IN CONVERSATION WITH MUNROE BERGDORF
THE OUTNET’S guest presenter, broadcaster Harriet Rose, spoke to activist, model and UN Changemaker, Munroe Bergdorf. If you missed their live conversation about the power of changing minds, valuing wellness over social media and expressing all facets of your personality through style, here are some of the best bits…
ON CONTINUING THE CONVERSATION POST PRIDE MONTH:
Munroe: Go to the information - don’t wait for the information to come to you. Don’t rely on people who are experiencing it to tell you what they need. Have a conversation; don't expect lectures. Google is free and it’s abundant so make sure that you’re looking for resources solutions. Educate yourself what whole communities are going through so that you can help… We're all good at something. It's really about just identifying what you're good at and then helping a community that needs somebody who has an abundance of time or money or whatever it is.
ON THE POWER OF CHANGING YOUR MIND:
Munroe: We live in a society that really chastises people for changing their mind and I think it's a really powerful thing to not be so fragile that you can't have your mind changed. I want to be challenged. . It is a really powerful thing to have your worldview challenged. It speaks to strength of character to see someone else's point of view. Always be open to being challenged but don't challenge other people on is a detriment to their experience of life, their mental health or safety. Learn how to have conversations. I’m all for growth and recognising that we don't need to be perfect. We just need to find a way to progress and to own our mistakes because if we can't own our mistakes, we never learn.
ON HER PROUDEST MOMENT:
Munroe: Being on the cover of Time magazine - that was madness. I think I am only the second black trans woman ever to be on the cover of Time magazine. I'm just really thankful to be in this position and to have the trust of my community. Anytime that people me feedback about something I've said or done that has had an impact on them - that is really monumental to me because it's personal, and that's why I'm doing it. I'm not doing it for the accolades, I'm not doing it for the trophies and the magazine covers, even though that's lovely. What drives me is young trans people saying: “I transitioned after something that you had said because it made my experience make sense…” I'm standing on the shoulders of so many black trans women who have come before me so I'm just happy to be here.
ON BEING A PATRON FOR THE CHARITY MERMAIDS:
Munroe: Supporting queer youth is at the core of everything I do. . I felt so isolated and un-listened to when I was a kid and that can end up manifesting itself in different ways when you are an adult. If we're empowering kids, then we're empowering adults: we're essentially designing a better generation… And really, I think pride is about working together. It's about recognising that we are all in this together and we can't see ourselves as too divided even though we are all different.
ON TACKLING THE DARK SIDE OF SOCIAL MEDIA:
Munroe: Know your boundaries and that actually, I don't need to put myself in harm’s way just because I feel like it's something that I should do. I should be protecting myself, I should know what my limits are, I should be utilising the platform’s different functions to make sure that I'm protected. I love that Instagram has turned off the ‘other inbox’ where you can see all of the complete madness of people saying whatever they want. I think a lot of people feel like they’re limiting their impact by turning off that function and really it's sad that we prioritise essentially our ‘clout’ above our ‘wellness’.
ON MUNROE’S GO-TO LOOK:
Munroe: I've really embraced my cottage-core goddess over lockdown. I like gingham, I like floaty. I think comfort for me over lockdown… it’s my new kink I think…. I used to be into teaming lingerie with suits, I’m much more comfort-driven. I say this and then as soon as there is a red carpet…
ON THE MEANING OF PERSONAL STYLE:
Munroe: There's nothing worse than wearing something that doesn't reflect your mood. That's really not something that I'm willing to negotiate on anymore after having presented as a gender identity that I didn't identify with, is really not something that I'm willing to compromise on. I just wear whatever I want and people can like it or lump it. It’s about celebrating the spectrum of your personality. It feels stifling being expected to only have one look.
AND FINALLY, ON A SINGLE CHANGE TO MAKE LIFE EASIER:
Munroe: I would be putting more pressure on social media to clampdown on hate speech and more accountability for what people share on social media. I would like to see kindness prioritised on many different fronts and I wish that people would be a little easier on each other. If we can put that in pill form and then just dump it in the water supply that would be wonderful.