I feel like a pre-op transsexual in PC World. Let me explain.
Some years ago I was working on a large IT Project for a well-known public body here in London. It involved visiting staff in many departments across many locations.
Early on in the project I was made aware by a colleague that someone I was due to visit was undergoing gender reassignment. I don’t think that was the phrase he used but it feels like the safest one to use here. Over the course of the summer Matthew had become Lucinda. (I have changed the names, but not the genders.)
Whenever anyone else on the project was visiting that member of staff I tried to make sure that they were aware of it too. There are simple things that might catch you out, from an administrative point of view: email addresses might change, login details might not, that sort of thing. Oh, and try not to stare at their feet, or their Adam’s apple. And don’t say, “Blimey. A bloke. In a dress.”
One of my colleagues, I’ll call him Rico, was going to visit Matthew/Lucinda and I told him what I knew. None of us had much experience, personal or otherwise, in the world of gender reassignment. I told him my favourite quote from Tim Moore’s book “Do not pass Go” and tried very hard not to think about the John Cooper Clarke poem “Crossing the Floor”.
Rico told me about the Saturday job he’d had at his local PC World, the computer superstore chain. Some weekends he’d notice people walking around the store, not apparently looking for anything, and not troubling him or any of the other staff for assistance. Usually they left without buying anything. They were all somewhere on the gender reassignment path. A workmate told him that it happened regularly: PC World was seen as a non-threatening place to take your first steps in your new shoes, as it were, a good place to be seen in public in your new persona. It was certainly a lot safer than, say, a local derby at Millwall Football Club. Pre-op transsexuals felt safe walking round a branch of PC World.
And that’s how I feel, in the early stages of putting this Blog together. I am taking my first steps posting stories and opinions for anyone to see and I need somewhere I can feel safe. I might not trouble anyone else for assistance. And I might leave without buying anything.