How flexible working helps me celebrate my son
My son Alex came out as transgender when he was 12. He’s now 16, and studying A-Levels at a local school. I’m super proud of him – he’s academic, a hard worker, handsome and a fantastic role model. He even mentors and tutors kids in his school.
Since he came out it’s taken time out of my business, for medical appointments firstly in London and then in Leeds, lots of assessments in Leeds and more recently opportunities to support the trans community through mermaids.org
We’ve had some amazing opps; Alex and I were extras on ITVs Butterfly – a drama about a trans kid with Anna Friel; Alex starred in Jake Graf’s ground-breaking short film about trans kids ‘Listen;’ we’ve been to Amnesty International HQ to talk to the government about the Gender Recognition Act. I’ve also helped Alex launch a YouTube channel about his journey.
All of this would be tricky to do with a job, and an architect’s job at that – it would require a lot of time off. But at Pride Road, my diary is flexible and it’s my own. I can book appointments around a trip to London or Leeds. The dates get blanked out of my calendar in advance so clients don’t book on those days – I can do online marketing whilst I’m on the go and I return to work invigorated!
And more recently, last weekend we had our photo taken by Eddie Izzard’s favourite photographer Amanda Searle. She came up to Manchester for an afternoon to take our photo. She was working on an exhibition for the International Transgender Day of Visibility, which just happened to coincide with Mother’s Day. The exhibition was to be displayed at the BFI Southbank as part of the 2019 BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival (where ‘Listen’ was showing too)
So, I decided last minute to take Alex down to the opening on Sat 30th March (as a detour – I was also at the NEC National Homebuilding & Renovating Show on the Sunday in Birmingham and it was easier to go down to London by train and come back up than it was to go direct from Gatley to Birmingham on the Sunday morning!)
Amanda had taken a series of 10 portraits of trans kids and their mums, they were all gorgeous. Ours was a striking black and white close up with me hugging Alex very tightly! (pictured below) The exhibition was called Transparent Love. There has been a lot of transphobia in the media recently so I think we have a duty to stand as positive role models!
In keeping an eye on the press attention, we saw there was a little piece in the Mirror the week before with Oonagh and Izzy’s picture, then Owl interviewed us last Friday for a lovely piece in the Metro. Over last weekend it got picked up by Attitude and then finally by Diva.
So we turned up at the opening, and it was buzzing, it was lovely meeting the other mums involved and Iain McCallum who’d been working with Amanda Searle on this project. Supported by charity All About Trans, there was speeches and wine, and then whilst I was talking to lots of important people I got a call from Charlie, my daughter…. she was breathless….. did I know that Emma Watson had Instagrammed our picture? …… omg I had to check. I couldn’t get a signal, I couldn’t get WiFi, I called her back, how did she know? A few of her friends had messaged her…. I went back into the exhibition white as a ghost and told someone what had happened. They checked instagram…The room fell silent and then I saw it. Emma Watson (Hermione from Harry Potter) had instagrammed Amanda Searle’s beautiful portrait of me and Alex. It already had 210,000 likes! And that’s it really, it’ll be my claim to fame. We’re still there, and it’s reached 922,916 likes and 1,663 comments. Even my mum is impressed!
About the Author
Before starting her own practice in 2010, Lisa had worked as an architect for over a decade. In 2009, the recession was well underway and Lisa had been made redundant twice during her career – once while on maternity leave. Although setting up her own practice started as a necessity, it turned out to be the best thing that could have happened.