Advice for transition at work

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    Topic
  • #122789
    Astrid Laufey
    Participant

    Okay, here is and interesting situation im looking for advice on.

    I was anxious about harassment at work in regards to my sexual orientation (I work in the trades with the anti lgbtqia crowd) I opened my own business and started to explore myself without fear (cat calling guys, wearing women’s clothes, whatever)  So, I find out through this freedom I’m a transgender woman! Great everything makes sense now. I move forward losing weight, hair removal, clothes etc. I feel great better than ever before. My family is learning who Astrid is I am pretty much a full time woman at home.  I have a long term female partner and we have two children together. we have been friends for 11 year intimate for  6 years and broken up once in that period so as far as that goes the relationship will be there in some form and is evolving so that’s good too especially since she is allowing me to barrow her clothes while I’m getting smaller.

    all my employees know and I even show up to interviews as a woman. Although they are having a hard time with the pronoun shift.

    Here is the twist everything has come back full circle. I am in charge of sales and overseeing the jobs and am super anxious about going into strangers homes to estimate work out of fear of harassment or not getting the job or worse.  I have a killer closing rate I get about 75 to 80% of contracts signed. That’s looking  androgynous  and probably closer to being confused as a very feminine gay man. To give you more background We do high end Painting, wallpaper, and house repair.

    I’ve been having a hard time doing my work because I hate having to present myself as a man (15-20% of the time) but I’m afraid I’ll lose work or my business won’t do as well and I have a bunch of people relying on me now. I’m going from miserable, depressed, suicidal, numb, and anxious to running a good size business and being way more productive and happy so going forward is the only way

    Do I one day just start answering the phone and showing up to people’s houses  as Astrid? I’m worried I might not be passing enough. I’ve always had self image issues and even tho I do get favorable attention in grocery stores and out and about I feel a mental block keeping me from that final social transition with customers at work. I feel like what I look like is a factor in the sale which is what makes me anxious. That and transphobia.
    <p style=”text-align: right;”>I am still really early in this too 1 year of socially transitioning and getting ready to have the I want more permanent change and  hormones talk with my partner.</p>
    just looking for any insight that anyone might have.

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    • #124012
      DeeAnn Hopings
      AMBASSADOR

      Astrid:

      Something just occurred to me on this clear and sunny SoCal morning. You mentioned the thought of showing up to talk to potential customers presenting as Astrid and being concerned about that. If you haven’t already, what may help is putting together a professional looking pamphlet or flyer that emphasize great projects that turned out even better than the customer had hoped, testimonials to your work, etc. Perhaps that might be a way of maintaining focus on the work and the projects and less on you personally.

      I retired one month short of 6 years ago and relocated to the SoCal desert. I present as DeeAnn virtually all of the time, except for specific instances. The last time was last spring when we got our initial vaccinations. I didn’t want people to be confused by my presentation not matching my driver’s license. Anyway, in the time that I have been here, I’m sure that I’ve met a number of people who have never interacted with a trans person face to face. I’ve gotten to the point where being a trans woman interacting with a non-trans person isn’t part of my thinking. My behavior is always as it has been in professional situations: friendly, on task, with a bit of humor and helping people understand that I am in their corner.

      I guess the moral to the story is to avoid twisting yourself into a pretzel because you think that is what is needed. Above all else:

      U B U!!

      • #124026

        That’s a great Idea. Usually I tell people to check out our online profiles but having something like that would help.  We have 4.9 star rating online with awesome photos.  I think I’ll start that right away. I think some of it is things I need to work through with a therapist now that I got my insurance right. A lot of personal fears and anxiety from from past trauma have surfaced since starting my transition that I think are holding me back.

        And You enjoy that weather DeeAnn! I’m in Wisconsin with seasonal depression, way too little sunlight and the cold just set in this year.

        • #124029
          DeeAnn Hopings
          AMBASSADOR

          Thanks!

