I was asked by a Human Rights Office to participate as a speaker for an event for mid level managers who are responsible for implementing policies regarding equity and diversity in their unit or department. I was honored, and accepted. That session was yesterday afternoon. As is turns out, it was a 3 hour session, and the organizers wanted me to address the group for an hour. No problem, that is easy. I just didn’t know what questions they were going to have, and of course, it requires that I “out” myself. But again, no problem. If it helps them to understand the impact of the policies and how people like me benefit from them, then it is all worth it. Making it easier for those behind me is a debt I owe, to all those that went before me and paved the way. Sorta like “paying it forward”.
Bottom line, the session went really well, or so the participants told me after. In fact, I am getting emails this morning from participants requesting a meeting time to continue the conversation. The organizers were more than happy to cede their time towards the end, as the crowd was engaged and continued to ask great questions. Every time I looked over to the side to the organizers asking if they wanted me to continue, they just told me to keep going.
The questions were very interesting. Some I expected. What did you have to do to change your name? What were some of the hurdles I faced with different aspects of updating ID, etc? Those are easy. Other questions were specifically about me, as a person. Why did I pick this time to transition? How did my children deal with it? What supports do you have? How has the medical community react/support me (some were from medical units)? They were beginning to see that this is not about a process. It is about people. It is about an individual just wanting to live their live and do their job. They were getting the big picture, and how very important the policies and processes are, but more importantly that how they interact with us as people matters. Every little interaction can make a huge difference to us and they have the power to make it a positive one.
The best part is that people eagerly contributed what they do in their world with respect to a given issue or barrier, and the participants started to share their solutions and best practices to the benefit if all in attendance.
And that is exactly what I was hoping would happen. A discussion/conversation, not about me, but about the issues. I was simply there to be the catalyst. I have no desire to be the centre of attention. Don’t care. What I do care about and hope for are more conversations like this. And if I can help to start the conversation, then I’m good with that.
At the end of a day, I always ask myself if today was a good day, did I get something accomplished? I am happy to be able to say that yesterday was a good day.