Making the transition
Harry Roberts shares his experience of transitioning whilst working at EDF
Harry works as a Safety Case Engineer and is deputy chair and the transgender support lead for the LGBTQ+ Supporters Network and a local Prospect Trade Union Representative. He shares his experience of transitioning whilst working at EDF.
Hi Harry, can you tell us a bit about yourself outside of work?
Sure. I’ve got a few hobbies which include tinkering about with classic cars – currently a classic 1975 mini – and I enjoy hiking trips with Greyson (my greyhound). In 2021 we went up Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) and not by train either! In terms of coming out as trans, I always had a sense that something didn’t feel “quite right.” It took me until I turned 40 to investigate, I couldn’t bear the idea of feeling so incredibly miserable for the rest of my life. It was a moment of clarity and a huge relief to find out that I was not alone.
What steps did you take when you came out?
I chewed things over for 9-10 months before concluding that I need to come out and live as my true self. Once I’d decided, it all happened pretty quickly over a couple of months (coming out, social transition, document updates etc.). I love a good old-fashioned hand-written letter and sent those to close family and friends. At work I reached out for confidential advice before writing to my branch manager, who arranged a one-to-one to discuss what to do next. He then liaised between me, and HR and we planned how, to whom and when I would come out and start work as Harry. I told everyone at my branch and some colleagues at the stations via the weekly team brief or by letter. My manager and I were offered advice and support from the LGBTQ+ Supporters Network.
How did your colleagues react?
They were all great. There were no negative responses, and the support I got from people who didn’t know me was very humbling. I know how lucky I was to get that kind reaction.
How has EDF supported you?
I felt well supported by the company from the beginning. They ensured the lead teams were briefed and provided guidance on addressing any questions, concerns or issues that could arise. My branch manager at the time supported me throughout the planning, coming out and more practical aspects, such as changing records, updating passes etc. I’ve changed quite a lot in the past 6-7 years! The LGBTQ+ Supporters Network has used my experience to update the guidance for employees and managers, which is available internally. We’re providing guidance for HR to support people who are transitioning. MyHR has been updated to enable people to specify their gender beyond the binary options, which is great.
Have you got any advice for others considering transitioning at work?
Initially I’d encourage people to talk to a manager they feel comfortable to confide in. All discussions are treated in confidence, and nothing happens without permission from the person who is transitioning. They can also approach the LGBTQ+ Supporters Network or a local Trade Union representative. I’m also happy to talk to and support anyone who wants to come out and begin their transition in work.
Is there anything you would you like to see your colleagues do to support the LGBTQ+ community?
I think becoming aware of and understanding the inequalities and difficulties that still exist for the LGBTQ+ community and challenge misinformation and discrimination where they come across it, if it is safe to do so. It’s the smaller things that create a sense that everyone is welcome to be themselves, such as including your pronouns in your email signature, wearing rainbow lanyards, use of neutral and inclusive language.