A Northern Ireland civil servant has been named the Stonewall Trans Role Model of the Year 2020 for the support she's shown to transgender colleagues.
Ricki Kettle said she was overwhelmed by the award, which was given in recognition of the role she has played within the LGBT staff network, the support she has shown coworkers and in promoting the civil service as an inclusive employer.
Finance Minister Conor Murphy, whose officials recently developed a strategy to develop diversity and inclusion, thanked Ms Kettle for her work.
The 43-year-old Belfast woman, who said she knew from the age of three or four that she was a girl, said conversations around transgender rights were limited when she was a teenager.
"I came out as a gay man first - a lot of people in my generation who were trans did," she told iNews.
"I've been very lucky in comparison to other people's journeys, because transitioning happened quite naturally. I was quite feminine growing up, and my family were always aware I was different.
"It gradually happened over a number of years. I had a conversation and said I’m living as the gender I should have been born. I had conversations with family and friends over time. I got tremendous support, and felt reassured and loved by my family."
Ms Kettle said she she started in the civil service in 2012, where she started changing her physical appearance and eventually her pronouns.
"The process itself was quite easy. I worked in an operational dept, and while some people had to catch up with the pronouns, there was no resistance or hesitance. When you are just yourself, people do accept you as that."
Finance Minister Conor Murphy said workplaces should be diverse, welcoming and inclusive.
"Ricki has been a champion of LGBT equality in the civil service," he said.
"Particularly with developing the trans policy and transitioning at work guide.
"I would like to thank Ricki for her valuable work and am delighted her contribution is being recognised."
Ms Kettle said the most difficult aspect of her transition was waiting to be seen by a gender identity clinic. The waiting list meant it was a year before she could be seen.
She added: "I didn't even realise my colleagues had nominated me for the award.
"It was when I saw I'd been CC'd into a congratulatory email that I first realised what had happened. I'm so surprised and touched, and it was a lovely way to find that out."
She added: "In going about my daily work I am very conscious to understand how work experience can be improved for LGBT colleagues and I am always thinking about opportunities to help me to do this.
"To have my efforts acknowledged like this is truly wonderful."