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Educating and inspiring keynotes about gender, identity and diversity

Matt Ellison

travels from UK

Thought-provoking speaker on identity, courage & acceptance basing his keynotes on his own story as a transgender man

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Speaker Matt Ellison is inspiring and thought-provoking. In today’s world we are becoming more and more accepting of transgender people yet there’s still widespread misunderstanding which makes it an important topic to discuss. Matt’s keynotes can benefit healthcare professionals, businesses, educational institutions and more.

Looking for a Pride Month speaker?

If you’re looking for an experienced Pride speaker to entertain, educate and inspire your event guests or employees, Matt Ellison is one of the most personally qualified Pride Month speakers on the UK circuit today.

From marching at Pride as co-chair of FTM London – a female-to-male transition support organisation – to working with a range of SMEs and international brands, Matt is no stranger to this fantastic month-long event.

Matt has worked as a Pride speaker for Microsoft, Disney, Rolls Royce, eBay, Henkel, 38 degrees, Nest Corporation, Pod Point, Actis, Beacon, Q4 and Portman Dental Care to name just a few.

Matt is a great believer in encouraging effective change, with his Pride speeches helping to kick-start organisational initiatives and enabling people to fully connect with the subject of diversity and inclusivity. So if you want to start implementing internal adjustments such as using pronouns in emails, or launching an allyship programme, what better way to start than have Matt take the floor as your featured Pride Month speaker?!

As a transgender man himself, speaker Matt Ellison has struggled with his own identity and his story is filled with highs and lows. Matt always knew he was transgender and he has now devoted his life to educating people on the topic. Whether speaking about medical interventions and legal implications of the Gender Recognition Act or Matt’s own personal story with a popular Q&A session, Matt’s keynotes are educating, inspiring and motivating. After nearly four decades being too fearful to go through the changes that he needed to be happy, he finally found the answers that made the scariest challenges of his life feel easy and effortless. What he learned can help others to also overcome fears that are often exaggerated and to increase their motivation to achieve their goals in life.

Matt has spoken to a diverse variety of organizations and past clients include Fidelity International, NatWest Bank, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, Westminster University and the College of Mental Health Pharmacy. Matt’s corporate clients have learned how improved diversity and inclusion allows them to recruit from a greater pool of talent, and helps their employees feel happier in the workplace. Happier staff are more motivated and perform better for the client’s business, and staff retention is boosted. Healthcare professionals have gained a deeper understanding of the needs of transgender patients, enabling them to deliver a higher standard of care and with greater empathy. In general, audiences are impressed by Matt and his journey has inspired and motivated them. While facing many challenges he developed the tools needed to minimize fear, allowing personal transformation. He communicates these skills so others can apply them to all areas of their own personal and professional life.

Matt Ellison speaks on a variety of topics and is able to customize any keynote to the particular event and audience.

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    Speaker Matt Ellison Keynote Topics

    Keynote by Speaker Matt Ellison

    Diversity & Inclusion

    • In this highly relevant keynote, Matt will talk about:
    • How diversity and inclusion can help your company thrive, from recruiting more highly skilled staff to increasing staff productivity and boosting staff retention
    • Practical advice on how to be more inclusive, develop good practices and put together company policies and procedures.
    • How to be more dynamic with your diversity and inclusion policies and procedures, creating a higher degree of engagement, including with your non-LGBT staff
    • The UK Gender Recognition Act and how to avoid inadvertently committing criminal offenses

    Keynote by Speaker Matt Ellison


    • What is gender?
    • Male, female and non-binary.
    • The difference between sex, gender and sexuality.

    Keynote by Speaker Matt Ellison


    • Who do you identify as?
    • Internal and external factors – appearance and inner identity.
    • How aspects of identity may be in conflict or undergo change.
    • Identity, self-discovery and self-realization.

    Keynote by Speaker Matt Ellison

    Social Norms

    • Our minds and lives are conditioned by the norms we have grown up with.
    • They may seem natural, inevitable or just plain common sense, but they can be limiting or worse.
    • Creative questioning of norms can allow liberating change.

    Keynote by Speaker Matt Ellison

    Change & Motivation

    • Having made life changes more fundamental than most people are faced with, Matt Ellison brings his insights to the issues of blocks, facing the unfaceable and redefining your life for the positive.
    • After nearly four decades being too fearful to go through the changes that he needed to be happy, he finally found the answers that made the scariest challenges of his life feel easy and effortless. What he learned can help others to also overcome fears that are often exaggerated, and to increase their motivation to achieve their goals in life.
    • In this keynote, Matt will give you tools and strategies to increase motivation and overcome fear!

