27 April 2018

The Learnings of a Recovering Transphobic Ignorant Bastard

This Blog has a confession or two.
My views pre Eva
And my views post meeting Eva

First confession: I used to think transgender people were just weird and screwed up. Really. Doesn’t feel any better confessing that even.
I thought why would a male or female want to change their bits, and become the opposite sex to what they were born with? You would have to be a fruitloop right? Gender is black and white.

I could never get to grips with Bruce Jenner, one of the worlds greatest athletes thinking he would want to become a woman. WTF? And it all got tangled up with the Kardashian family circus, and my wee head just blocked them into the weird zone.

So that is the sum of my sophisticated thinking right there. Okay still not feeling better about myself right now, but it was my reality.
When did I think like this? Oh, only about 3 years ago.

Then about 2 to 3 years ago a woman from Dunedin, Eva Gluyas was put forward to join CQ. She was described as bloody smart and into design thinking, and would be a fabulous CQ member. Cool. Design Thinking is a bit out there and adds to the diversity mix for sure. The interview with Eva went very well, and yes she wanted to join CQ, and filled in the usual documents etc.

Now as it happened Eva joined the CQ team I am a member of.

We have a tradition in CQ of new members completing their timeline (which is their life’s story). Eva’s life was rich and interesting, beginning in the UK and moving to New Zealand. She was obviously very creative, and had a love of all things design. Eva talked about having a family, her first marriage not working out, and how she was now in a fabulous relationship with the love of her life Anne, who she had known since they were teenagers.

Great timeline. However, the next two sentences from Eva were epic. She said, ‘So is everyone feeling comfortable and safe?’ ………… ‘So I started my life as a male’.

I have had many unique and unexpected moments in my ten years with CQ, but this was on a different scale altogether. The look on the team’s faces, and mine, was like we were trying to work out the most complex maths equation ever created. I think the first question was, ‘So the children you have, were as a father, not the mother?’ Yep.


Took a bit of adjustment, however our facilitator Sue Johnston just took it in her stride, while the rest of us were still trying to work this tricky equation out. From there the meeting settled and we had another productive afternoon meeting.

The following day we were scheduled to all deliver our individual TED style talks. When it got to Eva’s turn she said that she could deliver a talk on the benefits of Design Thinking, or transitioning her gender. Well Design Thinking is really interesting, but it didn’t have a chance against the latter subject.

The next hour was riveting and I am going to share what I learnt:
Eva realised from a very young age she was in the wrong body – i.e. male
Anne was totally accepting of the transition.
To undergo the procedure you are intensively interviewed to make sure psychologically you are up to the transition.
The surgery is advanced and sophisticated, with the end result looking completely natural.
Gender is not black or white – there are many shades in between.
Society treats you with less respect as a female than as a male, especially as a professional. Now many understand this already (i can be a bit naive however) but it was fascinating to hear from someone who has literally been on both sides of the gender situation.
That I needed to open my mind.

Eva has gone on to become an integral part of our team, and we love her creative genius. We love Eva. She challenges in some unexpected way every meeting, and is a force to be reckoned with. Recently she was the host, and we learnt how she brings huge value to her clients through Design Thinking.

It was intriguing to see the discomfort around Laurel Hubbard competing in the Commonwealth Games. There is no need to go into whether it was right or wrong, as that had already been sorted by the Commonwealth Games Governing body prior to the event. Big Ups to them for being so clear and decisive on this issue!

On Facebook, I am friends with a couple of outspoken bigots, who I follow to observe what views are floating out there. Laurel Hubbard really cooked their views, with lots of abusive and harmful posts flowing freely. I was reminded once again that the ‘Moral High Ground’ is a very tenuous place to stand, with love and understanding seldom in abundance as a result.

Embed from Getty Images

For Laurel to be competing on the world stage as an athlete, in the unforgiving world of international sport, I can only marvel at her absolute bravery.

So I’m left wondering: Why are we so uncomfortable with people who are not like us, or we don’t understand? Where does that originate? How does it serve us? Why do we want to harm people who are not like us? What’s with that?

There are many times in my life I have regretted with my actions, my behaviour, thoughts, and beliefs. But it’s so cool I reflect and dust myself off and sort myself out. When I look at the Transphobia scale below, I reflect that because of Eva’s influence I have moved a long way. So I’m hoping some of the haters of diversity reflect on their beliefs, and get their shit together. It is possible.


Ian Harvey (Harv)


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