For 42 years of my life I’ve had straight, white male privilege.
Last year I concluded that as much as I enjoyed the privileges it came with – I would be happier, more content, and I could be as equally as successful without it.
My relation with my gender identity has been interesting. But it wasn’t until the last few years when I understood I didn’t need to the fit the gender stereotype society set me on since birth, and those of being transsexual. I began to understand gender wasn’t polarised and it gave me the opportunity to really ‘think outside the box’. Non-binary works so nicely, not the middle ground non-binary, but significantly on the side of female.
When I left my job, my career, last September – I did it for several reasons. The most important for me was that I simply needed a break. I had worked every day for over 20 years. I needed space. I left without knowing what my gender identity had in-store for me, it wasn’t fluid, and a negotiating of references in either name and gender was available so everything was up for grabs.
Work provides so many mental barriers to gender conformity. Having few commitments and responsibility gives you time to think. Without those barriers, and one week into my road-trip around Scotland in an androgynous form it was pretty clear to me the direction of travel. The direction away from the straight, white, male – that had ironically gave me the opportunity to say “f*ck it” I’m off.
Since leaving I have ‘transitioned’ even though I don’t relate to words ‘transition’ (the process in which you move from one gender to another) is what I have clearly done. This was obviously what I had done to everyone else apart from me it seems, but as I had socially transitioned (however I presented) for a few years it simply didn’t seem to fit how I felt it should. Apart from work there was no place I wouldn’t go – so everyday life outside of work was no different.
Strategically I had planned my exit, and what I needed to do to understand if this is what I wanted, and more importantly if this is something I needed. A private appointment with gender specialists, referrals from my GP to the GIC (Sheffield) all coincided (more luck that anything else) with leaving work. The reality is after then I never looked back, but certainly the odd hesitation and many, many frustrations.
The decision to relinquish my previous name and gender just made my life simpler. The complexity of my life just got 50% easier overnight, and coupled with not working in a busy and stressful job. And relax. And that is just what was needed. I have so much respect for people that transition at work. Firstly, the effort involved every day, and then mental need to have to make it work – every day.
There is still a long way to go, things don’t change overnight, and things don’t complete over a year – but they do move, very slowly in a direction I am even happier with.
My straight, white, male privilege was not so much revoked – I just simply didn’t want it anymore.