Celebrating Pride Month: Meet Sydney Preston

Sydney Preston is a Senior Graphic Designer at Southcoast Health. She works in Marketing and helps communicate messages to the public and employees.

Those colorful brochures and flyers you see at the checkout counter of your primary care provider? Sydney created that. The informational posters in the halls of the hospital? Probably made by Sydney. That giant billboard along the interstate? Sydney designed it.

“Our primary function is solving problems communicated to the Marketing Department. By reviewing the problem we can help find a solution in the form of marketing materials,” she says. This also includes event invitations, signage, and wayfinding.

Her love for graphic design begins with photography. “I originally wanted to be a photographer. However, I was nervous about making a living and realized I could still work with photography in the graphic design field.”

For the last eight years, Sydney has created engaging visual images and designs with important messages that need to be communicated on behalf of Southcoast Health. “I like the challenge of trying to distill important and sometimes complex information into something that is easily read, seen, and understood. In some ways, we are visual translators.”

This is an important year for Sydney. And this month, especially, as we celebrate Pride Month and its significance. “This is the first Pride Month that I have been able to celebrate as me. Last year I was still processing and coming to terms with what lay ahead. But, I see Pride Month as a time to celebrate. It is a time to be proud of who you are and what you may have gone through to get where you are.”

Sydney is walking into a new lifelong season: Transitioning from male to female. “I have worked at Southcoast Health for eight years. I understand people have known me one way for that time. I am expecting people will refer to me as ‘he’ or ‘Stephen’ out of habit. I know mistakes will happen. It is hard to erase the past, to change a perception. The hope is that in the days and months to come, they will be less and less.”

She says regardless of changes on the outside, it’s important people realize she is still the same on the inside. “I have the same personality, the same quirks. I would prefer having someone ask me a question even if it is a silly one rather than walk on eggshells around me. I have never done this before! My journey up to this point has been surreal. I know I still have a ways to go.”

For anyone reading her story and struggling with their identity, Sydney offers some guidance saying, “The thing I find is that you are never too old. Others who have gone through or are still going through transitions will say, ‘If I did it, you can too!’ As cliché as it sounds, I would echo that sentiment. I am a little less than a year into my journey. But when I look back to where I was, I am in awe of what I did to get to this point.”

At one time in her life, she felt everything was crashing in. “I felt like all the safe places I built in my head and real-life were not available. It was almost an out of body experience where I didn’t recognize who I was. I couldn’t go on as I have, as I was. I am fortunate to have an amazing and accepting family who listened and help push me along when I needed it. I also reached out to friends I felt would support me. I built up my support team and have leaned on them quite a bit. I had previously felt like I didn’t need anyone. But through this journey, I realized that it is okay to open up. Okay to ask for help.”

She adds, “Be yourself. Own it. It is super easy to say, but more difficult to carry through.”

Since beginning her transition, she has felt a new level of happiness. “For the first time in a long time, I am no longer content or just ‘alright’. I am happy. I feel lucky.”

She is hoping that the current situation with COVID-19 will eventually slow down allowing us to return to or create our new normal, and get back to designing all the Southcoast Health artwork amongst her coworkers and colleagues. “I love what I do at Southcoast Health. I love all the people I have met over the years. I would love to be here in the next 5 to 10 years.

As for future goals, Sydney says she has quite a few related to her transition. “I am looking forward to the day when I stop thinking about it and noticing it. When I can just be me. When I stop wondering what other people see when they look at me.”

Southcoast Health is committed to embracing and fostering a diverse and welcoming environment for all.

We strive for a culture of health that recognizes, respects, and celebrates the rich diversity of one another and the communities we serve.