Transitioning while working

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    Topic
  • #131705
    Cynthia Dubois
    Participant

    Sorry if this has been covered before, but I just have a few questions maybe some of you may have insight into.  I’d like to especially hear from you ladies who are either going through or went through the transition process while working. How did you go about the process of transitioning while maintaining a job/career? When/ How did you inform your boss/ co-workers/ employees? Were there any HR or ethics committees you had to go through? How did you handle insurance? Who did you have to inform, and when? Was there any timeline you followed?

    For those of you in academia, especially those of you doing active research- did you have to go through any institutional review boards? Did it affect your research funding?

    Basically, I’m looking to come through this all with an intact career and not lose what I have spent decades building and have it minimally impact my research. Thanks for any insight any of you can give.

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    • #131763
      Rachel
      FREE

      “How did you go through the transition process while maintaining a job/career?”

      Good question. I didn’t.

      I was unable to maintain my career through transition and was forced to move on. Reading the responses here, I’m beginning to wonder if I’m the only one.

      Good luck

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      • #131779

        I’m sure there had to be a whole range of experiences, so I appreciate hearing the good and the bad.  Thanks.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #131712

      I work for a very supportive company (3M) in a very accepting state (Minnesota). I knew long before I came out that I would have corporate support. Individuals might be another matter, but more later. We already had documented transition guidelines, both for the employees and for management. I knew a number of women that had already transitioned in their role, and all were happy with the process (though a common belief was that you would likely not see any more promotions – a belief that has been disproven).

      For myself, I had already started electrolysis and HRT. I had been living as a woman in various capacities for a while. Working from home 100% made the need to come out at work a non-issue, or so I thought. As I came out to more friends and family, I realized how much not coming out at work was impacting me. So I arranged a meeting with my manager. After I told him his first words were “So, how can I help?” It was a very common sentiment. When I came out to my VP he let out a sigh and said something to the effect (Is that all? I was worried that you were going to tell me you were retiring.” And for the most part everyone has been massively supportive. There were a few folks that seemed to cut my coming-out call with them short, but no actual issues from anyone. I spoke with over 100 of my co-workers (working there for nearly 30 years at the time, you get to know a few folks). When the day came to make it official, it was up to me. I wrote the email, had collected the distribution lists, and sent it out. And the congratulations and positive messages started coming in almost immediately.

       

      Oh, a college professor friend of mine (from a different, more red, state) had the same experience as I did with my VP – “Is that all? I thought you were going to retire.” type response. She has been very happy since she came out.

       

      I wish you all the best.

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      • #131762
        Mx. Margaux
        CHAT CREW

        I went through hell. When I first came out, I found out that the Executive Director of the company had lost her previous job due to losing a transphobia suit. Went to a place that employed two other Enby managers, and wound up being discriminated even more. Finally, after three years, found a job this Spring that supports me, in a union that supports me. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

         

        I’ll say this much: Even in a trans-friendly state like California, HR managers can manipulate the law to openly discriminate against Trans/Enby folks and get away with it. HR is NOT you friend…

         

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      • #131730

        Evelyn,

        Thanks.  I work for a state agency and for a few colleges who are strict with their adherence to anti-discrimination laws.  I also do wonder about the “hidden” costs of transitioning at work, like the fear of losing promotions.  It sounds like that was happily not the case with your job, but I do live in a very conservative area, and I’ve heard some horror stories from people who came out at one university I used to be at.  I’m just wondering if that was more an aberration, or if it is one of those things that happens more often than is reported.

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        • #131759

          My impression is that in some areas where discrimination might be more the way of the land, but you have agencies that are trying to adhere to a solid anti-discrimination policy that the folks will find ways to discriminate without getting caught. No facts to back that up, just a gut feel.

           

          As I mentioned, I have a friend who taught college and came out while there. She had no real issues, and was seen as a woman by students and staff. Not in the most red state, but a conservative state nonetheless.

           

          As for a story of how things are at my employer, here is an article published a few years ago featuring a very good friend of mine. https://news.3m.com/One-3Mer-Shares-Her-Experience-Transitioning-from-Male-to-Female And another good friend a year later. https://news.3m.com/One-3Mers-journey-of-coming-out-at-work-as-trans-and-disabled I figure that if the company wants to publicly promote this, they are certainly going to support us.

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          • #131791
            DeeAnn Hopings
            AMBASSADOR

            An important thing to remember here is that for a LONG, LONG time the careers and women, minorities, lesbian and gays have been messed with in spite of whatever anti-discrimination laws may be in place. Isn’t it something like roughly 2/3 of the states have no laws in place protecting LGBT folks?

            For a time, I was a supervisor for a group of engineers and technicians. It was continually impressed upon me and my peers that one of our primary functions was to eliminate (or at least minimize) liability for the company. This meant many things: adhering to the appropriate safety procedures for potentially dangerous operational and maintenance tasks, designing machinery with all of the safety aspects in mind, fair, documented and implemented procedures regarding raises, bonuses and promotions by race and gender, fair, documented and implemented procedures regarding non-performance definitions and disciplinary measures and a number of other items. On the surface it seems all straightforward and above board. However, as a lot of these indicators and judgements are very subjective in nature, the power of words comes into play. It may all seem above board, but subtleties, tone and choice of words can come together to create a particular slant.

