A non-binary flight attendant who previously had to wear a ladies’ uniform said they had never been happier at work after a new employer allowed them to wear whatever uniform they wanted. Jamie Forsstrom has been in the air service industry for the past four years and until now they had to wear a skirt, or dress, while on the job.
But now they work for Virgin Atlantic, who today announced a new gender identity policy that allows staff members to wear whichever uniform they feel is right for them. Jamie, originally from Finland but now living in London, said they’d never been happier – and that more employers should follow Virgin Atlantic’s initiative.
Jamie said: “It means personally very very much, I’m a non-binary person and I lean on the masculine side of being non-binary – it means I get to be myself at work and wear the uniform I feel more comfortable in.
“It means everything to me, it’s such a big change.
“Previously I worked for an airline and I wore the ladies’ uniform because when I was born I was female.
“I had to wear a skirt and a jacket, I could have worn a dress or trousers, but it was a ladies’ uniform. It was ok because I wasn’t quite out at that time, I thought I needed to wear it.”
Although Virgin Atlantic have just announced the new policy, Jamie said they were free to wear whichever uniform they wanted from their very first day.
Jamie described the change as being like a ‘day and night difference’, and said that more employers should follow suit.
They continued: “I asked on my assessment day if I could wear it if I wanted to and they said yes – they asked someone high up and they said, ‘yes, no problem.
“I think they want us to feel comfortable in who we are.
“Straight away I found out, then when I had my fitting there were no problems whatsoever and there was no confusion.
“Virgin is It’s such a pioneer with this, they’re paving the way. They’re embracing eveyrone’s individuality. This is what society should be like, it’s nice when people get me.”
While Jamie started their career wearing dresses and skits, now they’ll be wearing a three-piece burgundy suit designed by Vivienne Westwood.
Jamie continued: “It’s a three-piece suit, with tie, a very nice waist coast, trousers, blazer, lovely shoes – it’s a very smart suit. I wish my everyday clothes were this nice.
“I think that other employers should welcome everyone with an open mind, now we are going to get more who are non-binary or trans, it’s important to welcome people and be understanding.
“We have pronoun badges now, people should read them – just because someone sounds female doesn’t mean they are. Also treat us like people, because we are, all of us.”
The gender identity policy launched by Virgin Atlantic gives crew, pilots, and ground team members the option to choose which of the uniforms best represents them – no matter their gender, gender identity, or gender expression.
They said they will ‘offer people a fluid approach to its red and burgundy uniforms, meaning LGBTQ+ colleagues will be able to choose either the red or the burgundy uniform, depending on which best reflects themselves’.
Launched in the airline’s ‘Be Yourself’ agenda, the announcement is part of an ongoing drive of inclusivity, and they have also updated their ticketing system to allow those who hold passports with gender-neutral gender markers to select ‘U’ or ‘X’ gender codes.
Michelle Visage, Tanya Compas, Talulah-Eve and Tyreece Nye have teamed up with Virgin Atlantic to showcase the new policy in a stylised fashion shoot that has been released today.
Michelle Visage commented: “As the mother of a non-binary child, and as an ally to the LGBTQ+ community, these efforts by Virgin Atlantic to further inclusivity for its people are extremely important and personal to me.
“People feel empowered when they are wearing what best represents them, and this gender identity policy allows people to embrace who they are and bring their full selves to work.”
Juha Jarvinen, Virgin Atlantic’s chief commercial officer said: “At Virgin Atlantic, we believe that everyone can take on the world, no matter who they are.
“That’s why it’s so important that we enable our people to embrace their individuality and be their true selves at work.
“It is for that reason that we want to allow our people to wear the uniform that best suits them and how they identify and ensure our customers are addressed by their preferred pronouns.”