Springboard is here (Why doesn’t my heart go dancing?)

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…

springboard

…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.

************

Hi Eleanor

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.

[…]

Many thanks
Regards
Louise

…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)

_MG_2587 _MG_2592 _MG_2606 _K3_0069


* 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…).

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8 thoughts on “Springboard is here (Why doesn’t my heart go dancing?)

    • I think the law in the UK would in theory agree with that in principle, but I know for a fact that compromises tend to be reached in practical circumstances. Clearly the course organisers have no problems, but I am more concerned about the attendees. Much as I wish I could say that the old nemesis Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminism is an American-only thing, it certainly isn’t… (http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2015/01/20/poster-claims-trans-women-rape-women-every-nine-minutes/)

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      • Ugh, obnoxious. Some people are so ignorant and callous.

        I have no patience for the essentialism in some strands of feminism. Even when I read some of it back in grad school however many years ago, I didn’t understand how supposedly intelligent women could find all of women’s power in their wombs (so if a cisgender woman has a hysterectomy…?) or that all all heterosexual sex was rape (such a narrow view of the complexity of human sexuality) or various other nonsense. I’d shrug it all off as more from the lunatic fringe except for the very real damage it does when it justifies mistreatment of people who don’t fit their narrow categories.

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      • I have read subtle arguments that deny trans-exclusionary feminism is essentialism, though it does tend to seem as if they basically want the luxury of denying it while practising it…

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  1. First congratulations on being recognized by your employer. I can’t comment on your forthcoming experience with Springboard but I can say that outside the rarefied air of the online world trans* people are becoming more acceptable and in progressive circles ìt is even more welcoming. I think those with anti-trans views from the supposed left are far and few between. I think you’ll be fine and be a valuable asset. As for heavy lifting, treating dysphoria is no different then any other medically desirable treatment with side effects so I’d secure a note from a medical professional if the heavy lifting gets to be too much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sounds like an eminently sensible idea, as unfortunately I am not always working with managers I know (and are thus aware of my situation). Have been considering going back to college and aiming for a less manual job, but I will give this Springboard thing its due first. Job-hunting again as a trans person is somewhat daunting, so I would sooner keep the job I have if possible. Thank you for the encouragement. 🙂 xxx

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  2. I’m glad your employer is being supportive! About the development programme – I understand feeling apprehensive about how other participants will react, but if you do go, do it with the confidence that you deserve to be there as much as they do. Because 1) it’s true and 2) if you act like you belong, then most people will assume you do. If a problem does come up, don’t ask the organizers what “they would prefer” – tell them you have an invite to attend and it is their responsibility to make sure people aren’t made to feel unwelcome! They should be asking people who can’t manage that to leave.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very true, and I must resolve not to be a wet blanket about this sort of thing… Whilst no-one likes to be unpopular, equal rights were never won by caving in to prejudice. Hopefully, though, it won’t even be an issue. Certainly, everyone locally has been nothing but accepting.

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