So then, my employer – Royal Mail – has fully accepted me as a transgender employee and I have managed to keep my job, change my name with HR, and acquire the right to never again have to set foot in that foul annex of Mordor known as the men’s restroom… So far so good. Sadly, however, some managers there (quite understandably) still seem to feel I am the same healthy, strapping lad they thought they were hiring back in 2011, and that I am thus eminently suited for high-endurance tasks… while my stamina-draining antiandrogen medication begs to differ.
While management technically has to make accommodations for employees’ medical conditions, part of me cannot evade the argument that I did in essence choose to render myself less physically able. Many people, both trans and their critics, would state that physical transitioning is not an essential concomitant of being transgender, and one could well make a case that I have repaid my employer’s goodwill quite badly by taking a singularly nasty medication that unavoidably makes me worse at key aspects of my (very manual-based) job.
However, an opportunity has now come along to hopefully make myself useful in other ways, by broadening my responsibilities with a possible view to taking on acting management roles. Last week, I received an invitation to the following scheme…
…and yes, in case you were wondering, by “women’s development programme”, that does mean “women only”… and I wouldn’t blame anyone for wondering “how the hell does she / he / it* have the nerve?”
Well, in fact I didn’t have the nerve to apply while I was still wondering if they were perhaps in the dark about the “quality” of my feminine status, so I emailed them thusly…
I was interested to recently receive information on the Springboard Women’s Development Program, and would like to express my interest in participating if deemed appropriate. I should clarify that I am a transgender woman, and I am aware that some people might have strong feelings about such a person participating in a women-only program, so I would understand if it was considered an unwarranted disruption. If I was allowed to participate, I would certainly endeavour to be discreet.
Thank you, and I hope to hear from you.
Thank you for your email. I will register your details with the Springboard database and as soon as we have enough ladies interested in attending a programme at Cardiff I will write to you and invite you to attend.
You are definitely entitled to attend as long as you are not managerial grade as Springboard is for non-managerial grades only.
…which, I can but hope, will lay to rest any rumours that I am some kind of patriarchal Trojan horse muscling in on female-only spaces, though I am steeling myself for any such accusations that may arise from fellow-participants of the programme (It is not as if the conveners can speak for all possible attendees). If those objections arise, I am not yet sure how I will deal with them. I would probably seek to have a quiet chat with the course conveners to discuss what they would prefer, as there would be no ideal solution: were I to bow out for the sake of dubious tact, it might send the impression that their programme fails on the diversity / intersectionality stakes (though I suppose there might be scope for reorganising the groups to avoid friction). I have no particular wish to find myself in the middle of a political fracas. Then again, I have no particular wish to have to work for a living in the first place, but life is all about making the best of a bad lot (as one keenly comes to appreciate in the painstaking course of trying to customise one’s woefully off-the-mark body to match one’s sense of identity).
I do of course feel my true calling was to be a vampire and haunt the Opera Garnier, but sadly the vacancies just aren’t coming up that often these days…
(Pictures by Alan Moss)
* Though as I said before, I am quite cool with “it”: such an egalitarian pronoun, and the only “insult” it implies is a shaky connection to the human race (and my solidarity with it has never been all that great…).