Transition at work– looking back

May 2, 2008

TRANSITION AT WORK

 

Deciding to transition is a monumental decision in anyone’s life. Deciding to do it while remaining at the same job, is an even great challenge for some. Fortunately for me, I work with a great company and great people and my reception and transition on the job was met with comfort, support and encouragement.  I wanted to share my story with everyone so that the good stories could be balaned in with the horror ones I found.

It’s sad, but when I researched fellow FTM’s that had gone down the same path as myself, many of them had not kept the same job they had when prior to transitioning. Others took some time off from work and re-entered the work force as their male selves — starting over and only telling a few select people– HR/upper management about their past so the resume and references all matched up.  A few people were fortunate enough to work in great places that except them, but they seemed to be working at trans oriented places like health centers or gay/lesbian youth centers. I also spoke to some people at the FTM alliance and again– mixed reviews on the transition at work process. 

 I’m a pretty outgoing, confrontational person (for better or worse) and I decided that I was going to face my fears and reservations. I did not want to leave the job I was at because it was a great opportunity at a premiere post production house in LA.  But at the same time, I could not delay my need to transition.  I decided to come out as transgendered at work, but had no idea where to start.  My first resource after talking with friends and members in the community were handouts and pamphlets created by TLC and the HRC on transitioning at work. I read those over to know my rights and how to best go about this. Luckily for me, I work in one of the few states– California– in which it is illegal to discriminate based on gender idenitity.  This was a big confidence builder in knowing that no matter what, I could not be fired because of my decision to transition or come out as transgendered.  

The first recommendation from the packet I read was to tell my immediate boss about my plans and be as open as my comfort level allowed.  I decided to tell a co-worker that I knew rather well and he encouraged me to tell my immediate boss about my plans.  She was very accepting and helped me come up with a plan to tell our HR/Operations manager and then ultimately our CEO.  I work at a company with roughly 50 employees with a median age of 30. I also work in an industry that is a bit less conservative then the normal social curve then American society, so I had that going for me.  The 5 people in my immediate department were amazing, fully supportive and embraced my new name and identity.  I had the confidence I needed to tell our HR/Operations manager.  

The next step was telling him about my desire to transition.  This was early November and I had been on testosterone for 2 weeks at this point– In a few months I knew that the hormones would start to lower my voice and changes would become noticable. It was now or never to let them know what was happening.  I told him flat out what was going on, the process, what I expected from my employer and opened the discussion up for questions.  He said that I was the first person at the job (obviously) that was transitioning and he wanted to do more research so he was well versed in the subject. Thankfully HRC and TLC have packets available for upper management on effective implementation of transgendered people in the work force. There are also resources available on changing employee handbooks to have gender inclusion.  Finally, the topic of the restroom came up and we both decided to do some research on this as well.

 

The next step was to meet with our CEO and discuss my plans with him.  My immedaite supervisor and the HR/Operations Manager had a brief meeting with him and then invited me in. He came up to me with open arms hugged me and said that the company was fully supportive of my decision and was going to work with me to ensure that my transition at the company was met with open arms and was as smooth as possible.  Those were the best words any trans guy could hear! HUGE weight lifted off my back. Alhthough I knew the road was still a tough one ahead, it helped tremendously to know that I had the support of our CEO and the company.  

Over the next several weeks, we met with the company lawyer to go over our employee handbook and policy to incorporate gender identity inclusions.  We also mapped out a timeline of when to tell my fellow employees and clients that I deal with on a regular basis. Part of this process was to educate everyone about trans senstive terminology. I welcomed all qusetions and gathered as much research as I could.  We finally decided that I was also going to use the men’s restroom moving forward when the official announcement was made.  Every step of the plan was approved by me and I was able to dictate what level of comfort I had before any major decisions and changes were implemented. We decided that in 2 weeks I would tell the department heads and then at our year end state of the union, I would briefly address my fellow employees on my decision to transition. This was my decision to talk directly to everyone because I felt I could dictate the course of the discussion and choose my words carefully.   

December 17th, 2007, I stood up before 45+ employees and let everyone know that I was no longer going to be known as my female name and that I was embarking on a transition and was going to change my name to Dylan, taking hormones and becoming a man. It was made known to everyone that I would prefer male pronouns such as “he” and “him” but that of course, I knew this process was not going to happen over night, especially with the name. My biggest request was that they honor and respect my request and try their best. At the end of my 5 minute request, the entire company gave me a group hug and welcomed me with open arms.  

January 2nd 2008– I entered the doors of my company as Dylan. I started using the men’s restroom and almost everyone right away referred to me as male and used my new name.  It was amazing!! I could not have asked for a better receptoin.  Along the way, people still continue to ask me questions about my transition, the process, etc. and I welcome those questions with openess as I feel it’s the best situation for me.   

It has now been 5 months since my official transition at work and I am happy to report that it’s pretty much business as usual. I have had no trouble with the transition and everyone calls me Dylan.  I changed all of my paperwork with no trouble and have support around every corner.  I realize that everyone’s situation is different, especially if you live in a state in which you are not legally covered against discrmination, but I really wanted to share my story and offer it up as hope to everyone out there that transitioning on the job can be done and can be met with open arms and acceptance.  

Furthermore, if anyone has any questions as to how the process was for me or any of the leg work I did, please contact me at dylanmcginty@gmail.com and keep up with my transition process at dylansworld.wordpress.org  

“To be nobody but yourself in a world that’s doing its best to make you somebody else, is to fight the hardest battle you are ever going to fight. Never stop fighting. “~ e. e. cummings

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2 Responses to “Transition at work– looking back”

  1. Thanks for the detailed account. It’s so encouraging to read about acceptance like this! Wonderful that your workplace worked with you on education, policy and the nuts and bolts of pronouns and washrooms.

  2. Jacky V. said

    Thanks for sharing your story! I think it’s good to have some positive stories like this when there are so many negative ones. My workplace has been very supportive as well which is not always the case in colleges apparently.

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