Guest Elizabeth K

Suggestions For Coming Out At Work

29 posts in this topic

Zabrak

Sweetheart - and ladies, I am not an expert! I am just a scared ole gal who trembled and shook, went into the HR office and spilled her story - and then clinched her teeth waiting to see if she was gonna get that - "gee we support your bravery but I hope you luck at your next employment!" But, they said said, "my goodness! I think we can work with you as long as you can show us how we can still make money with all your skills - by the way, just what is transgenderism?" ... an hour later, a bit of crying... wow.

So that's what I did - and I hope it can work for others:

I am in an artsy fatsy profession to start with We DO have some people who are a bit... well... different in an independant way. I mean they kinda run their own life and if it meets what the world wants, that's okay, but it is certainly coincidence. I have had pierced ears for 25 years as an example. About a month I started putting in a gold ball stud - errrrrrr.... both sides actually, about a step further than the norm. Work didn't say no but they did ask I take them out before seeing some of their more conservative clients. No problem. I realy was just testing the waters.

I also tested by speaking a bit about my transgendered friend. So I did introduce the topic. No slander or riddicule.

And the HRT had started showing some results - I also lost about 32 pounds. I told the office I was going to let my haiir grow out to like my hippy days. So it was obvious something was going on.

I also let it slip I was in therapy - they assumed it was marrital problems. Their biggest concern was if it affected their medical insurance costs (no).

So here I was in the HR office - talking about scheduling for my various medical appointments and things - when the HR person, who also happens to be the bosses' wife and a good person - we sorta hit it off from the start - she asks how I am doing. As HR that is not exactly protocol but I see this look in her eye - wow- this is a person who wants to know how I am - really interested. I know a level was personal, but there was a business angle too. She has often come to my office and checked on me - I have been rather melancoly with all these trans issues and a rocky, guarded acceptance by my wife. Being transsexual is HARD, if no one has said that before.

But she needed to know if I was a happy enough person to function. I make the company money. THAT IS THE KEY!

You must show you are still going to be a money maker for the company - regardless of how you present.

And that was how I came out. It was somewhat new to her and it ended with "we won't make an issue of it if you won't make an issue of it" - and a big hug.

Not making an issue of it? That meant the transitioning part. This company would have hired me male or female anyway. They would not have hired me if I was transistioning when I interviewed, because - and she told me this - they would have been tooo scared of the legal problems that could arise. In otherwords, employers don't want to take a chance on something they don't know about. THAT IS A KEY INSIGHT.

So - my advice to all

(1) If you plan to transition - and don't have a job - get one while no effects are obvious.

(2) If you have a job - most people do - and you are planning to transition while on that job - do it slowly - put out feelers - let people 'ask you' what is going on as changes occur - BUT talk to HR not your friends, as soon as it becomes necessary. HR MUST KNOW FIRST and not hear it from the rummor mill.

(3) If you are seeking a job and already present convincingly - apply under that gender. You really want to work as you are, not everyday in a halloween costume . When the question comes up, for example why your SS shows differently - tell them you are transgenderd - attributes of both genders, raised as a boy (or raised as a girl) but have been in therapy and now have resolution to your life. NEVER use the word 'sex' or 'transsexual' - use very positive words like 'resolution.' Throw out keywords like 'therapy' and 'guidence.' Keep eveything past tense so it seems that is all resolved already, won't affect your work - no way - heck you are HAPPY now.

(4) Always show them you can make them money - most companies will hire a shaved monkey if they can make money on the deal. The exception of course is where there is a lot of client contact. If you pass - no problem - but... transitioning? Hummmmm.... iffy.

(5). Attitude helps tremendously. You are a wonderful person in ANY gender you are presenting - right?. You are a caring human being. You cannot show any weaknesses to HR that would make them think you 'could be a problem!" They will deny it - but HR gossips - they also want to CYA - and will NOT recommend hiring - or keeping - someone who 'could cause trouble." If you seem happy as 'you' then they usually seem happy to let you be 'you.'

(6) Tallk to the highest person in HR. The lower eschelon will not have the power to help much and they are going to go to the boss anyway. In a few conditions, if you know the big boss, you may want to smooth things with her/him if possible. Look for the decision maker.

(7) Smaller companies - I've been told- especially one person operations - are the best. Unless you work for the Federal Government or in some of the public sector places that have good protective anti=discrimination policies - there is no real protection for the transgendered. We have insisted it is not a mental disorder, so we are not protected under most of those type provisions most companoe have.

