I went to my first business networking event as Katie this week – KuKu Connect in Leicester. It’s a great event and one which I like to go each month if I can. Networking takes a bit of courage at the best of times as you just have to walk into a room full of people and start talking to them, however, doing it as a transgender person takes that to a whole new level. It should be classified as “extreme networking”! You have to be super confident. While I am confident with the way I look now as Katie, I am not confident at all with the way I sound. My voice is far to masculine, so to anyone meeting me for the first time, they would see me as a woman until I open my mouth to speak and I instantly morph into a bloke in a dress! My strategy for the evening was to tackle it head on and to introduce my self as a photographer, filmmaker and transgender ambassador. That way, it got the elephant in the room out of the way and I didn’t have to a try to put on a female voice and run the risk of it not working. I can’t start voice coaching until I live full-time as Katie as I need to practice it all the time for it to become a habit for me.
The event was a great success. I walked in with my head held high and a big smile on my face. That always makes people wonder what you have been up to! I just started talking to people as I previously would have done as Martin and my strategy of introduction worked really well. I will definitely use this in future until I feel confident that my voice sounds feminine enough not to give the game away. The funniest part of the event was when I met some people that I knew but who didn’t know about my transition – believe it or not, such people do exist! Several people didn’t recognise me and they just greeted me as a new person, but then a few minutes into the conversation, I could see the penny popping when they realised who I am! It was hilarious. I wore one of my new dresses (a green leaf-pattern body con number) and a pair of black court shoes and I had many compliments on my outfit. The only downside was that I was standing on a hard surface for around three hours in high heels, so by the end of the event my feet were killing me! I feel really proud of myself tonight as it took guts to do it, but now I have done it once, I can do it again. Onwards and upwards!