• taylorhardingjenki

On my divorce with France - Part 1: Corruption is in your eyes

Updated: Apr 24

  • This series is a bit special. Like “On Harassment and Bullying”, events here are connected in their way, but you may notice that some events here are written in Bold. The reason being is, that all the events are connected, even though the thematics are all different and are showing my survival in France under different aspects. And these events are to be remembered to understand the blog in its entirety. Long story short, take this entire blog as an enigma to be solved.

Another series. Another salty blog is coming for those who loved “On Harassment and Bullying”. This time, I think we need to settle the score. Many of you asked me, or told me in the past, “Oh, such a sexy French accent”, “Oh, wait, are you from France? Yes? So, you’re French?”

So, I need a lot to be offended. Honestly, you can call me, I don’t know… An idiot, a moron, a sack of shit, a waste of skin, a presumptuous waste of time who enjoy swallowing semen (the most creative and colourful one a guy told me once after I refused him a blowjob… comes to think of it, he was French – and before you say something, I was desperate, okay?), a slut, a son of a bitch (yet the last expression in my case would not be an insult, but more like a fact), I honestly don’t care. After all, insults are always coming from weak people who lack arguments, to be honest with you. You can also insult me on my sexual orientation or my gender identity, same, I wouldn’t care. Really. But if you call me a French… In the best case, you’d have my hand slapping your little face.

Let’s put it there: for those who read He Fell from Venus, especially for those who had the short version on the Day 29, you have read that I lost my father in difficult circumstances and, afterwards, I have been targeted by a bullying campaign over the sole reason that, I am a trans woman and in France, being transgender is HIGHLY taboo and, well, for the French simple commoner, a disgrace. Obviously, as a former French citizen living abroad, I pass on the fact that French men are arrogant and presumptuous, always invoking their citizenship to get something because, you know, France is this or that, and French girls… Little entitled bitches (sorry, princesses, princesses… they are princesses, beautiful princesses) sleeping with everything and saying that you know, they come from Paris or whatever city there… Even, they don’t say they’re French – I mean, yes, they do, but, they’re so proud of their country that they prefer to be accurate. They just say that they come from Paris, the city of love whose metro smells urine and wallets mysteriously disappear because it’s been years they’re closing their eyes on security problems, or from Lyon – same thing – or from Marseilles, the new Chicago in its pure French version. Long story short, I am openly Francophobic, I genuinely hate French people. In my very opinion, France is a country that should be erased from maps. At least, this is said.

And, okay, French girls, they’re good-looking, a bit overrated by my standards… but compared to my recent experience with Lithuanian girls, … anyway.

Abroad, the French are proud of their country and say their country made history, is the best in the world, blah, blah, blah. But when you go to France, you will find the French in his natural element: complaining about everything, criticising his administration, saying that he will vote for Marine Le Pen at the next election but once voting mysteriously lose his balls, saying that the government does nothing for the pensioners, the students, the young people, the middle classes, that his country is becoming a disgrace, blah, blah, blah. I think it’s a pre-requirement if you want to become a French citizen, you need to complain about everything. Seriously, what would be THE FRENCH if he/she couldn’t complain? So, following the recent Presidential Election in the zoo beyond the English Channel and the choice the French made for having their favourite person domesticating them for the next five years, I decided to, let’s say, pay a vibrant tribute to this great country that is France. “On my divorce with France” will be the clear explanation on, well, why, first, you don’t call me a French, and second, this blog will be in four parts. This blog is in 4 parts, as, there’s a lot to say. So, if you’ve got some popcorn around, here’s the program: on the first part, so now, I’ll come back to how I have been unfairly dismissed from a job for the sole reason that I am transgender. In parts 2 and 3, I’ll come back to this lovely week of February 2018 when I lost my father, the corruption of the French justice system, and for concluding, in part 4, we will go back to the lovely French child protection system and its, erm… well, wait for the part 4. It’s on its way. So, let’s start with, employment. Let me explain how to get a job in France.

Always wanted to work abroad? A job in France? Well. For being employed in the UK, you need to be 16 or over (or 18 for most companies, some companies do not hire minors for health and safety reasons), have a valid passport or the settled or pre-settled status if you are an EU citizen or a valid visa if you’re from abroad, you need to have your National Insurance Number, and bank details. Everywhere I worked in the UK, whomever I am and whomever I have been, I never felt any discrimination: you have two legs, two arms, a brain, so you can work. Most of the time, it’s about paperwork, but, as soon as you’ve got the profile, you’re hired. This is the United Kingdom.

