International Women’s Day – Q&A’s with Christopher Richardson, H&S Officer (AWM)
Since starting at AWM, I have started transitioning from female
to male. Everyone within the company has supported me in this
adventure and I couldn’t have hoped for a better response.
While I am the same person with the same face and the same voice pitch, I have a new
name, and when I introduce myself as Christopher, no one thinks twice about how I am
spoken to, how I am treated, or thought of. As a man. Thankfully, I ‘pass’ more often
than not as a man in this world, and now, to me this world is different.
Transitioning has given me a unique insight into how men and women are treated
differently, as I have seen both sides. A man will, most of the time, shake another mans
hand, but not always a women’s. A man doesn’t smile as much when talking to another
man, but they smile at women. Doors are still held open for women to go first, but when
two men pass a door threshold, the more authoritative man is given way to.
These may seem like incredibly small, unnoticeable things to most people, both men and
women alike. They are also encouraged sometimes, to be courteous, such as holding a
door. We are told that’s what gentlemen do. This bias has been taught to us as normal,
but there must be a line drawn. Some terms of endearment are still heard in these
offices, towards women, that would not be used to refer to a man. Its these terms, such
as darling, that are the only indication that I am not yet fully a man in the eyes of others
that knew me before. Most of these terms are local idioms, and are never intended with
offence, but they are a highlighter of the bias that still exists.
While I have never been treated as anything other than an equal at AWM, in previous
roles I have had a barrier because of the gender I was presenting as. An example, was
an idea/control measure I suggested to my superior(male), was declined, because it
was an ineffective solution. Later on that year, my colleague (male) suggested the same
idea as my own, and it was accepted without question. There was no difference
between us except gender, we had the same education, and were paid the same in
the same job role.
If I had any advice for women, it would be to challenge the bias. Challenge the status
quo, and just because that’s the way something always has been, its not the way it
always has to be.
If there was anything I could change for women, it would be for people not to measure
someone’s worth, ability, or strength by their perceived gender, or other characteristic.