Charlie Martin is a British race car driver and transgender activist. She recently took part in a virtual speaking event at adidas where she shared why it’s not only important but essential for any performer – whether in sport or in business – to be able to be their authentic self.
The power of representation
Growing up hiding her identity from the world, the first connection Charlie had to motorsports was quite late in life. “I never in my wildest dreams imagined that I could be me, as you see me today, in motorsports,” Charlie explains. “Growing up I never saw someone who looked like me, someone who was openly LGBTQ. That sends an incredibly strong message when you don’t see anyone who represents who you are.”
The reaction to her coming out surprised Charlie, as there was an unexpected outpour of support from the racing community. Now, she uses her platform to raise awareness and build the representation that she never saw growing up.
The power of being your true self
Charlie recalls her personal and professional experience before her transition. “I’ve always been a very optimistic person, but I realized that in the past I often echoed things that people around me were doing to try and fit in socially. Now in hindsight, I can see that I wasn’t living as my true self.”
Not only socially but “even in terms of my career, and my performance. If you compare my driving prior to coming out and post that period, it’s like night and day. That in itself is the physical, practical proof of how important being your authentic self is to a sportsperson.”
Here, allyship matters as someone would only hide themselves if they feel they are not allowed to show who they truly are. Both in sports as well as the workplace, people perform better when they don’t have to self-censor aspects of who they are and instead can bring their authentic selves to their craft.
The power of open-mindedness
As a British athlete who races across Europe, Charlie often connects with people who have the intention to connect and live allyship but might not have the right vocabulary to talk about topics around inclusivity and LGBTQ terminology.
This is also how Charlie defines allyship:
For Charlie, the importance lies in connection and communication: “The best way to educate yourself is first-hand experience. The intention is important to me as well as growing through conversation.”
Charlie will take part in the in the 2021 Britcar Endurance Championship which starts next month from Silverstone, England.