I always knew that starting work again after my sabbatical (yes, I wasn’t really retired) would be a defining moment for my gender. I was privileged to be able to take so much time away from the pressures and stresses of work to sort myself out, ok, OK transition. So starting back at work would be a defining moment, as I knew it would be a validation point.
I am now eight weeks into my new job. It’s great and more. Things at work don’t really feel any different than before – I’m still me. There are just a few thing, and even though I had social transitioned for many years, and only experienced female pronouns and my chosen name for the last eighteen months, I do still get a shock when people refer to me as “she” and “Rebecca” in a work setting.
It’s a different organisation, and a long way from Manchester – all the way in the heart of London. A commute of about an hour door to door consisting of a super-fast train into Paddington, and then the Circle Line (that’s the yellow one).
I never related to the word transition because I didn’t “transition”, not in the big scary sense of just rocking up to work one day a woman. It was more a gender drift that began in Manchester, and is currently very happily in South East. It’s not be fantastic all the time, it’s been difficult, and after the initial and often “miss-gendering” from September 2015, numerous hate crimes all the way up to Summer 2016, I now get very little shock, stares, douche-bags in my life.
On no make-up days off work I am greeted with madam or miss in shops, cafes and bars. That’s all 6’1” of me – even in my skinny jeans and converse. It’s a place where I thought I’d never actually get too. No hassle. My voice does still need work, and work has got in the way of practice – or maybe that is just my poor prioritisation.
In short, I get up, go to work, go home, go to bed.
Life is pretty boring.
(OK, it’s not that boring, I do sh*t loads of socialising (and community stuff) just don’t tell my boss).
Work has been the validation point that I wanted it to be. Validating me. People accept all of me.
However, the biggest validation didn’t come from work, it came last week on my journey into work.
It made me realise the biggest validation I needed was not from other people, it was from my own self-realisation. It came from inside me.
It came when I saw a woman, she was about my age, she had dark hair, she was tall and slim. I was sat down, I had just finished my book, she was standing with other commuters on the other side of the carriage, holding on, as the tube travelled along. I looked at her. I admit I probably stared a little too long, but while I did a thought just came into my head. I remember it was the simplest, and yet so significant.
“You’re a woman, just like me”.