My Name is Philippa, is the memoir of debut author, Philippa Ryder, a feminist, LGBTQ+ activist, career civil servant, COO of Under The Rainbow and inspiring Trans woman.
Philippa has spent 20 plus years working in the field for the LGBTQ+ community, working with TENI (Transgender Equality Network Ireland) in their early days and acting as a committee member for TGEU (Transgender Europe). She’s represented her country cycling in the World Games as part of Sporting Pride; she’s delivered a speech to the President and she’s constantly working to make the world a better, safer, more colourful space for LGBTQ+ people… and that’s just a paragraph! Imagine the tales she could tell in a whole book.
“I physically transitioned in 2011, so ten years ago, and following that, I felt that it wouldn’t be a bad idea just to put some notes down, some thoughts down on paper,” Philippa tells GCN.
“Then, my best friend heard about this. And he said, you’ve got to write a memoir, an autobiography, because your journey has been really interesting, and it could certainly help a lot of people.”
At first, Philippa didn’t think she had enough material to make up a whole memoir, but that quickly changed when she saw the word count of her life story.
“Before I knew where I was … I had a quarter of a million words!” she says happily. “I mean, I’m 60. So there are 60 years of memories that I would like to cover.”
Although her memoir will undoubtedly reach and move many members of the LGBTQ+ community, Philippa says her book is meant for more than just the rainbow family. It’s for a wider audience as well.
“It’s so difficult to show general society that [Transgender people] are just ordinary people with a particular element of our being that we need to explore, that we need to portray. And, for me, it’s the core of my being. I am Philippa. My name is Philippa.”
When it comes to cis people being better Trans allies, Philippa is full of insightful suggestions.
“Education, raising awareness… It’s a case of just accepting your Trans colleagues for who they are. Have symbols around the office! If somebody is unwilling or unable at the present time to come out, if they see a rainbow symbol, they will be empowered, hopefully, and when it’s right for them, they will be able to come out safely and positively.”
Philippa recommends setting up a Diversity and Inclusion Committee for your workplace if there isn’t one already.
“We set one up and pretty much right from the beginning, we were getting cis people as allies and in fact, at one point, it was 50/50, between the LGBTQ+ members of the committee and cis people. Some of those cis people were just incredible. They were so passionate.”
Philippa also suggests setting up Diversity Advocates in your workplace, so that people can go to them and talk confidentially about any issues they may face regarding diversity.
“It’s not all just about Pride,” Philippa says, referring to the phenomenon of ‘corporate Pride’.
“It’s not all about, you know, June every year. You need to be thinking about it all the time. And if you see or hear some sort of discrimination going on, call it out, to ensure that your LGBTQ+ colleagues actually have the support from you, visible support.”
— Hodges Figgis (@Hodges_Figgis) October 21, 2021
While Philippa is all about making the world a better space for LGBTQ+ people, she also knows that not everyone is as loving and accepting, but she has her own effective way of handling these people.
“If anybody says anything negative to me, I’d say well, that’s your problem. I’m happy with who I am, with where I am in my life,” she says. “I have great support. If you have a problem with me, sorry for you.”
To Trans people out there who are still coming to terms with their gender identity, Philippa has this to say:
“Don’t accept anything negative. Don’t accept people, people telling you that you’re not who you are. Be true to yourself – nobody has the right to tell a Trans person who they are. And we know who we are…
“Surround yourself with people who empower you, who can support you, because there are people out there who are willing to be allies. They could be cis people or they could be part of the LGBT community. Don’t let yourself get demoralised.”
You can preorder My name is Philippa published by @MercierBooks before it’s release on the 21st or buy it from Irish sellers like @gutterbookshop , @easons & more! So listen to us talk with her, and then read her word! https://t.co/0RsQRSjRWN
— The Stairlings Collective (@stairlings) October 15, 2021
You can learn more about Philippa’s incredible story in her new memoir, My Name is Philippa, out today, October 21.
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