This blog entry is true, in essence. If it were a magazine, it would have one of those asterisks, with a note that said the names and places were changed to protect privacy. The story is true, but not factual. And my reason is simple - it concerns a real person. While this person is not aware of the issue, and likely never will be, the issue is very real in their life. And I don't want this entry to be about a person, really, it's about a set of circumstances, and feelings, and the subject of prejudice in general, not in particular.
I am tangentially part of a community group, that is finally able to hire a staff person. They have sent out a job description, and resume's have come back. The role of a staff person in a community organization cannot be overstated. They are the literal face of the organization. Community organizations take a tremendous amount of time and effort to get off the ground. We are talking about hours and hours and hours of time. Meetings around kitchen tables, at coffee shops. Real passion and purpose. Community organizations are hard to get off the ground. It is a mark of success and continuity to hire someone to do the work. In the life cycle of an organization, it is a much needed step, but also a big step, where you hand the coalesced dreams and hopes to another person, who may or may not care as much as you do. It's nerve wracking.
I was talking to one of the members, about the position, and about the types of resumes they got, and let's face it, because the pool of people who are willing to work in a community for a very small amount of money is limited, we knew most of them. So, we were talking about people. Perhaps this was the first mistake.
And have you ever thought about how we describe someone? Think, just for a second. Have you ever been in a place where you had to describe a third person to someone?
Well, let's see. She's about 5'3", over weight. She's in her 60's, with grey hair. Her eyes are hazel. She walks with a substantial limp. She's having some problems with her teeth, so she doesn't often smile. She's well dressed.
There. I've just described my mother. Could you find her? And would she recognize herself in that description? And what does the description have to do with anything, anyway?
Back to the conversation, we went through the names, and one was mentioned. I don't particularly know this person. But that wasn't what bothered me. No, what bothered me was that two different people have felt the need to mention that this person is transgendered.
And I'm not sure why. I'm not sure it was to prepare me for the appearance of someone, when and if I met them. I'm not sure if there were lingering questions.
And if that didn't bother me enough, my mind struggled with what to do with this information. You see, from the bottom of my heart, I believe that some one's gender identity has nothing to do with their job performance. Nothing at all. But, my brain twisted and turned over this information. It was, I will admit it, a bit shocking. It turned a simple candidate into something more than that. And in its own way, it made this person's application into something more than just a resume. And my brain started racing. In about 30 seconds, I found myself saying, "I didn't want to know that".
But I do now. . .