(8) If you work mainly on your own, say computer work, and rarely interact with the public, that is an easier job to get or keep when you are transitioning. I have seen that with three trans postop friends. Its not right, but out of sight out of mind, seems to be the HR approach to the 'problem' of hiring and keeping people like us.

(9) Finally if interviewing - polish your interview skills. Keep your resume' one page long. You MUST be hireable no matter if you are transgender or not.

So - I hope that helps. Zarak sweet - apply as you are - a wonderful young man.

I wish it was simpler and fair. We do what we can and hope for the best.

Your Aunt Lizzy - grin - now onena your fellow MODERATORS - YEAAAAAAAAAAA

HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY

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it was a very good forum full of information and i really enjoyed reading it and i gained lot of confidance.thanks

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Uh... why must HR know first. I have been trying to come out very, very slowly. i recently told someone that I have and do drag. He didn't seem shocked. I was reading a book of essays titled " No One Passes. I work for a big non profit. with over 2500 employees. I said that because almost any where I go I run into some one who works there or has this way if anyone sees me dressed it won't be such a shock if they out me at work which they will. . Any way you are very brave and thanks for the information

doodle

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Hi,

it is a good list of points but I want to give my opinion to one point. Your wrote that it is good to use keywords like 'therapy' and 'guidence.' For me therapy allways sounds bad. Someone who is not able to help by his own need therapy. People that work not normal need therapy. I mean that is the forst idea I get when I hear that word. I know that is not true but maybe the person from HR also get this first idea. So I think it is not good to use the word therapy. Give it a different name like 'my transition is well organized'

Before I come together with my wife, I worked for a company were I had a lot of customer contact. The problem I had to travel a lot into different countries. So different cultures. I was thinking if it would be possible to transit in this job? I think no. Also I was the money maker I had to move to different departement with less customer contact.

Now I think, we are special people so why not get a special job were it is comon to meet strange people? I am very creative so I could be a artist or so. I will not say that we have to go to the next theather or circus for the 'wird people show'. People allways things in regular ways. When I see young people and their dream of the future job, boys allways want to be a car mechanic and girls allways wnat to be a nurse. Why? Their are many other jobs out their with much more fun. When I was young I want to be a special FX makeup artist or a cook or astronaut or black smith. But people point to you and take away your dreams. Get a job were you can make money. That sucks.

Greetings

Nelly

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Some good advice. As someone who is transitioning on the job and in front of customers (I'm a technical trainer), it's an interesting proposition. HR is aware of what's going on but I haven't come out to my colleagues yet (we only see each other when we co-teach or when we have an "all-hands", where we all get together). I suspect that when I finally tell my colleagues (likely after I change my name), I will have to deal with things then. HR has said that they want me to lead how much or how little I want to share. Apparently, I'm not the first in my company to do this, which is good to know.

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I have one of those out of sight out of mind jobs, i work for a computer company doing telephone support from home for the engineers in the field, i talk to them on the the phone and maybe once a year or less do i need to go to a customer site. My companies EO policy does not include gender identity so i called HR to find out about it, in the process i outed myself to them saying in the future i was going to transition on the job, the head of the HR dept said that it was ok and for me to tell them when and if there was anything they can help me with. I'm not sure how it would have gone if i worked with customers all day or worked in our corporate office. I suspect from the reaction of our head HR person that I'm not the first to transition in our company.

Paula.

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I have one of those out of sight out of mind jobs, i work for a computer company doing telephone support from home for the engineers in the field, i talk to them on the the phone and maybe once a year or less do i need to go to a customer site. My companies EO policy does not include gender identity so i called HR to find out about it, in the process i outed myself to them saying in the future i was going to transition on the job, the head of the HR dept said that it was ok and for me to tell them when and if there was anything they can help me with. I'm not sure how it would have gone if i worked with customers all day or worked in our corporate office. I suspect from the reaction of our head HR person that I'm not the first to transition in our company.

Paula.

Wow i was never did that i just came out with it in one go take it of Leave it .

Maybe i injoying to to much now .

In the past few weeks i have told so many now i am so open now to thing around me .

Pround to be what i am Now an if thay don't like thay can go see a doctor .

I usly work bye myself all ways have .My boss was shock but we now joke about it alot allso the inslut an name calling i can handle now .I pus a few in Hospital over it but help it my life .

Anyhow i need to go .A T-Girl commign around to see me .We surport each other as well .

