So here i am: sat on one of the top tables, next to some of the main award nominees. The plus side of being a writer for the Register is that we have a certain cachet within the IT industry: part feared, part admired.
For the second year running, I had the enormous privilege (thanks, Joe!) of getting to hand out the ISPA award for internet villain of the year, and i pray i didn’t let the publication down.
But, dear reader, i left you as i was entering the dining room. Nervous. Proud. Very very unsure.
By the end of the evening, i was on cloud nine. I don’t know what happened, what i did, how i was…but suddenly a lot of very bright people were treating me as a woman.
Not that that was all positive. For the first time, i found blokes narrowing the distance – something i have been warned of by other trans women. They don’t stand as far away as they used to. There was something indefinably different about so many of the conversations.
I’ve already noticed it with women: the inclusion; the gentle re-assuring touches; the smiles. Now, with blokes, too, something different, protective, sometimes patronising. Possibly that thing that gets referred to elsewhere as “male privilege”.
My lips remain sealed as to the identity of the senior internet figure who patted me affectionately on the behind as we parted company! In time, i am sure, i shall learn how to get cross about such things. For last night, it was amusing and maybe a sign of how people are starting to “read” me.
I glowed inside as I wandered down to the cloakroom area and, totally unprompted, the assistant looked up and pointed to a door behind me: “The Ladies is there, Ma’am”.
I still, still can’t believe i “pass”…but maybe. Oh, maybe that time is coming slowly closer.
I chatted to Peter Robbins, Chair of the Internet Watch Foundation (and my favourite ex-copper). Sad that Sarah PR wonder woman from the same organisation could not be there – but with just three months of pregnancy left to go (how time flies!) i suspect she is beginning to have other pre-occupations.
I felt bad for Bridget Fox, up for an award as internet hero for her role in organising Lib Dem opposition to Lord Mandelson’s Bill: for Bridget had been tipped to take Islington South for the Lib Dems in May – and didn’t quite.
I didn’t hob-nob with Feargal Sharkey this year – not least because i can never remember anything of his music: but i did gain some mild amusement from teasing the Beeb’s Rory Cellan-Jones, who i met the year before – though then i was considerably larger and a lot blokier.
All in all, though, it was an evening full of sparkle: a sense, once more, of coming home. At last, i can be myself…and everything, from everyday, to formal occasions, is infinitely easier.
Since this is a run-down of last night two more honourable mentions. First to the lovely Caroline from internet hosting company Namesco…whose Monsoon dress i truly coveted.
And thanks, too, to the lovely orange-waist-coated railway workers at Kings Cross who made my going home such a joy by wolf-whistling and cat-calling me across the platform. Mmmm. That bit is sarcastic, in case you’re wondering.
A magical evening.