Publish date: 8 February 2024
This LGBT+ History Month we hear from Jada Swallow, nursing assistant about her experience of working in healthcare as a trans woman.
My name is Jada, and I’m a nursing assistant and work mainly at Wansbeck General Hospital. I started my career in Ward 2, where I worked for a year and a half, and then I ended up joining staff bank working across sites full time to help balance my life a little more.
My favourite part about my job is helping patients and their families feel a little better. I also love meeting both new and familiar faces around Wansbeck.
The fact I can say I work for the NHS makes both me and my husband incredibly proud. He loves that I work for the NHS and he’s very supportive of me progressing here, as he believes I was made for this type of role.
Working in the NHS I can see how truly hard everyone works and I think the outside don’t always see that side to us.
Living and working as a trans person
I live my life openly as a trans person. I used to think that I had to hide every part of who I was, but I’ve now realised that it’s part of my story. Without it, I wouldn’t be as confident or anywhere near as happy as I am now.
If people ask certain questions, I often let them know that I’m trans as I’m not ashamed about it. I even have my lanyard with the trans flag on. The reason I’m so open about it, especially at work, is because I feel it can help others. If anyone who is LGBT+ sees that I’m able to be open about it, hopefully it can make them feel more comfortable within themselves and help them realise that there are other people like them as well.
My manager Sharon Hardy on Ward 2 has been so supportive. I’ve had many appointments for medical reasons related to my transition, and she has helped me sort my shifts and hours out so I’m able to attend my appointments. To this day she still checks in on me to make sure that I’m ok.
Challenges for LGBT+ community
The biggest challenge for the trans community is the wating lists. They’re currently at an all-time high for people wanting to medically transition. When I first came out, I had my appointment within a year, but today the waiting time is around 5 years. I sympathise with those on the waiting list as I know how hard it can be. I struggled a lot too during that time.
I think if there was ever a role there for it, I’d love to be there to help and support others along their journey. I think the wait is worth it and it’s important to remember that there is a light at the end of what can feel like a very long tunnel.
Why’s it important to celebrate LGBT+ History Month?
It’s so important we keep celebrating LGBT+ history month, because yes, we have come a long way, but it’s still not as far as we should be. There is still a lot to change that needs to happen. There are still far too many violent and verbal attacks against LGBT+ communities that still exist today, and I think that’s due to the media showing mostly negative stories about transgender issues.
The most important thing to me is my family and making sure that everyone is treated with the respect they deserve. We don’t know everyone’s stories or what they’ve been through to be who they are today. A little bit of time and patience to listen can help you understand someone that little bit better. We all have struggles, so I think it’s important to talk about them.