Lancing woman awarded OBE for services to transgender equality
A campaigner for LGBTQI rights from Lancing has received one of the highest recognitions in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours.
Joanne Monck, 65, has been awarded an OBE for services to transgender equality after years of supporting the LGBTQI community.
After initially ignoring her brown envelope in December because she thought it was from the tax office, Joanne said she was ‘completely blown away’ to be recognised.
“It’s very difficult to describe how I feel – overwhelmed?” she said. “I’m privileged, honoured, humbled, it’s really quite surreal.”
Joanne transitioned six years ago at the age of 58, having previously been married with twin boys, now aged 38.
Her wife passed away in 2000 and she said it was afterwards, during a time of reflection, she realised ‘I cannot go on living my life this way’.
She had known there was ‘something different’ about her from the age of five, she said, but at that time being transgender ‘wasn’t even in the dictionary’.
Joanne completed her transition and became legally female six years ago, quickly starting work as an advocate for LGBTQI equality.
She now sits on six advisory panels for the police advises the Crown Prosecution Service, is a Stonewall Schools Role Model, an advisor to the Bluebell Railway at Sheffield Park, an independent custody visitor for the Police and Crime Commissioner and a national diversity mentor.
She is also a global LGBT advocate for Interpride, an international organisation behind Pride events around the world.
In the summer, Joanne received a Sussex Police Chief Constable’s commendation, on top of a national award for diversity at the We Are The City Top 100 Rising Star Awards.
There have been hurdles along the way, including abuse on Twitter two years ago that she said ‘almost finished her’.
Instead, she redoubled her efforts to educate people on understanding the transgender community.
“I lived my life trying to be male and trying to be macho, but then dressing in women’s clothes in secret,” she said.
“But it’s okay to be who you want to be and you should be treated with dignity and respect as a basic human right.”
Not ready to rest on her laurels, Joanne said her plan now is to use her elevated profile to take her fight for acceptance and understanding of the transgender community to a new level.
Speaking just before the new year, she said: “This year has been a tough year for so many, but I can honestly say this year has been the best of my life.”