Exploring being non-binary in the Royal Navy.

Exploring being non-binary in the Royal Navy.

Triss Finley Smythe identifies as Agender and has spent the last 4 years serving in the Royal Navy as an Air Engineer Technician.

Being a sailor I had to come out 2-3 times, but coming out in the Navy was very easy. The Royal Navy has made a huge emphasis on inclusivity and pushing that they don’t care how you identify, as long as you’re doing your job, we will do what we can to support you.

They asked what my pronouns were and what I needed from them in the future, there weren’t any issues.”

However, Triss hasn’t always been greeted with open arms and in the last year has received a number of death threats outside the Royal Navy,  alongside losing multiple friends because of their identity. 

When I came out as Agender, a lot of people who I considered friends went ‘nope’ and disappeared.”

How did the death threats affect you?

It was difficult, I will never forget the first one I ever got. I was already going through a bad battle with depression and anxiety and my self-worth wasn’t where it should have been.

So to get a death threat when I’m already facing what feels like an abyss it was like, ‘actually I don’t need this push’”

Luckily for Triss, they had the support of their family and partner, alongside the support of the Royal Navy’s sexual orientation and gender identity network named Compass.

With this support they found themselves being able to navigate receiving death threats and find a sense of security once again.

Triss experience with death threats is one that is sadly shared by many, in 2020 Galop UK released a report which highlighted the severity of hate crimes towards trans and non-binary individuals.

Its findings found that 4 in 5 had experienced transphobic hate crimes and 1 in 4 had experienced physical assault or the threat of physical assault. 

The support I had was outstanding, but it still hits hard because it is a death threat. It was someone saying to me they don’t want me to exist, it was personal.”

How has the Royal Navy supported you as Non-Binary?

“Last year there was an RMTM which is an explanation of regulations coming out. It stated where possible, you’d have a gender-neutral bathroom.

My squadron within 2 hours of this RMTM coming out had made the changes and one of our toilets were gender-neutral.

It gives me as an Agender individual a place where I don’t feel gendered walking into.”

Triss goes onto say:

There is no better feeling knowing that who I’m serving, i.e the Royal Navy, is also serving me. 

They’re standing by me saying ‘whatever society says, we know you exist and stand by you’. To know that whatever happens outside, I’m safer at the base and it goes a long way”


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Author: Charlotte Summers