25 February 2013

"He's Such A Nice Guy"

Yesterday I showed what anti-discrimination laws can, and can't, do for trans people, at least in terms of employment.  Today I will tell you about one of those instances in which no law would have helped me.

At the time, I was about three years into my transition:  I was taking hormones, had changed my name and was living as female.  The job in which I was working at the time would ultimately be eliminated as the department was reorganized; I had been alerted to the likelihood of that and was preparing for it.

I'd gotten a call for an interview at Lehman College, which is part of the City University of New York system.  The deputy chair of the English Department, Steve Wyckoff, interviewed me.

However, as the interview proceeded, he wasn't the only one interviewing me. I don't recall any interviewer taking so many calls as he did during the time I was in his office.  I also don't recall another interview in which another person came into the room in which the interview was conducted after each call the interviewer took.

I also noticed that whatever professional demeanor he and the others (who, for all I know, may not have even been other faculty members) displayed upon meeting me turned into mocking, and even salacious, grins.  You've seen that look when someone is looking at you and imputing all manner of sexual perversions and over-availability to you.  

I wish I'd had a video camera with me that day.  In those days, I still thought that if I held my head high and conducted myself in a professional, ladylike manner, people would treat me as the talented and educated woman that I am.  Some people will do that; the others are sometimes found in places where most people wouldn't expect them--like the academic world.

Now I make it known that I will not submit to any interview or meeting with anyone who has the power to make any decision that can affect my life unless I bring in a recording device and a witness.  Of course, that will close (and probably already has closed) a few doors for me.  But I have seen how people who fancy themselves as liberal, tolerant people and talk as if they are will become, in essence, bullies when given half the chance.  The ones whom everyone describes as "such a nice person" will, if you are trans and alone with them, reveal themselves as the bigots they actually are.

Before I went to that interview, I always heard about what a "great guy" Professor Wyckoff was, and what a great place Lehman would be to work. From what I saw on Rate My Professors, his students love him.  

Need I add that he never contacted me after that interview, and that he never responded to my phone calls.  Those same people who talk about what a "good guy" he is also tout his "professionalism".

If only they knew... 

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