    Keynote by Speaker Matt Ellison

    Courage & Inspiration

    • Matt knows what it’s like to risk everything.
    • He feared he could have lost his family, friends and business & been branded a ‘freak’ by society, yet none of those things happened.

    Keynote by Speaker Matt Ellison

    Trans Awareness & Acceptance

    • Raising awareness of transgender issues.
    • How best to support staff, clients, students etc who are undergoing or are around those undergoing gender transition.

    Keynote by Speaker Matt Ellison

    Equality & Rights

    • The UK’s Gender Recognition Act: a British perspective on the right to be respected and to be accepted whatever one’s gender identity, sexuality, race etc.
Watch speaker Matt Ellison in action

Matt Ellison Speaker Showreel

Get to know Matt by watching his Speaker Showreel!

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Matt had the audience captivated with his own incredible and courageous personal story. I have to say it was one of the best sessions I have ever seen delivered at a Pharmacy Conference and I have been to many in my 24 years as a pharmacist professional.

Rachel Mackay

Associate Director of Medicines Management

Matt is obviously very passionate about helping others and telling his story, so others are confident in taking the first step to changing their lives. Matt was able to share useful resources to the group and was keen to speak to members of the audience on a personal level after the talk. A thought provoking talk.

Anne Cooper

Lloyds of London

“I have no hesitation in recommending Matt to speak at any event across any industry vertical. I think his stories around transformation and change, and the bravery and courage in personal journey, is something that is applicable to any type of person in any type of industry”

Jonathan MacDonald

Sunday Times Best Seller and International Speaker

Pandemic, or no pandemic, nothing can stop our Kentucky Fried Pride celebrations. To get the party started, Matt Ellison joined us virtually to share his personal journey and experiences. Buckets of love and gratitude to Matt for such an inspiring, authentic session.

KFC UK & Ireland

Matt was fantastic. He brought great energy and delivered a personal, honest, inspirational story. We were very happy.


"Highspot asked Matt Ellison to speak at their annual Stand for Change month to learn more about gender diversity and inclusion, and suffice it to say that we were blown away with the session Matt delivered. Not only did he tailor the session to the company and what we were seeking to understand in terms of information, but his openness, honesty and willingness to talk about topics we would normally shy away from was hugely refreshing, and has helped normalise conversations about gender identity in the workplace already. By sharing some of his experiences and stories in such an open way, Matt will no doubt help us make our professional and personal lives more inclusive. We cannot thank you enough, and would wholeheartedly recommend booking Matt to speak at any and all corporate events."


Transgender 101: Pronouns – How you could make a real difference

I still see much misunderstanding around the use of pronouns for transgender people. They’re such a little thing yet to the transgender person it can make or break not only their day, but often much more than that.

I fully understand how it can be confusing. Right from a very early age as we learn to speak we gender those around us according to how they present on the outside. Even a three year old will automatically say ‘he’ or ‘she’ and use them in the correct context. It just comes naturally. So when a transgender person says they’re transitioning and you’ve known that person a while it can feel unnatural to gender them as to how they identify. I won’t lie, I even miss gendered myself occasionally in the early days of my transition!

I went through my childhood with many coping mechanisms in place and one of these was around the female pronouns that were being attached to me. I reasoned with myself, for example, if I was thirsty and wanted to buy a can of coke I’d tell myself ‘Actually, it doesn’t make any difference to me at this very moment in time whether I am male or female and whether the shop assistant calls me Sir or Madam, he or she. I’m not in physical pain because of their chosen pronoun and it makes no difference to my ability to purchase my drink. They’re only words. I’ll get my drink just the same and it will quench my thirst just the same’. To some degree this helped me cope, however in reality this is not how it works. Those little words, Sir, Madam, he or she, actually have a far more impactful and significant meaning to a transgender person than most people could ever contemplate. There’s a vast burden of psychological triggers attached to those words. Every time they hear an incorrect pronoun it‘s a stabbing reminder of the many things that aren’t right for them in life. There’s the possibility of digging up any of the hundreds of negative feelings experienced from living within the wrong identity, and this can trigger feelings of dysphoria, depression and even self harm or suicide. So if a person is already having a bad day and feeling dysphoric, then gets miss gendered, it can amplify those feelings ten-fold. Most of us will have experienced stubbing a toe; if you’re having a good day “ouch” it hurts, but if you’re having a really bad day it can make you crumble and want to burst into tears.

So imagine how amazing it feels to be gendered correctly?

This can be the complete opposite to what I’ve described above and make the person feel on top of the world. Not only does this prevent triggering those stresses but this time the positive psychological impact of such an encounter can be enormous. It has great meaning attached to it, including acceptance from those around them, feeling validated and respected, but above all it shows people care. Not bad for something that doesn’t mean much to the person saying those words and just takes a little thought.

