Category Archives: Civil Service

LGBT United

I know, blog is supposedly a day late, sorry, and all that. But yes, I was busy yesterday, very sore when I got back, which is why you’re getting this tonight, as work was a no go today, but thankfully the hours from yesterday sort of make up for that.

Yesterday’s trip out actually began, and ended with something that was not out of the ordinary, Trans Pennine Express trains running very late, to, and from Manchester. If I say the departures/arrivals, the closest to punctuality was 7 minutes, you get my drift!

As stated in the previous blog, my first ever Civil Service Conference was related to LGBT issues, so no shock there. The toilets were strictly gender neutral, but yes, the women all stuck to the ladies, and the men to the gents side. Hardly surprising given we cant use urinals, lol! But a lovely gesture, all the same.

The first talk was a pair of people from the Welsh Government Civil Service, and their thriving LGBT section, and the work they do. Very good, very impressive, and just showed how much my department has to do if we’re going to get Stonewall awards too. Got some good tips about what we might want to do, at least.

Talking of Stonewall, our next speaker was actually representing them, giving us lots of useful information on what they do, what they can do to help us improve our diversity standings, and what we could get involved in, if we wanted to, which is probably more useful for London folk, than us a long way from town, but still stuff for us.

Then into the first panel discussion of the day, which was interesting to listen to, though you can never be sure if leaders are saying what they think, or what they think we want to hear? Probably just being cynical on that front, but I’ve been there so often in my life, probably just me jaded by bosses at my previous job, who wouldnt have known what Diversity & Inclusion was, if it had bitten them on their backsides!

After lunch we broke off into selected rooms, for various sessions. Firstly I went with my own department Pride group, who were looking for suggestions on ways to improve matters, both for members, and those of us on committees, and groups as well.

My second session was in the same room (tactical health planning, lol), and was 2 Team Leaders advising us on how they dealt with someone who transitioning in their section. Now, without wishing to show bias, I would say the TL’s at my place handled it with me in a far better way. Mind, I guess its easier when someone has already transitioned, not transitioning in that role, but anyway…

Lastly, I went to a heart rending session, which was a Trans male, writing to his younger self, about what was going to happen in the rest of his life. I could relate to this so easily, because other than a reversal of genders, it was pretty much my story too.

After that, a different panel, for another panel discussion, which summed up the day, and yes, confirmed what a great success it was. We had a good split on the LGBT rainbow, and allies there, which was a good sign. What I did realise, and that Stonewall had mentioned can be an issue, was just how ‘white’ the room was. Hopefully, the next time, assuming there is one (and there should be), we can get a little more widespread representation on that front at least.

But was it a worthwhile event, absolutely, and praise goes to all who helped to arrange it, especially Rachel, who did incredible stuff, just to get this on. Who knows, maybe the next time, I’ll be one of the speakers, or presenters, we will see. But put it this way, I will, if I can!

Oh, and if any readers came out yesterday, on ‘World Coming Out Day’, I say congratulations, and wish you well for your future.

OK, video time. Showing my age, as this is 48 years old! And before anyone says this isnt Brotherhood Of Man, because they know the Eurovision group, you’re right, this is an entirely different line up, but they predate the other line up by about 6 years, but given these were all session singers… they needed replacements, lol

 

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The circles of life

OK, two fun things that came out of the trip to London this week, for my Department LGBT committee meeting, both representing a circle of sorts.

The first one isnt related to work, mind, it actually relates to the London Underground, hows that? Yes, that yellow line that goes around, and around, with seemingly no end, the Circle line. As a child, I always wondered how they decided where, and when to end a service that went around in circles, as at some point it had to start at the beginning of the day, and finish at the end. Equally, I have no idea how they reduced the service outside of peak hours either, but anyway, enough childhood musings, as I’m sure they had some clever way of doing it, but I just have no idea what it is.

But seemingly, now, its not a circle anymore, even if its still called the Circle line! Strictly, the trains do a circular route, with a ‘tail’ on one end, to take it to Hammersmith, but when that ‘circle’ gets back to Edgware Road, after a full loop, it stops, and runs back the other way. I found this out yesterday, as I thought I was being a shrewd ‘old bird’ by just staying on the Circle Line, all the way from St James Park, to Kings Cross, but still ended up having to drag my body across platforms, and up stairs (no lift) at Edgware Road, to be able to do so. If I’d known that, I could have saved myself a whole lot of time, changed at Victoria, but anyway… But yes, the Circle line is very much a misnomer nowadays, great shame, in more senses than one. It seems (thank you, Wikipedia) that it has been doing this since December 2009, which shows just how often I go to London nowadays!

I actually had another train first, the first time I’ve travelled under London, other than by tube, when I rode a Thameslink train from St Pancras, to Abbey Wood. Again, its been happening for a while, but was my first time.

