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Blog: Noah's story on transgender

In the first of Noah's blog he discusses his experience as a transgender applicant to Atkins' Project Management Apprenticeship.

The year was 2015 – about April time. I was 18, I’d just been let go from the Navy training for medical reasons and I was washing pots. Pots, pans and plates piled the walls and, I - the human dishwasher, was thinking about my career.

Do I want to stay in catering? Do I want to own a business? Where do I want to be when I’m 30?

After I had dried the last of the pans and switched off the light to the kitchen, I chose to take the first step into a career. I was then officially job hunting. The task of updating my CV, searching through search engine after search engine and then filling in applications wasn’t going to be easy. Especially as I was apprehensive about my transgender identity.

Banking apprentices, media traineeships, designing interns my head was beginning to spin as I sifted through the list trying to navigate the alternative options to university. As I scrolled through a list of jobs on a website, one job stuck out. I clicked on it. A project manager apprentice….for an engineering firm, Atkins. Without hesitation I clicked ‘Send CV’.

I then chose to apply for a few other firms for good measure. I ignored the niggle inside that had been triggered – after all, when you’re in you can change it from the inside. Even though I’d been asked about my name, gender and asked the standard Diversity and Inclusion questions, I was still wary. Wary about being both me and employable.

I knew, if I didn’t hear back from the firms, I had at least been accepted into Aston University to study engineering. University had always been a backup. Not one I was suited for.

It was early May and I was in the kitchen worrying about whether or not the meringues were cooking (on a side note – 3 to 4 hours is best on a slow heat) and my phone was buzzing. ‘Unknown Number’. I switch it off as I was at work and didn’t want to be in any more trouble if the meringues were eggy messes. My phone buzzed again to inform me I have a voicemail. This flicked excitement – is it possibly for a new job?

Once my shift was complete I raced home and listened to the message. A lady’s voice advises I call her about an application I’d made. I dial the number. I hold my breath. She picks up. ‘Hi is that Miss Kennell?’ My heart pounds.

Do I tell her I’m transgender? Do I correct her now? Do I wait? I panicked. ‘Yes it is, how may I help you?’