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QuestioningAmber

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QuestioningAmber

I am curious if there are any other software techies out there on the forum. I know this is a male dominated field, and sometimes can be inclusive, sometimes not so much. Has anybody had much experience in transitioning as a Developer or Software Engineer?

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KathyLauren

I think that IT is one of the more common professions for trans people.  Seems that every second trans person I meet is in IT.  Computers don't judge.

 

I am retired from IT.

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I came out as non-binary six months after retiring as a senior software engineer, but I can say that at my last company, for whom I worked 11 years, there were two MtF trans engineers.  They held their heads high, were proud but not loud (at least in the workplace), kept their private life private (as was/is entirely appropriate), worked hard, and were treated as equals by co-workers. So, yay!

 

With all the stress of deadlines, the need to continually keep learning in a fast-changing field, and constant peer review of your code, software engineers are generally very busy, smart cookies, but still are quite varied in their personalities and character.  It was kind of a bell curve, with a few who I wanted nothing to do with, most competent, and a few who were outstanding in many traits (not just coding).

 

A vital topic is:  how supportive is your company of trans and gender non-conforming people?  Do they quickly put a stop to discriminatory behavior by employees?  Do they provide gender-neutral restrooms?  Do they practice what HR preaches?  

If the answers to the above questions are all Yes, then you've found a good place to work and an environment where you'll most likely be allowed to grow in your career.  However, I'll acknowledge that it can be hard to know the actual situation for some of these, as individual issues and cases usually remain private and are not discussed openly.

 

Regarding inclusivity, you're quite right -- females often must work harder to be heard at meetings, have their ideas championed by a manager, and so on.  It can be lonely!  Not long before I retired, I worked with a (brilliant, junior-grade) female engineer for several years who was based in India, and we developed a good working relationship and talked about our personal lives. She cried during one conversation, saying that I was one of the few engineers who was actually kind to her.  I was saddened to learn that that was the case.  I've certainly known plenty of engineers both male and female who, after years of internalizing the stresses, cash out and find a different career.  For me, it was a very interesting career, but one not without plenty of bumps along the way...and that's outside of gender issues.

 

Best of luck, Amber!   Hugs,

 

Astrid

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QuestioningAmber

@KathyLauren

I think you are right, overall, a majority of people don't care. I do know of a few coworkers who talked bad about a consultant we had that is a transgender female. There seemed a group of them that just said why, they don't understand, and don't accept them as a woman. That was hard to hear as I like working with them for the most part, but that is something I found to be unacceptable, regardless of my own identity.

 

@Astrid

Thanks for the feedback. I am torn if my managers would follow what HR says, which is supposed to be inclusive. We don't have things like gender neutral bathrooms, so like I was saying before with Kathy, I would have to deal with some of the women that aren't accepting of transgender women in general. I know it is harder for the women I work with to be heard, and I try to support them as I can.

 

I think maybe me coming out would help those along that had issues in the past since they would know me and how hard I work. It might be different when one of their own comes out as Transgender in front of them instead of a lone consultant that already was transitioned comes along.

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MaryMary

I am a software engineer and I came out 6 years ago at the place I'm still working at. So I transitionned and I'm openly trans where I work. The HR person and the boss talked with everybody and explained what was happenning and that they won't tolerate discrimination. Everything went very well. The times where somebody was disrespectfull with me I never had to complain about it. the 2 or 3 times where others where not ok other people were complaining because they were finding it was not ok to talk about somebody like this. The other women where I work included me and it was very cool. I made friends, was able to organize activities with the girls and I'm feeling really accepted. I'm using the women restroom where I work and never had any adverse reactions. I'm used to events like someone saying : I will take a photo with all the girls and then stepping foward and everybody looking at me weird. So I'm a always a little shy in these moments. It happened 1 or 2 times and everytime a woman took me and brought me in the photo, lol It's cool because it makes you feel like one of the girl.

 

I have a little story : I was at the christmas party and one of the girl where I work was a little drunk. She invited me to the bathroom (sounds strange written like that but that's very common) and she was telling me how cool I was and how pretty I was. She removed something from her hair and rearranged my hairs and fitted this decoration in mine as a gift. I still have it and I'm keeping it as a keepsake.

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33 minutes ago, MaryMary said:

I have a little story : I was at the christmas party and one of the girl where I work was a little drunk. She invited me to the bathroom (sounds strange written like that but that's very common) and she was telling me how cool I was and how pretty I was. She removed something from her hair and rearranged my hairs and fitted this decoration in mine as a gift. I still have it and I'm keeping it as a keepsake.

 

That's a sweet story Mary of sisterhood, that had to feel so good.

