ERIN BRADY (THEY/THEM)
"I'm Erin, a 22 year-old engineering student who loves houseplants, playing the accordion and listening to ABBA Gold (Anniversary Edition) on repeat 24/7. And I'm non-binary!
I discovered I'm non-binary over lockdown and it's been quite the journey. I feel much more confident now that I know myself better. I don't know many non-binary and trans people, so lacking this exposure and awareness meant that I have been trying to figure myself out for years, sometimes forcing myself into certain stereotypes to fit my interpretation of what labels mean. Inevitably, those views were largely influenced by the society I grew up in and the people around me.
After more research and exploration, I realised that the umbrella term of "non-binary" really matches the non-specific nature of my gender presentation and experience. I like the implication of the term regarding not conforming to (what I believe to be) pretty baseless societal constructs of 'gender.'"
"Visibility is about being seen and being heard (I suppose that's the literal definition!) A lot of people think that there are more LGBTQIA+ people now than ever before but I don't think that's true at all - I think (positive) societal exposure to members of the community makes some individuals think about identity more consciously. It can be very beneficial to people who feel that they don't quite "fit in" to pressures deriving from traditional gender roles. I'd go as far as to say that having prominent LGBTQIA+ figures in the media saves lives.
Kids and teenagers especially should be seeing all sorts of different people in the media. Everyone, consciously or otherwise, sees characteristics of themselves in others and I reckon having an insight into the lives of people from all walks of life would help everyone to be more empathetic and loving of one another."
HOW CAN WE HELP SUPPORT THE TRANS COMMUNITY?
Everyone uses pronouns; they serve the same purpose as a name in conversations and are therefore a lot more important than a lot of people think. Introduce yourself online, at formal events and even in casual settings with your pronouns and ask others for theirs too.
If you struggle getting them right, practice them in your own time. Imagine if someone struggled to call you the right name every time they spoke to or about you. It's like that."
"Bristol is SUCH a cool city. There's always so much going on and I love being kept busy. Having grown up an extrovert in a rural village with no shops or public transport, it's amazing to be able to see people every day and seek fun out and about rather than have to make my own fun at home. And having plenty to do when people come to visit is great fun too!
I'd estimate more than half the people I know in Bristol are LGBTQIA+ despite me not really going to any queer-focused events or venues. There are loads of queer-friendly bars and pubs and events going on. It's good to feel so safe, seen and understood as a non-binary person living here."
"Non-binary people fall under the transgender umbrella. Not every non-binary person would necessarily call themselves trans (and it's up to them to decide what feels right, so respect it) but it's not for anyone else to gatekeep if they do choose to."
"As I explore my own identity I've become a lot more aware of intersectional issues, particularly regarding accessibility. This is great because I know how to accommodate others' needs (particularly when planning university society events) but it's also opened my eyes to how everything in life is designed for the "typical" person and how much far we have to go to make sure everyone has equal access to places and experiences. Clubbing, in particular, feels less accessible even to me, a neurotypical and able-bodied person, because most venues lack gender-neutral facilities. Loads of places don't even have a disabled toilet."
"This project is really exciting and confidence-boosting for me. I don't like to make a big deal out of being non-binary when I talk to people (unless they specifically ask about it) because I'd rather talk about things we can both relate to... but that doesn't make it any less important to my identity.
Everyone likes to feel individual and important! And you know what I think about visibility - I'm really delighted to highlight a few things about being trans/non-binary if it will improve others' understanding of other trans people they meet."