CELEBRATING LGBTQ+ HISTORY MONTH
TRANSGENDER LORRY DRIVER, KAT GOFF TELLS US ABOUT HER GENDER TRANSITION JOURNEY
The transport and logistics business is often seen as a very masculine industry, with the nature of the work and the driving conditions deemed as not suitable for women, although if you read our interview with Nicky Ryder you’ll know that these stereotypes aren’t strictly true – especially at Backline Logistics.
February is LBGTQ+ History Month, which gives us the perfect opportunity to showcase one of our longest serving drivers – Kat Goff – who certainly knows how to turn heads, for all the right reasons.
Q: How long have you been a truck driver?
A: I first started driving for Backline in 2007/8, so it’s been a while! I did have a small hiatus in 2008 when my partner and I decided to relocate from the West Country and move to Bournemouth to help her daughter get onto the housing ladder, so I left Backline to work for another agency. Within six months the work had turned sour so I made the decision to move back to Exeter and have been with Backline ever since.
Q: That’s quite a commitment! Do you work with Backline as an agency driver or are you on their books as a contracted driver?
A: When I came back to Backline in 2009 I’d decided to set up as a Limited Company, so in the early days I was an agency driver, but with the Government changes and other aspects changing I decided to leave the Limited Company behind and join Backline as a full time lorry driver.
During that time I’ve been headhunted by other agencies and very nearly left Backline in 2020. Tim and the team were incredibly supportive and told me to make the decision that was best for me, which was to stay put. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, even if you are being offered more money!
Q: What do you enjoy the most about driving for Backline?
A: The variety of jobs I get given always keep me on my toes, but honestly, the staff have looked after me since day one and that’s not something that comes as standard in the transport industry. Tim and Ben are both brilliant, but Emma and Donna really do make the experience what it is. Emma is pretty much one of my besties now and Donna has had my back since the day I joined.
As a driver it’s a fantastic company to work for, especially with the Platinum Driver Scheme and the variety of clients they work with, but the office and support team make it an even more enjoyable place to work. It’s why I’ve stayed with them for so long.
Q: Speaking of your length of service with Backline, what did you do before joining them as a truck driver?
A: I spent 12 years in the army, working as a mechanic and have always been fascinated with cars and engines, building and fixing things. While I was in the army I obtained my HGV licences. When I left the army I worked for Inchcape Automotive on the transporters, then had a van job with Hex Holdings delivering car panels and paint shop supplies. For two years after that I worked on the bins around South Devon, first with Cleanaway and then Sita, so I’d already had HIAB experience and an ADR qualification.
All subsequent qualifications have been through Backline and currently includes: HIAB, NPORS, Forklift, Moffatt truck mounted forklifts and ADR for packages and tanks. These qualifications mean that I can pretty much roll up my sleeves and get on with anything.
Q: It sounds like you have incredible skills and a huge breadth to your experience – is there a specific job that you love doing above all others?
A: At the moment I’m doing a lot for a utilities firm and have been for about 6-8 months now, which means I get to use their RoRo skip, which is really versatile and allows you to perform all sorts of tasks with just one truck. Anyway, the company doesn’t want anyone else using the truck when I’m not there, so although I’ve trained another member of staff to use it they’d rather wait for me to be back at work before getting the work done.
Q: We know that you’ve been with Backline for quite some time, during which you’ve decided to transition from male to female – how has that been?
A: I’ve always known that I was born into the wrong body and wanted to be female, but I’ve spent most of my life in denial. In 2018 I told my partner what was going on and she supported me when I decided to start dressing as a woman. But when I said I wanted to fully transition she said that she wasn’t able to support me in the way I needed, so we parted ways. We’re still really close friends though, which is really important when it comes to having a strong support network.
Q: How did you approach the conversation with the team at Backline?
A: To be honest with you, I turned up at work one day in full make-up, high heels and skinny jeans with butterflies embroidered down the leg and announced; “this is how I am from now on”. It caught a few people off guard as they didn’t see it coming, but on the whole I’ve been accepted really well, which is testament to the open nature of those working at Backline.
I recall one situation on a construction site where I was mis-gendered during the site induction and another client requested that I didn’t carry out any more delivery runs for them. But other than that it’s been a really positive experience
Q: Do you feel that you’re contributing to breaking stigmas around trucking – as well as the stigmas around the LGBTQ+ community?
A: Yes, I guess I do. My current partner, Gemma, decided to transition from male to female over 20 years ago and has had a very different experience to me. The world was very different 20 years ago and it took a very long time for her to be accepted into society. She had no choice but to give everything up as it was impossible to stay in employment. She’s told me that I help her on her journey every single day, but if it wasn’t for her and everyone who went through it before me, I don’t think my experience would have been as positive.
Thank you for sharing your experiences with us Kat and showcasing that an industry steeped in stereotypes can adapt to change and embrace those from marginalised communities in a positive and reinforcing way.