 

Hugs

 

C

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MaryMary

my exprience concerning development itself is that it's a little harder to be taken seriously as a F as opposed to a M. If you do a code review for example you might have to work a little harder and sometimes being treated more like a student then an equal. I realized that because the more I work with people who were not there when I came out and didn't know me before the more I have to work hard and the more I'm treated as a student even if I have a lot more experience and even if I'm one of the most knowledgable where I work.

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I work in IT here (networking), I transitioned on the job over 7 years ago.

 

It really is harder as a female, yet far more rewarding.

 

C

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Mary that was a wonderful gift you were given by your co-worker, inclusion!  

 

You two ladies are my hero's for transitioning on the job and being successful at it.  

Hugs, Jani

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I agee Mary. I didn't come out at work - I was too afraid and although I did report sexual harressment of one of the finest girl engineers on our staff and told her, she acquiecsed and said it was okay. All through my life girls never really let my in their group and the guys were always too macho and sexist to me.

 

I am happy you found acceptance and what an incredibly beautiful gift of acceptance. I bet you smile every time you look at it.

 

Shay

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tracy_j

Very loosly speaking I was in software engineering / development but specialist applied healthcare.

 

The point I came out at work was when my manager asked the group if they could use a home email address to test an online system being introduced by an external company (for patient home use). I put forward my female name which did cause a momentary flutter but the cat was out the bag. Life actually became so much easier after that point. Male / female equality was generally totally accepted. I never went totally female there though, but living pretty much the life with makeup etc and socially being more into the female lifestyle. I chatted together as they would and, on study days with womem I had previously not met, sometimes found them distant at first but usually soon fitted in with the group.

 

My approach, which is myself, is that I just fall in with women as I just am and always have been. With regard to the job, it is a way of life and in the fields i am interested in I am confident so, although deferring to male dominance quite a lot of the time, I know what I am doing. It is actually as male that I found the greatest problem as men often fight for top dog which, as someone who is only really interested in the work, not position, I usually let go. Occasionally though I felt strongly about something and would assert things. This has sometimes caused major friction over the years, predominantly with men. I think my work skills and cold faceoffs saved me many a time but it's amazing how peoples attitudes changed with me becoming outwardly female. I felt so much better and some men even commented on how much easier it was to work with me. Nothing really changed except perceptions. Jobwise it is difficult to judge as mentioned, equality was the norm, but I think there was no obvious change.

 

Tracy

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RunValRun

@QuestioningAmber When I first saw the title I thought it was an invitation to the flame wars :) Since asking to choose between those is akin to asking whether you should use 2 or 4 spaces for indentation - "the war must go on" and no side has clear reason to win (and yes, the battle over tabs is over, they lost)

Then I read your post and sighed with a relief ?

 

As I am in the midst of transitioning, I am quite invested to know what the future holds, but I guess my only option is to follow the rest of humanity at one-day-at-a-time pace :)

One good thing about IT field is that unless you are in support or other position involved with users' interactions, you only need to be comfortable with your team. Depending on the size of the company, others either don't need to be made aware before you are ready or they will only meet Amber and would not be burdened with prior knowledge.

For what its worth, I am looking forward to be a girl on the team - we are definitely lacking in female presentation ?

 

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QuestioningAmber

@RunValRun That is probably not the best title I could have used. I like being called an Engineer, but I technically lack the 4 year degree and accreditation, so yeah, a little interesting of a choice of job title they gave me

 

I agree that the nice thing is we don't have the face to face a lot of times with our clients or customers, that is the role of our BA or Scrum Master. I do have some fear though that our IT department is fairly tight knit, yet large. I have also been put on a highly exposed team, or what will be highly exposed and so I do have some reservations there. I am also scared I will be relegated to being the diversity department's token trans woman, saying how great and diverse we are because we have Amber here to showcase.

 

I just want to be accepted as a person at the end of the day, woman, man, somewhere in the middle. How I dress doesn't change my personality, my knowledge, and my know how.

 

@MaryMary That inclusion is what I hope for. I don't want to be the third option so to speak. Like I think I said in the original post, I know a few coworkers who will not understand, and I don't feel like will include me into their circle because of the difference. I could be proven wrong because this time they know me as an individual, versus the other woman was an outsider for the company in general.

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from a work stand point - I saw and reported sexual harressment when I saw it and the guys never understood why I did that. I couldn't stand what they would say about women. And the women just accepted it was being the natural order of things. I met so many women that were heads above the guys who were their managers and it made me sick. I felt the sting of harressment from a lady boss who fired all the guys accept me until I outsourced gage calibration function - then she fired me - the guys took her to court but corporate had too many lawyers. I luckily was able to apply and receive another position as Supplier Quality Engineer and that lasted until the current boss wanted his buddy in - so they said they wanted someone with more experience - he did - but they then had to add another person because this guy didn't do the things I was doing. Again I was luck and managed to move into Project Management and SAP. Then the company was bought and downsized - and I tried and almost got another position but was unable to land the job so looks like 3strikes and I was out. I had 26 years with that company. Had tough time getting another job until I got a job that required me to drive 1 hour each way, every day and report to the worst human being I've ever met and was harressed and saw plenty of hassessment he did on others and I reported it but he was part of the family who started the company and guess who won out. I tried to get him to fire me so I could get some unemployment but he wouldn't do it - so I retired early instead. My wife told me a couple months down the road - she couldn't believe how much I hated that job and she wasn't surprized when my blood pressure dropped 20 points when measured at my next physical.