          Related to what you said about referring people to your online presence, what comes to mind for me is that everyone doesn’t have a computer oriented thought process. I do, and certainly others do also, else sites like Angie’s List (now Angi) wouldn’t exist. My engineering career spanned 43 years including 6 years doing programming work of various sorts, but my history with computers goes back to the late 60’s/early 70’s when I took a few programming courses when I was in college. In more recent times, if I’m dealing with something that I know very little about, my first thought is to access the Internet and see what I can find out. But, that isn’t the case for a lot of people and we usually don’t know how computer literate and computer interested people are on first meeting. I look upon printer material as the first step. If they are intrigued by that, then the next step is checking out your online presence.

          I think keeping the focus on your business and previous projects is a constant in all this. Regardless of how you present, the business part will always be true.

          Question: In your online presence, are there photos or references to your former life? That would be something that needs fixing…

          And YES, we do enjoy the weather here and it was one of 3 reasons for moving here. The other 2 being the fact that many come to this area to retire, which suggests that the health care systems should be pretty well developed. It turns out that it is the case. The 3rd is the strength of the LGBT community. I’m originally from Toledo and have also lived in Joliet and Corning, NY. You definitely don’t have to tell me about cold, snow and ice!?!? Done there, been that!!

          Anyway, I hope things will progress well for you.

          Keep Moving Forward and Be Well!

          • #124103

            My business is named after my birth name/dead name 🤦‍♀️  I was still closeted and didn’t know where life was going to take me when I named it. I’ve been slowly removing any photos I appeared in.

            My business associate and I have considered renaming but the company branding has done too well and our awesome reviews would be lost under the new name.  I also thought of leaving it almost as a headstone/memorial for my former self

            Then I also worked with our biggest competitors for years before opening and I’ve been with them behind closed doors  and heard plenty of things regarding their disdain for various peoples to know exactly what type of bigots they are. They wouldn’t be against outing me anyway because they believe it’s a sin or some other contrived B.S. to justify treating people like crap.

            One way or another word gets around here there’s not a lot to do and people talk so might as well give ‘em something to talk about 😆. I’m building my self confidence and I’ll let the haters hate confidence goes a long way from what I hear

          • #124115
            DeeAnn Hopings
            AMBASSADOR

            Astrid:

            Over the course of my career, I was on MANY construction sites and in MANY machine shops. By and large the culture is pretty much as you said. The only thing that helped me was that I came out about 4 months before I retired. Since then, I’ve come to understand how really fortunate I was in that regard.

            I retired from Corning, Inc. after have been employed there for 23 years. Early on we brought in a husband and wife team of diversity consultants to do a series of workshops; primarily for women and minorities. The idea was to help people understand the environments in which they worked from a cultural viewpoint and how to successfully navigate them. The husband was an electrical engineer and his wife had a background in social work. Great people and I have always considered them as friends because of how they treated me and what I learned from them. Sadly the wife passed away a couple of years ago.

            During one of the sessions one of the women in the group talked about what others in her work group thought of her and that she worried about it. The reply was swift and woman to woman. It was something that I will probably never forget. She said: “If they are not f+++ing you, feeding you or funding you, there is no reason to listen to what they have to say.”. 20+ years later I still chuckle at that. To me it was something akin to nice guy Clark Kent going into the phone booth and coming out as BadAss Superman! It also reinforced to me that for many things, the delivery is as important as the message. Translated to your situation, it means that a fair amount of conscious thought is needed as you have some significant road blocks in your way. There are some things to care about and some things not. How you fashion the message will allow some to hear it, but many others will always be tone deaf. I have every confidence that what has carried you this far in the business world will continue to stand you in good stead.

            I totally agree with what you said: “Haters are gonna hate” as the song says. It is all they know how to do. Sad, though, because they miss out on the richness that the world has to offer. However, the realization is that while we can fix some things, we cannot fix everything. Those folks will just have to figure out things on their own. Some will, but most won’t.

            So, onward and upward!

