This has been a tumultuous year for us all. The COVID-19 pandemic brought added challenges for the more vulnerable people in the LGBTQ community. The Black Lives Matter movement gathered momentum in the wake of the Breonna Taylor and George Floyd murders. Meanwhile, violence against the trans community continues to rise.
All the while, the divisions between trans people and Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists (TERFS) has never been greater since JK Rowling’s misguided essay emboldened the TERFS’ position.
Throughout this, Munroe Bergdorf - recipient of the Hero Award at the 2020 Virgin Atlantic Attitude Awards, powered by Jaguar - has used her platform to pick the conflicts apart, breaking the sometimes complex language down into clear, concise facts that highlight the injustice at the heart of each issue.
Munroe Bergdorf reflects on the year that changed the world in the Attitude Awards issue (Photography: Zoe McConell)
When she’s not challenging outspoken bigots including Baroness Nicholson, Munroe works closely with charities such as Mermaids and Stonewall Housing to help young, at-risk trans people.
This summer, she also found healing — and vindication — when L’Oréal apologised for firing her as a voice for diversity in 2017 after she tweeted that white people benefit from systemic racism.
Munroe’s Hero Award celebrates the dignity and resolve that she has shown in being a reasoned voice in a world that increasingly refuses to take the time to listen to those who aren’t reflected as prominently in the mainstream.
Breezily confident, authoritative and with multiple high-profile strongs to her media bow, it's easy to forget the trials Munroe overcame growing up in a rural village in Essex.
"I’ve always been a very tenacious person and I was severely bullied in high school. I spent a lot of time on my own and I didn’t really have that many friends", Munroe recalls in the Attitude Awards issue, out to download and to order globally from 1 December.
Munroe wears dress by Gucci, feather jacket by 16 Arlington, jewellery by Alan Crocetti (Photography: Zoe McConnell)
"But I was very driven and determined to make something of myself as soon as I left the town that I grew up in."
The 33-year-old adds that she's determined to ensure the so-called 'transgender tipping point' heralded by the media this decade becomes a flood of opportunity for the young trans people still only just starting out on their journeys.
"So much of my trauma was [experienced] as a young person. I felt isolated, and I don’t want any young person to feel like I did when I was a kid. I went completely off the rails because of it", Munroe reflects.
"I want to help be the catalyst in inspiring young people to aim high and not feel like they can’t do something because of their identity. I genuinely thought I wouldn’t be able to do half the things I’ve achieved because of my gender identity. I just thought that that was my way because I hadn’t seen it.
(Photography: Markus Bidaux)
"If young people can see the possibility of what you can achieve, hopefully they can then achieve more things, that my generation haven’t been able to."