 

All in all - I guess if you are brought up as one sex you learn how to behave as that sex. I was raised as male and saw from a female standpoint the unfairness guys did but was too fearful to transition but endured all my depressions, anxiety, anorexia, and on and on until recently and with the comfort and love of everyone on this forum. 

 

Thank you - you saved my life.....and now I'll wave the wand and wish for whatever helps you become and enjoy the you, you are meant to be. Poof... 

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@QuestioningAmber I see you live in the Columbus area. I live about an hour from there in Mount Vernon... glad to see another Ohioan I can chat with here....

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QuestioningAmber

Yeah, I am in the middle of another transition at work myself now. I am having to learn Salesforce. I already learned AWS, which I enjoy for the most part, minus the pain it has been trying to setup HTTPS redirection on a personal website I built, but that may come up at a later point because I am about to give up on "securing" it anymore than I have. I am just so unsure of how to manage the work aspect. If I do start hormones, and I do develop breasts, there isn't much choice but to come out? What does that bring regarding my work team. If that doesn't work out, then I will be forced to start going out as Amber and applying for jobs as a Trans woman in a male dominated field. I just feel like that is an insurmountable task. Again, I know some of this is just my mind racing, some of it is unfounded, but I do know there is a glimmer of truth there.

 

I enjoy developing software. I developed a web application on the side to solve a problem, and pay for it to be hosted on AWS. I don't have an issue with that and actually quite frankly am proud of that. Some of that time I was dressed as Amber, the computer didn't care, nor does AWS care that a non-binary(or trans woman) wrote the code and uploaded it to the platform.

 

@Shay It is also nice to meet another Ohioan. Sorry to hear about some of your issues with work. I have been lucky thus far with my current employer.

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I understand you trepidation about starting - when it is time - you'll know - perhaps playing it safe in the short run is wise. 

 

One thing I do know - it is easier to find a job when you have a job. Perhaps you can explore the market and see what might be possible as a transwoman. You might be surprised. Ours is not a state that tends to be accepting of LGBTQ - my county, Knox, voted 75% for that thing hiding in the White House so I dress as close to fem as I dare go (mainly androgenous). 

 

I never liked programming and wasn't very good at it. I have learned my way around DAW's and digital recording my songs out of necessity, I do have an engineering mind in a creative arts body - probably why I'm a Gemini.

 

Would love to keep in touch and help each other as we face this new world together.....

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  • 1 month later...

Wow, I had no idea this was the trans field ;)  I feel more comradery than ever!

 

Nearly my entire youth, from the time I could read and write (Apple II, back in the day!), up through my 20's, my life was absolutely dedicated to computer code and software development. I was smitten. I even did a little homebrew on the GameBoy Advance, back when I still had free time...I'm burned out on it all now, but yea, that was absolutely my thing! So much that it I know it will always be a core part of me no matter how much I may need to distance from it now. (BTW, I'll happily give my github name if anyone's interested, just PM me and keep it between us.)

 

I don't know anything about trans-ness in this field (I've yet to ever knowingly meet another trans person in real life or on programmer forums, and I'm not "out" myself.) but I do know from experience that, despite what news reports may say, females can be extremely welcome and appreciated in this field. One of the biggest problems faced in this field is the clear gender imbalance. Like you've observed, it's almost entirely male. Even guys don't like that. But unfortunately. percentage-wise, it is RARE to find a woman showing an interest in software development, let alone genuinely persuing the field. That's why there are efforts such as "Girls who code".

 

Now, I know what the news reports have said about women in tech, and hey, for all I know, maybe Silicon Valley might actually have a genuine misogyny problem...I don't know, I'm all the way over in Cleveland. But from my perspective, I've literally never seen that. All I've seen, in both Cleveland and online, is tech guys being so happy, and impressed, and surprised to see someone other than "yet another stereotypical guy", actually show an actual genuine interest in the field that...that, sometimes it scares people away. Which of course, just makes the situation all the more unfortunately worse (Imagine if female nurses made a fuss over "Wow! Finally a guy who's joining our field too!!!")

 

I'd be more than glad to help anyone who's interested with anything I can. PM me if you wish. (Although I'll admit straight out - career advice, or life advice, is FAR from my strong suit ;))

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