Peta Hay always knew she was a bit different. Born Peter Hay, she had feminine features, curves and didn’t feel like she fit in. Peta had gender-reassignment surgery and is now a Trans Lesbian, but even that didn’t end her challenges. She didn’t think she would ever be fully accepted at work, and remained closeted in several workplaces. But at Alstom she is fully accepted as a woman and is out and proud, and a member of their Pride Employee Resource Group.
Challenges throughout her career
Peta faced challenges being accepted in both her personal and professional lives and spent time seeking the right place for her.
“I moved to Australia many years ago as I was searching for a better life. I was also looking for somewhere I could be open about myself as my family were not accepting. Workplaces were always a bit of a minefield for someone like me. I have experienced discrimination, but I kept going just for survival. I had to keep a low profile and maybe a little closeted which I hated.”
She started her career in aviation, in the Technical records section, first in New Zealand and then in Australia. Peta then spent a few years working in Configuration Control at the Naval Base in Sydney. She moved into the Document Control field working in the Gas sector in Queensland. Following a redundancy, Peta found her way into the rail sector focusing on Digital Systems. After all this moving around, she found her way to Alstom working on the Sydney Light Rail project in Sydney.
Throughout her career journey, Peta faced challenges about her identity.
“With my personal sexuality and gender identity, it has not been easy to be myself in many industries. I experienced some discrimination in the resources industry and even in aviation. I had to stay in the closet in some places which made me very anxious. My colleagues were not always accepting, and some gay jokes were difficult to hear.”
Having to remain in the closet held back Peta’s career, and she was overlooked for promotions due to her identity, but she persevered and remained committed to herself.
“I am proud that I was able to overcome all the discrimination and the many obstacles, and that I was able to grow in myself. It was difficult to be vulnerable, but I persevered.”
Growing her confidence and finding the right workplace
Peta loves to travel, and spent time teaching English in Ethiopia as a volunteer.
“That experience really changed my life. It gave me confidence to be able to travel and feel comfortable anywhere.”
Her gender reassignment surgery was also a huge source of pride for her. She could finally present as a woman and as the person that she is. As for Alstom, knowing that she was accepted was a turning point in her career.
“The moment when I was able to be completely open about my life and my identity made me realize that I had made the right decision to work at Alstom.”
Peta has been with Alstom for two and a half years now as a Site Document Controller. She has moved from the Sydney Light Rail Project to working onsite in Milperra for the Sydney City and South West Metro project, and she really enjoys her work.
In her free time, she wants to learn more languages, do more study, travel the world when we can again, and write a book. So, her life aspirations are as big as her career aspirations!
Taking Pride in your work and yourself
Alston started a Pride Group which Peta is part of. She is empathetic and extroverted, so is pleased to be a part of the group.
“This has really made all the difference to me. I can be a part of a group and be supported in my career here.”
At Alstom, they really accept Peta for who she is, and Peta is happy to have opportunities to grow and build her career with them. She knows her circumstances aren’t shared by everyone in her community.
“For many in my community, right now, they do not have a career or a future, but things are changing. I feel very comfortable with my work life now and my social life.”
Peta herself is inspired by others how have overcome obstacles to move towards their goals, and success in her own life is defined by being able to be herself and live her full identity.
“I would say that I was my biggest critic and that I can now do what I thought was impossible. I am proud that I am accepted as a woman in Alstom.”
It’s not just about her own life and identity for Peta though. She uses her experiences and lessons to help others. One of her hardest periods of life was during the plebiscite on marriage equality. She used her emotion about it to help other people.
“I decided to get involved in the issue and supported the organization, making phone calls and knocking on doors to promote marriage equality. This is how I kept myself sane during that time.”
Helping others to reach their own goals, and making the world a more inclusive, accepting place is her philosophy in life.
“I would like to leave people the knowledge that you can be who you really are and be accepted. That I made things easier for the next person.”
And to others wondering how to find their place in the world, she shares;
“It doesn’t matter who you are – you can be who you are and be accepted. You can achieve your goals.”
And with a company like Alstom behind her, anything is possible for Peta.