At the last Chams meeting, I was trying out an office outfit. Not because I'm changing jobs, or 'changing' at work, if you pardon the clumsy pun. No, I was seeing if I could manage a day time / office worker look. This is all because a few weeks ago, a local youth charity got in touch, asking if they could have some trans* awareness training. Well, having done some for a legal group not so long ago, why not? And if so, why not in Lynn mode?
Well, given the state of my nerves at 9 AM, the answer would be fear ;-)
But, much as fear occasionally serves as a not-so-gentle warning - you know, second thoughts about cliff diving, or wrestling a hungry tiger - sometimes, I think it's more fear of the unknown. That or it's close cousin, worry. Yeah, fear and worry have a place and they're useful survival lessons. They can, however, also hold you back. To that end, it was time to *ahem* 'man up' by putting on my make-up, and getting dressed for the office. Oh, and the trifling task of making it into town and being out in the daytime.
I'd been given a short brief around their training requirements and so I put together 10 slides. With the exception of one slide, they were all photos and then I'd talk about the topic each one suggested.
So, how did it go? Well, it was somewhat of a rush to get from the school run, home, changed, and off to the venue. It didn't help that a little way down the road, I'd realised I'd left my presentation on the printer. B****cks! :-D After a quick turnaround, duck inside and back out, I did reach town and get parked up. It was then a slightly brisk walk (in heels) to the venue. I was a little late given my detour and - duh! - I don't walk as quickly in fancy shoes, as I do in walking boots. Well, give this lady a science award eh? :-)
But, after catching my breath, it was on to plugging the laptop in and getting stuck in. I talked about what it was to be trans, what problems trans youth may face, what employed trans folk may experience, what is it to be in or out, names, how to be an ally, how to seek feedback and then a wrap up with 'Ask me anything'.
I thought it went okay, and it was a different crowd to the legal crew. I found a few one liners fell flat, but I moved on and just kept going. I had a few questions that had been sent in advance, so we covered those and there was a flutter of applause as we closed the meeting. I'm hoping that was more in appreciation, than "thank f*** she's shut up". You never can tell ;-)
|Working the office look|
A few hours later, I received an email with some feedback. The positives were that they enjoyed it, felt empowered to ask their customers more (what do you need? how can I help? etc) and the Gingerbread Person walk through really helped them 'get it'. As to room for improvement, they'd have liked more on the support of trans people, so, with luck, something for another day. As I've permission to use some of the feedback online, it is:
I suppose until you started talking, we didn’t really realise what our needs were; other than just to start a positive conversation amongst staff and have a whole team approach to supporting our young trans group, really be aware of how their mental health might be impacted differently or not, and to just be more aware – and knowing we can ask questions. So as far as I am concerned, you met our needs.
The additional information you have added to signpost people too is the cherry on the cake, so when needs go beyond what we are able to work with in house, we can direct people to others who can support in that area.
You have been fantastic, your openness and humour were just what we needed...
...so you offered perfect balance. We shall be in touch if that’s ok for refreshers and support for new staff in the future...
All in all, there are worse ways to spend the mid-week.