So. It was with serious palpitation that I walked through the doors of one of the UK’s larger mega-corps a couple of weeks back. Palpitating and somewhat out of breath, as I’d done my major shop the day previous – but realised, as I got ready at 5.30 am to head down to London, that I was back in boots…and only had a pair of rather pathetic pop socks to cover my all too long legs.
OK. Not quite “too long”: the legs are good. Its just my overall height that I’d happily sacrifice a little of in order to achieve feminine averageness. That and my shoe size!
So it was a rush down the A1 and round the M25: then a frantic dash through Waitrose and Next (neither of whom had the required hold-ups) before picking up a pair in Boots; and a quick fix to my make-up in the centre car park before driving several miles the wrong way into London. Not my fault if someone gave me the wrong address!
This wasn’t nervousness on a par with some of the early days coming out. But it was still nervousness. Like: this is a real company, staffed with ordinary, “normal” people. Because, of course, the other advantage to being a journalist with a brief to write about things like sexuality and relationships is that I am often dealing with and interviewing people far more exotic than myself.
I needn’t have worried. I really needn’t have worried. They were utterly wonderful. Not a comment: not a remark out of place the entire time I was there. Not a single instance of misgendering: not a single (obvious) stolen glance apart from, maybe, in reception, from one or two other visitors to the company HQ.
No problem with my using the ladies – or if there was, it was politely never mentioned.
No intrusive questioning.
For four days I worked alongside a bunch of slightly geeky (in a GOOD way), highly competent IT types, coding SAS, wrestling with SQL, and exchanging banalities about the pitfalls of the wide area network. This really is how things ought to be. I won’t name the company for now…just in case.
But as a big company dealing with a trans woman, they were exemplary.
Only remains to give an honourable mention to Debbie, the woman who project managed my work with wit and intelligence, whilst simultaneously being rushed off her feet with 101 other demands on her time.
Sadly, this experience feels like the exception, rather than the rule.