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Wow,

This is one of the bests topics I have seen on the forums in long time a lot of very good advice on how to approach this topic. I work and live in France so I guess I am talking about different cultures as regards going out as Joanna no one really bothers etc. In the office my boss and my secretary know about my intentions, but I am in the oil and gas industry and from time have to to offshore installations plus visit refineries etc where I can come across the good ole texan boys! who know me from what they see right now. If I was to turn up as Joanna I mean as regards the clothes side of things, that would be hard. So I still have problem there any advice on this.

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Wow,

This is one of the bests topics I have seen on the forums in long time a lot of very good advice on how to approach this topic. I work and live in France so I guess I am talking about different cultures as regards going out as Joanna no one really bothers etc. In the office my boss and my secretary know about my intentions, but I am in the oil and gas industry and from time have to to offshore installations plus visit refineries etc where I can come across the good ole texan boys! who know me from what they see right now. If I was to turn up as Joanna I mean as regards the clothes side of things, that would be hard. So I still have problem there any advice on this.

You know, I found that at some point ya just have to cross that bridge and try to deal with it as best as possible. You may be surprised (pleasantly at the results). For example, I received this on my blog (I talk very openly about my transition there) recently:

Hello, Linus… I was one of the students in your class in Charleston last October. I stumbled across your blog from some other links and when I saw this entry, with the comment that your biggest fear is work, I thought I should leave a message. You were a wonderful instructor in our class and we still use the things you taught us every day — that was one of the best instructor-led courses I’ve ever taken. You engage and challenge your students, you leave them with more knowledge than when you found them, you’re an amazing and gifted teacher and it makes me very sorry to think that you would ever have to worry about your job. If you were judged just on your skill and merits, you’d never have a moment’s uneasiness. You’re absolutely terrific at what you do.

Now I teach in the computer industry, often to Financial or other conservative "business cultures". This floored me. When my company accepted me in this position (I had to go through an interview process even if I was already hired in a diff department), I got told that I wore my orientation obviously (pre-transition I had a white shirt and tie, mens shoes, men's dress pants) and there was some concern over me being able to teach to financial groups. Apparently, it doesn't matter as much as they thought (I average a 4.85/5 -- or higher -- evaluation from students at the end of my courses).

I would say that once you reach that stage where you have to visit the "good ol' boys", ensure that someone comes with you (at least for the first few visits).

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My experience of coming out was mixed. It was both horrible and helpful.

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My experience of coming out was mixed. It was both horrible and helpful.

Hello, Bear,

I'd like to know a bit more about your experience.

How did you come out?

Was it planed, or an accident?

How was it horrible?

And,of course, how was it helpful?

And I noticed that this is your first post - hello and welcome.

Would you please post a little about yourself in the Introductions forum so we can all get to know you better and welcome you properly.

Love ya,

Sally

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I work for a large insurance company as a principle project manager. I just quietly began to 'expand' my clothing options and HRT has really been making some changes. (I had a picture from August of last year and another one taken this March and I couldn't believe the change!. People noticed, a few asked, some strange looks - especially from those I hadn't seen in awhile. Then a week prior to my court date to get my name changed and gender as well (drivers license only), I sent an email to my boss and to HR informing them of the change. I sent out a short email to everyone in my department the day before court date (Monday), Tuesday I went to court and when I returned on Wed, I had a new badge waiting for me, email was changed and everything else. I have had no problems using the women's bathrooms either.

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wow this really helps as when i go to uni i need a job and will be full time i hope, i may have to present female first and transition on the job

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FAIRNESS IN ADVERTISING!

Okay

8 February - out to my boss

30 March - fired

Because I am transgender and transitioning - YES

My mistake - probably in not educating the big boss - He would see me and smile - I kept waiting for the ' Hey, lets go to lunch and talk." - which never came.

I suppose they thought I should tranition somewhere else - the reason for the firing was manufactured. My reaction? Extreme disappointment in people who say one thing and then come back and do something else.

Lizzy

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So sorry to here this Lizzy. This must have come as a bit of a shock, especially given that they seemed to accept it and be fine with it originally.

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First thing I did was tell my wife, then I told my therapist. My wife was 100% supportive of me, and if that comes out of this, it was a true blessing. My therapist said "sure, it was discrimination - clearly so."

Later, my therapist made this intreiging suggestion - why not apply as a woman for any future employment. It is easier to be accepted as a woman who was once a male, rather than an apparent man who 'wants' to be a woman.

I don't think I can pull it off in my field - but it makes perfect sense.