Looking for a job in France? So you need the right-to-work, if you’re a French National you need either a valid passport or ID card, then you need your insurance card (the Vitale card), and of course your bank details. This is legally what you need to have to get a job in France. But, of course, there are other… unofficial conditions there. Now you may wonder, why the title “corruption is in your eyes”?

According to the latest statistics (whatever Macron would say), the unemployment rate is at 8,62 per cent (as per the figures of 2020) and the youth unemployment is currently near 20 per cent. The reason why? To get a job in France, the real condition required is to have someone in your family that may help you to get the job. In other words, this is called “nepotism”. If you do not have anyone in your family working for the company you applied for, then you need to be handsome if you’re a man, ideally heterosexual, short hair, not eccentric at all, not have any tattoos or piercings, and… this. If you’re a woman, you need to be VERY GOOD LOOKING, at least a size D for your bra, willing to suck your boss when he asks for it, preferably single, quite tall, blonde, and, OF COURSE, no signs of eccentricity. This is called “favouritism”.

And that’s a fact, I saw once there a restaurant putting an ad for a job asking for at least A-level plus two years of hotel school or five years of catering experience. The job? Kitchen porter. Yes.

In other words, if you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, non-binary, if you have tattoos, piercings, if you’re fat, Muslim, black, Asian, hipster, or “unusual”, forget the idea of working in France. You have no chance to get hired just for the conditions I listed previously. As long as you aren’t the occidental-type, white, straight and good-looking, and looking like a French, you have no chances whatsoever. Is that illegal? TOTALLY. It is strictly illegal to practise nepotism or favouritism within a company by law. But, since we are talking about France, the 22nd most corrupt country in Europe (22 over 24), prevailing on your rights is like peeing against the wind. It may look funny, but in the end, you’re gonna have more troubles than you’re gonna get solutions.

So, of course, I may have been born in France, but in my total career, this is the country where I worked the least. I worked more in the UK than in France. I worked for just four months in my entire life in France. Four months, in 2017. So, here’s the story.

When I started He Fell from Venus, for those who purchased it, you may recall that on days 1 and 2, in the beginning, I mention that I was living in Dublin, Ireland. It was the starting point of the story because I started with a flashback of when I turned eighteen. The story was, when I came back from Ireland, I was broke. All the money I saved during my first stay in the UK was completely spent, and, I was broke. I think, I came back from Ireland, I had five thousand euros when I arrived there, I just had a hundred left when I came back. I was bankrupt. So, I could have battled in Ireland to make myself a new situation, but with everything I described in the book, I truly had a lot on my mind. And hopefully, I didn’t know by then, but coming back was the best thing I have ever done in my life, as the shit would hit the fan in my life very shortly. But, remember, at this point, I realised, when I came back from Ireland, that, I wanted to start my transition.

Problem was, as I was not a citizen of Ireland, it was just impossible. And I learned that it was more accessible in France. So this was another reason why I came back. As I came back, and even, already in Ireland, my father used to call me quite often, and tell me, “listen, if things do not go as over your plan up there in Dublin, just let me know, I’ve got contacts here so you can have a job as soon as you’re back.” (Remember, favouritism?) but I told him, I want to stay there, see how it goes first, but when I wanted to start my transition, I called him back and told him, “listen, I booked my flight back to France, you can call your guy, I take the job”. The job I am talking about was nothing big, it was just restocking shelves at what would be a French equivalent of Tesco or Walmart. Perhaps not the job of my dream, but, my bank account was in such a state of emergency that, I couldn’t be in the position to refuse. I told my father that I’d stay one more week in Ireland, so my notice of departure for the small room I rented would be completed, and then, I’d be available to start by the 1st of July there. Second, I knew that starting my transition would cost me a LOT of money, so, the matter was to find a job in an emergency, and, perhaps not stay there for too long, but at least, have a job for enough time so I could bounce back.

When I mean my transition would cost me a lot of money, I do not say regarding the care and everything. This, everything is taken in charge of the state, so you don’t have anything to pay; as a French citizen, I am, by law, automatically insured. What would cost me money would be, well, first, buying new clothes, because I did no longer want to wear any male clothes, (I formally started to go out of my house dressed as a woman in October), travel for going to visit my new doctors across the country, and so on. And, also, starting to rebuild a savings account. My initial plan, when I started working there, was to stay at least two years in France, and after fly to Amsterdam. By then, I was still poorly informed on how to start a transition, and I called the official way, I didn’t know I could go for a private transition and speed up the process. Anyway.