The other circle I did, was a circle of work. My first ever (unsuccessful) job interview in 1974, at the age of 16, was for a junior position in the Ministry of Defence, in Westminster. I remember nothing much about it, other than that it was a very imposing building, everyone was dressed immaculately, and I had to sign various documents before I could even have an interview. This week, of course, I visited the imposing building that houses my Department in Westminster, almost certainly completing the London works circle in my life! I’m not sure if it will be my last visit to London in a works related role, though given the frailty of my back now, it might be.

But yes, the changes in 44 years, quite incredible. And yes, I wore a formal black dress, but I was the only one I saw dressed formally in that sense, lol! Back then, I’m sure every woman wore a dress, and probably heels too, which I passed on.

Next Thursday, not only am I involved in another LGBT event, this is a complete Civil Service one, and I will be there. I’m sure if you’d told that nervous 16 year old, on that first day in a government building, that this would be happening, I would have laughed at you. But yes, things have changed, for sure.

Right, video time. I didnt even need to tweak the blog title to work this one in, lol!

Good old fashioned Civil Service?

Any readers old enough to have seen ‘Yes, Minister’, or ‘Yes, Prime Minister’, or more likely, have seen any number of the repeats over the years, probably have an image that every Civil Servant, even now, wears an immaculate suit, or dress to work, depending on gender, and preference of wear. How do I break this to you, it doesnt happen.

I’m not saying that some of the top echelon dont do so, but at our level, smart casual clothing is fine. Well, normally it is, but… A month today (19/9, or 9/19. depending where you reside), we’re being given free reign to dress up posh at work, for the day. It is for a good cause, it will raise money for charity, and there will be prizes for the best looks. Then yes, back to standard smart casual the next day, lol!

Who, me, dressing up, of course I will be, darlings! Though to be fair, unless First Buses are prepared to actually clean their buses, it will be work only wearing a dress! Well, I wont get changed when I go out to get lunch, but anyway… But yes, if I had faith in a clean bus turning up, I would wear it to work, believe me! Both the most suitable dresses are floor length, so pavements might be issue too, but anyway, the concept of wearing a dress to work, and back, done it before, and will do it again!

My obvious choices at present, are either the Flapper Dress I wore to my Birthday celebrations, which most at work havent seen, or a wonderful vintage style dress I bought in Kansas City many years ago, and have only worn a couple of times, as its a real special occasion dress! Which it will be, well, wait and see! Or read on here, in most cases, I guess? I must admit, it will be interesting to see what others decide to wear too.

So yes, for one day at least, Sir Humphrey Appleby would probably approve of Civil Service wear, lol.

Video time. Yes, you can tell this really is live, as there are a few ‘moments’ in this when things dont go quite to plan. I suspect this will be a new song to most, if not to me. Yes, I purchased the single of this, about 46 years ago! Was a rarity, actually, as the label was incorrectly pressed, another song, different artist, lol. B side was correctly done though, lol.

Stepping Into Christmas Outfits

(Major tongue in cheek warning here)

Did you know there are some people that think all Civil Servants are pompous, presumptuous, and controlling, a bit like Humphrey Appleby in Yes, Minister, and Yes, Prime Minister TV series? Maybe they were back in the 70’s, and 80’s, but now, seriously…we’re almost as human as the rest of you! 😛

Dont get me wrong, we take our jobs very seriously (quite rightly), but anyone who thinks every man comes into the office dressed in suit, and tie, and women dressed in business dress, and high heels, well, you’re going to be disappointed, all the same!

For those of you keeping an eye on the calendar, you might have noticed that December, and Christmas is just around the corner? So yes, that means that ‘annual delight’, the buying of gifts for a work colleague, better known to some as ‘Secret Santa’. Yes, even Civil Servants do these things. I know, shocking! Well, our office does, anyway.

So fine, we all buy one present, hand it to one of the team leaders, and then all presents are handed out dutifully, right? Wrong, seems there is a demand for a Miss, or Mrs Claus to hand out the gifts. Which might seem a little ott, except that we have a team leader, and an actress who quite fancy that idea! Now whether this is a dull, practical outfit, or something slightly more fun, well…lets wait and see! But, if you fancy a few pennies on the latter, you might be on a winner! Given I’m nearly 60, I suspect not too wild (plus it is a working office), but something a little fun, absolutely.

I do believe that many years ago, and I do mean many years ago, I dressed up as a helper for Santa. No, I cant remember why, it would be around 40 years ago, and my memory isnt that good! So it wont be a first, but definitely will be fun if it happens.

Yes, as I say, we Civil Servants really are a dull, boring bunch! Honest! Well, maybe…?

Right, 2 videos for the price of 1 tonight, you are honored. Firstly, a harking back to my teens, a tribute band. No, most would never have heard of the bands we covered, so lets leave it there. This is decent, and the guy is clearly a Dodgers fan (Excellent taste), so lets run with this. No, I know nothing more about him, before you ask.

Secondly, some very suitable female outfits for Christmas. Also, its from Boston, a wonderful city in New England. I suspect what I might be wearing might not be a million miles from this, just warning you.

