Being Trans at Work
I’m no slacker. I bet you thought I just wrote fancy stuff all the time for pay, didn’t you? The truth is, I also assemble air ducts. Yep, All 5 feet 5 inches and 140 pounds of me assembles air ducts on an assembly line right along with a bunch of foul mouthed alpha males. I am also out as transgender at this work place, and everything seems to be humming along just fine.
Do you want to be out and everything to be pretty cool at your workplace? I admit that I came into this job as trans. I interviewed with a male legal name, had a gender neutral uniform on (from a different job), and in full make up / long hair mode. I was told that I was very overqualified for the position and sent on my way. The very next morning I got a phone call and was offered the job. I suspect that their trepidation had something to do with my presentation. No matter, after I signed my name along the line accepting the job offer I told them the story, informed them that my name was set to change in 2 weeks, and I require use of the women’s restrooms whether I wear makeup or not. I live in California, so they had no choice but to swallow that pill.
Does the area where you live have laws that protect you based upon your gender presentation or identity? You should do a search to find that out. Nothing fancy, just google transgender rights in your state or country and you should be able to hunt down the information you need to begin seriously contemplating your change. Many places offer a discrimination policy that prevents their employees from discriminating against you as long as the root cause is your gender identity. Such policies would mean that if you were to begin working as a woman, then you have the right to demand that you be given the same treatment as other women in your workplace.
Are you afraid that it would disrupt chemistry? The truth is, it absolutely will. When I switched on the job over a year ago (different place of work, sorry to jump around), I was treated as a stranger by some of the men and as an intruder by some of the women. People have a hard time handling it. Often times they want to do the right thing, and they have to decide whether they want to do right by their beliefs, the law, or by social norms. If you had some special relationship with your superiors that was rooted in your previous (or current) gender presentation it will be altered. I’m not necessarily saying that’s a bad thing. The office manager may instantly girlfriend you or the boss man that you had beers with on Saturday will put an end to your weekly forays. They would now be reacting to the real you, and the tradeoff is worth it.
If you are concerned enough you may want to talk to a human resources representative and help them understand your needs. In my case they really wanted to have a team meeting to discuss the issue before I showed up as Emma, but I was in a bad mental place and elected to show up as Emma the very next day. I figured that once they knew they had to be able to react to the change immediately. I’m not sure my way was the best way, but I did it, and I still have that job. I have an air of bravada, a borderline haughty self confidence that my mother has referred to as “cavalier,” and I beg you not to do as I did. You may get yourself into trouble (but it’s totally worth it).
If living and working as a woman is your goal my family’s maxim regarding children may apply: There is never a good time or way to jump in, you just do it. So prepare yourself with knowledge about the law where you live, begin informing your HR personnel, and jump in.