Lizzy

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Later, my therapist made this intreiging suggestion - why not apply as a woman for any future employment. It is easier to be accepted as a woman who was once a male, rather than an apparent man who 'wants' to be a woman.

I did this (but the other way round, obviously) for my job on campus. I just applied as a man and had to explain that I was trans to the guy hiring me so that he wouldn't ask questions about the physical. Since "deceit" is so topical, I'll say that I think it's less deceitful to apply that way than to apply as your birth gender and then switch on them.

-Pól

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I agree with all the suggestions, I work for myself so it's easier for me. But It's important that you tell people, because this way rumors will not arise, or better when you tell: you control the rumors by telling it! Think in their position if you were a co-worker and someone sat next to you, of course everyone tries to determine the sex, it's something natural in humans. But when you tell, you take away their guesswork, and it will be easier for you AND them, this avoids conflict. Then people can decide what to make of it, they either accept or deny at least it's out of the bag! somehow they have to deal with you, just like you have to deal with them, BE PROUD!

But that is my androgynous view-point ;)

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These are amazing pointers. I am searching for a job myself.

I have a question, though--is it legal to apply as your choice gender, when your birth certificate says you are the opposite gender? I have a girly name as well legally, is it even legal to apply as "Michael Joseph, male" when all your legal documents read "Sarah Marie, Female"? Can you get in trouble for that, especially if they ask for social security and such? Or would I have to tell employers up front that I am trans?

Just wondering, no big hurry though ^^ It'll be a while before I even get an interview.

--Michael

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I'm sort of in the same dilemma as Joanna, as I'm also in France, in a French company. I currently have a deskjob and don't deal with any clients direct. But... I'm working for an outsourcing company and HQ is some 500 kms (350 miles?) away from me, I know nobody in HR high enough to do the talk and fear the worst. The local manager, who I see about once a month did say I'm looking different, but couldn't guess what is going on. Besides, he knows I've been off sick for a few days due to extremely low blood pressure, he's asking if I feel ok every time I see him and I say I'm dong fine now. Still he seems unconvinced... :rolleyes:

The company I work at is thinking of sacking the 3000 people (internal and external employees) working in the IT sector and replacing them with externalising everything at a big service company. This is all still uncertain, we all thought we would be sacked by the 1st of June, which didn't happen. Rumours are that the talks are restarted in September...

In a way for me it means that I will be placed in another company if they decide to kick out everyone.

So my planning was (and still is) to slowly slowly change. A year and a half ago I was dressed as the majority of my male colleagues, gradually shifting to a more feminine look. Most people here think that I'm expressing my artistic side and I leave them thinking that. They know I'm married and that we have children, so they just assume it's only that.

I'm sure people must have noticed, I pluck my eyebrows, wear two earrings, have my hair in a pony tail (a bit too high up for a male). And now that the temperatures are getting higher and higher it gets increasingly difficult to find something that is still hiding my boobs and not too warm at the same time. I also find it hard not to wear a bra, wide clothing has the annoying tendency to rub too much and walking the stairs or having to run.... Well you know, they bounce... Ouch! Besides that, my wife tells me it's very bad not to wear one, unless I wouldn't mind the stretch marks. :o So I suppose I'll be outed one day soon. I'm not using any make-up while at work, it's too warm and I sweat too much to put on a cake to hide the remaining beard hairs. I know it's a little that is left, but enough to be spotted and for some reason the zones where there are still hairs get very sweaty, the rest smooth and dry. Aaaaargh! :banghead:

I discussed how to approach coming out at work with my psychiatrist, he just said, keep on going as I'm doing now with the small gradual changes and when people ask just explain. He's of the opinion that it's better not to "shock" people, but rather let them make up their mind. People have the tendency to see what they want to see. Right now, I feel it's not the time to confront people at work with my issues. Some do know, but they are very discreet and supportive. Outside work, I'm me and I think I have been spotted in the "wild" by people from work (but not in my team), but so far no comments. I'll keep you up-to-date...

I'm hoping that I can stay in this company until I'm passable, so that if and when they decide to toss everyone out, I can present myself as a woman for the next client.

I do admit that in and around Paris things are a little bit easier, but outside Paris, it's still back to the stone age... (Well, kind of).

@androgynous: Trying to be proud here, will result in discrimination and hate crime. France is still very homophobic, and trans? Well, let me just say that it's really terrible. (For example, two gay gendarmes (both in different towns) were the victims of hate crime by their colleagues only a few weeks ago!! That's how bad it is here!) It's better to let people think that you're just weird and artistic than appeal to their phobia.

