Pride October 2019

He says most people want to support someone they know who’s transitioning, but they simply don’t know how. It falls to the person who’s transitioning to lead the conversation. Hoping his union, United Steelworkers Local 2699, would become more inclusive, Mayson approached the executive about having a presence in the 2017 PRIDE parade. That year, fifteen USW members walked the parade route. Involvement grew in 2018, and the union gave $500 toward the effort. This year, more than 80 union members and a float took part. Mayson says this backing from his union is important and now he’s part of the support network. He’s been named this area’s first Trans Liaison for the United Steelworkers. “It’s an exciting position because I get to help people”, he says. He’s leading the development of a “Transitioning in the Workplace Manual” at USW. He’s also involved with Trans* London and the London Chapter of PFLAG. The reaction at work has been mostly, but not entirely, positive. When he was assigned his own bathroom stall, it was routinely vandalized by a couple of his colleagues. However, Mayson concentrates on the victories and says anyone who finds themselves unfairly treated needs to become their own advocate. Fighting for equality benefits us all. “Redirect that energy to something good. Ask yourself – what about the next person?”

"What I realized is for the most part, people are good, and they want to understand. They just need somebody to lead them and teach them.” Mayson Fulk has been a leader and a teacher about what it means to transition, to his union, his workplace and fellow employees. And now, to the community at large as the recipient of the PRIDE 2019 Ken Sadler Award for Individual Contribution. Mayson had to move from his home country to escape persecution for who he was. In case you think he fled a third world nation, he didn’t. It was the United States of America. “There are thirty states where you can be fired for being LGBTQ+”, Mayson explains. “It actually happened to me in Ohio and after I lost my job there, I moved to Virginia, and I was fired twice in Virginia when they found out I had a girlfriend. It was before my transition. So I moved to Canada.” As he wrote on Facebook, “Shouldn't my employability be judged on the content of my character rather than the contents of my underwear”? Four years ago, Mayson began transitioning to a man. Such a change has myriad challenges and explaining it to coworkers is rarely easy. A steel worker at a London automotive plant, Mayson told his supervisor and union rep, and let his coworkers know that he would be come back from a week’s vacation with his journey underway. A fact sheet and other materials were made available to them. When he returned to work, most of his colleagues were warm and welcoming. London man, Mayson Fulk – leading and teaching what it means to be transgender

Mayson is giving back with the kind of guidance he wishes he had growing up in a family that followed the Jehovah’s Witness faith. Mayson says he knew he was different from about the age of five. The conservative Christian denomination’s rules are thick with guilt and require anyone who isn’t straight to suppress their feelings

and stay celibate. Today, he has no relationship with his parents, sees his brother once a year and only recently connected with his older sister. He says it’s gratifying to assist other families through the process. “To be able to help somebody stay connected to their child, is an indescribable feeling really. It's a huge sense of pride."



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Issue 2 • Fall 2019 Page 12

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