Today is International Transgender Day of Visibility. It occurs annually to celebrate transgender people and help raise awareness about the discrimination still facing the community around the globe. It is an important day for everyone as this is a chance for all of us to stand up, use our voices and continue to speak out for equality.
Roman Hadley-Lund of Medibank’s Customer Connect is a trans man who is currently in the process of transitioning. Despite the struggles he has been through, his story is a strong testament that with the right attitude and determination, equality may one day be just the norm instead of something we have to keep fighting for.
“Being transgender has taught me a lot about fighting for who you are and fighting for those around you. We have such a long way to go so I won’t stop until we’re in the right place as a society.”
From the beginning of his journey, Roman didn’t only struggle with his own person – emotionally, mentally and physically – but also with the lack of family support. In high school, he started experiencing severe dysphoria, but it wasn’t until later in life that he felt strong enough to finally come out with his true identity. He remembers the pain it caused when he realised that being transgender was something that, for most of the time, wasn’t taken seriously.
“At one point before I came out, I saw a trans woman portrayed on television in a fairly negative light. It was a joke and made me have bad associations with being in the transgender community. I hated how that scene made me feel. It hurt to not have anyone understand.”
Coming out to his family was a tough moment as it wasn’t something they openly welcomed. This forced him to cut contact with them down to basics to get away from the shame and blame, and focus on his journey. These days, Roman says his family are finally starting to understand him and accept him the way he is.
“My family took my coming out very badly, they were transphobic and homophobic towards me for a long time but they’ve really changed their tune. They’re more supportive now than ever and try their best to understand.”
The process of having to step away from family to focus on his self-discovery and transition meant that he had to separate himself from his mum, which was one of the hardest things for him to do.
“I missed her so much. I wanted to talk to her about what was happening and have her support and comfort, but I felt like I couldn’t speak to her. This was more painful than anything else, so it’s amazing to have her back in my life.”
Roman reconnecting with mum at a GOT convention where they attended as Mother & Son.
Roman with Dad and step brother.
According to Roman, transgender people still live in fear for their lives purely because of who they choose to be.
“When I use the men’s bathroom, I worry it will be the day someone realises I’m transgender and beat me to death. Thoughts like this cross our minds everyday and it’s a very real fear. I hope that one day we can stamp out this kind of prejudice and hate.”
Despite all the hardships that has come his way, Roman is surrounded by love from those he surrounds himself with.
“I’m a non-binary trans man, I don’t fit the binary gender but I identify as mostly masculine. I’ve been in a polyamorous relationship for almost two years and it feels so nice to have love and light in my life from people who are on similar journeys.”
Roman and partner Lea.
Roman and daughter Logan.
Education is the key to understanding the LGBTQIA community. Nothing is more powerful and helpful than knowledge and knowing how to deal with your own journey or supporting someone on theirs.
“Wider education would make exploration and transitioning easier for everyone. There’s a lot of toxicity in society about binary genders and how there’s only one way men and women can be. It’s harmful to all genders.”
Being a part of the Medibank family has helped Roman be more comfortable with who he truly is. From his interview through to his transition, he says that Medibank has been nothing but welcoming and inclusive.
“When I was interviewing for Medibank, I wasn’t made to feel like I had to hide who I am. The company has been excellent in regards to all the changes that come with transitioning. I’ve been allowed to keep male gender markers on almost all of my work documentation, which doesn’t seem like a big deal but it means the world to me.”
Unable to hide the excitement seeing his name on Medibank’s tag.
Medibank is a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion. It’s something that we pride ourselves in because we truly believe in it. We live and breathe it in the business in the hopes that one day, the whole of society will follow suit.
“I’ve been so pleased with how progressive Medibank has been. My colleagues have always been understanding and accepting even when my own family wasn’t. Last year, when I saw the new advert ‘I Am Better’, I was so struck by it. It still makes me smile.”
Roman has formed strong friendships with his co-workers at Medibank.
Romans winning costume for Medibank’s Halloween party.