Trans model and activist Munroe Bergdorf reveals what’s keeping her hopeful in the waking nightmare that is 2020
Reflecting on the “rabbit hole” that is 2020, model Munroe Bergdorf has reminded us all that “there is still hope”.
The year 2020 has been quite the ride for the trans activist, not just because of a major pandemic and a global reckoning with race. In June she was hired as a diversity consultant by L’Oréal after the company was widely criticised for sharing a Black Lives Matter post claiming “speaking out is worth it” – despite dropping Bergdorf, its first-ever trans model, for speaking out about white supremacy in 2017.
She’s also signed a six-figure publishing deal, with her debut book, Transitional, due out next year, has been applauded for schooling a Conservative peer on ‘casual’ racism and transphobia, and has found herself in the pages of British Vogue– where she has written about how there is “always hope” in these seemingly dark times.
“You just have to know where to look,” she wrote.
“Wild though these times are, we have never been as informed en masse as much as we are right now — that is something worth celebrating.
“Imagine navigating this pandemic without access to social media, without being able to interact and add your voice to a news feed that holds governments and corporate entities accountable for their actions.”
One thing to celebrate, Bergdorf said, is how this means it is “harder for those in power to pull the wool over the eyes of the general public”.
We must protect freedom of speech “at all costs”, she added. “But exercising your freedom of speech is not the same as exercising, inciting or encouraging hate speech.
“It’s about holding people accountable for their actions. We need to ensure that we are solution-based and focused on resolve, rather than just on revenge or public shaming.
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“We need to encourage a culture where people aren’t afraid to be held accountable; where it’s OK to change your mind; where people are encouraged to grow rather than forever being seen as their worst public moment. I feel hopeful that we’ll get there.”
Munroe Bergdorf has had a wake-up call.
Lockdown, Bergdorf said, has shown her that she had been on a treadmill. Being busy was something that looked good from the outside, but on the inside her mental health was slipping.
Now, having been forced to slow down during an undoubtedly difficult period, she’s experienced a “wake-up call, a recalibration of sorts”.
“We are having the difficult conversations that for decades have been swept under the rug, ignored, avoided, or watered down.
“Black Lives Matter may well be the biggest civil rights movement in history. Living in a time where I can witness this kind of change first hand gives me hope for a better, more inclusive, and fairer future.”