By Kris Jepson
A Transgender person from Teesside has been nominated for a prestigious National Diversity Award.
Ellie Lowther, from Middlesbrough, runs the advocacy and support group Trans Aware CIO and is nominated for the Positive Role Model Award for LGBT.
Watch @krisjepson's report here:
Ellie Lowther struggled with her gender identity during her teenaged years and ran away from home. She said she faced major trauma and led a dysfunctional life for many years.
Turning her life around she embraced her identity and now delivers awareness sessions to thousands of people and businesses across the country.
If you come out as Trans you could be disowned by your family in the area that maybe you’ve grown up in your entire life. All of a sudden just going to the shop can be a strategic exercise, it truly can. You get misgendered places where you go and that’s like a punch in the gut. It’s not just about ticking that diversity and inclusion box. It’s about getting out there and raising awareness in the public... I often take my guitar with me. It’s one of the little things, you know, show a minor chord and a major chord can work well together. It’s showing differences, so to have an auditorium full of young people singing along, it’s just amazing, it fills you with joy, it really does.
When Ellie came out as trans seven years ago she recognised that there was a lack of suitable services and real life awareness and education towards the subject.
She founded Trans Aware CIO and created the company Essential Learning Curve Ltd to give a voice to all protected characteristics.
Ellie Lowther has written policy for schools and created the first Trans Safe house project in the UK. Her passion is to make diversity mainstream so whilst she also works in prisons, she is a Community Health Ambassador and brings diversity to Age UK Teesside. She also hosts a radio show each Sunday on CVFM radio.
I was overwhelmed by Ellie’ enthusiasm and passion. Also by her vulnerability. She’s got this big persona, but underneath is a hidden story of what she’s been through to get where she is today. And when I got into conversation with her I realised that I was so ignorant about gender in particular.
Ellie Lowther recently conducted summer workshops with young people taking part in the National Citizen Service programme.
Max Eyers, who attended the sessions told ITV News "I think we learnt during that, is that it’s important to be able to express yourself and be able to be an individual and to not try and hide yourself."
Millie Scott said the sessions "help people who might not have a clear understanding of the LGBT community."
I was fortunate to actually sit in and you could hear a pin drop with the young people. They were so engaged, so interested in what she had to say.
The full list of nominated finalists for the Positive Role Model Award for LGBT category are: