Kris Lamont has worked with Metrolinx since 2016. As a new year approaches, Lamont – who transitioned during his years with the transit agency – is moving on to another job in another province. Before heading off, he sat down with Anne Marie Aikins, head of Media and Public Relations for Metrolinx, to talk about his journey, hoping it might help others who are struggling with issues of identity and gender.
Kris Lamont’s life started as a young girl in the small Ontario tourist town of Port Elgin, on the shoreline of Lake Huron.
But Lamont’s journey of self-discovery was much larger, with lessons for us all.
Lamont joined the ranks of the Transit Safety team – now called ‘Customer Protection’ – at Metrolinx in 2016. Since then, the supervisor on the fare revenue protection team transitioned to who he was always meant to be – a transgender man.
And that has left a legacy of courage for us all at Metrolinx.
Now that he’s moving on from his work at Metrolinx, I thought his trek – as he’s been in the background helping so many customers get to where they’ve needed to be safely over the years – would be well worth sharing.
Growing up in that Great lakes community, Lamont was never one of the cool kids, but was well liked with lots of friends – only a few who were particularly close.
“This is when I really clued in that I was a guy but my changes to my body were so challenging,” he explains. “I was often so sad and lonely.”
Throughout his difficult teen years, he did land his first job – working at a little excursion train station in Port Elgin, a job he loved. But he always knew he wanted to go into law enforcement.
Still living as a woman, Lamont attended the law and security program at Conestoga College in Kitchener, and during those years he realized he was attracted to women. However, he didn’t identify as a lesbian.
“I just wasn’t able to articulate what I was feeling during that time in my life,” Lamont explains.
It wasn’t until 2011, when Lamont watched the Oprah Winfrey interview with Chaz Bono that he realized that on an intellectual level, he was a trans male.
“I just blurted out – ‘that’s what I am’’ he recalls. “But on an emotional level, I just couldn’t comprehend it. Not yet, at least.”
In 2014, Lamont married a woman who was supportive of him dressing in whatever way he felt comfortable. And in 2016, he arrived at Metrolinx as a fare revenue officer
Shortly after he arrived, his marriage ended, and that emotional rollercoaster triggered a lot of inward reflection about his life.
Lamont knew that law enforcement and the railway were two industries that have been historically male-dominated. That made coming out even more terrifying.
“You are never sure who you can fully trust,” Lamont tells me. “Fear can really hold you back from living your authentic life, to be who you really are and I was raised as a people pleaser.”
It was only because of a very supportive team of co-workers and supervisors that he began his transition journey to begin the process of living openly as a male. In the Spring of 2017, Lamont met with his supervisor.
“I knew I totally surprised him as he’d never been in this position before, but then he surprised me and was totally accepting,” he says. “That completely blew me away.”
His supervisor told him he was going to talk to his superiors to ensure they provided the support he deserved.
A few weeks later, former security chief, Bill Grodzinski, who recently retired from Metrolinx, asked to meet with Lamont.
“With my heart racing not knowing what to expect I agreed to meet with the chief,” says Lamont.
What happened next, was one of the biggest milestones for Lamont
“Whatever you need. Whatever that might be. We are here for you,” Grodzinski told Lamont.
Simple words – that meant the world to an officer taking a huge leap of faith.
“I was fortunate to have worked with trail blazers throughout my career – that taught me well,” Grodzinski says. “Kris’ supervisor and I committed to each other that even though we may have never had a trans employee share their journey with us, we would set a standard we could be proud of and others could follow at Metrolinx.”
A lifetime of experiences followed for Lamont over the next few years – beyond all the difficult challenges faced working on the frontlines of a transit agency, especially throughout a pandemic. There were legal name and gender changes to happen, ensuring access to all gender washrooms, hormone treatments, becoming active in the Metrolinx Pride 365 employee resource group and building new relationships as a trans man.
This makes it sound easy – it wasn’t always. There were some who judged him, there were moments of doubt and some fearful times.
“But for the most part,” Lamont recalls, “my colleagues and supervisors always had my back and accepted me. I will be forever grateful.”
This acceptance and respect was solidified when he applied for and won the position of supervisor on the fare revenue protection team.
Recently, Lamont surprised many of his colleagues outside of his team when he announced that he was leaving Metrolinx to pursue a new career. His next job is as an operations supervisor with King Transit Authority, in beautiful Annapolis Valley, in Nova Scotia.
“I have made this tough decision based on my desire to spend more time with my partner and the love of a more rural lifestyle,” he wrote in his good-bye letter.
“I had no idea what a big influence this career path and the people I have met along the way would have when I first accepted the position. I’m thankful to all of you for what you have given me, and I hope that in some way I have given something back.”
It’s not easy sitting down to be interviewed for a feature like this.
“I decided that telling my story might help others who are just starting their own journey to discovering who they are,” Lamont explains.
It’s just fine that many people think of Metrolinx as simply a trusted transit agency that gets them where they need to be.
But Lamont is also a reminder of the many beating hearts that work hard for customers – in this case, a brave and valiant one I thought you should hear from.
Story by Anne Marie Aikins, Head of Media and Public Relations
Find her on Twitter @MetrolinxSpox