The new cost of clothes, therapies, psychologists, and makeup, was TREMENDOUS. It took me at least €2,000 to set up my new first “feminine wardrobe”, which in France is roughly, for this kind of job, two months of salary. When I came back from Dublin, having had just the weekend to bounce back from my emotion lived there, my dad told me: “[the company] is looking for someone restocking the water shelves for the summer. It’s gonna be very busy, and I told them that, as you worked in busy places, it’s gonna be easy for you. You will meet Cedric, the manager of this section of the shop, and he’s gonna sign your contract”. My hometown, during summer, is a freaking sauna, it’s very hot down there and temperatures outside can easily reach 37 to 40 degrees. So, water would be easily sold.

I landed on Thursday, and on Friday, I had my meeting with this manager. For every type of job in France, whether it’s a 9 to 5 work or a job like mine, signing your employment contract is in two parts: you always sign first what is called a CDD (fixed-time contract, in French Contrat à durée déterminée) that is usually set for three months. Pretty much a probationary period, or a trial period. Once this period expires, two choices: you can either sign another CDD, of whatever period, but it cannot be up to two years, or you can sign the holy Grail, the CDI (permanent position contract, or Contrat à durée indéterminée). I started with a CDD there. Full time, 35 hours a week (you cannot legally work more than 35 hours per week in France), so I was like, it’s gonna be fine, so at least I can bounce back. I went there, I signed, and the manager told me, “okay, I’m gonna give you your uniform, you start Monday”. Okay, perfect. One thing to know, it’s that, in France, employers are VERY reluctant to sign you a CDI. Because, (having been an employer myself there, I know why), once your CDI is signed and your employee messes up, you strictly have NO WAY to fire them.

The job opening was opened because the guy, who had a permanent position there, ended up with a work incident, making him unable to work for several months. From what I heard from everyone, he was already seeking to be dismissed but was seeking a “friendly dismissal”. It’s the term when an employee there wants to genuinely fuck his boss by getting a lot of money. And since the French people are legendary lazy arses, this is how the job opening was there and the position needed to be fulfilled immediately. At first, my new manager made clear that the position would be temporary, but it was very likely that it would be made permanent at the end of those three months.

So I started my new job. I just had in the first days some holidays scheduled as I went to the Alps to see my cousin, but in the term of the first month, first payslip, first money, my bank account was feeling much better. The thing was, it was only for a short time since I had to start buying my new clothes, my dresses, new shoes and everything, and my makeup, like I said it cost a lot. So, at the end of this first month, all the money received was gone. Month two, same. Except that, something happened between the first and second months.

Like I already said, my “original” journey abroad was interesting. I mean, I may be working in my country, but when I started this job, I strictly had no awareness of the employment rights in France, so I had a few colleagues who explained to me a bit of this. Colleagues with whom I started to develop a friendship with, and, of course, the drink after work, and everything, and everything. Coming from London, having lived in Dublin, cities where you can be openly gay or trans and no one cares about this, I kind of took that mentality and thought, by accident, that, you can say you’re trans or gay, no one will care. For me, it was okay to talk with friends or acquaintances about this. I even went once with an acquaintance shopping, an acquaintance who knew I was about to transition, because, at the same time, between months one and two, I started chasing psychiatrists for having an appointment to get my certificate as soon as October 2017. Why? I wanted to start, I needed this, it was vital for me. And I managed to get an appointment with a shrink by the end of July. I decided to go private, because, starting a public transition would impose me a treatment protocol with a psychiatrist for at least two years, after a minimum of two to three years on a waiting list before your first appointment. I just couldn’t wait, I identified my problems, I wanted to be cured as soon as possible.

Until this day.

This day, I bought a special dress, quite a short one. Some high heels as well, and by that time I was not as confident with this as I am today, makeup, I managed to straighten up my hair, and, I wrote a long statement. A long statement that you could find in He Fell from Venus translated into English. I wrote this statement both in French and English. And, after I came out to my two parents, to my sister and my desire to be called Taylor was no longer a secret, and after I talked about this with a few friends, I decided to come out to the world. I decided to assume the person I am, the woman I newly was, (I mean… still in creation but, you get my point), and I decided to put this statement… on Facebook. This statement is the precise reason why I am anonymous today. And I took that picture, sitting on this chair, a picture that, of course, due to its controversy, I will not disclose anywhere. It was sad because the picture was nice, but, with all the shit it brought me, I think I even deleted it. I was proud of this one, though. I was feeling like, “I look pretty in this one”. The numerous rape threats and transphobic insults that came out of these seemed to confirm this.

