‘You can build the world that you want to live in’: Munroe Bergdorf opens up about reclaiming her power at GLAMOUR’s Empowerment Summit

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‘You can build the world that you want to live in’: Munroe Bergdorf opens up about reclaiming her power at GLAMOUR’s Empowerment Summit


Whenever Munroe Bergdorf is in the room, you know that something special is about to go down. And when the social activist, broadcaster, and model (not to mention previous GLAMOUR Women of The Year) took to the stage at GLAMOUR’s Empowerment Summit, she did not disappoint.

In conversation with GLAMOUR contributing editor and host of the Reign with Josh Smith podcast, Josh Smith, Munroe reflected on her personal journey from coming out (three times!) to using her platform to enact social change.

The interview kicked off with Munroe reflecting on the first time she felt truly empowered. “There’s something very powerful about when you are a child,” she began. “As adults, we’re constantly trying to get back to that feeling of being carefree […] I’m constantly trying to get back to that childlike state.”

She also recalls feeling empowered as an adult when she started university: “I started seeing more people like me and also just started to question a lot of the things that I grew up believing about either myself or other people like me. I started recognising that you can build the world that you want to live in, and you don’t need to live in a world that doesn’t resonate with you.” Mic-drop.

Munroe’s journey of self-discovery has been a long one. “I came out first as gay when I was really young – I think around the age of eight,” she explains. “I was swiftly told no. And then, I guess I came back out again when I was 14 as gay and then came out as trans and then came out as bisexual. So this used to be a process of trying to understand who I am, and then I just started to realise I actually labels only really are there to serve you, and you don’t necessarily need to find a new one to identify with constantly.”

“When we pull our resources, when we pull our perspectives, our impact, we can’t be divided.”

Throughout this path, Munroe has found solace in community. She tells Josh Smith that community is especially important within the context of global injustices. “When we pull our resources, when we pull our perspectives, our impact, we can’t be divided.” This can be achieved through a “shift from the individual to the collective and recognising that if we are all on the same page and talking to each other, communicating, understanding what each other needs, then that’s really how we’re going to get stuff done.”

She continues: “Community is what has gotten me to this point. I couldn’t have done it on my own when I was being taught to shreds in the press or losing my job because of standing up for what I believe in. It was my community that rallied around me and was that confirmation that I was on the right track.”

Community is particularly vital when societal infrastructures – such as healthcare and funding for transgender charities – are lacking. “The Tories don’t provide any government funding for transgender services,” Munroe states. “All of the services that help us are running largely on donations, which the community has to facilitate in terms of people even knowing that they exist. So yeah, community is survival.”

While community is vital, Munroe is also calling out organisations – and indeed, the UK government – who perpetuate transphobic rhetoric. “It’s easy to exploit small communities because the government doesn’t need us to vote for ’em. But we are in all of the headlines of every single paper, especially conservative papers, even though we’re less than 1% of the population, which doesn’t make sense.”



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