Friday, December 13, 2013

I, Spy

Hi folks,

Well, it's been an interesting few days this last week. Interesting as in a rollercoast of emotions, which at least tells you are alive. Nothing serious, but I could have done without it, if I'm honest. To be honest, there's a lot of be said about quiet. There are days when I think quiet is vastly underrated. :-) I think the stress comes in when you feel you've got a lot on. Things organised at work, which impact on what you've got organised at home and then things you've organised socially... well, you get the idea!

Event

I had the good fortune to attend a training event on Trans Policy at a local university. There were lots of people at the event, nearly a hundred or so and from various walks of life. Some old school activists/trail blazers - I met a gay chap who'd led an occupation of The Guardian in the 80s; some HR folk, various LGBTQI officers, staff 'advisory' folk (that was my cover), union people, visitors, academics and a few trans folk too (waves to Alison & Sam). I bumped into an old workmate (small world huh?), chatted with some visitors and then I spotted Alison talking to one of the organisers. Bless her, Alison, had volunteered to represent Chameleons: field questions, hand over leaflets and whatnot (which I thought she did brilliantly - and yes I did thank her).

After a free lunch - it does exist, kids :-) - it was off into another room to listen to the event's main speaker: Paris Lees. I found her talk both fascinating, heartfelt and, ultimately, inspiring. By dumb luck, I'd sat at the back of the room, and so I got to see people's heads nodding when Paris made certain comments. Things such as her struggle with being brave, fighting depression, the sheer stress of making herself go out and... well... just being herself really. Listening to what she went through, and hell, I'm just a part timer, is it any wonder that so many trans people don't survive, or decide to stay closeted, rather than risk what she went through.

Interestingly, Paris did say that she felt she wished she had more positive stories, that than the... what did she say? Yeah, 'misery narratives' that seem so common. That said, she did go on to say how she decided to turn her life around, take ownership of who she was and be a force for good ('Happier than I've ever been, because I owned my identity'). If that's not a positive trans story, I don't know what is. She got a massive round of applause and one of the directors from the university gave her some serious - and well deserved - praise.

We had a quick Q&A session, which I'll gloss over and then it was time to separate the public from the training folk, for our workshop. I was a little late for the latter as I sloped off to have a quick word with Miss Lees. I dunno, why did I do it? All I did was say thank you for all the work you've done. "You make help make it better for trans people.... even us part timers." There was a quick handshake and a smile, then off to the meeting. If I came across as a nutter, well, so be it. ;-) It's not like I've not worked for the title eh? :-P

[ Update: Paris' article in The Guardian on her early life ]

Training

The other element of the meeting was training lead by Tara Hewitt. Someone I'd not heard of until the event, and Tara's discussion points around gender and Trans people at work were fascinating. The training was lighthearted where it needed to be, thoughtful when required and never dull. The exercises in discussions were good too and ignoring my own feelings on this, the room felt that making this training available to others would be really handy.

It was a little odd being sat in on all this. On the one hand, it was wonderful to hear such positive views on the subject. But then, as Tara pointed out, it's a (mostly) academic audience, so we're pretty fluffy. We're not the old school stereotyped hard man business types.

On the other... I felt a bit like a spy. I wasn't going to out myself - although I wonder if my eyebrows and body language sets off alarms? I don't know - so it was a case of sit back, listen and occasionally chip in. The sessions were very much about people who want to transition, however, a number of people in the room talked about trans people who don't. It was a question I wanted to ask, and luckily I was beaten to it.

This popped up twice: once when a member of staff shared a story - with the trans person's permission - about how gossip had gone around the team, about speculation of Person B's bisexuality. Person B was upset about the rumours - gossip's not always nice - and their boss contacted them to find out why they were away from work. If this was being signed off, or ill, they didn't say and it doesn't matter. The manager asked if there was anything they could do to help, and Person B confided in them. Person B said that if people were gossiping about them being bi, which they were, how would people react if they found out they were a cross-dresser? There were many nods in the audience and it seems while the law is behind those who do transition, there is still protection for people who don't.

The other time was from a lady on the same table asking, what were the policies around trans folk when they first start. She went on to ask, was it an 'all or nothing jump', why should people have to commit so early on? etc. It was a very interesting, if short, debate. Does this mean you can be Mary on a Tuesday and Bill on Thursday? It seems not, from the feel of the various staff representing, but maybe that will come. Maybe it will be as one chap said: "In fifty years, we won't be having this conversation - other than to say, how different it was in 2013."

After all of the above, driving home was a bit tricky, as my brain was in a bit of a spin. I do find this and really, I guess I should learn to spot the danger signs. With all the positive vibes going on, I felt a little like it would have been fine to be out, or even fine to be as Lynn.... But, Sensible Brain says different. One afternoon does not a life make :-) It's not just me in our family and frankly, I don't have the time to do this all day, every day. No, I'm going to do my best to enjoy what I have. If I can help others along the way - which we try to do at Chams and I try to do at work with the HR assistance - that's good.

Obligatory Chams Photos and Other Stuff

Chams itself was quiet, possibly because we're into Xmas party season and school plays (oh, Wee Man and Little Miss did brilliantly in there's... proud Dad moment ahoy!).