When should you make the switch to new pronouns?

On the whole if a person has identified themselves as transgender the correct pronouns to use from then on are the ones of their preferred gender, but be careful because there are exceptions. Pronouns used should be at the preference of the transgender person themselves. Sometimes people don’t feel ready straight away, perhaps they are waiting for hormones to have brought about enough physical changes that they pass in their preferred gender, or maybe they haven’t had a chance to tell everyone around them yet.

As a rule of thumb, if you’re not sure, you could use gender neutral pronouns such as ‘they’ and ‘them’ but if you can it‘s nice to discreetly ask what they’d prefer.

I often hear even the most understanding and supportive people using the wrong pronouns simply because there is confusion as to what is correct. Many people simply don’t realize the impact pronouns have on the transgender person.

Non binary

There’s another thing of note and that is those who identify as non binary or gender queer etc. This topic could fill another blog but in brief it means that person doesn’t associate themselves with either gender. Often a non binary person will prefer gender neutral pronouns such as ‘they’, ‘them’ and ‘their’, but sometimes they may have a gender which they do prefer. It is up to them and it is respectful to use the pronouns of their choice.

What if I mess up?

Now here’s a great question, as this often happens by accident! Usually the best way to deal with this is to simply correct yourself and carry on without bringing more attention to it. If the person making the error starts making a fuss and is overly apologetic it makes it into a bigger issue than it was initially.


So if someone you know is transitioning, a fantastic thing you could do for them would be to use the pronouns of their preferred gender. Go on…..you’ll make their day!


Interview with Matt Ellison

What made you realize you wanted to become a speaker? 

There were a few things that all came together. As a young child at school I discovered how much I loved giving talks and presentations to my class. Most of my classmates would be really nervous but I was always excited. I just really enjoy speaking.

Then when I started teaching as an adult, I soon realized I was in a fantastic position to inspire students and to make a real and positive difference in all areas of their lives. I loved the way that teaching enabled me to do this, however I then realized those opportunities are even greater as a speaker.

Then lastly since deciding to transition from female to male I have become very passionate about the topic and am excited to help others have a better understanding. Transition has taught me a lot. It wasn’t all easy, but it’s certainly been the most life affirming and amazing journey one could ever imagine. So I get to do something I love while educating, inspiring and helping others.

How much does humor factor into your keynotes and other speaking engagements?

What a great question. We can usually find a light-hearted side to life and that was something I actually made use of to cope with some awkward moments during my transition that might otherwise have been difficult or even traumatic. Bringing humor into a talk at an appropriate moment certainly helps me to connect and engage with the audience. And it certainly lets me know they’re still awake!

Why should clients use you for their next event?

What I offer is unique, current, interesting, educating and inspiring. Transgender issues are a hot topic in today’s world. Although society has recently become more accepting, things are still very new and a greater understanding can be facilitated.

I can educate on transgender issues from a social, medical, legal, psychological or moral point of view, depending on the client’s requirements.

I truly believe my life experience has relevance to everyone, and the strategies I developed can be applied to all areas of professional and personal life. I survived living in the wrong identity for years, and took tough decisions to make fundamental changes in my life that could have lost me everything. I broke down my barriers and learnt to cope with major challenges both during and after my transition. These strategies can help others transform their life situation and realize the person they really are.

I educate and entertain, with a story you’ve not heard before, and won’t forget in a hurry!

What are your biggest goals in your life or career currently?

My biggest goal at present is to make a real difference by reaching out to more and more people through my public speaking. I want to give as many people as possible a very positive and memorable experience around meeting a transgender person. I relish the opportunity to entertain, educate, and really change the way individuals, organizations and businesses think about many things including, but not limited to, transgender issues.

Oh, and a personal goal? I want to learn to sing better.

‪Who or what inspires you most?‬

I’m inspired by people who faced with adversity, and despite the odds against them, keep going and keep fighting, making a real difference in this world. Especially those who can do all this with a smile on their face.

What’s something you should never ask a transgender person? 

Definitely a big no-no is ‘What was your previous name?’


Strategies for Corporate Change: Insights from Gender Transition

In general people usually opt for familiarity over change. Think how you feel when an app, or website suddenly changes their layout, all the tabs have moved and, at least initially, navigating is just that much harder. I’m sure most of us have experienced the frustration of this. Yet as we know, corporate organisations and […]

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Airport Scanners – A Major Fear For Trans Travelers

One fear for many trans people is flying, specifically getting through airport security. Without fail, every time I fly I have anxiety about whether today will be the day I am asked to go through a body scanner at security and will be picked out due to an anomaly because of my trans body. If […]

Read more
See keynotes with Matt Ellison
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Keynote topics with Matt Ellison