A Big Issue vendor has spoken of her delight as lockdown eases because it will help her earn money to put towards her gender transition.
Salisbury seller Jade Thompson, who is back on her pitch this week alongside hundreds of other vendors in England and Wales, hopes to save up, head to the shops and kit out her wardrobe.
The 23-year-old said: “The thing I’m most looking forward to when lockdown is over is being able to sell my Big Issue, so I’ve got some money coming in when the charity shops reopen.
“I want to get myself a new feminine wardrobe and when I’ve saved up a bit more I’m going to be starting my gender transition.
“There are different shops I want to visit. Charity shops for clothing, craft shops as I like to make things, I’m waiting for the crystal shop to open and all sorts of DIY shops so I can get a better range of products.
“There are a hundred and one things I want to do but the main thing that I can’t wait for is to start my gender transition properly.”
Jade described a “long path” of struggling to accept herself after coming out as transgender in 2016.
Since then, she has experienced homelessness, escaped dangerous living circumstances, moved cities and begun selling The Big Issue.
After a brief period where she “reverted” to the safety of presenting as male, she continued planning her transition six months ago.
Jade said she had reservations about coming out publicly but wanted to raise awareness of transgender care in the UK, something she describes as “absolutely ridiculous”.
“The NHS says on their website that from receipt of referral to a gender clinic to an appointment should be no more than 18 weeks,” she explained.
“I have currently been waiting a couple of months already.”
In January 2020, The BBC reported that more than 13,500 transgender and non-binary adults were on waiting lists for NHS gender identity clinics in England.
March 31 in the UK marked the 12th annual International Transgender Day of Visibility.
The Big Issue heard from Charlie Harris, a trans man, who said it was “upsetting and disappointing” that there wasn’t more support for LGBQ+ youngsters – who are four times more likely to experience homelessness.
Today we are launching our LGBTQ+ Youth Homelessness Report, a piece of research that centres the voices and experiences of LGBTQ+ young people who have faced any form of homelessness in the last five years. (THREAD) pic.twitter.com/izFKKXxx9t
— akt (@aktcharity) April 14, 2021
And this week, new research from the LGBTQ+ youth homelessness charity akt made for sober reading.
The organisation, in collaboration with YouGov, found just 13 per cent of LGBTQ+ young people surveyed felt supported by parents or stepparents while homeless with half fearing that expressing their LGBTQ+ identity would lead to eviction.
Jade said she was considering setting up a GoFundMe page so people could donate to medical and personal costs hoping this would speed up her own process.
Despite her social anxiety and fear that people who are transphobic might read her story, she added she was “happy to do this” if it helped others feel they were not alone.
“I want to take that risk. Just so that I can spread a bit more awareness and try and get better help for people such as myself,” she said.
“That’s why I’m taking this step out there.”