    • #123964

      Update:

      I have started making forward progress. I gave up letting the anxiety rule me and started like I did with everything else one little piece at a time. A pink bandana to hide my guy hairline (waiting for my hair to grow in), some eyeliner and mascara to make my eyes have a more feminine pop and some nice jeans to show off my legs. Im on my second treatment for laser hair removal on my face and can’t wait for that to be gone I will definitely feel more confident when I’m not trying to hide that. (Facial hair is one of the biggest dysphoria triggers for me I shave so much it hurts)

      I decided after I get a signature on a contract they can suck it up until we’re done and if they don’t want to hire us again that’s their prerogative. (Also thinking about an anti discrimination clause  in the contract that would result in a penalty or fee or some motivational consequence since they don’t offer us a whole hell of a lot of legal protection still working that out)

      I also bought a decent but cheap starter wig in my natural color. I intend to make that the next addition first thing next year.  I tried it on after painting my face on…. Big mistake I ruined my face from crying because I looked like all the other girls in my family. Definitely a happy moment and gave me hope that I can do this.

      I’m a dreamer, visionary, and a really stubborn B*t*h when I have a goal.  I really want to push to make my company a place where a trans man or woman (or any group that faces discrimination for that matter) can come to work make fair wages to pay their bills and be able to advance themselves in society. All in the Narrow minded W.A.S.P. wasteland. I have my work cut out for me but I have a plan. Who knows maybe someday I can offer transition assistance (financial as well as a shoulder to cry on) through the company.

      I intend to ramp up my transition in the coming year after really coming to accept that I have to do this to be whole. The more I progress the more confidence and strength I have to go further . So I will continue to make occasional updates here as the transition train picks up steam and inevitably changes business and my working life.

      Wish me luck!!!

      • #123965
        DeeAnn Hopings
        AMBASSADOR

        Astrid:

        One thing to consider:

        While our ability to make someone do something is limited, we can ALWAYS set a good example.

        Be Well and Better Days Ahead!

    • #123911

      I can only dress as a woman rarely, and I have shared my feelings with very few people, but maybe I can help. I have been surprised at the amount of acceptance I have received. There are plenty of trans-phobic people out there, but there are always going to be. You may lose some business by being yourself, but is the cost to yourself worth a little extra business? I would think you wouldn’t want to work for people that are so narrow minded. Besides, when you are completely comfortable and confident, your sales ability should improve.  Moving forward, I think you should only greet new customers as Astrid. Former customers should be decided on a case by case basis; if they seem open, then be straightforward. Make the switch and see if they ask any questions. Good luck, and let us know what you decide and how it works please.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #123055
      DeeAnn Hopings
      AMBASSADOR

      There is an old saying:

      When you’re up to your ass in alligators, it is hard to remember that the initial objective was to drain the swamp!

      It’s sort of a gross way of describing what’s going on, but it is accurate. It’s very easy to lose focus in the midst of great upheaval…

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #122880
      DeeAnn Hopings
      AMBASSADOR

      The Coming Out process can be a minefield, but I think if done with conscious thought often the potential negative aspects can be minimized. One way to do that is to work with a therapist who is experienced in gender issues. It isn’t unusual to be very fearful about major life-altering decisions. That makes it very hard to focus on and work through what we need to figure out. A therapist can help with the process.

      You will need to come out sooner or later. If later, that’s a lot of time for stress to build. On the other hand, haste is not your friend, so some reasonable balance needs to be struck. The essence of coming out is that you get to tell YOUR story YOUR way. If you get outed by someone else, it becomes very difficult to tell your story. You are placed on the defensive and it is hard to get the narrative back. When you do come out, it needs to be on your terms.

      Ordinarily when someone talks about transitioning in place, I would recommend that they look up Dr. Margaret Stumpp and Stephanie Battaglino. However, they both transitioned while working for large insurance companies (Stump for Prudential and Battaglino for New York Life). However, I don’t know if a lot would translate to your situation, but check them out.

      In any event, Good Luck and keep us updated. I think there could be a lot for others to learn…

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #123049

        Thank you Deeann; the stories of the two women you mentioned are exactly the inspiration I was looking for :)!!!!

        I appreciate your wisdom and it definitely wouldn’t be a bad idea to talk to someone a lot is bubbling up now that I’m becoming more comfortable with myself  and I definitely want to control my story. I know all to well how bad it can be when you are outed and the control is taken away.

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