I’ve talked a bit about my more recent experiences coming out to my boss. I wanted to share a couple stories about a previous time it didn’t go so well.
The first time I came out to my manager, I was working at a huge national financial institution, the type that wins awards for diversity inclusion and has ‘support’ for people. At the time I was getting frustrated, I needed time to go to a nearby city for appointments to get things rolling. I couldn’t get a lot of appointments with specialists at six in the evening. So I rather naively believed that all the talk meant something. It didn’t, all I did was ostracize myself from my manager and mark myself as a problem.
It wasn’t any particular thing that changed, just all of a sudden I wasn’t worth putting effort into. Who’s ever heard of a Trans banker anyways? Especially in a small town.
In an unrelated manner that manager was laid off. So I thought, lets try this again, I waited a few months. I listened for anything overtly hateful, nothing was forthcoming.
Told this manager, was given verbal support (as in I’m not going to say anything to your face at least) Things were again awkward for a bit until I think my manager forgot. Again no real support was forthcoming.
Now if you’re someone who is in the position of having a Trans employee and they ask for some time to figure things out, they’re not trying to get out of work, treatment, though I dislike that term, is not a quick process to come by. I’ve talked before about some of the hurdles and how long it took to get over them. If you have the ability to be flexible you’d be doing right by the employee by allowing it.
Too many Trans folk are stuck in temporary, low paying, shift work because they have to choose between their identity and their career/livelihood. A choice that often ends in death.
One of the more melancholy aspects of being Transgender is that I managed to ruin my career in banking in record time, most people need to get a job to ruin their careers. I was just born.
I’ve been on estrogen for about six months at this point. and though day to day its hard to notice any particular changes, the overall effect is beginning to become quite pronounced.
That would be good news enough but I took a big step. I bought some new work clothes last week, and I’ve been wearing them all of this week, the kicker being that they’re women’s clothing, not only do they fit better then my old clothes, I haven’t created some huge uproar or destabilized the universe.
A pair of pants might not seem huge but I was pretty concerned the first day I wore them, the pockets look different, they’re a different cut, I could think of a thousand ways people would notice. I just focused on the fact that people generally don’t notice things. and lo and behold, they didn’t.
Now I’m more comfortable at work, I feel like more confident that I can be out at work and most importantly I’ve taken a tangible step toward transitioning at work. Sometimes the victories are small but much like a fresh strawberry, the smallest ones are generally the sweetest.
One of the more unfortunate parts of being as far in the closet as I was most of my life, is that I have always been afraid to interact with any part of the trans or gay communities. Well this year I’m at least poking my head out of the dirt far enough to attend a gay pride parade.
Much like how I had an irrational fear of ever seeming feminine. I also was afraid to be seen even endorsing Pride lest someone figure me out.
So this year is my first time stepping out and at least participate silently while far braver people march.
Someday I’ll step into the limelight with confidence, just not this year. I’m still going to count the win though, better there then not right?
I’ve been sharing some stories that I realise are fairly negative in their scope. There are a couple reasons, the first of which is that this journey has not been particularly easy or fun so far. The other is that there are more definitive negative events then there really are positive ones.
Little wins tend to be very small but no less satisfying. I found a great pair of jeans that fit me well and look good. Win! They’re pretty obviously women’s jeans too. I’ve been wearing them in public and haven’t been stoned in the public square. It might not seem like much but its each battle that makes up the war, and I’m finally starting to see some battles won.
Hormone therapy can be slow and peoples opinion and behavior changes even slower, but I will try and write about the good with the bad. Though probably not much over the next couple weeks as I’m going on vacation. Talk to you all then!
My firm has offices spread across the country so we use video chatting services to communicate quite often. So as I was walking by our administrator the other day I stuck my hand in front of the camera. I know it’s not a particularly funny joke but it’s my way of saying hi.
“Oh those are just (my) big man hands in the way.” says the woman in my office.
One of the worst parts of coming out is that you expose yourself to being hurt. The little things are what hurt. My hands aren’t even that big, they don’t really bother me. In that moment though it was all consuming.
Like most people I just want to be treated with respect. Which means even a basic amount of dignity and social pleasantries being extended. You don’t point out someones obvious pimple, you don’t stare at the mole, you don’t stare at the only minority in the room, you don’t make fun of a Trans person’s less appreciated characteristics.
It might make you feel like you’re guarding yourself and have to step on egg shells. I’d feel bad if I hadn’t had to walk on egg shells and guard myself at all times for every moment of my life.
Most people know they should be nice to the people around them, they’re just not used to being around Trans people. It only takes some time to think or to ask the question to treat us like you would treat anyone else. It costs you nothing.
On a side note I know I’ve been talking about a lot of negative experiences lately, I will try and start writing some positive posts.
I’ve talked a lot already about how weirdly dehumanising this whole transition thing is. I want to take a second now and talk about one of the very humanising experiences I’ve had through this.
Which is that transition has helped me feel, for the very first time.
In order to cope with the weight of being in the closet and other elements of my younger life I clammed up. I’ve talked about this before but that void that only expressed anger was my life for 22 years.
What I’m starting to discover now is that I am beginning to feel, rather regularly, different emotions. I’m beginning to have that complete feeling. This all became noticeable to me yesterday. The event in question? I had a friend piss me off. They had done something, I made fun of them and they reacted pretty harshly back. Nothing particularly revolutionary what was revolutionary was that I felt hurt.
Now, feeling hurt is something I have not allowed myself very often. The only person really capable of it is my wife. To have opened up that a close friend could actually hurt and upset me. As crazy as it sounds is new to me. It was a weird milestone of success.
What got me thinking about this all though is that I’ve noticed that when I get angry I can feel something other then just pure rage. A plethora of emotions begin to rise and compete. It’s not pleasant but it’s still novel enough that it makes me happy.
Transition is a weird time and its full of a lot of ups and downs, and one of the things that’s keeping me engaged is that I can feel those ups and downs for the first time.
I had a client come in the other day to pick up some work we’d done for him. In going through it all he ended by asking for a card. We were at the front desk where we keep all of our cards so he just looks over himself. Seeing our administrators card first he asks if that’s mine. I say no my card is the one next to it. He responds dismissively with “oh good I thought you were one of those people with gender issues.”
There’s a very petty and malicious part of my soul that just wants to throw things in peoples faces but as usual I didn’t. I awkwardly smiled and he left afterwards. He was none the worse for wear.
Now, years from now I know I will likely find this story funny. But this is the first time I have had a client bring that up, as awkwardly as it was. So unfortunately my first experience is always going to be awkward and weird at best, or a sign of a long, winding, and largely uphill battle.
As is another sign of the toll that being in the closet and transition has brought upon me. I didn’t really think it was that strange until I told other people. I now see why it should have been painful, and am now bothered by it but in the moment I wasn’t. Either i have incredibly low standards for people around me, incredible patience, or I’m just as broken on the inside as I think, maybe even more who knows. My money is it’s a bit of all three, but likely more of the first and last then the second.
So now that I’ve stewed on it for a week, screw you guy!