which was so valuable.”

3 – My union rep was always there

“When concerns blew up I had somebody there in school, ready to talk to and somebody I knew I could trust. I just felt that other agencies, other people, couldn’t replicate what the union did.”

4 – It feels like a family

“You join a group of people who work in the same environment as you, have the same concerns as you and have the same perspective on life.”
“You are part of a supportive group of people that feel like a family and you know you can always call on them for support because as well as being your colleagues, they’re also fellow members of the union.”

5 – They knew the law

“The union was there outside the school too. They knew the law, they could advise and reassure us. They were somebody to talk to when we thought, will this work? It was the best advice that we could get really, just the reassurance that what we were doing was good.”