I did have a subject for today’s post but events have overtaken me, so instead I shall relate my experiences of contact I had with Police Scotland.
Unexpectedly I found that I had to go to the bank down town at short notice and this, unfortunately, meant that I didn’t have time to prepare for my intended first sole outing “en femme” as I had slept in and time was of the essence, so I just had to “boy up” and head on out. I got the necessary things together and headed off, parking outside the Police Station. From there it’s only a short walk to the bank, but as I left the car I realised that even though I was in a short-term parking spot I would still have time to call into the Police Station on the way back to do something I had thought of a few weeks ago.
While planning my first “female excursion” down town it had occurred to me that I would need to use the female facilities in the shopping centre, probably quite often, and this had understandably caused me some concern. A great part of preparing for life in my new persona is having the courage to combat the reactions that I might face from other people, especially in the early days when with the best will in the world I’ll not be able to look any better than “some guy in drag”. It’s one thing to be walking along the High Street and getting strange looks or the odd comment from people passing by, but it’s quite another thing to be in an enclosed space with someone who feels you have no right to be sharing it with them and may even consider that you’re some kind of pervert.
I know I have the right by law to use whatever facilities are appropriate to the manner in which I present myself and to be treated as such, but I’m sure there are many people who are unaware of those rights and many who would object to me exercising them, and with that in mind I had planned for some time to call in to the Police Station prior to my first excursion in order both to get some reassurance and moral support, and also just to let the local Constabulary know of my intentions in case anything unpleasant should happen.
So, having reached the Police Station again I duly went in to the Reception area and waited my turn. The desk was being serviced by a particularly sour-faced woman who by her very appearance and demeanour gave the impression that she really didn’t want to be there, and I already knew this was not going to go well.
When she had finished dealing with the guy before me I approached the screen and asked her very quietly if it would be possible to have a chat to a female Police Officer in private for a couple of minutes. Her response was that if I wanted to talk to anyone then I would have to make an appointment!
I beg your pardon?!
The woman had absolutely no idea as to why I might want to speak to anyone nor, even though it was only a minor matter, the potential gravity of what I wanted to discuss, and yet I would “have to make an appointment”!
I get very confused when people throw me curve-balls like that, so I muttered something about how that wouldn’t work for me and quickly took my leave.
On the way home it occurred to me that had I had more time I could have gone back into the town centre and wandered around until I came across the officers on patrol, who are invariably a male/female combo, and I could have discussed my concerns with them there and then. Or would THEY too have asked me to make an appointment before I spoke to them?
Anyway once I got home, and despite my particular dislike of using the telephone, I decided to call the general Police line 101 to see if I could get through that way and my call was answered by a man.
I asked if it would be possible to be connected with a female officer in my local area and he at least had the common courtesy (ok, protocol) to inquire as to the subject matter.
As I started to explain my situation to him in my normal bumbling telephone manner he very soon picked up on where I was heading and said “It’s ok, I know where you’re coming from …”. His voice told me that I wasn’t dealing with a fresh-faced newbie here, he was obviously an officer with many years experience and he had a lovely attitude too. He was immediately understanding of my concerns, supportive of both my rights as an individual and my intentions to exercise those rights, and he had a really lovely way about him and was able to put my mind at ease both by the way he spoke and by throwing in a little joviality from time to time. But most importantly he kept repeating one phrase over and over again …
“Go for it! … Go for it! … ”
We spoke for about 10 minutes and at the end he said that he would log the fact that I had called and the subject matter just in case I ever needed to call them due to any unpleasant scenario which may befall me. He took my details, phone numbers, address and such, and was quite happy to record them under my preferred name.
I didn’t get his name, but I thank him so much for his understanding, compassion, and the way in which he encouraged me to just “get out there and be ME” and to hell with anyone else.
Old sour-face unwittingly did me a great favour.