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These are amazing pointers. I am searching for a job myself.

I have a question, though--is it legal to apply as your choice gender, when your birth certificate says you are the opposite gender? I have a girly name as well legally, is it even legal to apply as "Michael Joseph, male" when all your legal documents read "Sarah Marie, Female"? Can you get in trouble for that, especially if they ask for social security and such? Or would I have to tell employers up front that I am trans?

Just wondering, no big hurry though ^^ It'll be a while before I even get an interview.

--Michael

Yes, it is legal but the question will come up as soon as they run your SSN or DL for a background check. I know several people who work under different names than their given name. It is basicly considered an alias. But when the question comes up you do have to be honest with them because if you do not tell them then that alone is grounds for termination. So to answer your question more directly, You can apply under any name you wish but you have to tell them why you are, and after seeing your pictures i doubt you would have a problem because you can pass as a male quite easily in my opinion.

Hugs Victoria

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I'm new to this site but find questions like this helpful.

I am an in the closet crossdresser who wants to come out. I have been working on things that are more consistent with transgendering than dressing lately. I have everyday and have been taking exercises and herbs to stimulate breast growth. I have been following Lucille Sorella very closely and have been pleased with the results. But as I grow more feminine breasts and shave my legs every day I find a deeper desire to be as feminie as I can and do it every day.

I don't know about coming out as I am self-emplyed and you would think it would be easier but my clients would not accept it. So, I don't think it is an option at this time.

Myldryd

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I realize that not everyone is as lucky as I am when it comes to managers and business owners. I figured that I knew my manager well enough that I could get away with pulling her aside and letting her know what was going on and how things looked for the future. She was supportive of it and said ok to me transitioning at work (on staffer lied and got written up. She said a guest had complained about me but it was discovered that it was her) recently I decided to talk to the owner of the hotel, he looked over my carry letter and also said no proble. On thing that should be noted is that here in New Mexico (even though they wont approve same sex marriage) the state govt has protected gender identity in the same clauses as race, religion, color, creed etc; it is even a hate crime to harrass someone soley on the basis of gender identity, or percieved gender identity.

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I have a couple suggestions for those planning to come out at work.

First, create an ananymous email account (mine was under the name "Ann Annimous") and send an email to your boss or prefferably, the head of the HR department, asking them the company's policy on transgendered employees. Most major corperations have some anti-discrimination language on the books. Even though we have no legal protections in place, there's still the power of public relations. Recently in Orlando, a McDonalds manager refused to hire a trans girl, and had some choice words to call her. Within 24 hours of this hitting the media, Corperate McDonalds came down with the swift boot of Justice and fired the manager involved.

Second, unions can be our best allies. If your company has a union, JOIN IT, and GET INVOLVED! They'll back you up, hell, they love any reason to stick it to the man!

Third, once you're comfortable that your company has good glbt support, start having one-on-one meetings with everyone above you, from the top down. Explain to each that you've already talked to their boss, and you want make sure they all understand what it is you're doing. Offer to educate and answer ANY questions they have, but do not talk about the gooey details if they haven't asked for them.

Finally, if your company is very much behind you, this can give a sence of invincibility. Do not let this lead you to believe you can do or say anything. If a co-worker harrasses you, you can take them to HR. But is a transphobic co-worker keeps their feelings quiet, and you say something about it that they didn't ask to hear, THEY can take YOU to HR for harrassment. It works both ways. So basically, offer education to anyone who wants it, but make sure those who don't ask for it don't hear it.

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FAIRNESS IN ADVERTISING!

Okay

8 February - out to my boss

30 March - fired

Because I am transgender and transitioning - YES

My mistake - probably in not educating the big boss - He would see me and smile - I kept waiting for the ' Hey, lets go to lunch and talk." - which never came.

I suppose they thought I should tranition somewhere else - the reason for the firing was manufactured. My reaction? Extreme disappointment in people who say one thing and then come back and do something else.

Lizzy

Lizzy, by no means are you alone on this one, hon.

This exact same thing happened to me and moreorless in the same way and in the same timeframe. Moreover, I was one of the top people in my job description in a major company.

At age 55, I was out of a job, had to scramble like crazy and almost ended up homeless ... because of this very reason. My whole point is that you may "do everything right" insofar as coming out. However, you never know how people will reacth. It's an individual proposition.

The best we can do is follow best-practice guidelines about coming out that have worked well for other transpeople, break the news and hope for the best. You never really know how it's going to go over.

Peace :mellow: Lacey

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