I experience some sort of abuse on an almost daily basis whenever I walk out of the door of my house, simply for not wanting to live a lie and for wanting to live my life expressing my true gender identity.
I’ve been shouted at, spat at, had a brick thrown at me and been hit on the head, punched and pushed off of a stool in a bar. But I will not let people beat me. I’ve already lost 40 years of my life trying to conform to societal norms of ‘binary gender’, of living in the body I was born, despite my brain and my whole inner saying it did not match the gender identity I needed to be.
I joined the force in 1976 when female officers were known as Women Police Constables (WPCs). It was a completely different era Life on Mars was quite accurate. Although WPCs were allowed on section, which was a fairly new way of working, we were still tasked with dealing with ‘women’s issues’, which involved dealing with any female or child victims. There were very few women in the force, in fact it was a rarity to have one on each section and when I joined I was the only woman on my intake.
WPCs had to wear skirts; there were no trousers, a box style hat, double breasted jacket and a cape, which didn’t keep you warm or dry at all. It was quite different from the heavy kit officers have to carry around today. Female officers were also given a long handled handbag to carry their small custom made truncheons.
I remember it being said ‘it would probably be best to keep it in the handbag and swing the handbag if you needed protection, the only use the truncheon would be for is breaking windows.’ The men were given much longer and more suitable truncheons.
I joined Bedfordshire Police in 2007, and I’ve been a PCSO for nine years.
I saw a poster about the role, and I applied because I wanted to give something back to the community. My objective has always been to help out in my community, and I knew a couple of people who used to work for the force who said they thought I would make a good PCSO, which encouraged me to apply.
After I applied I was invited to interview and then had to pass a fitness test. Then we had around 12 weeks of classroom based training before going out on duty with police officers. PCSOs were relatively new at that stage, but I got a lot of support from my Sergeant and other officers who helped me find my feet. In turn, I helped them learn more about the role of a PCSO. One thing I’ve learned since being here is that there is always someone here for guidance if you need it.