Moving brings out the worst in everything

It’s been a week since I posted last. Not out of a lack of inspiration but out of a robust supply of having to move my office and getting my taxes ready most of the weekend.

One of the things that I found the most interesting for myself was how much of an effect HRT has had on my strength. Things I know I could have lifted easily six months ago are starting to cause me to struggle. Hormones are exciting for me in a lot of ways but trying to hold up a large TV with my new noodle arms is not on the list.

The other thing I noticed is that I haven’t hit the threshold where people realize I’m getting weaker. I guess that doesn’t matter very much but I found myself in the awkward position of; do I explain whats going on and sound whiny, or do I just suck it up and struggle.

I struggled through. it was fine, it just made me realize as my cis-female coworker was stacking coffee pods in the shelves while I was carrying around the kitchen table that expectations do not shift quickly.

]’m entering a weird ambiguous point in my transition. I get mam’d by strangers and I get gentlemen’d by people I know. It’s a weird limbo that I’m looking forward to getting out of.

Surely You’re Not offended. I’m not, and don’t call me Shirley

I’m always thinking about how offended I should be. It’s a trade off. If you’re too sensitive you push people away. If you never correct then people never learn and change. It’s a bit of a conundrum.

I do’t like getting offended, my natural state to some of this stuff is ambivalence. Most of the time this is perfectly fine but sometimes things irk me. If you’re Trans misgendering is a part of life. It begins from the very first moments of your life. I haven’t fully transitioned publicly, I’m comfortable, though not thrilled, with being misgendered by strangers. I don’t think its their fault. What bothers me is when I’ve told people who I am. I know it can be tough. I don’t present particularly femininely so people go on autopilot and I get gentlemen d and sir’ed d a lot more then I’d like.

Understanding and acceptance are slow. It takes a long time to overwrite such basic life experiences as identifying the gender of another person. It plays into why Trans people make accepting people uncomfortable. By our very existence we challenge their minds expectations. This isn’t a conscious decision usually, our brains are both presumptive and lazy.  When confronted with information that differs from our expectations we are forced to either make further assumptions (the more likely outcome) or put effort into evaluating new information and creating a new response (far less likely).

So with that in mind I try to air on the side of caution with getting offended. Challenge occasionally, not constantly. It takes a while but eventually people learn to start correcting themselves. Then it becomes normal. It’s a marathon not a sprint. If something really bothers you talk to someone about it. Getting annoyed and belligerent doesn’t’ encourage people to reevaluate their bias and discomfort.

Finding Support from Higher Up

I’ve come out to 4 different managers in my career. It’s never easy to do but I want to talk about what to expect. I rather mistakenly assumed, maybe because I was young and naive enough to believe the corporate line that inclusion matters. That support with my transition was a conversation away. The first two managers I told were when I worked for a major financial institution, the kind that somehow wins diversity and inclusion awards and has programs somewhere to help employees deal with this stuff. Both were polite, both offered their personal support, though without knowing what that means it’s a pretty easy thing to give, harder to act on, and a commitment to find out more.

That last step, usually fell flat. Now, I’ll set some more context in that neither of these mangers was supportive of me before finding out I was Trans. No support for further education, they were generally annoyed by my need to question and understand. They didn’t appreciate that I didn’t always agree with the status quo. I have authority issues, its not my fault.

So the incredible leap of logic I made was, this would be the thing that would start the support. It wasn’t. If you’re thinking its time to move forward with your transition and its time to talk to your boss. Ask yourself one question. Have they supported me on anything else? If they don’t care about your career they’re definitely not going to help with your transition.

Now, why does support matter? Transition takes time, especially medical transition. There’s a frightening amount of people you have to bare your soul to, and they all also work Monday to Friday 9-5.

As someone considering transition its important to know you ahve the resources to see things through, partial progress can feel worse then no progress at all.

So if you find yourself with an already unsupportive boss, don’t despair just make sure your plan doesn’t involve their support find the resources as you can. It will make things harder, but if a transition wasn’t hard it wouldn’t be so satisfying every step you actually take.

If you’re lucky to have finally found a manager who generally cares and wants to see your career suceed. The support for transition isn’t usually that big of a stretch. They’re not goign to understand what you need or why you need it. They’re just going to help you get it. Transitions are personal, you have to walk all ofthe steps yourself. You’re not asking your boss to hold your hand, you just need time to get those steps in and move along that journey.

Coming Out is Never Easy

Chronologically I’m going to skip a head a bit because I recently came out to all of my colleagues, co-workers, what have you.

First off, I was incredibly lucky, I didn’t have a single poor or hateful reaction. Something that absolutely shocked me. It didn’t shock me from the sense that I thought anyone was really harbouring ill feelings towards Trans people. More in the sense that this big massive, all to looming shadow of a thing that is being in the closet twists everything into a “big deal.” Even though I’ve come out before, it has yet to feel good to do it. 10 times in one day was exhausting.

The mechanics of coming out are fairly simple. You tell someone the biggest and most personal secret you can. That’s how I do it. I met with everyone individually I felt everyone had a right to privacy and to react in their own way. Telling a group might be easier but my goal is to ensure everyone is comfortable with working with a Trans individual. I haven’t started telling clients yet.

