LGBT+ History Month at 1625 – Elsie Ridley’s Story

23rd February 2024

This February, we’re proudly celebrating LGBT+ History Month. Recognising the importance of supporting our LGBTQ+ colleagues and the young people in our services, we stand committed to fostering an inclusive and supportive environment.

Elsie Ridley, a member of our Peer Queer Group, shares her story below:

“After the news of Brianna Ghey’s murder broke, I attended a candlelit vigil in her name, attended by hundreds of other trans people. All of us had such pain and anger and hurt, and I really didn’t know what to do with these feelings. Someone speaking at the event suggested a self-defence class for trans people, so that we could feel marginally safer, but also have a good outlet for some of these emotions and to be able to share feelings and thoughts amongst like-minded people.

After attending a six week course covering the basics of self-defence, I felt mixed feelings. I was happy to have a sport/exercise I finally enjoyed, but incredibly sad that myself and others felt the need to learn to fight, just to feel safer at night or by ourselves. I also didn’t feel I learnt enough, and decided to try and learn a martial art with an emphasis on using all parts of your body to defend yourself; Muay Thai.

I was so anxious about approaching gyms or martial arts spaces. I went for my first lesson at a non-binary/women’s class, so unsure as to whether anyone would discriminate against my presence. It ended up being one of the best decisions of my life.

With trans women being banned from sports left and right, this is an incredibly scary time to want to attempt any sport, especially on a level where you’re competing against people from different clubs. This is why I think it’s so important to have inclusive events that are paired based on weight/experience, rather than the gender you were born as (which means nothing).

I’m eternally grateful that I’ve found the group that I’m in now, and especially to my coach who just sees me as me.”

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