I've been part of an online community in the testing space for some 9 years. For women in test, it’s a particularly abusive space because women are finding flaws in software developers’ code, never a thing that wins a popularity contest. Overall tech is a crap space for women, there's a lot of bullying and misogyny. So, some of the best of our breed created an online community for women only, it’s for sharing new tech, ideas, and of course support. At first for how to handle stuff at work and as we’ve got to know each other, we’ve shared a larger part of our daily lives. I know 15 or so face to face and the larger worldwide community we meet 2-3 times a year at conferences and are on Slack every day.
In my company I train marginalised youth, those on the spectrum, couch surfers, bipolar, high anxiety etc, and put them into employment. These women have been my mentors, coaches, and champions. As I've had to resource and learn from them to quickly come up to speed with some new tech, methodology and I call on them to inspire or evaluate my trainees. I got into this space because I’ve experienced what those youth have been through and I wanted to be the kind of person I needed at their age. So I seek out any youth that might have fallen through the cracks of one system or another.
I trained therefore a trans male to female a few years back for that reason to start to learn how to support trans. He told me recently he’s been diagnosed as Autistic and when we’d first met, he told me he didn’t want to be a man, because his father was a man, and he was brutal. His father told him since he’s attracted to males, he was meant to be a girl. So, he became one and it’s been really difficult. I came to learn about these gender clinics giving drugs to mainly gay children, who weren’t sure what they were, like my friend given sex hormones and body parts removed to make him (and they) match the gender they think they should be. All this feels like so much systematic abuse. I started, confidently, telling my fellow test/applied critical thinkers about the impact of drugs, the surgery, and other issues like the loss of women's rights, expecting them to become part of the fight.
I had facts. I had data. I have the stuff we live for in our community. I was stunned though that most condemned me for bigotry. But worse every kind of principle/heuristic we rail on about, in finding out what is real - is abandoned when someone said, 'some people here will no longer be safe'. We recently have had a number of social (non-surgical) trans gender males join the community who have been vocal about their wants. Women weren't engaging with what actually was said no matter how gently or rationally put. Discussion was shut down. Worse they said this ‘hurts trans children’, which is a gutting comment to hit me with and this community, therefore, wasn’t for me. My faith in people has taken a hit. It will impact my work this year. But what sores my heart is that on one hand, it is about stopping the drugging and cutting of kids. And on the other silencing what’s going on, so it continues.
#virtualspace #womenintech #testing #australia #singlesexspaces #freespeech