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Apr 25 2024

Reasonable adjustments

I wanted to write something fun, something lighter. Something that would make you say “Oh, so, Mickey is not just a drama-queer!“. While also leaving you with a great impression of my writing and soft skills. Because, after all, I’m still looking for a job.
And that’s one of the many reasons why you’re getting this rather than the light-hearted piece I had in mind.
So, buckle up for another long adventure, partner. Or acquaintance. Whoever you are. Just be safe. Don’t drink and read.

The title

Those two words should sound quite common to anyone who looks for them every time they apply for a job because they need them. Reasonable adjustments . If you’re able-bodied and free of any disability, or, anyway, close to the current norm, is likely you might skip over them.

So, just in case you don’t know, they are something employers say will provide you, if asked, on the job as well as during a job application process. Reasonable adjustments that is.
Often times, these offers also come with claims such as the most inclusive and diverse company on Earth-616 or something along those lines. Which it would be nice if true, but it is not necessarily needed as a claim. Given that reasonable adjustments are a legal duty that any employers should comply to under the Equality Act 2010 (which will be probably be dismantled very soon, but that’s another post).

Thus, it comes without saying that a dear friend of mine asked for (what we’re going to call from now on) RA. Also strong of the fact that the company they were applying to was (apparently) a champion of disability rights! Hence, it was with great surprise that the answer they got back was along the lines of “Well, we can do this much, but doing more would be unfair towards the other candidates”.
My friend first reaction was shock. They had just been called a cheater of sort. Simply because they asked for RA. Simply because they don’t perfectly fit the normative societal mold. And that, in case you were looking for examples, is a great one for discrimination.
It comes without saying that they needed a while to process the information. Reading the email multiple times. And you know what they realised? What’s the funniest thing about all of this? What they gave them was actually enough. It was an adjustment and it was reasonable. Would have they skipped the second part of the email, no one feelings or performance would have been affected. However, there is only so much you can do to hide all of your bad -isms. And that’s the difference between saying you’re inclusive and being inclusive.

My friend replied sending them articles and pieces about why someone like them would need adjustments like those. And doing that would only help them being “at the same starting point” as the other candidates. Thus, it would be fair for the disable person, not unfair for the able ones.

Anyway, they didn’t end up going to the interview.

And that brings us back to me. I am very sensible to some things and, although I think I might benefit from RA sometimes, I’ve been too scared to tick that box ever since this happened. This is, sadly, not a novelty to me.

The reason

The question remains though. Why am I here talking about this rather than writing my witty funny piece I was planning to?
Because I’m the party pooper.
Jokes aside, because the last rejection I got hit me harder than usual.

We were two months into the application process as per usual.
Two months.
I do a pair programming tech test + interview and receive confirmation via email I passed it with positive feedback on the very next day. Great! I was so happy.
There is a caveat though. Passing doesn’t necessary means I will make it to the last stage of the application. They will let me know for that. And they do. Less than a week later. And, once more, the second paragraph starts with “Unfortunately…”.

Hey, Mickey-chan, but they told you that was a possibility, didn’t they?
Yes, they did. But. But.
It’s not enough to be able to pass their tests and whatnot while not knowing against what you’re being ranked, what boxes you need to tick, what heights you need to reach.
If you’re lucky enough to have a clear process, a clear description of every stage, then something like this might happen. Then a secret unknown process might happen. You think you left random screenings back at the CV + cover letter stage. But here they come back again, when you least expect them. And you’re out.

And all those hours spent in studying, researching, writing, building, testing, smiling, answering, waiting, waiting, waiting. All those hours are just gone. And, no, those won’t come back again.

And I’m left wondering. If passing an interview with positive feedback is not enough to bring you to the next stage (not giving you a job, just moving you forward in the process), then what is?

The reminder

Don’t forget you’re trans. And you’re quite vocal about it.
It’s fun because, in a way, I kind of forgot. So I had to thank this friend of mine who helped me remember. And I’m seriously not joking.
Like, if for others might take n months, for you would take longer.
I’m not trying to steal anyone’s empathy here. I’m still white and have privileges black and brown people lack. But it is indeed true that I’m starting to navigate what is a new field for me while being very open about my queerness, my trans identity. All of this, in a country that just released the Cass review.

No, I’m not here saying that I’m still unemployed only because I’m trans. But that definitely adds to other sides of me.
I’m reminded of my class when, listed as a requirement for a tech test, I read “a computer not older than 4 years”. And so I wonder if I should just not apply or ask them to send me a new one. Would that be an acceptable RA?
I’m reminded of being a migrant when, for example, if asked about my Education I can’t find the Other option, which would let me mention the foreign institutions I studied at. Should I just lie in those cases? Or is that another subtle, passive-aggressive clue I should give up?
I’m reminded I’m just a number when my application process stops after a conversation with an AI chatbot which still in it’s Beta phase and which code and trainings are secret to most.

But nothing will never beat those stunning Equality Forms, or whatever they’re called nowadays.
The way sex and gender are constantly mixed.
The way gender and sexuality are confused and confusing to the point they bring me back to a questioning phase. Maybe I got it wrong all along. Maybe the hiring team at E Corp cracked the case!
The way I have to misgender myself just so someone can collect data on me before rejecting me. We are already misgendered on an hourly basis irl, why would you force me to do the same online to myself just because you can’t do a 5-minute-research to build a decent form?
The way this is all done leaves no doubts. E Corp will always prefer Will over me because Will doesn’t force them to think about all of those weird things they think every time they see me. Because, if there’s a lack of women in tech, imagine where that leaves all the rest.

Special mention to the E Corp that ask for your Preferred Name and pronouns during the application, but then they never check it before jumping on a videocall with you. If I was paranoid, I would think they do that on purpose.

The outcome

That is not to say everything is bleak or that I’m giving up. I wouldn’t give up even if everything was bleak.
I’ve met already some beautiful people in my very short experience. Many people who were lovely, welcoming and understanding and not just to acquire the ally badge. One of them was my beautiful SoC mentor Suzi Clark. She isn’t the only one, but she really helped me a lot during those 16 weeks. I will always be glad I was matched with her.
Moreover, although I haven’t met many of them yet, I know queer and trans(fem) people make up a good portion of the tech (or coding) scene. I follow some, I’m connected with others, but I would love to see (or create) stronger networks. As I’m looking forward to meet more and more people of course.

And, as negative as this piece might read, it is just a part of what’s going on within me right now. That part that inevitably is hurt and feels the pain of every rejection, every refusal, every ghosting.
But that part shares space with an ever-burning fire. The one that drives me. The one that’s always driven me through every perilous adventure. Because failing is just part of the process. No, failing is the process. And the sooner we accept that, the sooner we will feel better.

Let this be a reminder that I’m a Leo Rising Aries. And I can’t be put down. I can’t be contained. I just can’t behave.
I am a burning star. I can warm you up or burn you down, the choice is yours. I have spoken.