“The trans community faces so much discrimination; I want to give people hope”

Charlie Martin from Leicestershire, is aiming to raise £50,000 by crowdfunding on JustGiving so that she can drive at Le Mans – which would make her the first transgender driver to achieve the feat. Charlie is hoping to compete in the Michelin Le Mans Cup, which takes place ahead of the 24-hour race on June 15 this year, and has already raised more than £4,500 in under one week.

The acclaimed driver and LGBTI+ activist, who drives in the Michelin Le Mans Cup in LMP3 cars, believes that competing at the biggest race in the world during Pride month will send a powerful message about visibility for the trans community. “Le Mans is the most famous race in the world,” Charlie said. “It’s the pinnacle of any racing career, with millions of viewers and hundreds of thousands of spectators. I never dreamt when I began transitioning seven years ago now that I would be on the way to competing there; we’ve only seen women racing drivers emerge in the past five to 10 years.”

Charlie is looking to crowdfund the money to pay her team to ensure she is able to compete on the day. “I gave up motorsport when I began to transition, but my friends where so supportive that I reconsidered. I’m hoping to raise the money on my JustGiving page. Motor racing is expensive: I never had parents pumping money into my career as I lost them when I was quite young. I’ve been fighting and working my absolute socks off.”

“The trans community suffers so much discrimination, and I want to show people that you can do anything and be true to who you are. It’s really scary when you don’t know how people are going to react, so having public role models is really important. I gained the confidence to transition when I watched YouTube videos from other people, and since then my life has completely changed for the better.”

Charlie hopes that racing at Le Mans will show both LGBTI+ individuals and the wider public that there is nothing that trans people cannot achieve, even in the traditionally testosterone-fuelled environment of motor racing. In 2017, Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton apologised after saying to his young nephew “Boys don’t wear princess dresses” – an attitude Charlie hopes to counter.

“When someone of that stature in the sport says something, it sends out big ripples,” Charlie said. “A majority of trans children have contemplated suicide, and we have a long way to go to achieve true equality.”

Last year, Charlie, who dreamt of being a fighter pilot when she was growing up, helped adorn cars at Silverstone with stickers in the colours of the Pride flag, and is committed to education and activism on LGBTI+ inclusion in sport.

To support the appeal, please visit: justgiving.com/crowdfunding/gocharliem

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