Dee Whitnell (they/them) is a trans rights campaigner and activist for trans youth and an accredited Relationships, Sex and health Educator.

LGBT HERO: How do you define or describe the work you do for the LGBTQ+ community?

Dee: My activism revolves around Trans children and youth through my campaign #TransKidsDeserveToGrowUp, but I also fight for and educate on all LGBTQIA+ rights and sex education for all folks. Through my campaign I report on the current conversation around Trans youth within the UK, I honour the Trans youth we have lost, share stats on Trans mental health, work directly with families who have lost their Trans youth, and fight for Trans youth rights within the UK. My campaign has been shared by 6 million people, spotted at various Prides and protests through this year and has involved various organisations such as Mermaids, JustLikeUs and MPs like Nadia Whittome. Outside of my campaign, I fight for inclusive RSHE and Trans rights with the UK, whilst also sharing my own experiences as a Non-binary Trans individual.
What would you say are the main goals and outcomes of the work you do?

My main goal for my campaign is to ensure our Trans youth are supported in school, that they are able to safely be themselves and to provide teachers / schools with resources and support on how best to achieve this. My campaign started due to the leaked Trans Student Guidance earlier this summer, but even once the guidance is out (whether it unfortunately makes our fears a reality), I will continue to fight for and educate on Trans youth experiences. I want to ensure our Trans kids become adults, and that they see Trans adult representation in all walks of life.

Why do you do what you do?

As an ex-teacher and a Trans individual, I have a personal connection to my cause - I have seen first hand the impact a Trans teacher can have on Trans youth, the impact schools have on Trans students and the pressure schools face from different groups and people. One moment during my teaching days that has stuck with me is when a student told me that I was the ‘first Trans adult’ they had ever seen. It made me realise how vital our representation within education is, and how Trans adult representation in all walks of life is vital for Trans youth to see that they can survive.
What is something you’ve done or been involved with that you are most proud of?

One of my proudest moments of my campaign so far has been working with Corei’s family, a late Trans teen who sadly took his life several months previously due to bullying, to create a memorial badge for him. I worked with splodge.creative to honour his final message - ‘Protect Trans kids in my name’. We also donated the profits to Great Ormond Street hospital as requested by his siblings. I have become close with the family, even attending his funeral in November, working with them to honour, remember, and fight for Corei and other Trans youth.

What do you think is a key issue that the LGBTQ+ community is currently facing? 

One way we can make society a much safer place for LGBTQIA+ folks to stop the infighting. One of the pressures I have experienced since coming out as Trans 2 years ago is that other members of the LGB+ community do not accept me, or even members of the Trans community do not accept me as I’m Non-binary. We as a community cannot fight one another. We all want the same thing, to exist freely as our true selves, and we need to fight for all of our right to do that. You cannot be an ally for one member of the community and not the others. And that goes for those outside the community too, cisgender, heterosexual allies - if you’re a LGB+ ally, you must be a Trans ally.

What else would you love to achieve in the LGBTQ+ community? 

I want to first tackle this Trans Student Guidance to ensure our Trans youth are truly supported and protected in education. Once that has happened, I want to work closely with schools, teachers, the education system to incorporate Trans inclusive education in all areas - sex Ed, literature, history etc - but also create a guideline for inclusivity within schools on a national level. I’d also like to tackle Trans bullying and equip students, teachers and parents on how to challenge anti-Trans bullying, how to create a zero tolerance environment and how best to support pupils who are bullied. I want to see our Trans youth becoming adults.

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