In this statement, I explained everything. Everything. As on my previous Facebook, I was mostly posting in English because most of my friends were English speakers, when I posted this picture, my British friends were all, “Wow, congratulations, you did it, it must be hard for you but we’re here, it must have taken you a certain courage to come out, but all the best…”, mostly from the English-speaking world I received messages of support. From the French-speaking world, however, there was, at first, strictly no reaction. The thing I forgot to mention first was, that I took some Facebook at work of some of those acquaintances made at work.

A week later, I arrived at work, and, (I’m gonna use the fake deadname I used in He Fell from Venus here), “Xavier, the big boss wants to talk with you.” Naturally, I was like, “something wrong?” – “oh no, he just wants to talk to everyone. He’s like this.” – “Okay.” After a moment, I went upstairs to meet the big boss. We discussed random things, but the thing was, this guy knew my father personally. From time to time, my father was working contractually for him and thus, it’s why I had the job. “I heard that you were transitioning?” As the bullying campaign didn’t start, I was proud of it. So I openly talked about this with my boss, and, I started saying for the first time the name Taylor to someone else. Well… He called me Taylor.

And then, a few days later, as we were nearly reaching the end of these three months and I was hoping that my contract would be renewed for at least six other months (I was good at my job, and, I kind of liked it, I found it chilled) my manager told me that, the guy whom I was taking the place was finally fired. And he was to talk to the store manager, whom my father knew quite well, to offer me a permanent position. At the same time, I was booked for my final appointment with my psychiatrist (I passed the two first and he told me that he was to go on holiday, we would have the last appointment when he comes back) and I was waiting for my contract. Just six months would be enough as my plans were simple: working for six months would allow me to save a bit more money, so I could start something new, and finally start saving money afterwards. Of course, six months was the worst-case scenario, but a permanent position would be even better. He told me, “I like you, you’re a hard worker, I’ll speak with the boss.” Fine. I have no idea what happened, but… a few days later, I asked to speak to the store manager.

In between, during the summer, my father started to screw up bad. What I completely ignored by then was that he was living the final months of his life, and as he was suffering from bipolar disorders, he started going slowly into delusion and dementia. As I was living with him and my grandmother, (my father had a girlfriend who dumped him because, as I mentioned in the book, he had severe drinking issues and suffered from bipolar disorders, now we suspect that he was suffering from severe hallucinations by then), my relationship with him, as I started to dress up like a woman before him, decline severely. At the same time, I chased them both because I wanted to have a serious conversation with my two parents, but this is explained in He Fell from Venus. And, during the summer, he got dumped by his girlfriend who was fed up with his drinking issues. This is to mention that she went back with him a month afterwards. Anyway, by then, as I was in a frontal war with my two parents over the fact that now, my name is Taylor and they’ve got to deal with the fact that they no longer have a son but a daughter instead, it made the situation between my dad and I ways worse. And his mental health issues did not help the situation in any kind. Even though, as my contract was ending on the 31st of August, my father started to have a quick moment of lucidity during September since he was forced by my grandmother to go to rehab for a short time. He did thousands of medical tests, and, started to speak to a surprisingly helpful psychologist. At least, during September, he was lucid for a month, conscious of what was to come, and… we were far, all of us, very far to imagine what was to come.

And to come back to the end of August, I went back to talk to my store manager. And… well. “Listen, Xavier, you’ve been really helpful over the summer, thank you very much, but, I’ve been talking with the big boss, and we can renew you for only one month. You may understand, it’s not gonna be as busy as it were during the summer, so… we can’t keep you throughout autumn.” Okay. Fine. So, instead, he renewed my contract for a month, and, after, I was unemployed.it was quite witty since, by then, (I heard now that the law recently changed under Macron’s dictatorsh… sorry, the presidency), you could get granted unemployment benefits throughout four months of work. If you had four months of work in the past year, you could get granted unemployment benefits for the same period for which you’ve been working. For example, I worked four months, I was entitled to four months of benefit. In the end, it was okay, the problem was, most of the money I spent on my clothing and new wardrobe already took most of my salary, as well as things required for my transition. Hopefully, I had those unemployment benefits, representing eighty per cent of a monthly salary there, to still have a bit of money to save. I was pissed, but…

What I didn’t know… was that someone else, right after me, when I went there a month later and met that person, was hired. For the same job I had. It was in November of the same year, two months after I finished. This guy was a friend of my father’s girlfriend. Pretty much my age, white, I mean he looked like a French, had a strong French southern accent, was looking like normal, had no tattoo, no piercings, was looking like he had a girlfriend, and… he was just back from upstairs. Why?

Because he just signed his permanent contract.

To be continued…

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