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Thermo Fisher Scientific’s Kat Bellamy on journey towards confidence

In partnership with myGwork

By Dylan Mann-Hazell

A person smiles into the camera
Kat Bellamy (Image: Provided)

“It’s been a really beautiful experience for me and very healing to look back on where I’ve come from and look at where I am now. I never thought this would be me, and I feel very proud.” Kat Bellamy from Thermo Fisher Scientific spoke to myGwork about their journey from a shy child in a small conservative town, to the confident leader of an LGBTQ+ business resource group.

Raised in a rural conservative town in the US Bible Belt, Kat grew up with minimal exposure to diverse sexualities – let alone gender identity. Despite this, they recognised their own differences from a young age.

They recall a distinct memory from around the age of five when they started desiring a haircut more typical of boys. Kat’s mother showed open-mindedness in taking them to a barber shop to get this haircut. This left a lasting impression, with Kat later reflecting on how progressive their mother’s actions were. This early exploration of gender identity remains a source of pride for Kat, who now sees their adult self as embodying the essence of that brave, inquisitive child.

“As an adult I’m living out this thing that I started exploring when I was just five years old”

“I started exploring my gender identity when I was young which, looking back, I now feel really proud of my younger self for being able to do that. And now as an adult I’m living out this thing that I started exploring when I was just five years old, and that just feels pretty cool.”

Around third or fourth grade, Kat started being pressured to conform to gender roles, unfortunately bringing feelings of shame.  In college, they began forming LGBTQ+ friendships, increasing the negativity and bullying experienced around them.  These experiences, coupled with the church’s messages that being gay was a sin, led Kat to internalise negative beliefs about their own identity.

Post-college, Kat embarked on a journey of self-acceptance and unlearning the negative beliefs instilled in them. Therapy became a crucial tool in this process, helping them on the worthwhile path to love themselves for who they truly are. While the road to self-acceptance was fraught with immense challenges, Kat now proudly openly identifies as queer, reaching a point where they feel content and confident in their own skin.

Journey to gender acceptance

The journey to accepting their gender came next. When Kat moved to Portland in 2021, they were still physically presenting as female. While hanging out, a new friend used they/them pronouns by mistake. After apologising, the friend mentioned that Kat has “a non-binary energy”. This comment made Kat pause and think, and actually consider this a possibility.

Now, Kat proudly identifies as non-binary and transgender. They have put years of internal struggle behind them and are more refreshed and confident than ever, able to live as their authentic self.

“It’s been a really beautiful experience for me and very healing to look back on where I’ve come from and look at where I am now. I never thought this would be me, and I feel very proud.”

Initially working for a conservative nonprofit organisation, Kat found it challenging to be themselves, yearning for a more inclusive work environment. They decided to explore other opportunities, and during an interview with biotechnology company Thermo Fisher Scientific, Kat boldly expressed their need for a LGBTQ+-friendly workplace. To their delight, the company embraced them wholeheartedly, offering support from the beginning.

Sense of community

Empowered by this experience, Kat quickly involved themselves with an LGBTQ+ business resource group (BRG) and is now the proud co-lead of the global network. They first got involved with the Communications Committee, collaborating on event planning and promoting engagement. The sense of community within the BRG resonated deeply with Kat, especially seeing queer people in leadership roles. They participated in discussions aimed at raising awareness and fostering a more wholly inclusive environment. Despite challenges brought on by the COVID-19 lockdown, the BRG successfully transitioned to virtual platforms, even expanding their reach.

Kat remains passionate about improving accessibility to inclusive bathrooms at site locations. They acknowledge the challenge of altering existing building structures to accommodate gender-neutral or inclusive restroom facilities, but believe this is necessary. Kat expressed their hope to see this change happen not only within all Thermo Fisher sites, but across all other companies and locations.

“You can’t do any of this stuff without allies”

Kat highlights the significance of allies in driving progress: “You can’t do any of this stuff without allies,” they say. “Having allies who actively show their support is crucial. I’d love to see more impactful allyship in action.”

Kat shared the importance of educating and guiding allies within the company through discussions, training sessions, and allyship panels. By encouraging a culture of active allyship and continuous learning, they believe the company could further enhance its support for the entire LGBTQ+ community. Kat’s vision for the future centers on creating a more welcoming and truly diverse workplace, where employees are empowered to bring their whole selves to work.

“I feel that I’m in a really important position to be able to, hopefully, help change situations for future queer people at work. It’s also just a really cool opportunity to be able to share and be the listening ear for someone who’s trying to learn how to be a better ally.”

Thermo Fisher Scientific is a proud partner of myGwork, the LGBTQ+ business community. Find out more about job opportunities at Thermo Fisher.