Taylor Serban - Transgender Associate Champion feature

Taylor Serban has been appointed as our new Transgender Diversity Associate Champion. This is an entirely new role that has been created to help with the very specific issues that trans people face and provide an additional level of support within the LGBTQI+ Staff Network. Taylor brings a wealth of personal experience to the Associate Champion role.

Taylor Serban photo JPEG

Taylor joined the Tavi around two years ago and before that was at Sainsbury's where he was a prominent member of their Equality, Diversity and Inclusion committee. Taylor speaks very highly of Sainsbury’s as an inclusive employer, the support that they gave him during his transition and the effort that they take to make it a great place to work for everyone.

Taylor is also active as an ‘influencer’ on social media through his Instagram and Tik Tok channels. “Wherever I go I try to educate people,” says Taylor, “Because by putting it out there people pass it on and it builds awareness. I just started the project during lockdown, out of boredom. My partner kept telling me I should put my story out there, because it might help people."

“So I started doing that. Things went really well. I didn’t expect all the attention and messages. It feels really good when you get messages from parents asking how they can support their trans child. How they can do better for them. It always puts a smile on my face. Because that is how a parent should be, supporting their child no matter what. I’m a really humble person, so being called ‘an inspiration’ and things like that really gets to me. I never meant for this to happen. I just started it as something to fill my time and it has turned into something beautiful.”

Taylor himself, was born in Transylvania in 1983 he says, “As a young girl I started to have these feelings that I wasn’t feeling that I was a girl. I tried to do something about it when growing up, but it was hard to do anything ‘there’ and ‘then’. It was a hostile environment when I was growing up. I had to deal with a lot of bullying because I wasn’t a stereotypical girl and I wasn’t dressing up as I should. I got bullied a lot and I just got to the point where I said, ‘I don’t want anyone bothering me anymore’.

“It was like I turned off a switch and stopped caring. And when I stopped caring that’s when I started to feel more happy. I tried to do something about the situation and talk about my feelings. That was when my mum took me to see psychiatrists and psychologists, not to ‘fix me’, but to help me and to help my mother to understand, because she didn’t quite understand where I was coming from. She did her own research and got to know more about this whole thing than the actual doctors I was seeing.

“It was a hard time and I was really lucky that I had supportive friends who really stuck by me regardless of how I was looking or dressing and they always used male pronouns. In that regard I never had any issues, nor with my immediate family. That was really important for me, because if everyone had been against me I would probably just have given up.

“Back then, nobody was educated about transgender issues. Even myself. I didn’t learn about the term ‘trans’ until later on in life. I always thought of myself as a really butch lesbian, but I knew I wasn’t a lesbian because I didn’t feel like a woman. Then when I found out about the term ‘trans’ everything made sense. It was like a lightbulb came on inside my head.

“Further down the line I moved to Germany with my partner. We thought that it would be a really nice place to live, because of the acceptance there and the openness around LGBTQI+. I was supposed to start my transition there, but things didn’t work out. I struggled with the German language. I had friends in the UK so I ended up coming here and to London where I started my transition four years ago. My transition was with the Tavistock.

“Nowadays things are a little different in Romania to how they were when I was growing up. I am in contact with some trans people in Romania and things are not the same, but even so the subject is quite taboo. It is really hard and expensive for trans people because absolutely nothing is covered by the health service there. People have to pay for their own hormones and surgeries. Even the appointments with psychiatrists have to be paid for and there are no gender specialists only general psychiatrists.

“On the bright side we did have a trans Pride in Romania this year. It was the first one. On previous Prides we had a lot of backlash from Church members and other hateful people. At the first Pride in Bucharest there were people on the sides throwing eggs and you can imagine. That was quite long time ago and now people tend to be a bit more open minded, particularly the youth.

“The legal status Romania is also still quite baffling, people can change their names, but changing the gender marker in the passport is very complicated, because they say that you have to be transitioned ‘fully’ and we know there is no such thing as ‘fully transitioned’. But those are the terms that they use. You need to have had all the surgeries and you have to be assessed by a medical clinician. Then you have to appear in court so that a judge can rule that you can officially change your gender. Which is a really embarrassing and stressful process for people to have to go through.

“The passport thing is difficult. Because at border control you get ‘the look’. The first look… the second look… the third look… I don’t know if they do have an educational programme, but it would be really beneficial for border control to be more educated when it comes to trans. A lot of people struggle with this and also with the Covid vaccinations if the vaccination is in the new name and the passport is in the old name. Even if all the paperwork is in order questions are still asked which can make the individual very uncomfortable.

“I don’t think I could live in Romania. I don’t think I could be happy. It’s to do with people’s mentalities you can always find a homophobe or a transphobe there. I could exist, but I don’t think I could be happy. I always say that life is short so we have to make the most of it.

Now, Taylor works as a Clinical Administrator for the Gender Identity Clinic. He says, “When I heard that the Tavi had an opening here I was really happy to apply. It was always one of my dreams. I felt I needed to give back to the people who helped me and to the trans community as well. I don’t know if people can relate to this, but for me it is more than just an administration job. It involves speaking to trans people on a daily basis and trying to help as much as I can. It makes me feel that I am doing something for the community.”

Then after encouragement from friends and staff at the GIC Taylor applied for the role of Transgender Diversity Associate Champion. He says, “I just wish that the role was one day a week, because I don’t think that I can achieve everything that I want to achieve in the time that I have. But for me just getting to know people, getting people involved, to really connect, this kind of social interaction can make the community stronger and the workplace better.