The International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV) is honoured on 31st March every year and it is a time to celebrate the achievements made in the promotion and protection of trans rights and to raise awareness of the challenges trans people still face every day.
To highlight some role models in our profession, we remember our conversations with Samantha West and Antonia Belcher.
Antonia Belcher (FRICS, FCABE, FCIARB, and FRSA) has been a champion for LGBTQ+ issues in the surveying industry. A founding partner of MHBC, Antonia has over 40 years of experience in the construction and property industry.
Since Antonia transitioned in 2000, she has been dedicated to the promotion of diversity in the workplace. A driving force for change in this area, Antonia regularly accepts pro bono appointments that make a positive change for women and LGBTQ+ issues.
Samantha West, commercial director at Vinci, is an equality champion and advocate of LGBTQ+ networks driving change for the better. She told us about her experience of transitioning and the impact this has had both personally and on professionally, as well as the support she received from her employer and how attitudes have changed in the built environment:
“Prior to my transition, at work I needed to be confident in myself. I lived dual lives; female out of work, male in work, for a year. I had to look after my family’s issues around this huge change, live somewhere new, make new friends, deal with surgeries and the medical side of transitioning. Being confident about being myself prior to transitioning at work was essential to maintaining my own mental health.”
When it's safe to be out at work, people are able to focus on their roles and colleagues will see them as potentially better than before in many ways, as your true self flourishes. There will be some that need to be convinced and sometimes you will have to go the extra mile. But I have found all 3rd parties such as clients and suppliers very courteous, professional in their way of dealing with me – and this is what I want everyone to feel.
Diversity and Inclusion Co-ordinator
Dr Gus Bussmann is the Diversity and Inclusion Co-ordinator at RICS and works with the Head of Future Talent to ensure the successful delivery of the D&I strategy. Gus is also Deputy Head of Policy at Pride in London and an acknowledged expert in LGBT rights, committed to support with understanding and to inspire the next generation’s activities and initiatives.