I came out significantly sooner than I had been expecting. I’ve only been on HRT for 5 months now, and only 2 of those were with Estrogen. I haven’t exactly gotten to the point that anything was particularly obvious. I came to the conclusion that it would be an easier mental transition if I didn’t tie coming out with physical transition. Other then everyone knowing things were still similar the next day. I think that gives people a chance for acclimation to the situation.

I have a concern that clients will react poorly. Not all but some. I don’t want to see, when those moments occur. someone I work with getting upset about it. I’m concerned people will be hypersensitive and defensive more than standoffish. Which is the better problem to have in my opinion. My ultimate goal with my transition is for things to go as peacefully and simply as possible. I have a friend who is gay, she told me one day that she wished that she could just be who she was without having to feel different or other to everyone else. She didn’t want to live a normal life, she wanted her life to be normal. I think about that a lot. I know being Trans isn’t the norm for a lot of people, but I look forward to when being Trans is considered normal.

If you think you work with understanding people who have good hearts and good intentions. Who have a great and supportive reaction I want you to know that is fine to feel uncomfortable with it. I know for me I try very hard to be an honest person. Holding this secret that is so core to my being chafes at me. It hass also become comfortable. I can control a secret, the truth is far harder to contain. I’m not sure when I won’t stop feeling vulnerable and nervous but I do know that things can only get better.

 

Considering Transitioning?

I don’t want to start at the beginning because that was a long time ago. instead I’m going to start at the beginning of when I seriously started to consider what a transition would look like. To give you some context, I work in finance, I’m an investment advisor, the old fashioned term for that was stock broker, but that’s not really a good title, most of what I do is financial planning. Anyways, what’s important is that the average wealthy client (the people I work with to get paid) are not necessarily the type of person one thinks of when they think of the forefront of a social revolution. They generally think, older, conservative, and most importantly, conservative.

So back to the point of this story, how was I, someone who was already significantly younger then my peers (10 years younger then the youngest people in my profession) going to make this happen. Spoiler warning, that parts not written yet.

What I can do then is discuss how I started figuring this out. The first thing that’s important to consider is that worrying about other people is a great way to delay your transition. I began my journey to transition while I was in college, I was legitimately terrified that I would be un-hireable if I was visibly Trans. That was only 4 years ago.

What I didn’t realise was that by focussing on my job I would enter down a path with a company that would delay my transition a further 3 years. The biggest consideration after, will they fire/constructively dismiss me from this job if they find out I’m Trans, is whether or not the company you work for will be supportive enough to see that parade, circus even, of professionals it takes to begin medical transition. While also keeping you sane and in a healthy enviornment the whole way. A company can be inclusive and accepting like a fake smile on a salesman. However just like getting a good discount true acceptance and support will never quite be attainable. unless you can transition on well wishes and awkward silence alone. If you can please let me in on our secret.

The next consideration is whether or not the environment is transition friendly. one of my first jobs with a major financial institution introduced me to the absolute terror and misunderstanding these organisations have with Trans people. I was warned on one of my first days about this terror of a person. This ‘woman’ who I needed to handle so gently lest I set off a lawsuit because this special snowflake of a person was so apt to flip their lid. A few weeks later said person came in, not perfectly stealth but very close and I must say she looked pretty good. I had the honour to serve her when she got to the front of the line, was she mean and ready to jump down everyone’s throat, of course not, was she terrified and worried that I was going to out her… again… at that bank, damn Skippy she was. Were all of my co-workers whispering and sending me messages making sure I didn’t mess this up because of the drama that would ensue, of course. Did I treat her like a normal person, yes, was she visibly relieved after dealing with me, yes. Did I have the courage to interact and set the record straight with my co-workers as I should have. No. Myself a Transwoman, myself fully knowing what was going on. Of course not I was too busy finding new and more elaborate ways to hide what I’d slowly been unwinding in myself the past year. I let it slide, I endured many more comments about that five minute exchange. Scaring me further into the closet when after so long I have made the first steps towards the door. Be careful who you work with, even well meaning and open minded people can prevent you from pursuing your truth and happiness.

We are not yet in a world that is fully supportive of Trans people. Big companies with big inclusion policies are not always what they say they are. If you’re caught in the middle of your career and future, and your transition and future, be careful to consider how both parts of that will work. Just a couple considerations.

A guidebook for Trans Professionals

Is not something that exists. Yet at least, maybe someone will write one. Maybe that someone is writing on this blog right now…

When I came out to the partners at my firm, one of the partners being the practical man that he is, after the support was offered and the awkwardness had settled said two things: The first was that this was going to be another path they were going to have to forge the first time, and the second was if there was a guidebook.

I tell that story because he knew there was no guidebook and little did he know he’d inspire me to start telling my story in the attempts at putting something together. Transgender people in the media are often portrayed with more, bohemian sensibilities. The artists and free spirits. So where does that leave the average professional woman or man who is less then thrilled with the outcome of their genitalia? In an awkward position to say the least. A few miles up shits creek without a paddle to be blunt. Throw on top of it the long ladder to general legitimacy in their chosen field, and you’ve got a long road ahead indeed.

Do I have all the answers? Absolutely not, will I figure more out as I go along. I hope to hell because if I’m this confused even a year from now I’m going to be pissed.