I got to chat with Alison about how she found the event, even if she only got to hear the first part - which I think is a shame. Not sure why visitors were not allowed to attend. It wasn't like it was top secret. Who knows?

I'd gone for a more casual look after the previous party weeks. I was pleased with the fit of my denim mini - I'd wanted one for ages - and I'd taken a risk on using a copper-like colour on my eyes as way of a change. It all helped balance me out upstairs.

I had a slight issue at work, which was a combination of lack of communication and people chucking their weight about (I include myself in that statement). I know I'm far from perfect. Maybe I need to realise that I need to let myself be wrong and just because someone else acts up, I don't need to behave like that either. Funny, we had a different meeting today where everyone was very relaxed and We Got Stuff Done. Maybe I should try to encourage more of the latter. Even if my 'blood is up', it's better to be a grown up right? ;-)

Oh, I've also signed up to a Blogger challenge, which is to write about a given topic in the new year. You can read a little more about the idea behind this here and given the amount I waffle on, hopefully you'll see some notes on this soon.

Take care,
Lynn
x


11 comments:

  1. Ah, so you went then. I couldn't make it what with my birthday and all. I'll digest what you have to say when I'm in a more coherent state of mind :)

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    1. LOL. Yes, perhaps a post after a glass of pop (or eight) may be challenging. Birthday contrats etc <3

      I made a few notes during the talk - I'm weird like that :-) - and one element I didn't put into the main post, were Paris' comments about sex work. How she undertook that to help pay for what she needed. Maybe I should have because looking back, I think it helps explain why people do it. I guess because of necessity (money to fund life / pre-transition work) and her comment that it made her feel special because people wanted her for who she was. I'm not saying that the above is a good or a bad thing, I just appreciated her honesty in making the statements. Do we look for comfort at whatever cost? There's another thought for another day.

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  2. Sounds like an interesting day, I can imagine how your head was spinning on the way home.

    I'm with Paris on the positive stories, they were sorely missing when I was getting ready to transition. It does make the process harder, and it brings the worst feelings to the front.

    I find the gossip bit interesting, I had the same thing in the office. Apparently the gossip was that I was a deeply closeted gay man who could not bring myself to admit the truth.

    I have to admit that it didn't bother me so much, just because it meant they were not thinking the truth - but even there there was a bit of annoyance about the fact that people were talking behind my back at all...

    Stace

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    1. Yeah, it was a very interesting day. Lots to think about. Where are we [trans folk] headed? What's the future? How do I - if at all - fit into this? etc.

      I'm with you to on the positive stories. That's why I started up the Our Different Journey site. It's not got the same impact, but if it makes one person feel better, its work is done. :-)

      As to gossip... sorry to hear that you got the rough end of that. For what it's worth, I had similar - although very minor - comments made while I was a student. I guess even when I tried to hide it, the feminine aspects shone through. If folk mistake that for being gay, that's their problem. :-)

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  3. cheers for another blog post =)

    Miss Lees really is quite inspiring i first heard of her when she interviewed Jonathon Ross. was a good interview about trans (well sort of lgbt focussing on the t) in comedy.
    all the best to you and your family throughout winter and the festive season.

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    1. Hi Jessica.

      cheers for another blog post

      LOL. You're welcome, Mrs. Thanks for taking the time to add a comment and for the festive wishes too. I hope you have a good one too!

      I'll have a look for Miss Lees' interview. That sounds interesting.

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  4. I'll leave link for you here =)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P10XtpbMwVg

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  5. Ive been looking forward to reading about your event/workshop for a while, im glad that it went really well and a lot of positives came out of it, it seems as if the people who attended took something good away from it. Ill have to have a read of the Guardian article about Paris's earlier life later on when I have more time, from what youve written it definitely sounds like its worth a look.

    I went through a HR workshop about a year or so back and as part of that we talked about discrimination, which of course includes gender identity. I also felt like a spy as this was going on and was a little afraid of saying too much so just sat there and nodded along with the conversation. One of the other managers who thankfully left the company a little while back put across a few scenarios to the HR guys and they were ill-informed and to be frank a little offensive, I really wanted to say something but couldnt without risking outing myself, but as youd expect the HR guys corrected him. Its a shame there arent more laws protecting those of us who are part time, but I suppose it would be a difficult thing to classify considering the countless different types of trans people and there own individual needs. Anyway...

    Good job on listening to sensible brain too, as much as youd probably get a positive reception at work by the sounds of things, there is a lot more to consider outside of that.

    Nice pic too! :)

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    1. Hi. I've been looking forward to it too (can you tell? :-) ), so it was both exciting and a bit of a relief when it all went off.

      I thought your comments about the ex-manager's comments were very interesting. The trainer was saying that the crowd (us lot) were fairly 'fluffy'; not the hard edged/disinterested/jaded/bigoted audiences she'd taught in the past. Part of me would like to sit in one of those and see if Tara can make them re-think and she how she does it.

      Thanks for the kind words re: the piccy. I think that's one of my favourties for this year.

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