Reply To: Living as Sophie

DeeAnn Hopings


By design, my coming out was in front of about 130 people. But before that, I had The Conversation with my daughter and son (both grown and married), 7-8 close friends and my then department manager. At that time, which was about 4 months before I retired, I lived in a town of about 12,000  people that was dominated by the presence of my employer (a multi-billion dollar international company). News travels at light speed, partly because so many are connected in non-obvious ways (relatives, close friends, through work, through church and sometimes all of the above). All of those conversations were done 1/1, except for my kids as they lived significant distances away. I agree with talking to people 1/1 whenever possible, but that may not be possible in every case, so we do the best we can.

My career as a mechanical engineer spanned 43 years with 2 companies. With the second, I supervised a group of engineers and technicians for about 2 years. One of the things that was very prominent was the idea of minimizing (and hopefully eliminating) liability for the company. This covered a vest array of things from operator safety regarding our process machinery, environmental issues, sexual harassment issues, discrimination, etc. Also, while there are legal ramifications, many of these issues can effect the public image of the corporation, of which they are very protective. Policy statements and procedural documents, whether for HR or production processes, are intended to inform as to best practices that result in consistent outcomes. What you don’t want is people throwing up their hands when shit happens and saying “What do I do now?!?!” in the heat of the moment.

As it relates to trans people, the last thing you want is those in management doing silly things and making knee jerk policies on the spur of the moment. While that might on occasion help someone’s situation, I suspect more often than not it will be a great hindrance.

When I talked to my kids, it was necessarily individually owing to different time zones, different work schedules, etc. Both were pretty low key about the whole thing. I think my son latched on to things pretty quickly as he had  taken a number of psychology courses in college. My daughter is the more analytical of the two and it took a little while to process things. However, whenever I’ve sent along things regarding my accomplishments as DeeAnn they both have been very supportive. To their credit, they have never asked any “silly” questions; the kind that do not warrant answers.

The only other significant hurdle has to do with my granddaughters. They are both fairly young and as they live halfway across the country from me, I don’t see them very often. But, that is something that eventually needs to be addressed and sorted out.

From what I’ve observed across several forums and my own experience, how kids respond at any age is sort of a crap shoot. Anecdotally, there doesn’t seem to be a pattern. What that suggests to me is that the only thing that we can do is approach each situation with our best positive energy and not be weighted down by the possibility of negative outcomes. Best of all, we should always extend thoughts of positive expectations.

I’m glad that things are going well for you and hope the future will continue to be so. Transitioning is neither an impulse nor the work of a minute. It is a MAJOR decision and life altering in many ways. I think the general populace has yet to understand that.

Be Well,


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