            I wouldn’t throw out a blanket and say that all HR folks are suspect. I’ve known some very good ones as well as some bricks, but we have to remember that they are in an in between position. The good ones you try to support and work with. The bricks you work around…

            2 users thanked author for this post.
          • #131760
            DeeAnn Hopings
            AMBASSADOR

            “I figure that if the company wants to publicly promote this, they are certainly going to support us“

            Yes, and no. Classic example is Disney. They support a lot of LGBT-related causes, but they also gave money to the legislators in Florida who wrote the “Don’t say gay” bill.

            As always, Follow The Money…

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    • #131708

      Hi Cynthia, I transitioned MTF while working, and I’m still involved as the process continues. After working at the same location for over 4 years I had a pretty good feel of where the people were at and felt it was safe to come out to them as being transgender. The response was, happily for me, overwhelmingly positive, and I was very pleased by how many had responded. With that knowledge I then asked if it would be okay for me to transition to Lauren while working on the job. Again, the response was amazingly positive, almost unanimous, YES!! All I needed was some idea of how and when. Several ladies from the admin staff came and asked me what I was going to do on March 31st, to which I replied, “what’s happening on that date? They informed me that day was the “Transgender Day of Visibility”, and that I’d better be there – enfemme! So I then proceeded to go talk to the managers of each department, letting them know what was taking place, and could they email the staff informing them of what I was doing. On March 31st I arrived at my desk fully dressed as a female, the emails had been sent out, informing everyone that my name was now Lauren and my pronouns were now ‘she’ and ‘her’.
      This was all taking place at the end of Covid so many staff had been working from home, so as they’ve been returning they’ve been introduced to a “new person” at my desk, which is why I said the process is still continuing. It has been almost three months since I transitioned and debuted. I have been accepted, affirmed and welcomed, told how brave and courageous I am, and how much my coming out has meant to many staff members who now feel encouraged to ‘come out” themselves. The story continues.

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      • #131710

        Lauren,

        Thank you for replying.  That is an encouraging and inspiring story.  I hope everything continues to go smoothly for you.  Do you mind if I ask a few questions-

        Was there a lot of paperwork involved, or was it mostly just informing people of your intent?

        Were there any restrictions placed on you for anything, as to what you could reveal about your situation, discuss about it, etc.?

        Did your job ask for any specific proof of you being transgender (i.e. proof of being diagnosed as gender dysphoric, etc.)?

        Sorry if any of this is too personal, I’m just trying to get a feel for what to expect, what to do, what to avoid, and all that.

        • #131720

          Hi again Cynthia,

          -The only paperwork was originated by myself. I wanted to make sure that all staff members were going to be aware of my coming out and transition, so I wrote the original notice and showed it to the various office managers and administrative staff. They in turn edited a few things and then sent the notification out to all the staff.

          -There were no restrictions, it is a British Columbia government office where being inclusive is not only tolerated but promoted.

          -The government of B.C. actually has a website called Trans Care BC, they knew I had talked with counselors regarding gender dysphoria. They also knew my story.

          I wish you all the best Cynthia, I really hope it works out for you, being able to live as we truly are is beyond incredible and amazing, it’s been so joy filled and wonderful!

          Love and hugs,
          Lauren M

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          • #131723
            DeeAnn Hopings
            AMBASSADOR

            From my understanding, many HR groups prefer that the person involved writes the initial message, as happened in your case. They don’t know what has, and is, going on for you from a personal standpoint and they recognize that serious errors could occur. Likely that may be tempered by a bit of corporate speak, but the basic message remains…

            1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #131707
      DeeAnn Hopings
      AMBASSADOR

      Cynthia:

      If you haven’t already, I suggest that you look up Lynn Conway, Dr. Margaret Stumpp and Stephanie Battaglino.

      Conway joined IBM in 1964, but was fired in 1968 when she told management that she needed to transition. After transitioning, she returned to the workforce as Lynn. However, she did officially come out until about 1999. He website http://www.lynnconway.com documents her career and activism work.

      Dr. Stumpp was a VP at Prudential when she transitioned.

      Stephanie Battaglino transitioned while working at New York Life. She has written a book: Reflections From Both Sides Of The Glass Ceiling.

      All 3 are retired now. Battaglino’s book pretty much chronicles her entire life: childhood, adolescence, work life before transitioning, work life after transitioning and activism work. She lives a couple of towns over from me and I met her at a presentation about her book.

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      • #131709

        DeeAnn,

        Thanks for replying.  I will check out those individuals.  It sounds like I can get a lot of great information from them.

        • #131711
          DeeAnn Hopings
          AMBASSADOR

          Battaglino’s book has a lot of detail about working with her management and HR folks. Stumpp and Battaglino were the first to transition in their respective companies. I think that helps and it hurts. It helps in the sense that it is a real opportunity to help shape policy and procedures going forward. It hurts as there are no precedents upon which to draw. That adds difficulty and makes things take longer…

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