Working as a woman?

Confused? Oh, I hope so. Yes, I do, every day, I know. But as I’m sure all readers know (or should know), that hasnt always been the case. Indeed, technically, my current job is my first one where my passport states that I am female, but in at least 2 jobs before that, to some degree or another, I had already come out as a woman.

The first of those jobs, it was known by some, but apart from one day, I never dressed literally in a female style, but pretty much everyone that needed to know, knew.

The next job was the one where I officially started to transition, including the first name change, and acknowledgement of being a female worker, though reaction was mixed at best, and from some, not as good as that. A few insisted on using my old name, even though they knew it annoyed me, but it was a ‘mans world’, so maybe they just thought they were being all macho by doing so, instead of just coming over as jerks!

So yes, part of my choice to take redundancy from there was definitely related to that, though the new conditions of work werent really to suit, and the redundancy offer was good, so…

Now we come to my current job, and surrounding events, primarily tomorrow, and the tale of working as a Transgender person in the Civil Service. Some know which department, for others, does it really matter? I’ll be honest with you, the main line I will use tomorrow, is the comment that its the same as any other woman working in that department! Yes, honest it is. Oh, and do you know what, thats the best way for it to be. And before you ask, no, its no secret, and doesnt need to be, perfection! I suspect there might be 1 or 2 around the building who keep out of my way, just discreetly, but no, I’ve never had any negative reaction come back to me, from anyone!

So yes, for me at least, the talk tomorrow will give a very positive view of working as a transgender woman in the Civil Service. Officially, the dress code is smart casual, so I could get away with a nice top, and slacks. But yes, you’ve guessed it, its going to be a dress for me! I know, I’ve only worn a dress in the office a few times since starting there, for later events, but it has been done, so lets do it again!

Its going to be interesting doing the speech. I’ve performed to far bigger audiences in my time, but not in a while, but I’m sure I havent lost the knack. Fine, I havent got a script this time, but I’m sure I’ll survive. But yes, at this moment at least, I’m looking forward to doing this, I must say. Whether I might feel slightly differently at 11.00 tomorrow, who knows?

But yes, I am officially, just a woman, working in the Civil Service, who just also happens to be transgender, end of story.

The video, I’m told, is the original Helen Reddy version of this song. If you know different, then fine, but its what someone says, and 44 years on, I have to go by what they tell me lol!

Dont let me out of here!

No, dont try and think of a song with that title lol. Its a line from the video song, mind. Which is an extended version of an 80’s synth classic! Confused? You’ll find out at the end of the blog.

In truth, it will be a nice completion of the circle if my last office job was in the Civil Service, because in truth, one of my very first interviews as a 16 year old was that sort of work, just a different ministry. That was for a junior job in the Ministry of Defence, which I didnt get. But anyway…

The only interim element of the Civil Service that I had in the interim, were the very hilarious Yes, Minister, and Yes, Prime Minister on TV. I dont know if that was anything like the Civil Service back then, or not, but I know its not true nowadays. But yes, most will remember the Permanent Secretary, Sir Humphrey Appleby, and wonder if people really acted like that?

In truth, thats the only clue I have to what a Permanent Secretary in a department does, and I’m sure that today, and possibly even then, it was an over exaggeration of the role, anyway. Regardless, I wouldnt expect someone of that importance to notice little old me. Wrong again!

I got back to work on Wednesday, to an email sent on the Tuesday by the lady who did the in person interview with me, that the Permanent Secretary of our department had tweeted about me, and our piece! Wow, just wow! I will probably never meet him, but to know that someone in that position of importance, had noticed the piece about me, wow! Then on Wednesday, my unofficial press officer, Madi, told everyone in our department about the piece, though I know a good number knew before then anyway. Still, if Madi helps to get the message about Transgender people to more people, all kudos to her. I’d better mention someone called Lee at this point, doing his bit on Facebook, or I will get ‘complaints’ during the week lol!

The other comedic touch of the week relates to that big sporting event I mentioned earlier in the week, that happened yesterday, the Grand National. I do my best to study form, find 3 horses I could fancy for the race, and 2 of them fail to finish, and the other was 16th! The comedy moment? The office sweepstake, where I put my hand in a large envelope, pulled out a piece of paper with a horses name on, and got the winner!

Yes, dont let me out of that office until retirement, I love the place too much. Oh, and after tomorrow, I wont be one of the newbies, as a new group start their training tomorrow, and though they probably wont read this, I wish them all well. Oh, and next time they apply for applicants for the grade up from mine, I might well be applying! Oh fine, I plan to. It might be a while, its just happened, but it will happen, I’m sure. There is a plan to let me do some shadowing before then, to see whats involved, which might be handy.

OK, video time. When it comes to synth groups who didnt make it big, and I have no idea why, Ph.D would almost top me list. Jim Diamond did go on to solo success, so maybe that counts, but anyway? This is a super, extended version, and no, before you ask, neither lady is me lol!