LGBT in sight, on site: coming out in construction
During LGBT (lesbian gay bisexual trans) History Month, we find out what it’s really like to come out in the construction industry. Pioneer and activist, Christina Riley, Senior Planner at Kier Group, talks to us about her experiences.
The theme of this year’s LGBT History Month is peace, activism and reconciliation, which will be explored through our 3-part mini-series.
With more than 25 years working in construction, Christina Riley’s personal journey has touched all three.
I’m just trying to be the best version of myself.
Although Christina says she’s never been happier since transitioning in 2014, she’s quick to acknowledge that discrimination still exists in construction.
“It’s still there in some parts of the industry. It would be great if more companies developed comprehensive equality, diversity and inclusion policies. Not many have a transition policy, as we do at Kier, but more are adopting ‘no bystander policies’ to stop people turning a blind eye to offensive behaviours.”
“That said, I can go on site and I’m treated like anyone else. I’m reassured and constantly amazed about how good it’s been.”
“Yes, I lost some close friends when I transitioned. But I’ve gained many more since.”
“At the end of the day, I want to be accepted for who I am. I want to live my life as a trans female. But I’m just a human being trying to be the best version of myself.”
“When people can be themselves, they are happier, they form stronger relationships, and they perform better.”
“Coming out in construction doesn’t have to hold you back. It can be a good thing.”
Christina says it’s easier than ever to get support in the sector.
“Come along to LGBT+ network events, because there’s plenty going on and they’re safe spaces for LGBT people in our industry. Certain trades and professions have their own groups too, like InterEngineering for engineers. There’s lots of advice out there and lots of people who can provide support.”