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Meet & Greet: Stella Cottee, Optician at Specsavers, Trans Life Coach and Photographer

This week, myGwork member and Specsavers’ Stella Cottee shares her trans journey and highlights why trans allies at work are 'everything'. She also shares her many side-hussles alongside her day job, which include being a trans life coach, make-up artist and wildlife photographer.


myGwork: Can you tell us about your career journey to date and the transition into the creative industry? 


Stella: I have spent the whole of my career in the optical industry working within the Specsavers Group for the vast majority of the time. I was director of three Specsavers franchises for about 20 years. Photography and makeup have always been my passion, and side jobs that I’ve done all my adult life.


myGwork: Can you tell us about your current role


Stella: I am actually employed as a dispensing optician four days a week and spent the rest of my time on my trans-related business ( or getting away from it all doing wildlife photography (


myGwork: Can you tell us about your personal transition journey? 


Stella: I only transitioned in December 2020. I had started taking hormones in July 2020. I had known my trans feeling since the age of around 8/9, but didn’t understand it. I dressed up often from my early 20s, but probably wasn’t comfortable with it until 35. By this time, I had two kids and was scared of losing everything. It wasn’t until my second wife announced that she was leaving me in May 2019, that I took the decision to be the authentic me.


myGwork: What were some of the challenges that you faced along the way? 


Stella: The biggest challenge is always to make the leap of faith in your belief, and believe in who you actually are.


myGwork: What challenges are people in the trans community still facing, especially at work? 


Stella: In the UK currently, there is a small but vocal anti-trans group, stirred up by the likes of J. K. Rowling that drives hate and discrimination in the media, which is quite scary. In the workplace there is now plenty of legal protection, and in general most are supportive. With work at Specsavers, I have found nothing but love and support.


myGwork: What advice can you offer someone considering transitioning? 


Stella: Life is too short not to be the authentic you. Be brave. Be strong. Be you!


myGwork: How important is LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace to you? 


Stella: Quite simple: I just expect it, so it’s everything, as everyone has the right to be their true selves everywhere.


myGwork: Why do you think there are so few LGBTQ+ leaders in the workplace, and what more can organizations do to ensure more leaders who identify with LGBTQ+ are promoted into leadership roles? 


Stella: I think that there probably are more LGBTQ+ leaders than we think, but a reasonably large percentage keep their gender identity private. As far as trans go I think we are still where the Gay community were 30 years ago. There is still a stigma, and many stay closeted in high profile jobs. I have known several who were on the boards of top 100 companies who were closeted. I genuinely still believe that most large organizations boards are male dominated, and they have always been threatened by woman, so they are not likely to be comfortable promoting LGBTQ+.  It will happen, but it will take a long time before it’s fully accepted.


myGwork: In your opinion, how important are LGBTQ+ allies, especially trans allies, at work? 


Stella: Allies for trans in the workplace are everything. On my first day I would not have got through it without my allies. They were so supportive and from that day, they have allowed me to blossom.


myGwork: How are you personally promoting inclusion in the workplace? 


Stella: I lead from the front by being the best I can, showing that being LGBTQ+ does not stop me being a great employee. I am working with the LGBTQ+ support group within Specsavers, especially supporting any trans staff within the group. 


myGwork: What more can organisations do to promote LGBTQ+ inclusion? 

By simply judging a person’s ability and suitability for the job, not their gender


myGwork: What's your all-time favorite movie/show and how many times have you watched it?  


Stella: My favorite movie is Love Actually. I’ve watched too many times. It simple makes me so happy that I cry every time I watch it.


myGwork: What's your most favourite holiday destination to date? 

Stella: Cayo Coco in Cuba because it’s wildlife paradise for my photography and has great beaches to chill on.


myGwork: What do you do to unwind? 

Stella: I am a wildlife photographer. It just gives me peace and tranquility, as well as seeing some amazing creatures. 


myGwork: Which drink/cocktail helps you unwind most? 

Stella: Vodka and coke.



Stella is also one of the speakers at our event on Trans Day of Visibility this week. Click here to find out more about the event or to register.


You can find out more about Stella or connect with her here.


Check out some of myGwork's other recent Meet & Greet interviews, including:



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