PC Skye speaks of her “bravest” act on Transgender Remembrance Day
Skye has been a West Midlands Police officer for almost 20 years.
Most of her distinguished career has been on the policing front line. She’s faced down rioters, tackled armed burglars, and rescued people in times of crisis.
She was stabbed while protecting members of the public.
But early in 2018 she made what she considers to be the bravest move of her life to date: coming out as a transgender woman.
The 44-year-old – now a police Taser Subject Matter Expert and Tactical Trainer – has chosen to share her experience as a trans woman on Transgender Remembrance Day (Fri 20 Nov).
“I’ve been one of 14 officers holding a police line against an angry mob of more than 1,000 people,” recalled Skye, “and I’ve been surrounded by a gang of burglars armed with baseball bats and hammers.
“But none of that is as terrifying as walking out as a transgender woman in front of 30 police officers on a tactical training course that I’ve never met before.
“We’re undoubtedly in a more tolerant era now than 10 or 20 years ago – that’s what held me back from coming out earlier – but it’s still scary.”
Skye is now one of the Midlands region’s foremost taser trainers and is working with Amnesty International and academics on project into public perception on the use of force.
She came out as trans to her supervisor in 2018 but only in the last few weeks has she been true to herself in front of officers under her tutorage.
It’s a psychologically and emotionally demanding stage of her transition.
Skye is on a waiting list, one that could last several years, for physical transitioning treatment but must first ‘socially transition’ to demonstrate her commitment to doctors.
And in Skye’s brutally honest assessment of her current predicament that means: “wearing a wig and using some crayons.”
Transgender Remembrance Day started in 1999 as a vigil to honour the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman killed in 1998 and whose murderer has never been found.
Skye is supporting the movement by openly talking about her journey and encouraging anyone else wrestling with their gender identity to seek support.
She added: “This is really important day. It recognises that people who simply want to exist, be themselves, be loved, laugh and feel safe are too often marginalised, attacked and subject to hate crime and abuse for simply existing.
“Since I was young I always knew something was different inside of me, that my head and identity didn’t match my physical self. This has caused near constant worry, anxiety and stress which I have tried to hide, ignore, run from and bluster my way through.
“This past year I simply had enough. I realised that I needed to be me, I needed to be true to myself, I needed to do this for my own sanity.
“Since plucking up the courage to come out to colleagues at work the support and love I’ve had has been incredible.
“Most people here in the police are interested and supportive and simply want to know me, so that they themselves can be more understanding and aware. The world hasn’t ended since I came out and I can be at peace with myself for the first time in my life.
“I am absolutely sure that someone you know is also confused about their gender identity, or even like me, certain about their identity.
“We simply ask to be allowed to live and be ourselves, without fear of being subjected to hatred, harassment, ridicule and abuse. I am still me, your friend, your brother, your sister, your colleague, no matter how I present, or what clothes I wear or how I identify.”
West Midlands Police is committed to being an LGBTQ+ friendly employer and has an active LGBTQ+ Network to help support the workplace experience of staff, gay and straight, trans and cisgendered.
Our Chief Constable Dave Thompson, said: “Giving everyone an equal opportunity to make their voices heard and listening to all, not just a few, helps us all to understand our force better. In turn this helps us to better understand the communities we serve.”
We’re recruiting…come and join us! https://jobs.west-midlands.police.uk/